Monday, March 15, 2010

Companies with real names: An endangered species

I'm going to make a series of catchy sounds and I will bet you with the pink slip to my 5 second car that they turn out to be company names: "Blaro", "Somanta", "Zeento". Now I check my predictions: Somanta is a cancer research company, Zeento some organization in a non-English speaking country (or planet...!), and Blaro appears to be some sort of portal to a dodgy internet underworld. (Side note: why do we need a password to get into underworlds? Shouldn’t it be the criminals that need a password to get into our places?) Try the game yourself, I bet at least 50 percent of your catchy sounds will be something besides "not found". Suddenly everyone reading this is saying things to themselves like "boooobtron.com"

But this shit is kind of ridiculous. I wasn't saying real words just then, or even strings that resemble words, just semi-random phonetic combinations. We were like smarter-than-average chimps, and we still wound up at company websites. Obviously, mad companies these days have weird ass names.

Check out this quote from the NYTimes in reference to the wild and crazy names of social-networking companies launching at SXSW, (I wonder if they are going to quote me on&true to reciprocate. Or maybe they'll even up the stakes, like the old foreplay trade-up., know what I mean?):

“The only thing more challenging than deciphering the names of all the social-minded Web sites battling for attention at the South by Southwest technology conference here — Brizzly, Vicarious.ly, Stalqer, Quora and so forth — would be the chore of signing up for each one individually.”

First of all, I can’t imagine that either of those things - pronouncing or registering - is that difficult. Especially if you write for the technology section of the NYtimes.. But I feel like a lot of people look at the names of these social-media type companies and say “’Brizzly’? damn ruffians, when I was young I said ‘I’m gonna start an airport, put m’name on it.” And while some portion of the cause for these new company names is an attempt to link up with the iGeneration mindset (I still think in English by the way guys), the predominant factor is that potential real names are atop the endangered species list. We’ve been over-hunting them for years, stomping on their eggs and shit. To have a company, you need a domain name, and people (poachers) can hold domain names for only 10 dollars a year. There just aren’t as many logical sounding domain names out there.

We will never have another Oracle, a linkedin, or a webmd.com. America Online?! Burger King?! You really can’t get shit like that anymore, no matter how many passwords to underworld bars you know. Today, we have to make up words for our companies.

That’s why entrepreneurs these days are hiring babies as branding consultants.

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