A totally absurd business name…

By Dan McComb

Posted Saturday, March 17th, 2007

I got a chuckle this morning when I arrived home at 1 am from the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, checked my email before turning in and discovered this cartoon on SEOmoz.com (thanks to Australia member Ross Hill for forwarding):

“I really don’t have much to offer in this blog post except DEAR GOD, these social media sites’ names are getting totally absurd,” blogs Rebecca. “Seriously. What happened to the good ol’ days of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and LiveJournal? Remember those happier times? When the name of a site indicated what it was?”

I was flattered, of course, to see Biznik included in the cartoon along with the likes of Netscape co-founder Mark Andreesen’s Ning. But does Rebecca really feel the name Biznik falls into the camp of Web 2.0 sites like flickr or del.icio.us whose names have absolutely nothing to do with what they’re all about?

I’m a little surprised, frankly, because we chose the name Biznik not simply because it sounded cool, or begin with “z” or ended in “ster” or “dango.” We chose it because it means something to us. Perhaps “Biz” conjures some meaning for you, too? And “nik” turns out to be a Yiddish suffix that means “someone who acts in a particular way.” It’s also an oblique reference to Beatnik, the radical movement in the 50s that paved the way for subsequent generations of outside-of-the-box thinkers and status-quo challengers. We dig that (with one g, thank you very much). It vibes on our frequency. But, just in case our definition remains a tad obscure, I thought I’d take a stab at creating a proper dictionary entry:

Biznik defined

If you’re struggling to create the right name for your business, or concerned the name you choose might end up lampooned in a comic strip some day, consider attending The Name Inspector business-naming workshop on Monday. It’s a rare opportunity to brainstorm your name idea with a PhD linguist who is a true expect in the subtle art of naming. Chris also authors a blog dedicated entirely to exploring the meaning behind business names, called The Name Inspector. Incidentally, in a recent post, he called Biznik “a great name. It’s the holy grail of domain names: one that carries the right meaning in six letters or less.” Thanks Chris, and thanks Rebecca for the reminder that when it comes to naming a business, meaning matters.

  • http://www.thrivenow.com.au/geelong-web-designers/ Ross Hill from Thrive

    “It’s the holy grail of domain names.”

  • http://ThoughtShotConsulting.com Karrie Kohlhaas

    As I tell people about Biznik, some love the name, some hate it; some get it and some don’t. I spent some time last year revamping my own business name and through that process I realized that this is always going to be the case. I think Biznik and ThoughtShot are both fine names, and I will continue to encounter people who disagree from time to time. The great thing about you, Dan, is that you have fun with it and turn the oddly critical comic into a dialogue and inquiry by writing about it—”bad” press turned good, even coming up with your own dictionary entry for it.

    Danny Bronski and I have had several intense conversations about naming and branding. Biznik and ThoughtShot pass his highly critical test because they walk the line between being “descriptive and suggestive” and they have assonance, which makes both easy, memorable and fun to say.

    I would add that both names do connote something about the business they refer to and have multiple meanings and associations which make them the names that keep giving. People might not always get the associations at first, but these names don’t condescend and leave room for someone to have an ‘aha’ moment. I like that. And some people still won’t get it.

    That’s okay, they can cite you in a cartoon and give you some free press. I say, Congratulations! The fact that your company could be so easily referred to in that medium is often considered a higher compliment than an article being written about you. It’s also evidence that your name is, indeed, recognizable and memorable.

  • Danny Bronski

    As I say to anybody who will listen, no matter what name you choose, some people will love it and some people will hate it. You can’t control the insane divergence among peoples’ prior associations with sounds and names…all you can do is choose something that makes sense for the business and meets a few easily discernible criteria.

    That said…Zoodango is literally one of the worst business names I’ve ever seen! Why weren’t they on there? They are probably too obscure!

  • http://www.biznik.com Dan McComb

    Good points you both raise. Something else I’ve learned over the past year and a half: Ideas are cheap. Everybody’s got ‘em, everybody thinks their idea is priceless. But what’s really priceless is execution. Give me a person with an OK idea whose willing to put in the effort to build something, and I’ll pick them any day over a dozen people with brilliant ideas who aren’t.

    The same is true, I think, of business names. What matters in the long run is how well the business gets developed, how well the people behind it execute on their ideas. That’s what’ll make whatever name they’ve chosen into a great name.

  • http://www.yongkangclinic.com Michael Max

    Ha! I had not thought about how -nik has yiddish roots.

    I can hear my old granny, may she rest in peace, “You kids these days. What’s with the blog and website? And look at your hair. What, are you a biznik or something?”

  • http://www.juiceboxradio.com Julia

    Dan,
    I have to admit you are so entirely brilliant, it’s astounding. And, yes, ideas are cheap! That statement has really got me thinking today… It’s time for me to start integrating more of mine and enough of the talking about it.
    I love the name, and hope to get more stickers from you to put them out strategically in this small town of mine. Generate more Biznik’ers from Vancouver.
    Best regards,
    Julia