• August 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Capital Ideas

Article Featured Image

Memo from the desk of Marshall Lager, August’s Chief Observation Officer:

Trends abound. Business is based on them, it seems--someone comes up with a new product, or a new way of doing things, and the parade of competitors and wannabes begins. Identifying trends and serving the needs they create is therefore a crucial part of continued success.

That's why I'm here. Not to tell you about existing trends; that's what the other editors and I do on all the other pages. You know--mobile marketing blah blah, enterprise consolidation rhubarb--that sort of thing. You should already have your fill of those. By "here," I mean on the back page of CRM, where we reward our faithful readers with stuff they can't get anyplace else. And I've got a hot new trend for y'all to get in on. Hopefully the lead time inherent in magazine publishing won't make me too late.

First, a word of caution: This isn't officially a trend yet. Two instances is a coincidence; it's not a trend until we have three. But in the past couple of weeks I've had dealings with two companies in particular, Tealeaf and Oncontact. One's a transaction-focused customer experience solution for the Web, the other is a midmarket CRM vendor, but that's not the important part.

Look at the names, man.

Oncontact. Tealeaf. These could easily have been OnContact and TeaLeaf (actually, it used to be TeaLeaf). Or OnConTacT. Or teaLeaf. Or something even worse, looking like a cat had walked across a keyboard. We are witnessing a revolution in corporate naming, ladies and gentlemen: the de-interCapping of American business.

You know what I'm talking about. Being part of the dot-com boom was like reading a poem by e.e. cummings, and it seemed like every new company founded since 1985 had to put capital letters at random points in its logo in order to attract startup cash or sell its vaporware.

A study once revealed that the three words most likely to get a reader's attention were Free, Now, and Sex. Thus, the perfect advertisement for garnering looks would be "Free Sex Now." Remember when a business wasn't really a business unless it had ".com" after its name? It's the same thing. I once worked out that the perfect name for a magazine would be something like eFast i-Business3.0.com -- it says nothing, but, boy, is it loaded with symbolism! What does it symbolize? The idiocy of pathetic sheep following the flock.

Don't get me wrong: Despite my love of this mongrel language we call English, I have no problem with the occasional excursion from what's considered good form. Sooner or later, somebody has to make up a word or find a new way of expressing an old one. In fact, there's nothing wrong with trying to stand out from the crowd. But the crowd eventually caught up: The occasional use of initial lowercase, interCapping, and odd spellings became customary--way past being a mere trend, it became a sickening epidemic. (Don't even get me started on the use of symbols: Excite@Home, we hardly knew ye!) It was no longer enough to have a clever name for your company; you had to instill excitement with the name's appearance.

Personally, I'd rather a company excite me -- at home or anywhere else -- with what its product or service can do, how it can change the way I do what I do, and how it's not going to wreck Earth in the process of doing it. The name is secondary.

Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues