Naming is very important. Name a trend, you own the trend. Name the product right and you own the genre (think of Hoover, Coke, Elastoplast). A colloquial or unofficial name is likely to be much more memorable and influential than a sensible, formal name. Weird or fun names also have more traction. A few recognisable examples: would you have approved any of these if you had never heard them before?
Naming: would your marketing department have approved these?
Google – who would have thought of that!
Here is a whole article from TechCrunch about how tech start-ups use super weird names. It is not just business or products names. It’s categories or phenomena or ideas. Millennials, Generation X, Generation Z, Boomers. Nudge psychology, greenhouse gases. It’s unlikely these would ever have been adopted if it had been left to the traditional voices in large businesses.
In my experience marketing departments or branding teams, often have a lot to say about names. In my view, it is almost always wrong. They insist on sensible long and quasi descriptive names. Rather than fun, random ones. Or more interesting: names that have to be explained.
JDART and the power of a clumsy acronym
This week we had an amazing example of how important it can be to name something in a non-standard way, in order to create – well something more powerful.
Elon Musk, a notable tech entrepreneur, won a defamation case bought by the British caver who led the rescue of the 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave. In a spat on Twitter, Musk called Vernon Unsworth a ‘pedo guy’.
My sympathies were all with Mr Unsworth, but the interesting thing to me was the use by the clever and presumably expensive defence, of a made-up word posing as an acronym: ‘JDART’.
I will leave it to someone called Elizabeth Lopatto writing on website The Verge to explain. (You need to know the clever lawyer in question was someone called Alex Spiro).
“Spiro then coined the worst acronym I’ve heard in years, and I edit stories about aerospace so I know from bad acronyms. It is: JDART, for joking, deleted, apologized-for, responsive tweets.”
However ridiculous that reads, this was a very clever and successful move. It gave life to the idea that one has to be allowed to make an error of judgement on Twitter and apologise – without being sued for millions.
“One of the smartest moves by Elon Musk’s defence was in introducing the concept of “JDart”, an acronym to describe their client’s conduct on Twitter in relation to the infamous “pedo guy” tweet.
It’s clumsy, for sure, but it meant Mr Spiro could offer the jury here a degree of structure around what before seemed senseless: Mr Musk may have acted foolishly with the J, but he soon “darted”, which is how you know he wasn’t being serious about the allegation. Expect the JDart “standard” to be applied again and again. “
I am always suggesting clients push for better names for great ideas or projects. It really doesn’t have to have a meaning – you can call a piece of software Shirley, or Crowsnest or Porridge for no reason other than fun. Or it can be a crazy acronym like JDART which has to be carefully explained. Either way, you will give your idea or product a life of its own. And that is good for business.
Google building image – Flickr: Luis Villa del Campo
Elon Musk – Wikipedia
Cave rescue headline – BBC screengrab.