What's in a name?
Democracy Player is a wonderful bit of Open Source software for managing video. I’ve written about it before, and recently version 0.9.6 has been released. The last version before it gets a name change to… “Miro”. This, I believe, is a minor disaster.
What “Democracy” has, is an emotional reaction. It’s a powerful word. It embodies a concept and a belief and a way of thinking. It’s a familiar word too, one that people can remember easily. It’s also unique - no other software is called “Democracy”. Frankly, it’s the perfect name for this product. It makes the agenda clear from the very start - Democracy TV is about democracy for your videos. It’s about you being in control, you choosing what networks to subscribe to, you choosing which shows float and which sink. When a product is called “Democracy” and it shouts out about its versatility, how it runs on almost any Operating System, how it plays almost any video format, how it allows you to subscribe to thousands of free video channels, how it allows you to organise your video how you want, how it allows you to create and publish your own video channels… that’s a powerful and immediate concept. That truly is a democratic thing. The notion clicks with the name.
So, what is “Miro”? What does that counjour in your mind? My guess is sweet nothing. Your mind is a void. You’ve got nothing to latch on to - it’s a word with no meaning, no associations, no power, no memorability, no recognition. If I were to mention to you in a week “Democracy Player” or “Democracy TV” you’d stand a good chance of recognising that I’d spoken about it before, and even what it was. If I mentioned “Miro” you’d be struggling. Was it that video player, or was it that web 2.0 company? Perhaps it was that flashy application with the shiny buttons? Or was it that guy you were talking to on IRC?
Miro is a listless and limp name. It’s something that could have been made up in under a minute, it has no power, no association, no recognition, it doesn’t stand out but rather blends in with all those other web 2.0 names (flickr, twittr, pidgin, viddler, vimeo, pandora, last.fm, joost…). Adding to the poor memorability and lack of intrinsic meaning, a name change causes confusion and will take a chunk of Google love away. All those old reviews and raves now talk about a product that doesn’t exist. Anyone reading about Democracy Player will find only Miro, and wonder what the heck is going on. And if they google Miro, they’ll find another video product with the same name.
What’s in a name? A lot can be in a name - picking the right one is important. I don’t thing Miro is the right one.