Battle of the Brands: Quirky Versus Telling

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With the advent of Web 2.0 it seems that most new media entrepreneurs have delegated the responsibility of coming up with names for their services to four year-olds. Will these names stick or is it just wishful thinking?
Back in April, we saw Google deciding one day that they were going to rename their product search and price comparison engine from Froogle (which they had initially chosen because it looked like Google and sounded like frugal) to Google Product Search – a name that immediately told people who were unfamiliar with the service what it did. All the effort that went into solidifying the original brand went to waste and probably lead to some confusion which could’ve been avoided if they had put some effort into branding.
A similar problem seems to plague the plethora of most Web 2.0 startups. Matt Ingram took a look at the names of all the companies that were announced at TechCrunch 40, and as you can imagine, more than half of them don’t make any sense if you aren’t already aware of what the service is. When you think of Faroo, Argoo, and Orgoo, what comes to mind? While these names are quirky (if not downright silly) and are in line with the Web 2.0 naming convention, they say nothing about the services they represent.
Of course there the argument that Yahoo!, Google, and a multitude of now-ubiquitous companies also have names that don’t readily tell the story behind the brand and so here’s my question: is it better to brand your service in a way that immediately draws your target audience or is the uniqueness/quirkiness of the name worth the extra effort you have to put into drawing users in and the confusion the name might cause?

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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