An interesting article in today’s New York Times, On the Move, in a Thriving Tech Sector, follows the progress of one of many new startups based in New York City, from birth to growth and eventual venture capital funding and expansion. From a naming point of view, this startup’s name, Yipit, though not terrible, illustrates the pitfalls when brand naming is driven by the requirement to have a matching, short domain name available for registration. So few such names are left, that they are by definition becoming more convoluted. As the article notes,
Even their corporate identity — their name, Yipit — was the product of a trial-and-error process, albeit one of a specifically digital sort. Mr. Moran said he and Mr. Vacanti had wanted a name with noun-like solidity but with the snappiness of a verb. “We wanted to be able to say, ‘Something-It!’ ” he said.
The trouble was that neither man knew what that “something” was. So they created a computer program that generated all possible English-language compounds composed of a three-letter, consonant-vowel-consonant prefix and “it.” Yipit, Mr. Moran said, was the only one that was both pronounceable and unclaimed on the Internet’s domain registry.
Obviously, if “yipit” was the “only name left” that fit their somewhat arbitrary process filter, then that’s one more avenue exhausted for the next startup that tries to do naming by a similar process, with a similar filter in place. Naming that is driving by such restricted domain name requirement filters — what we call the “domain domination blues” — is a zero sum game, and while it’s not impossible to achieve good results when playing this game, it is getting more difficult every day.
On the other hand, this same article mentions another young company, General Assembly, a “communal office campus” where Yipit incubated before recent VC funding allowed them to move into their own office space. General Assembly is a perfect name for this company, a name that works on multiple levels, and we celebrate it in an entry in The Compendium of Amazing Names (CAN).