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Just Leap In: Virtual World Name or Tagline?

By Mark Skoultchi

January 13, 2009

Another player has just entered the virtual world arena. Leap In Entertainment announced the public beta of their virtual world called Just Leap In. There aren’t that many virtual world players in the space, but their names are scattered all over the place. You’ve got: Second Life, Google’s Lively (RIP), There, Meez, Zwinky/Zwinktopia, Entropia, and Active Worlds. (Granted, there are others. But these seem to be the most recognizable.)

I like a lot of the names in this category. I especially like the names that function as nouns, even if they’re abstract nouns. Second Life and Active Worlds, as boring as they may be, both names work for me because they’re nouns that can be used to describe the place users go to when they log in.

Meez, Entropia, and Zwinktopia also function as nouns, so they make sense. Although, I don’t love these names, I just like that they function as nouns. (In fact, Meez and Zwinky sound like web 2.0 names that were chosen solely based on domain availability!)

Google Lively was a great concept, but the name flopped a big fat squishy dead-fish flop in my book. Had Google used this name for any other project (Instant messaging perhaps), I’d be a big fan. But using an adverb is awkward when trying to describe where you’re going. “I’m logging into Lively,” or, “See you in on Lively” just doesn’t jibe in common net speak. Maybe in time, this adverb might have been transformed into a noun in internet speak. I suppose we’ll never know.

I particularly like Vivaty because it’s abstract enough that it could be a destination or location. However, it also offers some relevant semantic content with the “viv” word part suggesting life or living. In the same vein, I think There is a peculiar and great name. “I’m logging into There,” or “See you There” are both great examples of how this common English word has been appropriated in a unique way. [Full Discolsure: Catchword named Vivaty.]

Which brings me to Just Leap In. Riddle me this, Batman: Is this the company’s name or tagline? It sure seems more like a tagline to me! For example: Second Life: Just Leap In, or Vivaty: Just Leap In. It’s a powerful call to action which works great as a slogan, but not as well as a product or company name. Just imagine if Just Do It was the company name instead of Nike. That would be just plain weird.

Even the company’s logo has been reduced to an initialism: JLI. I’d wager that users will reference their destination as JLI. “Just Leap In” is too hard to say and isn’t noun-y enough to roll off one’s tongue. What’s more, once a company name or product name has been reduced to its initials, it begins to lose all relevant semantic content. At which point, what’s the point in naming the thing at all?! (In fact, I’d advocate just calling it Thing or Thinger. At least both of those are abstract nouns!)

I suspect that if JLI is successful in attracting users, they might find themselves seeking a naming company to help with a name change sometime in the future. If so, I happen to know a great firm with experience naming virtual worlds. 🙂

Name Grade: C

Grade:
C
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