Tesla is a fantastic name for revolutionary electric car company, but not a name that could navigate a typical corporate naming process and survive.
The death of a thousand cuts would include:
- We can’t acquire Tesla.com, we’d have to use Teslamotors.com, a non-starter. Electrificity.com is available. Let’s go with “Electrificity” instead – we can get the domain.
- Nicola Tesla’s inventions were all in AC, not the DC battery power the cars use. Edison was the man when it came to DC. Tesla advocated the opposite
- Most people don’t know who Tesla was
- “Tesla” was a big selling ’80s hair band
Most Teslas are sold online, and though they were unable to secure Tesla.com, they knew the common wisdom that going with Teslamotors.com would hurt sales was and is nonsense.
Tesla knew it was a great name even though Mr. Tesla’s work was with AC electricity, not the DC electricity the car runs on, which was the domain of Edison. They knew Tesla is a much sexier word attached to a sexier, more mysterious personality. The name Edison is just boring all around. So no one cares about the glaring discrepancy – they just associate the name with electricity.
For Tesla, going with the domain Teslamotors.com and using the name Tesla was a better move than changing the name to Electrificity or some such because they could get the Electrificity.com.
Tesla is memorable, has a great look, sound, meaning, mystery and sexiness to it. Do you walk away from that over domain availability? (Hint: “What would Elon Musk do?”)
We are all for a matching domain name, but it must be a powerful one.
To understand why they work so well, you have to get literal for a moment:
Hotwire = “to steal a car”
Pandora = “unleashed plagues, diseases & all the evils of mankind”
These types of meanings will get a name dismissed ASAP by a naming committee – a committee that would have been wrong to dismiss these names, obviously.
Consumers don’t attribute these literal, negative qualities to the companies who use Hotwire & Pandora as their company names (you don’t, do you?). But naming committees erroneously believe they will.
In each case the name is a metaphor for something about the company. Hotwiring a car is a “hack”, Hotwire positions the site as a travel hack – a way around high prices. Pandora Radio is a marketplace, positioned metaphorically as a “box full of intrigue”.
When juxtaposed in line with the company’s positioning, the names simply become interesting – they have personality. They demonstrate confidence and uniqueness. Metaphorically re-purposing the negative is what makes them so positive.
The names are provocative, differentiating and memorable.
From a business perspective, these names are a pure positive, derived from a literal negative. It’s called “The Principle of Negativity”.
Don’t fear the Negative – well executed, it’s a Positive.
Instagram and Snapchat are identical constructions. Each simply substitutes new words from an accepted utility name: Instant Message. Insta & Snap are synonyms for Instant, and Gram & Chat are substitutes for Message.
Since Instant Message is already a universally adopted name, you know that Instagram and Snapchat will be accepted as well. If what you’re naming doesn’t map to a two-word generic, break it down into one first.
You can do this by re-purposing an unrelated, well-known compound word, as in Apple’s Wi-Fi base station being called “Airport” – a port accessed through the air. It’s easy to remember and readily embraced because everyone knows the word Airport already.
Proposing a name like Airport to a committee will be met with immediate pushback such as, “Everyone hates the experience of an airport” or, “Last time I was there they cancelled my flight, I had to sleep on the floor and I missed my child’s birthday” or “The first thing I think of is stress, long lines and bad service”- as if any of this will make the name less successful, which of course it doesn’t.
As soon as the name Airport is applied to a Wi-Fi device the primary definition disappears, your audience puts the clever double meaning together in their heads in an “aha!” moment, and smile at the humanity you’ve brought to the game. They will think well of you and warmly embrace the name and its new meaning. And never forget it. You are immediately best of breed in their minds, having uttered only a single word.
Because this simple concept is inherently difficult for corporations, names like Airport are rare indeed – but they do happen.
You know it, you love it, it’s TED:
TED works as a name because it’s memorable, it demonstrates something new is happening and makes potentially difficult subject matter warm, inviting and simple. It’s also very confident and comfortable with itself – always an attractive quality.
The trouble with TED is it’s a name that companies will tell you they love, want something like it for their similar venture, but would likely get killed in a corporate committee .
“TED doesn’t convey “Best and Brightest””
“TED” skews too masculine; its a man’s name. The name needs to be gender neutral to appeal to both sexes”
“The thought leaders we need to attract may not want to be associated with something so trivial sounding”
“The acronym “Technology, Entertainment & Design” is too limiting”
Would TED make it through your corporate naming process? If it is a process designed for real world efficacy & power, yes it would.
The complete line of AeroBurner Clubs and Balls
As you would expect, lots of their competitors have “smile” in their names. So instead, the name Smart Mouth makes you smile.
Using the word “smile” in a name is explanative, using words that cause your audience to smile is demonstrative.
In naming & branding, demonstrating is always more effective than explaining.
It’s also a twist on a descriptive name, saying “It’s a Smart choice for your Mouth” and that the dentist is “Smart about Mouths”.
Since parents, not kid’s are the audience, giving them a laugh about their kids makes it work, makes it warm – and unforgettable.
An extraordinarily interesting and challenging naming assignment: Find a name that works for “All natural fruit infused” AND it had to be “a sexy / edgy name”.
“Sliver” is spot on the confluence of these seemingly disparate ideas.
And of course the name had to be a word that “had never been used for a food or beverage anywhere in the world”. Simple.
Design firm merges a Vespa with a Segway
Igor founder Steve Manning is one of five judges for this event, which runs through May. Over 100k in prize money, top prize is 35k. Details here.
Hi.Q launched today with articles in Wired, NY Times, Entrepreneur, VentureBeat and many more.
This one is from today’s Wall Street Journal:
Adding a new tune to the chorus of health and wellness startups, Hi.Q is emerging from stealth with an app and funding.
Unlike Fitbit Inc., MyFitnessPal Inc. and dozens of other startups that enable users to count steps and track eating habits, Hi.Q tests health knowledge. The hypothesis is that the more users know, the better choices they will make.
The free app functions like a game with players completing quizzes and competing against others for mastery of nutrition, exercise, medical conditions and other topics. The quizzes, which prompt players to connect to articles from the Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia and other sources to learn more, include more than 10,000 questions across 300 topic areas. They test everything from the healthiest items to order at amusement parks to how to prevent osteoporosis.
“Everybody skipped a step in the quantified-self movement. The first step is education,” Hi.Q Co-founder and Chief Executive Munjal Shah said. “With this (app) we want to create a true instrument that improves knowledge that then helps with health.”
For Mr. Shah, a serial entrepreneur who sold his last company to Google in 2010, Hi.Q is as much a professional quest as it is a personal one.
The day after Google purchased Like.com Inc. for a reported $100 million, he was running a 10K race when severe chest pains forced him to stop…
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