– When Cute Marketing Makes Things Ugly

As many of you know, I own my own IT consulting company. It’s small, and so far is constituted of just myself as well as some trusted colleagues who I can subcontract to as needed. (As an aside, I’m also moving into the hosted / managed services realm so if you need some colocation space in a Phoenix Arizona datacenter as well as managed services for those systems… hollah! =) )

Lately one of my clients has relied on me to be the main point of contact for their own customers. Without going into too much detail, and trying to keep it very high level, my client provides an internet based service to home users. When that services can’t be used as a result of some misconfiguration of the home user’s PC or equipment, I call them and make it right. Here’s where things get frustrating.

When Cute Goes Too Far

Everyone loves a unique domain name. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Witness the popularity of Cover Duck. They make spa covers. What does that have to do with a duck? Nothing. But it’s a catchy single syllable word that is associated with a funny animal. I’ve seen numerous articles on the genius of that domain / business name.

A more recent example is Daddy Cheese. Yes, that link is safe for work. I was teasing a friend about how we should start a dedicated mine craft server hosting company (It’ll be awesome, Joel!!). I searched around for some similar hosts and found a list of the top Minecraft hosting companies. Daddy Cheese is one of the best, apparently.

Aside from being vaguely perverse and making me feel uncomfortable, it’s darned memorable. It has absolutely nothing to do with minecraft as far as I can tell. At least Cover Duck gets the word “cover” in there. However, the term is memorable. The syllables are few, the words are common and the spelling is reliable. (As an aside, if you have a word in your company / domain name that can be spelled a few different ways, don’t use it.)

Furthering the cuteness, you can use obscure TLDs for things like and Spiffy, no? Here’s where it gets ugly…

Stop and Watch This Video

A Good Name is More Desirable than Great Riches

Since I do a lot of remote support for this client, and others, I rely on screen sharing utilities. I’ve worked with quite a few, and I’m considering my options, but for now I’ve settled on the free tool from LogMeIn called For a free tool, it works well and I can access most client computers, both Mac and Windows. It has a few irritating hiccups that I’ve discovered and it isn’t terribly fast, but I can get by with it until I invest in an enterprise tool.

However, I have a terrible time getting people to understand the URL.

Okay, I’ll have you bring up your web browser; whatever you use to look at web pages with. When you’re ready, I’ll have you go to a website for me. Type this URL in: double-u, double-u, double-u, dot ‘join’ dot ‘me’ – right. Dot me. No… just dot me. There’s no dot com or dot net. Just join dot me. No – join as in “join two things together”. Oh, you see an error that the website cannot be found? What did you type in as the URL? Uh-huh, there’s no .com. No… it’s not join dot me dot com. Just jay-oh-eye-in dot em-eee. No, no dot com. Just double-u, double-u, double-u dot join dot me. Dot em ee. Em as in Mary, Ee as in Echo.

To LogMeIn’s credit, I recently discovered that they own the domain as well, so that will make things easier. However, it would have been nice if that domain was a bit more well publicized and it suggests that the marketing force behind the main website does not have much experience with technical support and if they had any cries of alarm concerning the domain name, they ignored them.

What to Take Away is an okay remote support tool. The end users that I have to support are great people who don’t typically have a lot of computer smarts, and that’s fine. However, if there’s one thing to learn in all of this it’s that functional wins out over cute any day of the week.

Cover Duck and Daddy Cheese have Functionally Cute names (okay, Daddy Cheese isn’t cute — it’s disgusting. But hey, it’s memorable). However, there’s no ambiguity. Imagine if an obedience training school named themselves Every time someone gave that domain out, they’d have to spell it. As a result of the confusion, people will forget it or just give up.

I see that with my own company’s name. I chose a name that has a four letter word followed by the words “hosted services.” I came to find that the four letter word (it’s not a bad four letter word of course =) ) is hard to make out over the phone. So I’ve taken to saying the first word, then immediately spelling it, then continuing with the full name and then saying the full three word name all over again.

What are some of your worst stories with constantly misunderstood names? I know you’ve got some good ones. Let me know in the comments below along with any insights you learned from the experience.


  1. rmc47

    November 2, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Definitely having to tell people how to type a “-” in a domain name…

    “Yes, it’s foo dash bar dot com… no, like foo hyphen bar dot com… OK, how about foo minus sign bar dot com…”

    Avoid at all costs!


  2. Kenny

    November 14, 2012 at 6:32 am is a famous example of this. From the slashdot FAQ:

    What does the name “Slashdot” mean?

    “Slashdot” is an intentionally obnoxious URL. When Rob registered the domain, he wanted a URL that was confusing when read aloud. (Try it!)


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