The Startup Naming Game

Ben Kepes drew my attention to Viisibility, which appears to be a very interesting web based supply chain management / data clearing-house / hub type of a business.

At first reading I completely misread the name, thinking it was Visibility.  Wow, what a great choice, I thought – a simple, common word that perfectly describes what the business is all about.  But wait! try to Google it: it’s a bit difficult to find the relevant entries from the 47,100,000 hits Goggle found…   That brings up question number one:

Do common words that describe your business perfectly but are hard to Google make good brands?

Robert Scoble has a simple rule: only pick names that do not come up on the major search engines at all.

But as it turns out I was wrong, just missing that extra “i”: the name is actually Viisibility.  That brings up a whole new issue, which is my question number two:

Can intentionally misspelled common words that in  pronunciation describe the product, but are only available as domains and are only unique on search because of the “typo” actually become Brands?

Last time I asked the question, the majority vote was yes (albeit with few participants).  I used Vyew as an example, which I still think is a good name.   But Viisibility’s case is a bit more complex, as shown by these two homepages:

  • Viisibility: managing supply chains.
  • Visiblity: ERP for Complex Manufacturing.

Oops. Not only there’s another company with a similar name, they are also in the same space, “differentiated” only by a typo.  I’m afraid it’s not much of a differentiation, I can’t help but think Viisibility is a poor choice for a brand.

But forget the extreme case above, I’d like to return to the generic question, and run the poll again, especially as I’ve gained a few marketers as readers since last time.  If you read this in a feed reader, there’s a chance the poll does not work, so please click through the blog title to vote:



Update (4/22): The Importance of a Good Name @TechCrunch.


  1. Hi Zoli,

    It has already happened and will continue to:
    – flickr
    – digg
    – reddit

    All of them are brands.
    Case closed. Do I like it in general? No.

    Best, Mark.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. We agree wholehardely and as such are in the process of rebranding to iViis.

    Although the double i’s after the V was an issue, the main one was the length of the name. Short and punchy is best.

    The company name will remain Viisibility but the products will be rebranded iViis as will our website.

  3. For both of my websites, I wanted virtually zero Google results. I also wanted short names that were no more than 5 letters.

    My first one, is a fun name for eBay widgets, but people get it wrong all the time.

    The second one,, seems to be doing better for my crowd-sourced mashup widget builder.

    Dot-com domains using the letter “Q” are rather easy to find.

  4. Names really our tough. We decided that SimulScribe (had zero Goolge results other then us) was just not consumer enough and switched to PhoneTag (a name with tons of google results). Our bet was and is that because the word PhoneTag is so generic that we can get all of our mentions and website quickly to the top of Google. Additionally we feel the the ease of remembering a name outweighs the Google issue.

    As of right now if you search Phonetag on Google the first entry is the Crunchbase listing of our company that went live today. So it seems to be working.

    I think that your point is a good one, except that with very general names like PhoneTag you can usually get your company to the top of the search because everything else has low relevance.


    James Siminoff, Founder

  5. The name Dimdim predated my arrival at the company as CMO. We did have some good discussions about changing it due to some negative connotations but we decided to stick with it and I think we did the right thing. At the end of the day a brand generates value for the name. In a day an age when you are competing for awareness a catchy name can help. Steve Jobs decided on Apple because he couldn’t come up with a better name…that worked out okay for him! You can read about the genesis of Dimdim name here:

  6. Sounds good to me… I also like dim sum 🙂

  7. I think that your point is a good one, except that with very general names like PhoneTag you can usually get your company to the top of the search because everything else has low relevance.


  1. […] few months ago Ben Kepes drew my attention to Viisibility, and I promptly called out their really poor naming:  how can they call their supply chain company Viisibility when there is already an ERP […]

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