friday-rant
Business Management

Rant: Stupid tech firm names is a boom industry

Technology companies lead our world in so many ways so why not in pioneering stupid names?

Take this: the VR company Vrse is changing names. Very good, you think: no longer the need to wonder about pronunciation, spelling or make the sophomoric connection with the mildly offensive UK English ‘arse’. But no, the new name is Within - if anything a worse name, leading to all sorts of unnecessary confusion and syntactical chaos. (“I’m buying into Within.” “I want in on Within. “Within has a great place within the Magic Quadrant.” “With Within you’re with an industry leader.” “Whither Within?”)

Of course there are many others. The cellular telco 3 is particularly annoying, breaking all sorts of media conventions and requiring explanation of the fact the name is the name of a company – a pretty roundabout approach to branding. Companies with ‘intercaps’ – randomly capitalised letters – also merit a place in the inner circles of hell.

Another terrible name is Here, the moniker Nokia gave to its spun-out mapping division. Viber is pretty unfortunate (or daft) but there are many, many others. The glory days of brands like LANtastic and LAN In A Can seem far off, and if a company can successfully pull off this punning then there must be hope for others... even in IT.

It’s a long and dishonourable tradition. Is there an excuse? Perhaps the tendency of internet companies to grab anything resembling a brand as URL fodder has reduced the field. And legal restrictions on reflecting what the company actually does is a tough start to the naming process.

But you don’t even have to be po-faced or ultra-creative. Great names abound: Sun was a gift for headline writers, as were its brands like Java and Jini. Hortonworks is nice – who doesn’t like a connection to a toy animal and a children’s story? Boomi is fun. Splunk is enjoyable to say. And if in doubt just find a fruit: it worked for Apple, Orange, BlackBerry and others after all.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Consultant for IDG Connect

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