I learned this week about three business names that, while not technically descriptive—inadvisable from a trademark-law perspective—do express very clearly what they're all about.
2. Traif, a new restaurant in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, specializes in pork and shellfish, both of which are the ultimate in nonkosher foods—that is, they are traif (a Yiddish word sometimes spelled tref or treyf). In many parts of the country, such a restaurant would barely attract notice, but Williamsburg happens to be home to one of the largest communities of ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York. It's also home, as Bari Weiss reports in the Wall Street Journal, to a distinct yet equally devout sect: the hipsters.
The Artisten, as the Hasidim call them, obediently don their skinny jeans, fanny packs and granny glasses. They smoke Parliaments and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon while they bop, understatedly, to indie music. Irony is studied as carefully as the Talmud.
"Though there have been some blog posts praying for Traif's demise," Weiss writes, "as of this week, most Hasidim had not yet heard of the place. Those who had weren't offended. A Hasidic man I spoke to said he found the name 'kind of funny and cool'."
3. TBD, a common acronym for "To Be Determined," is the official name of a new Washington, DC, metro news site that encountered predicable naming challenges in its early days.** "We came very close to securing a name more than once," the TBD home page discloses, "but each time an obstacle – a divided staff, a greedy domain holder, a trademark problem – blocked the way." One of the founders, Erik Wemple, began signing his emails "Editor, TBD.com."
Before long, we realized Erik had stumbled upon the perfect name for our site. The traditional news culture is that you don’t publish or broadcast a story until all the questions are answered, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. The evening newscast or morning newspaper is presented as a finished product, the culmination of a day’s work for the news staff.
But TBD will never be a finished product. On the web, on mobile devices and on our 24-hours cable news channel, we’ll always be in motion: constantly updating, improving and evolving; seeking more details, reaction or community conversation. We’ll be a place you visit to watch the news unfold in real time.
"This has to be, in my opinion, the coolest new journalism brand I’ve seen come along in a very long time," gushed Cory Britton on Lost Remote, which covers hyperlocal journalism. "Now let’s see if the site, scheduled to launch this summer, will live up to the hype."
The first TBD.com story I'd like to see: an exposé of how much Wemple et al. paid for that highly desirable three-letter .com domain.
* This is a type of Turking, the wired world's version of piecework at slave wages.
** t.b.d. is also the name of a women's clothing department at Nordstrom. I've been waiting for years for that department to make up its mind.