SOURCE: Catchword


December 23, 2009 05:00 ET

Catchword's 10 Dot-Com Naming Trends of the Decade

The Best & Worst Internet Names From the Trends That Defined the Space

OAKLAND, CA--(Marketwire - December 23, 2009) - Like the internet phenoms they trumpeted, internet company names of the last decade have been, by turns, inventive, troubled, silly, serviceable (if dull) -- and occasionally, brilliant. In its first annual list, Catchword, a leading bicoastal naming company that's christened more than its share of internet phenoms, looked back over the decade and identified the 10 biggest dot-com naming trends -- and their picks for best and worst examples.

"Frankly, it was hard to choose just one 'worst' in some cases," confesses Catchword partner and linguistics expert Laurel Sutton. "There were so many Web 2.0 disasters! It was as though the rules of language ceased to apply."

Here are the trends and names that rose to the top (and sank to the bottom):

1. The Hookup

Sometimes two words are better than one -- especially to convey a new way of doing things.

Win: YouTube

Fail: TalkShoe

2. The Conjurer

Evocative words can make memorable brand names -- but only if they relate to the core of a brand's story.

Win: Twitter

Fail: MOO

3. The Letter-Dropper

A style so distinctive, you can look like a copycat if you're not the first out of the gate.

Win: Flickr

Fail: iStalkr

4. The Assembly Line

Names assembled from word parts with meaningful associations can be rich and unexpected. But tone and messaging need to be just right.

Win: Wikipedia

Fail: Nupedia

5. The Misspeller

This kind of brand name often spells disaster: hard to remember, confusing to pronounce, and reeking of URL-search desperation.

Win: Boku

Fail: Cuil

6. The Wordster

Another convention that ages fast. And there's nothing more pathetic in naming than a transparent attempt to appear cool.

Win: Friendster

Fail: Napster

7. The Double or Nothing

Doubling a letter in a real word only works when the word remains recognizable, and the added letter serves some purpose.

Win: Digg

Fail: Diigo

8. The eThing, the iThing, the meThing, the myThing

Predictable, unremarkable -- but sometimes, serviceable.

Win: iContact

Fail: eSnailer, eBaum's World, eXpresso...

9. The Empty Vessel

A name without semantic roots can work if it's pronounceable and has relevant sound symbolism. Otherwise, it's not an empty vessel -- it's alphabet soup.

Win: Kazaa

Fail: Eefoof

10. The Foreigner

Words in little-known languages can be good "umbrella" names, especially if the meaning of the word provides a springboard into the brand story.

Win: Hulu

Fail: Jwaala

When asked if she had any predictions for internet company naming trends of the coming decade, Sutton said, "companies will be willing to pay a premium for real-word or lightly coined domain names, and to be creative in the messages they explore -- as long as they're relevant to the brand." Like internet companies themselves, it appears that internet naming is coming back down to earth.

Founded in 1998, Catchword is a full-service naming firm that's had a ringside seat to the internet naming phenoms of the last decade. For the full article about dot-com trends go to

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