Generally, Generic Generalizes

Those desperate times, from 1995 to 1997, when getting the absolutely best Web brand name for your dot-com was of paramount importance, are long gone. You can forget all about any hope of getting names such as milk.com, water.com, house.com, or car.com.

So do I mean that all the best names are long taken and nothing is left?

Well, if you ask a nonmarketing guy, you’d probably receive a yes, sorry to say — the nonmarketing guy being of the opinion that a dot-com name absolutely must be related to the product category most appropriate to it.

But hang on. How does that automatic response square with everything we’ve learned about brand building? Who can seriously claim that chocolate.com is the best brand name for a chocolate brand?

Prefer the Particular

In reality, a generic brand name simply confirms a product’s lack of uniqueness. A generic name is a general one. Finding a good brand name is all about lots of good homework and coming up with an identifier that’s either free of heritage or blessed with a twist of something positive.

Only someone who’s naove would believe that you can find a brand name that works and is perceived positively all around the world. Most company names are developed from scratch so that they are unencumbered by any history or innuendo beyond that which the brand builders massage into existence.

Procter & Gamble, for example, recently put up more than 150 domain names for sale, including the likes of “nails” and “detergent.” Its reasoning is that “tide.com” is a more powerful brand name than the generic “detergent.com.”

Relearning Learning

In lots of ways the Internet business has been undergoing an education process just as the advertising industry did some 80 years ago. The good news is that we don’t have to wait another 74 years before we relearn what we’ve already discovered from brick-and-mortar marketing.

Actually we’re pretty close to enlightenment already. Just take a look at the most recent Super Bowl commercials. They were “real” commercials, not promotions that advertised the media more than the message. Last year’s super-high-investment Super Bowl advertising, on the other hand, in many cases amounted to expensive showing-off exercises rather than disseminating brand and product knowledge.

Starting from Scratch

Trovan., Vitria Technology, Clareon Corp., and CoVia Technologies are examples of company names that you and I might not be familiar with. What do these names stand for? In fact they represent an electronic ID system company, a business software company, an Internet payment company, and a technology company, respectively.

Currently, from the general consumer’s perspective, their names are like empty boxes that have yet to be filled with identifying brand values. If you reckon such brand names are ineffective just because you have no idea what they stand for, you need to think beyond the Net. In reality, such names will be much more effective than generic brand names that lock products into categories.

So let’s give up the fantasy.

Just like in the real world, not all songs are written, not all brand names are taken, and not all URLs are gone.

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