Tesla – Anatomy of a Great Company Name

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 (they were at TeslaMotors.com for the first 8 years), 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

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 8.28.43 AM
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 from launch in 2003 until finally being able to acquire Tesla.com ing2016, 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.

Lost at sea

The most common mistake in naming is choosing a name that gets lost in the sea of competitive sound alikes. We’ve cobbled together a list of clothing brand names that contain the word “Bay”, with a few “Harbor” names thrown in for spice.
This mistake is easily avoided by creating a Competitive Taxonomy prior to naming:

Aqua Bay
Back Bay
Baja Bay
Banana Bay
Bantry Bay
Bay City
Bay Reef
Bay Trading
Beach Bay
Bermuda Bay
Bikini Bay
Billion Bay
Bimini Bay
Blackwater Bay
Blubay
Brittany Bay
Buckley Bay
Buffalo Bay
Burk’s Bay
Capstan Bay
Chileno Bay
Coral Bay
Eastbay
Eccobay
Emerald Bay
English Bay
Falcon Bay
Ginger Bay
Hampton Bay
Harbor Bay
Highland Bay
Inner Harbor
Jamaica Bay
Kahuna Bay
Kips Bay
Kylani Bay
Latigo Bay
Lawton Harbor
Lunada Bay
Madison Bay
Mango Bay
Marino Bay
Mission Bay
Misty Harbor
Monterey Bay
Moonlight Bay
Orca Bay
Paradise Bay
Parrot Bay
Peppermint Bay
Peregrine Bay
Sag Harbor
Solar Bay
South Bay
St. John’s Bay
Sterling Bay
SunBay
Thornton Bay
Thunder Bay
Union Bay
Victoria Bay
Willow Bay
Yucatan Bay

[ More posts about | More blogs about company names ]