Webreakstuff blog

Startup names still suck

It’s now been a while since Tim O’Reilly coined the term Web 2.0. Thousands of applications and services emerged since – however chances are you can only remember and name about 10. Truth is branding has been ignored by many of the entrepreneurs looking to launch their ideas – and many are paying for the mistake with slow adoption or failure.

Not everything can be generic, and a brand is one of the most important things to nail down when launching a product or service. If you’re still thinking of removing vowels from words to make up a 2.0-ey name, stop because you’re clearly doing it wrong. Here’s an example of how naming is a zoo these days. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from a post by Om Malik:

Earlier this year we wrote about Gaboogie, a web-based conference call service started by Erik Lagerway. The service didn’t quite work out, and the company reconfigured its business focus to offering instant group calls from mobiles, and is now called Lypp.

Another web-based conferencing service, Foonz might be going down that route. Randy Corke, CEO of Foonz’s parent company, RPM Communications was in town last week to bring me up to speed on their new offering, Utterz, which is sort of like blogging-via-voice-calls from your cellphone.

Gaboogie is now called Lypp, and Foonz is launching Utterz. Are these people having a laugh? If I asked you to name the company with the golden arches, you’d probably say McDonalds; If I talked about the drink with the great bottle and the red brand, you’d likely say Coca-Cola; If I asked you about a web-based conferencing system, you would probably never remember Gaboogie, Lypp, Foonz or Utterz.

In contrast, I haven’t forgotten Joost’s pre-launch name “The Venice Project” (witty and smart) or “Jackson Fish Market” (weird and unexpected), a startup doing virtual gifts. Some will argue that once you hit critical mass how good a name is isn’t important, but it’s easy to make the argument that the name may have a huge impact on the growth itself – so please, do think about leaving those vowels in and give naming your new company more than 5 minutes of your time.

13 comments
  1. Alan Wilensky says: December 26, 20074:34 pm

    These names, and unfortunately many of their products and services, engender no feelings in the customer. I am a motorcycle and maxi scooter enthusiast, names mean something to me, as a matter of fact they mean so much, they are no longer just names – they are marques.

    IN the blog business, maybe, just possibly, TechCrunch or Ars Technica, or Anandtech, are brands. In the office 2.0 demand services, I cant think of a single one with brand-share.

    The stupidest thing a founder can do is name a B2B or service economy webware app with a foolish name. Better a blatantly obviously funny name.

    My venture I am struggling to fund: ThruDispatch (hosted dispatch for towing and independent servicers). Might Rename this MyDispatch, or TrueDispatch – go ahead m jump on the domains my day, punks.

    But I would never name a service based web venture, ‘glahoo’, or ablingru.

    Triumph – Honda – Yamaha – Toyota – Oracle -Apple – KLH, some have long lasting cache. you remember them, their name is built over time and product life cycles.

    37 Signals? Bleh…Salesforce.com yeah!

    Bluemark (what does it do anyhow? It’s complex) Blah

    Twitter, yeah!

  2. Brian says: December 26, 20077:22 pm

    Hey – nice post but i have to say, i think that the name Web 2.0 sucks. If we never adopted that moronic catch phrase, then the expectation would never have been placed upon anyone to have a Web 2.0 presence – whatever that really means. I say we call it Web 3.4 – what the heck – maybe then we could sell tickets to really expensive conferences!

    Thanks,
    Brian

  3. Lutz.W says: December 30, 20079:18 am

    IMO gibberish Web 2.0 company- and service-names are partially to be blamed on domain-squatting. More or less every sensible domain-name is up for grabs for a few thousand (or tens of thousand) bucks nowadays. I don’t think that a lot of smallish start-ups are able or willing to afford this.

  4. Only Connect » The Dress of Web 2.0 says: January 2, 200810:06 pm

    [...] They have memorable names… and some of the names are ridiculous. “Gaboogie is now called Lypp, and Foonz is launching Utterz. Are these people having a laugh?” [...]

  5. Michael Hendrickx says: January 3, 20084:48 am

    Ain’t it so, that all people still follow the “we need a .com”, and with all idle domain parkers out there, people might revert to joopywoop.com, utterz.com or zwaggy.com?

  6. Josh says: January 4, 20083:05 am

    I think Michael has a point – with the majority of ‘sensible’ domain names taken by now, anyone new these days has to resort to misspellings or nonsensical words.

    It is a shame, though.

  7. Anders says: January 8, 200811:28 am

    When we started our recommendation service, inSuggest, we were thinking very carefully about the name. It is tricky to find a good name, since they will last for a while, must have a suitable description, need to have an available .com domain etc. In the future, I guess it will be more and more tricky to find good names. Maybe name producing will be good business, in the same way as domain registration was a few years ago.

  8. dennis says: January 15, 20088:13 pm

    maybe i’m just stubborn, but i’m proud of the name of the site that i recently donated to the world community — though it’s only a few weeks old and still learning about the world; in short, wikipedia meets digg to concieve of a beast whose nature is free software (as in beer, but the meaning applies too)

    check it out, contribute, help raises this monster–that’d be gr8.

    dennis

    reliablesource.org

  9. Michael Hendrickx says: January 24, 20082:22 pm

    I think it becomes more of a factor that “it must be available online”. It’s one thing having http://www.blah.com, it’s less appealing having http://www.blah-inc.com, or http://www.blah-online.com or so.

    Or would there really be people who’d call their company flickr, rappr or delivrr? :)

  10. Drabdesign says: May 27, 20087:51 pm

    My company “Drabdesign” has caused me some problems, often people do not like it because it has the word Drab in it. However, those that do dislike it, often end up doing business with me which is surprising, or is it? After all they talk about it, there by planting it into their minds, perhaps a bit of reverse Psychology, I do not know.

    Nice article and as for Web 2.0, the name is so drab!

  11. [...] Webreakstuff » Startup names still suck via kwout [...]

  12. [...] Here is the thing, most businesses that use strange names usually have big budgets to push it up our noses. There are no rules, but you need to think hard enough before settling for a name. This process is worth the consideration to avoid infringement lawsuits, misrepresentation and the cost of rebranding later. [...]

  13. [...] Here is the thing, most businesses that use strange names usually have big budgets to push it up our noses. There are no rules, but you need to think hard enough before settling for a name. This process is worth the consideration to avoid infringement lawsuits, misrepresentation and the cost of rebranding later. [...]

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