What’s in a Name?

We are always naming things – businesses, brands, trade-marks, domain names, and children. But what makes a good or valuable name? Naming anything can be a personal or emotional thing – but it is part science.

Take a brand name or trade-mark, for example. The first choice of many for their business or product name is one that describes their business or product. But that does nothing to distinguish that business or product from the competition. Much better to have one that is unique and memorable, rather than descriptive.

Over the past decade it has become more important to adopt names that are internet and social media friendly. It is often important to make sure that the name is available as a domain name or twitter handle. Or at the very least that the obvious domain name or social media name that people would associate with it is not a competitor, or a site that you would not want people to associate or confuse you with.

A memorable or obvious domain name can of course be quite valuable on its own. For domain names the most valuable ones are generic – like beer.com. This infographic shows some factors that can increase or decrease the value of a domain name.

Social media has influenced baby names. Parents have actually saddled children with names like hashtag and tweet.

Are we doing children a favour if we give them names that are available as domain names or social media handles? Or at least names that are not common so they don’t get buried in search results with all the other John Smiths of the world? (Google searches can get interesting when, for example, your last name can mean a corner pilaster, a flag corner, one of many cities, a territorial subdivision or township, and is used as the name of companies making loudspeakers, auto racing parts, and wine barrels.) Or are things going to change so rapidly that by the time they can take advantage of that it won’t matter?

Perhaps the Shakespeare quote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” only applies these days if you can first find the rose on the net or social media.


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