Naming Matters: Eschew the Fancy “E”


Ye Olde English Condo Development

Ye Olde English Condo Development


I was traveling on a train recently and I found myself staring at the station sign at Bay Pointe, the name of a new housing development. Is it pronounced “bay point” or “bay point-ee” or “bay point-ay?” I wondered. Who decided on that spelling? What’s the deal with that Fancy E?

Adding that superfluous “e” at the end of an English noun is supposed to make a name sound old, established, and premium. In the writer’s mind, it hearkens back to Ye Olde Middle English, Shakespeare, QE1, and all of that—instant class. But while that might have been true a hundred years ago, adding that Fancy E now just makes your name look stale and a wee bit pretentious. Probably not what you were going for!

When naming something—whether it’s a company, a product, or a service—resist the urge to use tricks like the Fancy E, faux-French language (like adding “le” in front of the name), or hopping on the Tumblr/Flickr/Scribd dropped-e bandwagon. As with your copywriting, you should strive for simplicity and clarity. Creating a name that your customers (or even co-workers!) have to puzzle out will distance you from them and may even undercut your message.

If you’re naming something that’s strictly B2B, such as a service or a software product, your best bet is to choose something simple and descriptive. Does your product manage content? Call it Content Manager—simple, quick, and to the point. Research has shown that business decision makers want to know what a product does as quickly as possible; they don’t have time to guess the benefit or warm up to a quirky, unfamiliar name. You’ll also save time on name creation, and money on marketing and trademarking.

For consumer offerings, you should carefully consider the target audience and the competitive field before embarking on a naming project. If all of the other players use fun, unique names—like Cheerios or Captain Crunch—you might want one too. And to develop a branded, trademarkable name, your best bet will be to engage a naming firm. It’s becoming tremendously difficult to find names that are appropriate and available; a professional namer can help you navigate those deep waters.

Your content should reflect your brand promise. For most companies, that includes qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency. Make sure your names connect to those qualities, and you won’t be getting in the way of customers who would embrace your brand. Leave the Fancy E to condo developers!

By Laurel Sutton