What’s In a Name? Lots.

Blog names and titles: do you agree that some are better than others? Lots of blogs have succeeded with titles that are merely descriptive, not remarkable: Seth’s blog, Small Business Technology, Escape from Cubicle Nation, and many others.

Browsing around the other day, I discovered a Jay White who calls his blog “Dumb Little Man.” That’s a great example of a creative title that’s very easy to remember, recognize, and not misspell. It’s at dumblittleman.com of course. I liked him even before I started reading the blog.

I posted last January about Gardening Nude, a good blog with undeniable search engine power. And Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror, obviously for programmers. Freakonomics, Women 2.0, Duct Tape Marketing, and Lifehack, to mention some more. These aren’t just good blogs, they’re remarkably good names for blogs.

What amazes me is how these blogs with great names beat the chicken and egg problem: a blog isn’t really taken seriously until it has a few hundred posts, but it can’t have the posts first and then figure out the name. With some rare exceptions (Freakonomics, for example, was moved to a different Web address when it moved to the New York Times) the name, including the domain name, has to come first. In some cases (as with Escape from Cubicle Nation, Duct Tape Marketing) it either starts with a book or becomes a book. In any case, my congratulations for doing it right.

This is a good reminder about a lot of names in business: business names, product names, for example: they’re tough to change, once you’ve started; but hard to get a really good one to start.

(Image: tkemot/shutterstock)


  • Tech’s Newest Breed; Twitter Crisis Management : Floriday Properties says:

    […] can make it or break it. Now, Tim Berry, the founder of Palo Alto Software, holds that it’s just as important to your presence in the blogosphere. While some blogs are wildly popular despite having merely descriptive names such as Seth’s […]

  • Kelly says:

    And that, Tim, is why I’ve always loved Planning Startups Stories. It’s a great name, well-thought-out, that sticks with me.

    Little story: when I was thinking about starting a blog to talk about what we do at our company, I ran the name (which is a phrase we’ve always used a lot with clients) past an unflinchingly honest mentor of mine.

    “Maximum Customer Experience?” he said. “Nobody wants maximum customer experience. Small businesses want good enough customer experiences.”

    It was his near-violent reaction to it that sealed the name for me. If you aren’t ticking somebody off, you may not be saying anything memorable enough to gather fans to you. You are so right: a good name is a great head start.



  • Jay Ehret says:

    Spot on, Tim. Lots can be said about having a cool name. But sometimes too much can be said about having a cool, memorable name. Who’d a thunk that a name like Apple would eventually become the coolest technology company?

  • Strategic Growth Advisors says:

    Hey, Tim. Thanks for the insightful post as always.

    I think that a great name alone is not enough to gain followers. It should be paired with several other attributes that will transform it from a simple word to a “name,” such as innovation, creativity, intelligence, originality, as well as other traits that all prominent entrepreneurs, brands, bloggers and movers possess.

    Keep those articles coming!

  • Colleen Wainwright says:

    Hey, Tim!

    I know you’re another big fan of Pam’s (and you did say she’s doing it right!), but I really think “Escape from Cubicle Nation” goes beyond descriptive and is a really cool, compelling title.

    I guess I get that it’s no “Gardening Nude” (or even “Freakonomics”); I just dig on it. Definitely a twist on the usual. Whereas “Seth’s Blog”…well, let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s famous. And a kick-a** writer!

    • Tim Berry says:

      Thanks Colleen, you have me chuckling with that because yes, I am a big fan of Pam Slim’s work, and you may have caught telepathically that I thought a lot about “Escape from Cublcle Nation” while writing that Post. I had it in the list of great names for several drafts, finally pulled it out, and now you’ve made me think I should have left it in. Indecision is a way of life.

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