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Much Ado About Twitter

The following is a guest post from Marc Braunstein, Chief Naming Officer of the new agency, viz. Marc has been involved in branding for years, and created viz to help new companies choose the outstanding name their brands deserve…

If you’ve been near a business section this week, you know Twitter’s IPO is imminent, and that it will set a valuation for the micro-blogging company of approximately $12 billion. I don’t pretend to understand how the company can support that number, but I did learn that Pope Francis just celebrated reaching his 10 millionth follower, and how the pontiff is now more popular than the New York Times yet still less tweet-able than Kanye West.

Actually, the thing I was most pondering was the company’s brand name and the other words it has added to the global lexicon. I was skeptical of the silly little app at first, but Twitter the word turned out to be the perfect handle for Twitter the company. (Apparently, the founders started out liking words like ‘Jitter’ and ‘Twitch’, but those sounded too drug addled.) The final choice of Twitter not only captured the desired attributes of speed and urgency, but it’s also incredibly fun, fantastically memorable, and creates the superb Twitter-tweet dyad. How many companies have engineered a brand that marries the company name with both a noun and active verb so effectively? “I’m composing a tweet.” “I’m tweeting Saul.” “I re-tweeted that an hour ago.” It’s so perfect I can’t possibly imagine another set of words in their stead. The word hashtag is the only mashed up part of the vocabulary I think.

Why not just #twag?

I’m concerned that when faced with the job of naming a company, product, service, technology or ingredient, too many owners or managers are at risk of becoming attached to a name that doesn’t give their business enough of a jump-start in the marketplace. This is particularly true if the name is chosen by democratic process, or if it’s a condition that the name has an available matching URL. It doesn’t have to be that way if you’re open to unexpected ideas, if you consider which brand messages are going to resonate outside of the company, and if you act just a little impulsively.

Sacrilege I know, but that’s sometimes the way great brand names are made.

Marc Braunstein is Chief Naming Officer of viz.

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