When startups bestow names to themselves like Spryly, Cambly, Guesterly, Feastly, Scopely, Lively, Referly, Markerly, et cetera, ad nauseam, you might start thinking it’s an opportune time to invest in adverbs.
If this Pinterest account is any indication of this growing trend, there are at least 199 startups that currently end their names in –ly, –li, or –lee. However, the reason for this copycat naming scheme isn’t necessarily because companies wish to indicate times, places or circumstances – they are actually snatching up cheap Libyan domain names (the ‘.ly’ in pigeon.ly, for example) while they still exist.
It’s simply too expensive to be normal. When it comes to resources, startups don’t exactly wield the monetary powers afforded to Apple, who had to shell out seven figures for iPhone.com, or in the case of G&J Holdings, $3 million for Candy.com.
But as more and more companies register similar URLs, the question begins to shift from one of price to that of originality. In 2004, because ‘flicker.com’ was taken, Ludicorp (now owned by Yahoo) settled with removing the ‘e.’ Turn the page a half-decade forward, and companies were removing vowels in their names left and right. In 2008, Bitly – a URL shortening service, as irony would have it – pioneered the –ly trend. Now it’s a race to grab Libyan domains before they go extinct or illegible, which has left us with too many companies settling for “me too” names that often have no relation to their product or service.
The task of naming has become an issue of time and money. If Kaggle.com is available for your analytics company, is it necessary to capitalize on the opportunity to register it? Do you have the time to wait for a better option? Can you even afford a better option? When more and more app-based startups are using their URLs to redirect to mobile app stores, you have to begin to wonder when it’s even worth it. The name is one of a company’s most important features, and ‘cute,’ ‘whimsical,’ or ‘different’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s no longer novel.
Unless this trend changes soon, I fear that we may all begin to speak like this.
Written by Andrew Bridgers, Copywriting Intern