About face! Name review of Dotdash
In the tech world, if you don’t evolve, you fall behind. And when you fall too far behind, even the most up to date Mapquest directions won’t necesarily get you caught back up. (Just ask Jeeves. Or Yahoo.)
About.com, founded at the peak of the .com boom, is re-routing to stave off a slow ride into the sunset. Their larger strategy is to focus on a host of sub-brands centered around vertical interest areas, but as part of their rebirth, they’re getting a new name. About.com is becoming Dotdash.
In a lot of ways, Dotdash is a great upgrade. The first part of the name’s story is that dot dash is Morse code for the letter A, which of course harkens back to the original name. With a pinch of fun alliteration, the name also captures that magical combination of feeling familiar and yet fresh. We’re all familiar with Morse code and have heard the words together before – but as the name of a company? That’s fresh.
And the second part of the name’s story is that the dot represents where they were, the dash where they are going. How quirky, abstract, and sophisticated! In the name is the promise that they are going all in on the self-reinvention. (That’s one way to make sure the new outlook permeates the brand and company culture.) And for me, at least, I buy it. The dash is a jag off from the dot. The dot feels centered and established, the dash fun and dynamic. That makes sense to me.
What does not make sense to me, however, is how they chose to represent Dotdash in the new logo. A period and then the word dash? That is too cute for my taste. And people may very well assume that .dash is one of the new gTLDs (generic top-level domains), especially since it’s written lowercase. There is nothing at http://www.dot.dash or http://www.about.dash or any.dash you might try, and that could be trouble. But perhaps the company isn’t worried about folks entering such a URL directly and coming up empty. (Google will suggest dotdash.com if you leave off the http://.)
But this is a name review, so back to Dotdash. Dash implies speed, lightness, and ease. These aren’t, at first glance, the most germane messages for online information (especially when your revenue model involves building out listicles 50 entries long in your interest verticals), but these meanings certainly aren’t detractions or distractions.
Abstract names come in a range of styles, from totally coined — like Hulu or Zoosk — to real words simply used (far) out of context, like Alphabet or Amazon. Regardless of the style, they take confidence and vision to pull off. Dotdash‘s alliterative Ds and staccato syllables sound definitive, confident, and make the name even easier to remember. I think Dotdash is a winner. Whether the name is too off the wall for customers to really latch on to remains to be seen, but Dotdash’s phonetic qualities will help the name stick.
With a pinch of fun alliteration, the name also captures that magical combination of feeling fresh and yet familiar.