Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's in a name?

Rose Red Devil バラ レッドデビル

Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

(from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)

If you create a service, product or company that is first rate you can pretty much give it any name you like; take Spotify, for example, when I first heard the name I thought it was a contagious disease, but the service is exemplary and we soon got use to the slightly odd name.

A good name, however, can certainly help grease the wheels of success. But what exactly is a good name? Zipipop undertakes strategic branding work and therefore naming is something we have to think about deeply. So here is a process for creating a great name, or at least one that's good enough to get you some attention before the product will have to speak for itself.


If it doesn't stick in people's minds it doesn't matter how clever or meaningful it is.

But to get to both a meaningful and memorable name you can try processing potential names through some of these filters:

ABSRACT: Often names that are abstract or detached from the actual business work best since they have little baggage (or unwanted connotations) and allow for flexibility over time. Think: Apple, Amazon, FourSquare, etc.

ASSOCIATIVE: Often names that have a connection to the line of business or product, but have an abstract quality by being detached from everyday language. Think: Oracle (someone who can convey information from a God) or Nike (the Winged Goddess of Victory).

ASSOCIATIVE NEOLOGISMS: Or you can invent names that suggest a feeling of the business nature. Think: Accenture (accent is to go up), Google (a misspelling of Googol - super large number), Flickr (to flick through pictures).

PRACTICAL COMBINATIONS: Combining existing words to create a does-what-it-says name (think Microsoft, Plancast, SlideShare, YouTube, etc.)

ACRONYMS: Think IBM (International Business Machines, SAP (Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte, etc) that have the benefits of a no-nonsense, does-what-it-says beginning, but after time they acquire the benefits of an abstract name, i.e. IBM is now more of service consulting company that it is a product manufacturer.

However, in all cases the name needs to capture something of the brand essence which first needs to be clearly defined, e.g. business area, values and philosophies. Also to work best on search engines it should have a unique This makes the task harder but can force you to be more original.

What do you want the name to convey, for example, Zipipop was very deliberate. Pop was for something bubbly with pop (popular) culture connotations (i.e. pop music); and the Zipi was the result of resorting to a Swahili dictionary (I was born in Kenya) to find a free domain name. It meant "which" – as in Which bag? – due to the personal opinion polls idea we started with. But it also gives the feeling of being fast, as in zip to the shops.

It took Helene and I a lot of thought, plus a weekend of brainstorming, to come up with a name that we thought could work and had a free web domain. However, we like to think the effort was worth it. If you want to try crowdsourcing the effort then we suggest you open a collaborative online document (say a Google Doc) and get the core team to brainstorm dozens of names, then pick five that you can present to your community in the form of an online poll (say a Google Form).

Good luck finding a great name and may your ventures all come up smelling of roses!

(Note: This blog entry is part of a series of entries I'm going to bring across from Zipipop's previous blog before it was turned into the Finnish only blog)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hub Generation

The internet is fueling demands for greater transparency, accountability, sharing, meritocracy, collaboration, flexibility, and social responsibility.

Therefore Zipipop, together with some close network partners, decided to initiate and support a new community blog called Hub Generation to look into these topics and explore the impact of social media and cloud computing on the way we work and organize society. 

This is not your average blog because it uses an innovative approach to help generate and refine content creation.  Most of the content will be summaries of discussions that take place in the Hub Generation Linkedin group. In this way you will get the benefits of different areas of expertise and view points without the need to wade through long discussions; however, in the name of transparency we have just taken advantage of Linkedin's new capability to make the group publicly visible – so that if you wish to get a deeper insight you will be free to read the complete discussions.

The English language blog will have a Nordic viewpoint but with guests from all over the world. And to underpin the philosophical and theoretical thinking we will endeavor to also include practical examples of social web services, management innovations, and civil initiatives that are already making a difference. The mini-essay style blog entries aim to have substance and lasting usefulness.

The community is still very young but it is starting to pick up speed now. There is already some great content and we hope to have some great guest writers in the near future. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia – King of Keys

Now that Nokia CEO Elop has chosen to back Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform the race is truly on. There are many pros about this arrangement, but I believe Nokia should add another key strategic element that will help it go beyond potentially being just an "as good" option. And I believe that this should be keys. Key management is a complex challenge for both large and small organizations and Nokia is ideally positioned to become the King of Keys.

Like Google's Nexus 2, it will not be long before Nokia phones start shipping with a built in technology called Near Field Communication (NFC). This is a short-range wireless communication technology standard that enables the exchange of data between devices over a short distance. This has many potential uses and one of them is keys.

Many of us nowadays are used to having some form of wireless electronic key for accessing organizational buildings, which often require the typing of an additional pin code. These two components can easily be built into a mobile phone with the added advantage of being able to issue and remove keys remotely.

Trials of NFC mobile keys are now starting to happen. For example, a Clarion Hotel in Stockholm has recently partnered with the mobile operator TeliaSonera and one of the world's biggest automated key companies ASSA ABLOY to test replacing keys with mobiles. ASSA ABLOY has developed software that can issue hotel keys before guests arrive and they can even leave without having to physically check-out. This could also be used for guests coming to visit corporate buildings. ASSA ABLOY is a Nordic company (with half Finnish roots) and my advice is that Nokia should go and talk with them – if they are not already.

Nokia's strengths have, over the years, been more around engineering and this service is all about technology; and the pin codes would be entered through a standard number pad. So it would be a match made in heaven. A Qualcommm representative told me that there are still challenges with varying standards around NFC, but this would play to Nokia's advantage, since they still have the leverage to enforce a worldwide standard related to NFC keys.

Also the combination of Microsoft's business credentials would work well with organizations looking for a solid key issuing system. A Nokia executive a few months back (at a party) was not initially enthusiastic about this King of Keys idea, since he said that the direct to business sales is a relatively small part of their operations – but then immediately his eyes lit up and he said that he would definitely consider it.

This is an open market and Nokia should act quickly to claim the space.