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Is Bing a good name for Microsoft's search offering?

By:  Dann Ilicic

Anytime Microsoft does anything to challenge Google, it always makes for interesting news. Last week the New York Times did a story on Bing — the new name for Microsoft Live search.

What struck me about the article had nothing to do with the name itself, but rather the asinine comment from Peter Sealey, Coca-Cola's former chief marketing officer who said " Microsoft should have picked a name that more directly connotes search... it's going to be an enormous expense to create an image for this thing called Bing."

I can't help but wonder what Mr. Sealey would have preferred. Perhaps something like InfoSeek of SearchSoft would have suited him better. The truth is most people gravitate towards names that are descriptive because they "get it" instantly, but those are also the names that are most forgettable. 

There are endless examples of successful companies that violate someone's idea of what a good name should be. As a naming professional, I can tell you that the name is nowhere near as important as the quality and distinctiveness of the offering from that company. As of right now, Bing does not provide much of a reason to switch from Google — at least not one that I know of.

According to Mr. Sealey's logic, there would be no Apple's, Yahoo's or even Google's for that matter. Names need to be memorable instead of descriptive, evocative instead of generic, brave instead of safe. 

So is Bing a good name for a search engine? Sure why not. Can Bing outsmart Google? Let's see. In the meantime, ask yourself what would it take for you to switch and if the name would have any influence on that. 


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