Oct. 10, 2012
My wife and I recently had our second girl and named her Brienne. Our first daughter’s name is Leliana. In case it’s not obvious, both of those names are extremely rare. According to BabyCenter.com, there were only three babies per million named Leliana in 2010, the year she was born; and there are only 14 babies per million named Brienne so far this year. Now it’s quite possible that we’ll end up regretting this decision, but our intent was that each of them would be able to grow up being one of the only (if not the only) person they know with their name.
When I was in college, I had two separate roommates that shared my name, and was friends with several more. Not only does this get a little confusing, but it can also force people to start referring to you as something other than your actual name, with mixed results.
Names are equally important in marketing. Whether it’s deciding to remove version numbers from your product names, using generic sounding names or choosing difficult to spell or pronounce names, many of the same considerations apply.
For instance, when Apple decided to remove the version number from the iPad, it made it much more cumbersome to differentiate between the new iPad and the iPad 2. I’m sure they didn’t make this decision lightly, but I’ll be interested to see how things play out when they release the next version. Will it be the “even newer” iPad, perhaps? It’s important to be able to differentiate between product versions, and it may have been a mistake for Apple to remove any distinction from the product name.
There was also a trend in the Web 2.0 days of using quirky company names like Flickr or ooVoo. Just like the unique names for my children, this has drawbacks. For instance, if you use a non-conventional spelling, you might be making it more difficult for people to remember or find you. That’s probably why when these sites become successful, they end up paying for the normal spellings as well. Flickr, for instance probably paid more than $600,000 to get FLICKER.COM. Yikes!
In a lot of ways, naming a product or company is a lot like naming a kid: you have to live with the consequences. But my personal recommendation is to go with names that sound appropriate, differentiate you from the crowd, and are just a little bit unexpected.
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