How Twitter was almost named Twitch, and other titles that suck
Earlier this week I heard a story on my local NPR affiliate about how Twitter – a word that has transcended the confines of a brand name to become part of our everyday vernacular, even spawning its own verb conjugations of the infinitive to tweet – was almost named Twitch. Co-founder Jack Dorsey explains, “We wanted a name that evoked what we did. We wanted something that was tangible. And we looked at what we were doing and when you received a tweet over SMS, your phone would buzz. It would jitter. It would twitch. And those were the early names, Jitter and Twitch. And neither one of them really inspired the best sort of imagery.”
After Dorsey and his fellow co-founders finally decided on Twitter, they were worried that its association with words like twit and twitterpated, which is akin to constipation, would be a turnoff, but it turns out most people have never heard of the twitterpated, and thus, Twitter, and all its many derivations, was born.
Brand naming is a hugely important part of a company’s success. When Apple first started out critics said an apple wasn’t a powerful enough image, especially since the company was up against International Business Machines, which is a way more macho, albeit clunky, name. But Apple wanted to entice the consumer market, not the business world, and they figured that an apple was just the user-friendly, domestic image they were going for.
So what’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually (sorry Shakespeare). If Twitter and Apple weren’t convincing enough I’ve made a list of famous novels with working titles that are beyond bad.
Pride and Prejudice – First Impressions
Gone with the Wind – Ba! Ba! Black Sheep (!!!)
David Copperfield - The Copperfield Survey of the World as it Rolled
Tess of the D’Ubervilles – The Body and Soul of Sue
1984 – The Last Man in Europe
A Farewell to Arms – The Sentimental Education of Frederick Henry, They Who Get Shot, An Italian Chronicle
The Sun Also Rises - Fiesta (Fiesta! Can you imagine a Hemingway novel called freaking Fiesta??)
Of Mice and Men – Something That Happened (seriously, Steinbeck?)
And the winner is…
The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald went through a ton of bad ideas, flip-flopping between Trimalchio in West Egg, Gold-Hatted Gatsby and Under the Red, White and Blue until less than a month before publication, when he finally acquiesced to The Great Gatsby, remarking “The title is only fair, rather bad than good.” He also considered Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires and The High-Bouncing Lover.