We spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about our name. After hundreds of ideas, our producer Marianne McCune came up with Detour, and we knew it was the one almost instantly.
My philosophy on company names is that usually they don't matter one way or another. You can even name your company something terrible (like "Livingsocial") and it doesn't seem to have a negative impact.
That said, really great names, while rare, can define a category--so its worth trying. I think Groupon (credit goes to Aaron With) was a great name. People used to call Livingsocial/DealPony customer service and say, "I bought a Groupon from you guys a few months ago..."
We had the same concern with Groupon early on--it's derived from the word "coupon," and coupons are lame. What we found is that unless you name your company after something that people have extremely strong feelings about (I would recommend against naming your company "The Beatles" or "The Vatican", for example), the connotations are malleable. If you have a great product, it'll seem like a great name, and vice versa.
All that said, here are a few of the reasons we liked Detour:
- We wanted to distance ourselves from traditional tours--which are often boring--but know better than to be precious and try to avoid using the word tour altogether, at the expense of quick customer comprehension. Detour = Untour = the opposite of the tour (reinforced by the 180 in the Detour logo)
- We wanted something that could be used as a noun (more than a verb). "Want to take a Detour today?"
- One of the challenges we're going to have is getting people to remember we exist when they're wandering the streets. By naming ourselves Detour, we've conquested hundreds of millions of dollars worth of billboards: existing DETOUR road signs.
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