Naming Tips – Number 34 in a Series

Beware of fads.

Of all the tips I’ve posted, this one ranks with the most valuable. There are several reasons for this.

First, how can you differentiate your business if your name sounds like a lot of others? Second, how long will it take for a fad-like name become dated? It’s like the slang used by teenagers. Yesterday’s “cool” word (is that term still used?) can be passé in a blink of an eye.

I’ll give you two examples of fad names and how they’ve been misaligned with the businesses that adapted them.

First, there’s CEOSpace. This name was newly adopted to replace an obscure and unremarkable IBI Global. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog you’ll know I’ve been adamant that three-initial names neither differentiate nor deliver relevant associations. But CEOSpace? It’s a step backwards.

Why?  Three reasons.

1) It’s not appropriate. The business provides major 6-day forums that connect entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, business gurus and business mentors in a hotel for intense educational, networking and deal-making activities. I’m proud to say I’m a graduate. This “Free Enterprise Forum” is valuable and prestigious. Now does the trendy CEOSpace reflect that business or even the tone of the business? No, it doesn’t.

2) It’s misleading. The CEOSpace comes directly from the Internet. It’s a Web2 concept of social networking via the web. Any seminar or forum with that name I’d expect to be Internet-based. The name just doesn’t convey its content, format or heritage. Now the CEO part works, but just what is conveyed by the word, “space”. It certainly wasn’t anything to do with education, networking, deal making, entrepreneurship, venture capital or any other business-related association.

3) The older name, even if it has three initials, has equity. The old name has value. That’s probably why they haven’t altogether abandoned it. They still have an IBI Global website, but the local organizations that sell the forum through local weekly meetings have adopted CEOSpace.

It is possible that CEOSpace will go away, but not without ramifications. (remember AT&T became Cingular before Cingular became AT&T. Read about that problem by clicking BusinessWeek.

The second example is much more straight forward. The name in question is “FireDog”. I don’t where or how it started, but several supposed avant gard design companies thought calling themselves (something) Dog was hip. Then several other young, tradition-breaking revolutionists adopted Dog as part of their names. I don’t know why. Now a mainstream IT maintenance organization, not to be outdone by “The Geek Sqad”, has adopted FireDog. First, they’re several years behind the innovators. Second, what relevance or meaning does FireDog have to computer maintenance? Oh sure, you can say the same thing about names like Google and Yahoo and De-licious, but those are not me-too, fad-based names.

I’d advise not considering names that include Dog, Monkey, Space, or even the now-meaningless Express.

It’s okay to be different, even irreverent, but it’s not okay to jump on the coattails of a fad. Be original.

Martin Jelsema

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