SWonderful: SXSWi 2016 Name Roundup, Part 1

By Erin Milnes

March 22, 2016

South by Southwest Interactive has been the place to launch your cool new company and see the latest trends in tech for 23 years (SXSW music and film has been going strong for 30). Whether you still love it or think it’s jumped the shark, the festival remains a big deal for startups and tech behemoths alike.

More than 30,000 tech fans and pros descended on Austin last week—President Obama even made an appearance (the first sitting president to do so)—and hundreds of new companies debuted what they hope will be the next game-changing concept.

But a winning idea can only go so far without a winning name. Company and product names at SXSWi 2016 ranged from practical to unpronounceable, praiseworthy to precious, predictable to provocative. We saw several types of name at the festival as well. Simple metaphors, invented spelling, compounds, and coinages were all well represented. Over the next few days, we’ll tour the name styles and notable examples from this year’s event.

Monosyllabic Metaphors

Single, simple English words used in unexpected metaphor are very popular these days (think Nest). This type of name can be memorable and powerful. The only problem is ownability: trademark may be hard to win for these sort of simple words.

Mend. This Dallas-based provider of on-demand medical care (i.e., house calls) took second place at the SXSWi pitch competition. Mend clearly places the service in the medical field and suggests the homey quality of a house call to get you on the mend. It’s short, easy to say, easy to remember, and completely on target with the naming trend.

Splash. Hoping to be the Vimeo of VR, this platform enables users to share 360° video with friends. Splash does make a splash, from the vibrancy of a splash of color to the immersive experience of jumping in the pool.

Nom. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen rolled out this app that allows folks to broadcast their own cooking show live. Short, sweet, memorable, tasty. And it speaks the language of the nouveau hip.

Roadie. Okay, this one has two syllables, but it otherwise exemplifies the trend very well. A delivery network that ‘gets your stuff where it needs to go,’ Roadie is your gung-ho assistant, loading the van on the rock ’n’ roll tour of life.

Thursday, SXSWi Names, part 2: Funky Spelling

South by Southwest Interactive has been the place to launch your cool new company and see the latest trends in tech for 23 years (SXSW music and film has been going strong for 30). Whether you still love it or think it’s jumped the shark, the festival remains a big deal for startups and tech behemoths alike.

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