There was a time when companies had simple names - Smith & Co, that sort of thing. Then the advertising industry developed and 'branding' was born, and it became the norm for companies to invest significant amounts of money into designing weird made-up words to use as their 'brand'.
In the age of web2.0, though, it's more complicated than ever. Not only do companies have to have an original name that no other company is using, they have to make sure that no ordinary member of the public is using it online as well. If they don't, it can be a little, well, embarrassing.
Take Netflix. The US DVD-by-mail giant, the American equivalent of Lovefilm, yesterday announced it's splitting itself in two: its DVD business is to be renamed Qwikster, letting Netflix carry on with its burgeoning streaming-video-online service.
Fair enough. Qwikster is a horrible name, but at least it's memorable. There's just one problem: Netflix didn't do all that much due diligence on the name before announcing it. They don't appear, for example, to have checked its Twitter account was available.
And, in fact, it wasn't. The @qwikster Twitter account belongs to a young man by the name of Jason Castillo, whose hobbies appear to include working out, making tacos and smoking substantial quantities of marijuana. 'Bored as shyt wanna blaze but at the same time I don't ugh f**k it where's the bowl at spark me up lls,' he puts it in one tweet. (We added the asterisks, not him.)
Mr. Castillo seems bemused at all the extra attention. 'Dayum over 3120 follower just cuz some ppl wanna buy my handle 3 ppl have asked but idk who to trust,' he said in a tweet yesterday. 'Trust the higest bidder,' one wag replied.