New Internet companies are being baptized daily with handles that sound like a blend of toddlerspeak, scat singing and what the aliens will greet us with when they land.
Most Internet company names make little sense, and they roll around the mouth like a marble.
“Old-school ideas about sounding trustworthy or sounding big are not as important as they used to be,” said Burt Alper, co-founder of Catchword Branding in Oakland, Calif., which has helped companies pick such names as Vudu (makes a device for watching videos) and Promptu (creates voice-recognition products). “Now it’s about sounding different and standing out from the crowd.”
Maybe I’m showing my age, but I’m not a fan of dropped vowels or unconventional use of high scoring Scrabble letters in company names. I think company names (or at least URLs) need to pass three tests:
1. Can people say it?
2. Can people remember it?
3. Can people spell it?
Word of mouth is a great, free user acquisition channel. But if a happy user tells a friend to check you out, you only need to fail one of these three tests to lose the shot at a new user. Remember how Universal Tube and Rollerform Equipment Corp’s website, utube.com, got a lot of traffic intended for Youtube? Word of mouth can be like playing the Telephone Game. The wrong name risks that happy user’s referral getting lost in the translation…