Sharp Blue: The Namespace Catastrophe


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Thinking up names for things is hard. The name should reflect the nature of the thing named, summing up its ethos, attitude, purpose, its essence. Naming online journals or characters or titled stories is hard enough, but things get much worse when trying to name companies. Not only must the company’s name feel right, but it must also be short, snappy and memorable. Furthermore, the name must meet these criteria in all of the company’s target markets, which means that it might have to be equally good in several languages.

All of this, however, is really just the first hurdle. There must also be a reasonable domain name related to the name available. Beyond even that, the name must not be associated with a previously registered company at Companies House (for UK companies; or at the relevant incorporation registrar in other countries). These last criteria are harder to meet than one might expect, because both namespaces have already been quite thoroughly plundered. If one intended, for example, to set up a business called Resolve, one would find both and taken, and 36 companies with names beginning with “Resolve” already registered in the UK.

If you have an urgent need to name a company, this is enough to drive you to apoplexy. No matter how hard you try inventing names, you find that not only has somebody got there first, but many people have. The only apparent solution is nonsense names like “Google”, but sooner or later all of those will have been claimed too, and thereafter namespace congestion will strangle capitalism and human progress will grind to a halt.

You heard it here first: our future will be dominated not by a Vingean Singularity, but by the Namespace Catastrophe.

If you intend to give a one word name to your company, you're absolutely right. A good company name can, in fact be a phrase : two or three words which take your first idea and refine it a bit.

You'll have to pardon my english : Resolve isn't a word I'm comfortable with, but what about "Iron Will" or "Crystal Clear Solutions" ?

There is the alternative of buying a bankrupt company that has a name you like for a pound.

Buying a bankrupt company name can be difficult too though.

It can't be too well known, for starters. There are advantages and disadvantages to buying a name that used to be associated with industry you are in: "Stranglers? Didn't they used to manufacture rope? I'm not buying my new PC from them!" vs "Stranglers went out of business for selling shoddy PCs that were overpriced - I'm not going to go there"

On the plus side, "Golden Brown" was a great hit!

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