Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rebranding A Troubled Name

Now that the news is out that Linden Lab wants to rebrand their signature product, I'll toss my tophat in the ring along with other more famous pundits. Who knows? Lindens may glance at this blog for chuckles…not long after I mentioned Savage Worlds game system's motto of "Fast! Furious! Fun!" in a post, Linden Lab rolled out their "Fast, Easy, Fun" campaign.

Okay Lindens, here are some names and metaphors for Second Life's rebranding:

Serious Ideas: Back to Our Roots:

Linden World: It began there, so let's get back to basics. It is YOUR server cluster, after all. I'll take my mesh version of a Primitar now, please.

Your World: This gives residents a sense of autonomy even though you still own the servers. I'd like a name of this sort best, along with "Your World, Your Imagination" as a revived Motto. It would appeal to educators.

Metaverse / Utopia: Try a name that merges your origin with the idea that SL is better, in some regards, to the world of flesh. Neal Stephenson won't sue you guys. You could call it "Lindenverse" or "Lindtopia" if you wish. Or give Philip Rosedale his due and call it "Philtopia." Most of us have a little utopian streak; even my old nemesis Microsoft made good with me and other Mac OS users with their Mactopia site, a useful spot for MS Office software updates and tips.

Frontier: I'm fond of the metaphor. We've been denied the "final frontier" of space, unless one means cyberspace. Facebook, which I'm coming to accept as a way to stay in touch with a few RL friends, is decidedly not a frontier. It's a virtual pub, at best. A virtual world with user-generated content certainly is a frontier.

Dubious if Accurate:

Sandbox: This is what SL is, after all. Even some hard-core gamers who would otherwise sneer at SL's graphics and lag admit that the platform is a place to make things.  The problem with this theme would be how it sounds to an audience beyond gamers. I think of kids with plastic pails and shovels when I hear "sandbox."

Names / Metaphors to Avoid Like the Plague:

Eighteen Again, Forever:
I saw this motto once in an SL shop. Nothing suggests flabby 50-somethings like it.  Okay, I'm a trim and outdoorsy 50-something, but I don't want to pretend either. While "Dress Up for Grown Ups" seems to work for IMVU, would it for SL?  Why just be a fancy chat room full of fashionistas?

Otherworld: SL is a world apart from the one of matter, but to make folks see it as an extension of their lives, much as any other hobby might be, avoid the idea that we are in an "other" place.

Second Life: I've written how toxic the rhetorical implications of the name can be. Ditch it ASAP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that Linden World feels right, but may psychologically turn the knife with regard to the content-ownership discourse. (May be better not to constantly be reminding the clients, "This is ours. We are the owners of the servers and re-usable copies of all your stuff forever." Not sure on that one.)

The revival of Your World, Your Imagination I can approve of. Regardless of the negativity over the semantics of "your" vs. "their," the fact is that most of Second Life really IS the creation of OUR collective imaginations. Your World is awkward in a sentence though. "I'm a member of Your World." "I'm going to Your World." "I built a fantastic residence and forest in Your World." Ummm, nope, don't like that. Imagining responses of, "My what?" :-D

Frontier, possibly. But wouldn't want it to morph in conversation to Frontier World, or worse, Frontier Land. (Those Disney lawyers can be rather unpleasant, I'm told.) ;-)

I like the "topia" leaning. Still has a futuristic ring to it.

Metatopia ?

Avitopia ?

Digitopia ?

or maybe, Avataria ? I'm partial to that one. The land of Avatarians.