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Name Drafting

I've been meaning to write a quick add on to Rich's recent post on naming - but with March Madness and everything else, I just realized I hadn't got around to it. In any event, I like Rich's rules but the one item I thought that his list didn't address was name drafting.

In marksonland parlance, "name drafting" is when you copy not a particular name or phonetic or euphony, but rather you copy a particular naming format or structure. For instance, once Napster became ubiquitous, lots of web sites adopted the "___________-ster" structure for their name. Similarly, the name flickr resonated with the web 2.0 crowd so much so that the "_________-r" became ever present.

In my mind, the decision to draft on someone else's name is a particularly interesting one. On one hand, by adopting a well known format or structure, the purpose of your product is immediately apparent. Whenever I see the "ster" moniker, I know the site involves sharing of some sort. This is especially helpful for initial recognition and makes the elevator pitch easier. So if you are looking to get a pitch meeting with a VC, name drafting can be useful.

But if you are looking to build a long term business, I think name drafting caps you're success potential. It is very difficult to be a name drafter and surpass the popularity/ success of the original moniker you are drafting off of. At the end of the day, your brand (of which your name is a HUGE part) is supposed to be your unique promise to your customer or user. If you draft off of someone else's name, you are by definition not unique in that respect.

With that, one more thing about name drafting: you know you've achieved a level of critical mass/ ubiquity when you find yourself to be the name draftee though. At that point you know your brand is working. In other words, feel free to adopt the ________-land name for your blog....:)


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