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September 17, 2007 | Tate Linden
I'm not sure how I missed this site amongst the clutter of naming sites on the internet. An intriguing concept - using a marketplace of sorts to sell names that someone has thought of and wants to sell. If you're a great namer then this just might work...

...but I think that great naming must be in the eye of the beholder because I'm not so sure that the names being sold are the sort of thing I'd advise my clients to buy - even if I was the one to invent the terms.

Consider the following:
  • Juventure -
    • Supposedly an ideal name for a young venture capital firm. Someone might like to check their homonymic dictionary before grabbing this one. May work very well amongst the Hasidim, however.
  • Stringia -
    • The site lists this as inspired by string theory. We've got friends from Jersey that are already using this word to describe their hair in comparison to someone who uses conditioner.
  • Xirant -
    • The claim on this name is that it is "semantically meaningless." We don't see that. We see "tirant" with a single letter x-ed out. Or if you get creative the "t" just got lazy and flopped over at a 45 degree angle. "Fast, strong, and masculine?" Sure. And prone to genocide too!
Okay, so I'm being a little picky here. We've said it before - any name can be ripped to shreds by someone with even a little bit of experience. But these names certainly make it easier than it should be. (Perhaps if the analysis hadn't been provided we'd be less likely to jump on the issues. If the site had advertised just domain names we'd be far more kind.)

What really got our blood flowing this morning wasn't the quality of the names themselves... it was the use of the (r) after every single name listed. You see, you can't just slap an (r) on something and have it protected. Trademarks don't work that way. You've got to file for protection in specific classes and receive notifcation from the US government. NameSale has never done this for any of the listed names (that we can find.)

They did file for protection on their own name - but that lapsed on July 7, 2005... meaning that the (r) after their own name isn't there legally either.

It's a Monday so I've almost got enough ire to slap "NameSale" in my own website name just to prove a point. Sadly "The ThingNameSaler" looks absolutely horrific and makes no sense at all. It was a good idea though, no? Maybe I could sell and make a fortune!

What should the folks at NameSale have done? Well - if they wanted protection in the US they should've used (tm) or (sm.) Perhaps someone over in Sweden can search the PRV and tell us whether some of these were actually registered over yonder. We're guessing that since there's money involved in both filing and searching that neither was done for these names...

Come on people! If you're going to play in the naming space at least come with your B game.

(Actually, the names provided aren't bad ones... they're just not great names. It's obvious that many of the names in the list were rejected by clients of theirs and they're just trying to recycle them. They're just going about it a little backwards.)

If you want to have more fun just check out The Wayback Machine.You can see how the list of names has evolved over the years. Interestingly enough, the Juventure name hasn't sold since late 2001. (But maybe this post will be the one to push it into the sold column!)

Good luck in the sale of the domain NameSalers! We'll check up later in the year to see what's goin' on.
Nancy Friedman September 18, 2007 4:26 PM

I hadn't been aware of this site, either -- thanks for bringing it to my attention! And the Wayback thing! Way cool!
I agree with you that recycled names are a poor substitute for the bespoke product. Still, I have to give NameSale props for attempting to provide a story and rationale for each name. Some other name-sale sites just list their names.
Yes, Juventure: what were they thinking? But I'm not as negative as you are about Xirant: for one thing, "tyrant" is spelled with a "y"; for another, "Xirant" strikes me as a plausible, if not particularly appealing, technology name. Or you could spell it xIrant and make it an adults-only rant site!

Nancy Friedman September 18, 2007 4:28 PM

Oh, and P.S.: Did you notice how many of those names end in -ica or -ia? Funny how some name developers gravitate toward certain constructions.

Tate Linden September 18, 2007 8:34 PM

Hate when I post without coffee. Spelling is optional, right?
Good points, all. As usual. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. (And I'd not noticed the -ica/-ia pattern. Nice catch!)

John Xavier September 23, 2007 8:32 AM

It seems that they overdid the -ia suffix... Offshoria? That's good for a laugh!
Also, they list one of the criteria as "easily pronounced and intuitively spelled," yet many of the names have ambiguous pronunciation and/or hard to spell. For instance, Xirant could be pronounced "zee-rant" instead of rhyming with tyrant. Don't get me started on Citeor (site or? nope, it rhymes with meteor), Centrarx (spelling nightmare), and Mundica (aptly named!).

Johan Hedborg October 25, 2007 7:55 AM

Hi you guys! I'm amazed to discover that you spend your time analyzing our business so diligently! We make our living from naming, branding, and design for the past 15 years, and have lots of happy clients, who've made fortunes after we consulted them. So how about trying to make some money yourself from our field, instead of ranting for free? But perhaps I shouldn't bite back - any publicity is good publicity, as they say. Good luck!
Johan Hedborg, B.A., D.S.A.P.

Tate Linden October 26, 2007 11:35 AM

Hej Johan!
Appreciate the visit. I can commiserate with you on not knowing all the trademark stuff. I'm pretty sure we're not up to date with our own application of the law. So if that's the bite you're referring to we're biting ourselves too...
I think that you're doin' a great job with the branding angle - it's only the selling of the names that didn't make the grade that felt a little iffy to me. That said - it's an interesting approach... and one we wouldn't have considered until we saw you do it. Most branding firms just recycle their names behind closed doors so people don't think they're getting a second-hand name. You're turning that on its head. I rather like it. (As I recall, "Blackberry" was a recycled name...)
We rant because we care. We're trying to bring visibility and credibility to the field of naming. It ain't often that people think about it. Interestingly, our well researched rants bring far more attention than the research itself does. No one cares that copycat naming doesn't work. But people do care when copycat naming practices take a 'smackdown' from a branding firm.
Branding (to us) has a lot to do with taking risks. Everyone seems afraid to take a stand (other than "BE DIFFERENT" in which all of us seem to be in agreement about.) Ever notice how almost all the branding firms look exactly the same? (Just count the number of 'em that use a tilted or upside-down letter in their name to suggest they're creative.) We think sameness sucks. We're makin' some noise. And we note that we're pretty much alone in that aspect.
We're not perfect. In fact, we're aggressively IMperfect. But ranting for free to those that want to listen (and readers of this blog aren't typically people who have no interest in what we say) is far preferable to spending wads of dough to broadcast our words to people that don't care in the least.
I don't doubt you've made fortunes for your clients. I hope you continue to do so. I would be interested to hear if any of the names from the site have ever made a fortune for anyone. When I'm wrong I'm wrong. If there are successes I'll post a full story on it.