I published a couple of posts in February—here and here—about a bunch of “new me” names: Numi tea, nu.me domains, Numi toilets, the Noomii “centralized online coach directory,” NuMe beauty products, and the NUMMI auto plant (R.I.P.).
It’s all lower case in the logo, but “NewME” in the content.
NewME Accelerator, which is based in San Francisco, was (ahem) new to me. I’ve since learned more about it from a couple of NPR Morning Edition reports (here and here). The venture sounds like a worthy idea: “a residential technology start-up accelerator/incubator for businesses that are led by under-represented minorities in the technology industry.” The founders of the fledgling companies move into one house and “eat, sleep, and breath [sic] startups.” During the 12-week program, the startups’ founders learn at the feet of venture capitalists and successful, experienced executives.
So far, so good.
Not so good: the NewME name. According to Monday’s NPR report—I couldn’t find this information on the NewME website—“NewME” stands for “new media entrepreneurship.” Unfortunately, though, the name doesn’t communicate that meaning: it sounds like a personal-growth/self-discovery course rather than a boot camp for tech startups.
And then there’s the problem of sounding “new” when there are so many other companies that sound exactly the same.
I was interested, too, in the names the startups have chosen for themselves. I hope part of the residency is devoted to rethinking them.
Whoorli wants to be “an easy way to promote your personal brand through video, picture, file sharing, and search digital content.” I’m not quite sure what that means, and I’m also not convinced anyone ever said “Whoorli” aloud. Because it’s thisclose to “whorely.”
Plisten is “a Social Site that Changes how You Interact with Corporate and Political Brands and Personalities”—and yes, all of the content is randomly capitalized and poorly punctuated. The name? It’s a lame portmanteau (I think the P stands for “political”) that conveys neither story nor benefit.
Dwllr “helps homebuyers, sellers and real estate professionals buy and sell real estate faster and completely online.” Here we have yet another name that sacrifices vowels (and good sense) in the interest of grabbing a cheap domain. Not to mention that it’s uncomfortably close to the established brand Dwell.
Of the 33 speakers and mentors identified on the NewME site, not a single one is a branding expert. That’s an oversight: there’s a lot more to starting a business than polishing your pitch and calculating projected sales. How about a half-day Naming 101 workshop, NewME? We’d focus on techniques for creating a name, strategies for securing a domain, and ways to develop a verbal brand. It’s not too late to fix those startups’ names.