Never before has it been easier to learn how to program and host your own websites, so it’s no surprise that startups have boomed over the last decade. While this is a good thing in the bigger picture, it does present some issues…
…like picking a name that doesn’t suck. Try coming up with a unique-but-catchy name for an imaginary company or product and you’ll soon realize that all of the good ones have already been taken.
Unfortunately, this means that many company names are simply awful, sometimes even verging on cringe territory. Here are some of the worst offenders. Heed them as examples of what not to do if you’re ever trying to come up with a name.
What Makes a Good Tech Company Name?
Before we identify some of these horrible names, let’s talk elements that go into a great name. Names like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and even Craigslist are fantastic, but why?
Descriptive. A great name tells you what the company is about right off the bat. Obviously you won’t get the entire story from the name, but it should give you an idea. I mean, if you’ve never heard of Skype before, what would you think it was?
Personality. Being descriptive is good, but not if you sacrifice uniqueness and personality. A bland name makes it harder for you to distinguish yourself from everyone else, especially if the name is already used in common vernacular. (Hi there, Intel.)
Easy to say. A company name should be easy to drop into conversation. If it’s a tongue twister, scrap it. If it has a million syllables, shorten it. Motorola is smoother than butter. Eefoof? Not so much.
Easy to discern. When you namedrop your company in conversation, listeners should immediately get it. If they have to ask how to spell it, or if they ask you to repeat it, go back to the drawing board. (“Bawte, with an -awte at the end. Not ‘bought’, dude.”)
The one caveat is that as your product becomes more widely adopted and your company becomes more popular, the name will matter less over time. Tumblr, Amazon, Pandora, Skype – they’re all evidence that a bad name won’t necessarily kill you if your products or services are useful.
But some names are so terrible it’s worth looking at. Here are just a few.
Wesabe was a company founded in 2005 that helped users keep track of spending habits. They had a noble mission – to help people get out of debt and learn how to make better financial decisions – but quickly went under when they failed to attract an audience.
Was Wesabe supposed to be a play on “We Save”? Maybe, but it’s such a deviation that it sounds like gibberish – personally, I read it as “wezza-bay”. It’s also lifeless. No wonder they were destroyed by their competitor, Mint.
Lawdingo is a still-running web service that provides affordable legal advice for both individuals and businesses. Not only do they charge $50 for 30 minutes of consultation, they’ll also provide you with an actual lawyer at breakneck speeds.
But what’s with that name? When I think “quality and professional”, I automatically reject any term that has the word “dingo” in it. At least it’s easy to say, but I’m sure it has raised more than a few eyebrows over the years.
I’ll give you three guesses as to what ChubbyBrain does as a service. In fact, I’ll give you ten guesses. Heck, why not a hundred? It wouldn’t matter because nobody would ever connect this brand’s name with its mission except by sheer dumb luck.
If your business needs funding, ChubbyBrain will analyze its database of venture capitalists, grant providers, and investors and match you up with those who would be most sympathetic to your cause, thus maximizing your chance of successful fundraising.
If you can figure out how “ChubbyBrain” relates to that, please let me know.
Every once in a while, I come across a service with such a weird name that it causes a physical reaction (in this case, the furrowing of my brows and an audible “What?”). As it turns out, Xobni made email-related products until it was shut down in 2014.
At which point the light clicks on: Xobni is “inbox” spelled backward. It seems like it should be a clever revelation, but it’s really not; just a wasted opportunity.
If the only thing separating your app name from a misunderstanding is which letters you decided to capitalize, then you should probably go ahead and rename it because you can’t rely on people to use capitalization all the time.
Joining the likes of ancient Internet funnies like PenIsland (PenisLand) and ExpertsExchange (ExpertSexChange), KeePass is only a misplaced Shift key away from KeepAss.
It’s hard to unsee once you’ve seen it, and it’s unfortunate because KeePass is actually one of the best Android password managers currently available for free.
Analtech is a Delaware-based company that manufacturers thin-layer chromatography plates and distributes them internationally.
Not much imagination is needed to see why this name is worse than terrible. Apparently it’s a combination of “analytics” and “technology”, but even so…
Launched in 1995, Dogpile is a search engine that predates Google and was one of the top choices at the time. Today, it simply aggregates search results from multiple engines like Google, as well as alternative search engines like Yandex and Bing.
Though not as vulgar as Analtech, Dogpile’s name still has the power to conjure up some disturbing imagery. Is it a steaming dogpile? Or a pile of dogs? Seeing as how nobody really uses Dogpile anymore, I guess it doesn’t matter.
Like Dogpile, Cuil was a search engine, except it was designed to outperform the big boys. Not only did it boast of the largest search index at the time, but also the fastest queries. As it was developed by ex-Google employees, the claims did hold some water.
There’s a lot of speculation about why it shut down in 2010, but I’m willing to bet that the name was a big factor. How are you supposed to pronounce it? Officially it’s “cool”, but of all the ways I’ve heard it said – “quill”, “kwyle”, “cull”, and more. “Cool” was never one of them.
Lastly, we have Grexit, the company name that inspired this article to begin with. This software company develops tools that enable email-based collaboration, especially as it relates to Gmail. On its own, Grexit isn’t a great name.
But earlier this year, when the possibility of Greece withdrawing from the Eurozone arose, things went far south for the company.
Colloquially, Greece’s potential exit from the Eurozone is known as the “grexit”, or “Greek exit”. This unfortunate coincidence has been a huge headache for Grexit the company, partly because they’re now receiving a ton of unrelated traffic, but also because the whole situation is damaging their brand.
Which Tech Brand Has the Worst Name?
Thousands of tech brands have come and gone over the years and I know that there are plenty of other names worth mentioning on this list. So, tell me. Can you think of any poorly named tech companies or products?
Don’t be shy. Share them with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.