Monday, March 03, 2008


Thoof, Xobni, Kwout.

No, I'm not trying to seduce you in Klingon. These are the names of some internet start-ups and illegal Scrabble words. I had another little moment recently where the volume of ridiculous company names I was exposed to became so high that I half expected my bus home to be driven by a Tellytubby.

We are scraping the barrel of the alphabet, desperately trying to find an 'ownable' word which still has its URL available. It's getting very painful. Again.

Nancy Friedman, of Wordworking has put together a nice post on the naming trends of 2007. Worth a read. And PC Mag has compiled a top ten list of the worst named apps.

This has all been going on for a while, but my irritation with it comes in waves. I feel like we're about to run out of word combinations completely. This saturation of silly names and the generic aesthetic associated with them is summed up beautifully in this post by Trevor Elliot. He made a striking montage of all the speech bubble logos he could find online. This image should be a visual reminder to all web developers of what to avoid.

If you'll allow me a few sweeping generalisations...
The Nineties was all about naming companies with a short, sharp, one-syllable word: Fuel; Fibre; Seed; Cube. The noughties has been a stage for these made-up names - mostly to claim a .com.

I've been wondering this week what will be next. Will we start to combine languages? (Svenglish, anyone?) What about mixing old forgotten words with new words? Or perhaps longer names with several words. Now In Colour was originally the name of a comms agency I started back in 2001. We chose the name (amongst other reasons) to avoid other trends. A Practice For Every Day Life is a lovely name for a design agency. And I quite like Love And War too. In fact, creative agencies are quite good at leading the way. HyperHappen is another lovely - if ambiguous - descriptive name. I think names that set a mood like this stand out well.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, good examples, or interesting articles/predictions on naming do click the comments button.

That's it for now. But as Blackadder might say, I shall return Interfrastically.



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