What's in a name? For strangely branded tech startups, it turns out, a lot
KidoZen, Wekho, YADOX, webee, Entic, pikchur, Wagaduu!
It might seem strange for those not plugged in to tech but, far from croakings in strange and stilted foreign language, those are the names of some Miami startups that have been funded in the current boom cycle. Indeed, it seems you can’t go to a tech conference or meetup of any kind without hearing half a dozen new made-up, whimsical and just plain strange names for startups. Senzari, Hubdin, neocis, Fashom, ZUDY.
Research firm Clutch looked at company names for newer startups. The company found new… more
South Florida techies are not alone in their strange naming conventions and, according to a new report, there might be a method to the madness.
Washington, DC-based research firm Clutch found that in a national sample of companies, three times as many funded startups founded since 2012 had invented names when compared to high-growth companies founded before 2012. The data set used for successful pre-2012 firms was this year’s Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies. The study found newer startups were more likely to have “evocative” names, which include real words that have nothing to do with the brand (Uber is an example). Newer firms were slightly more likely than established ones to use “experiential” names, which describe “an aspect of the human experience” the brand is trying to evoke (Yahoo! is probably the best-known tech brand example)
Clutch found the invented names are not just a creative fad but are sometimes driven by very practical considerations: a startup’s ability to get a web address with their company’s name and an aversion to choosing names that could be challenged in court as infringing existing trademarks.
“You will find from a legal perspective that coining names is easier than leveraging real words because you are creating something entirely new,” said Scott Milano, one of the people cited in the report. Milano is the owner of a branding firm that’s (quite appropriately in this context) named Tanj. He added: “A coined name can function as an empty vessel – there is no attached meaning to it because it’s not rooted in anything that we know to date.”
The ability to eventually nag an Internet domain address with the format “exact company name + .com” seems to be a big driver for invented names, several people in the Clutch study said. Ironically, even as a plethora of other domain extensions have sprouted to replace the standby .com, usage of that Internet suffix is as popular as ever. The study found newer companies were much more likely to have a .com address than older firms.
A few experts quoted in the study suggested company naming should move beyond that.
“There are a number of extensions that have come out that sometimes help better position a company,” said Brannon Cashion of branding consultant Addison Whitney. “It could be dot-biz, dot-country, dot-us, or dot-uk, et cetera. Those extensions might better position a company or product, where the dot-com is not necessary.”