I spotted this announcement today on newteevee.com and thought it had a good naming lesson in it:
NewCo finally gets a name: Hulu
News Corp. and NBC Universal have finally announced the name for NewCo online video effort: Hulu [Here is the explanation of] the reasons why they picked the name.
Why Hulu? Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we’re building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it.
Naming is typically done poorly. Youth picks a "cool" name. Engineers choose long names they shorten to alphabet names (IBM). Management picks safe names that are boring. Marketing pros create names for impact on the customer, the person who decides which company to buy from.
If the customer is a consumer, something that has emotional impact is required.
But did you know that vice presidents of industrial companies also make emotional decisions? Yes, even Cisco's chief IT officers in giant corporations are impacted by what the name implies. In a close contest for a big order, a great name can be worth millions.
So how do you pick great names? Here are some tips I've learned from Al Reis, godfather of positioning, branding guru:
Best naming guide is Chapter 4 of “11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding”;
by Al Ries and Laura Ries, Harper Business.
YOU NEED 4 NEW NAMES (never been used before)
- New product category
- The one you plan to dominate
(Become the gorilla of).
- Shared video content (YouTube)
- Search (Google)
- The one you plan to dominate (Become the gorilla of).
- New product family
- The things and services you will sell to customers who send you money.
- New technology
- The stuff you use to make what you sell.
- New corporation
- Your company.
- Your company.
The name should be simple.
The name should be suggestive of the category.
The name should be unique.
The name should be alliterative (bounces when you speak it)
- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Weight Watchers
The name should be speakable.
- Not: iWon.com, or Richoshae.com, or zUniversity
- Not: 3M, or 123tel.com
The name should be shocking.
- DieHard (automobile batteries)
- Amazon (biggest bookstore)
The name should be personalized if possible
- Michel Dell and Dell Computer Inc.
The technology name should be techie sexy and yet still have true technology meaning
- Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC)
- The Akamai EdgePlatform
BOTTOM LINE: Work on creating names that go to work for you. That is hard to do. It is much more than cool or a few letters of the alphabet. Getting that done with greatness will add power to creating your competitive advantage. You'll be very unfair to your competitors.