You’ve heard of FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. You may have even heard of FOBO, Fear of a Better Option. But have you heard of FOSO?
In the world of naming, FOSO means Fear of Standing Out. And Zinzin coined it, because we’ve observed this decision-making phenomenon in our industry time and again.
Say it ain’t so, marketing team
When it’s time to name (or rename) a company, product, or service, FOSO is all too common. That’s ironic, because naming and branding should be considered among a company’s most important marketing efforts. And marketing is all about getting your brand to stand out from the crowd. It should be noticed, talked about, recommended, and remembered.
Yet, for some reason, when it comes to naming, many companies become blinded by an irrational fear of standing out. Consciously or subconsciously, these companies choose to blend in with their competition rather than stand apart.
Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Zinzin’s Naming & Branding Manifesto tenet #18 begins, “It’s a very simple calculus: if your competitors are all doing the same thing, then you will stand out if you do something different. And the first and most visible point of differentiation is with your name.”
Difruhnt, but not that different
We don’t mean being different just for the sake of being different. (See Zinzin’s Manifesto tenet #24.) By connecting the dots metaphorically and poetically to a unique, compelling brand positioning story, your brand will naturally stand apart from the crowd. But, first, your company must overcome its FOSO.
No More FOSO
Whether your company is a start-up or an established brand, Zinzin can help you overcome FOSO. We’ve found that our rigorous and battle-tested process helps everyone on our client’s naming team understand the competitive name reality of the marketplace and why great brand names succeed, while so many more fail. We help them work through the internal politics, divisions, and concerns that are likely the root of their FOSO.
Check out this great article at Inverse by Ali Pattillo, a health and science reporter based in NYC, called, “The Inventor of FOMO Explains How to Overcome Decision Paralysis.” We think parallels can be drawn between FOMO/FOBO and FOSO in the way they hinder decision-making and sabotage success, and how we can overcome them.
Pattillo interviews Patrick McGinnis, a venture capitalist and author who coined the terms FOMO and FOBO in a student newspaper while at Harvard Business School. Here’s the section of the article where he addresses how to overcome FOBO and FOMO (or insert “FOSO,” for that matter):
FOMO and FOBO are often rooted in this information asymmetry between what you have at the moment and what you think is out there that is better for you, McGinnis explains. The tendency to overanalyze isn’t new but has become more prevalent in the age of social media and the internet.
“All of our lives have become Tinder-ized with information overload about what our options are, and our ability to easily compare ourselves with other people in our community or across the world has made these things far more pernicious than ever,” McGinnis says.
“FOMO is a perception that there’s something better out there than what you’re doing at the moment combined with a desire to be part of the crowd. To attack FOMO, you need to deeply think about whether your perception at all corresponds to reality, and what are your motivations for doing something?”
McGinnis suggests asking questions like:
- Are you doing it because you really want to do it?
- Am I following the crowd?
- Can I actually do this?
- Do I have the resources for this?
- Do I have the talents for this?
- Do I have the time for this?
Other FOSO in the world
While Zinzin’s specific use of FOSO is in regards to a phenomenon within the world of naming and branding, this combination of letters already exists in other realms of our universe.
For starters, foso happens to be a Spanish word for a moat, ditch, pit, or hole dug in the ground. Which makes it a perfect metaphor for what can happen to your business if you allow your brand to be mired in the ditch that Fear of Standing Out leads to: the foso pit of mediocre brand names that are all saying the same thing in the same way to the same audience.
Additionally, here’s an interesting list of other places FOSO is used (as an acronym or abbreviated expression):
- Netværk for FOrskning i SOcialt arbejde (Network for Research in Social Work), Aalborg, Denmark
- Framework of Strategic Objectives (business terminology)
- Face Off, Stay On (Lacrosse terminology)
- Flight Operations Scheduling Officer (NASA)
- Focused Opportunity for the Solar Orbiter mission (NASA)
- Friends of the Sea Otter (Monterey, CA)
- Full of shit, obviously (Urban Dictionary)
- Fear of speaking out (Urban Dictionary)
Never fear, Zinzin is here
Now that we know the full FOSO picture, Zinzin feels confident in saying we’d be FOSO (full of shit, obviously) if we had FOSO (fear of speaking out) about the real FOSO in the room, Fear of Standing Out, when naming your company, brand, product, or service.
So, in honor of the courage and wisdom it takes for our clients — or any company that does naming right — to stand out, let’s stand up and shout,
“We will not be afraid to let our name stand out!”
“No more fear of standing out!”
“No more FOSO!”
(Zinzin is sorry-not-sorry if all that shouting just got you in trouble with your boss or partner or roommate or neighbor. Show them this post so they can shout along with you, and then you won’t stand out quite as much in your fearlessness about standing out.) 😉