Namifying has gotten out of controlify

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Chris Johnson, a Seattle-based branding consultant operating as The Name Inspector, has been watching a company name trend for several years now that is likely attributable to the success of Spotify: slapping “ify” on the end of otherwise perfectly good words.  

Dating back to 2007, Johnson has counted some 337 such company names; 101 last year and 73 so far this year. The chart he fashioned is a bit big to be legible here, so let’s just list this year’s batch of namified names (prepare for some scrolling):

  • Accredify
  • Actifi
  • Aggify
  • Alertify Me
  • Algofy
  • Attify
  • Boastify
  • Boostify
  • Brainify
  • Brandify
  • Bucketify
  • Cenify
  • Changify
  • CISOfy
  • Cleanify
  • Cloudifyd
  • Collabify
  • Collabrify.IT
  • Consumerify
  • Contify
  • Coursify
  • Creafi
  • Cricfy
  • Dealify
  • Digify
  • Dipify
  • DMartify
  • Eggify
  • EMnify
  • Emplofy
  • Entefy
  • Eurekify
  • Eventify
  • Experfy
  • Fieldomobify
  • Floify
  • Forgotify
  • Gastrofy
  • Grabbify
  • groopify
  • Hastify
  • Infinify
  • Kiddify
  • Knowify
  • Librify
  • Mailify
  • mandarify
  • Meshify
  • Mixify
  • Odorify
  • OnBoardify
  • Parkifi
  • Photofy
  • Pingify
  • Pricify
  • Promotify
  • Proposify
  • Puridify
  • Quotesify
  • Scontify
  • Searchifi
  • Sendify
  • Startify
  • Successify
  • Tailify
  • Touchify
  • Trendify
  • Triplify
  • Trippifi
  • Volofy
  • Washlify
  • Welify
  • Yieldify

Johnson notes: “The normal function of the -ify suffix is to create a verb out of a noun or adjective. Some of the names here (in bold) put the suffix gratuitously onto a word that’s already a verb. That shows this is no normal English morphological process. Rather, it is a naming fad run amok.”

I emailed Johnson a few questions:

Why do startups do this given that it’s become so roundly ridiculed?

I think startups use the namifying strategy for different reasons. One is subconscious mimicry of successful companies like Spotify. Another is the desire to find a name that can be used as a verb.

Honestly, though, I don't know how aware founders are of this pattern or how it's been ridiculed. I think I've been the one leading the charge against this particular naming fad, and it's gotten a bit of press, but not a lot.

Have we just run out of good company names?

We haven't run out of good company names, but you certainly have to hunt harder to find one now. Good names are about good communication and good verbal design, and those things will never go away.

What would you tell a client who suggested such a name to you?

I would just show the client my chart and urge them to consider something more original.

Are you responsible for any of the names of the list?

I'm not responsible for any of the -ify names. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should mention that I briefly had a blog before The Name Inspector that was called Linguify. So I have not been completely immune to the charms of the -ify suffix.  (That was pre-Spotify, though.)

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