With all the news breaking about Alibaba’s impending big Chinese IPO, I was reminded of the name Kwaba, a planned new online currency and payment system. If these two companies had a connection that would be great, otherwise they both have interesting naming stories.
First of all, Alibaba is Chinese based and a colleague in Hong Kong that tracks these matters diligently says they are showing no signs of switching to, or adding, Chinese language domain names or portals over and above what they presently have. Of course, as the trading system between Asia and the world, they have to consider the world side. Plus they are also becoming a major player in Africa/World and other trade routes.
What western kid doesn’t know and love the story of Ali Baba and his magic phrase “Open Sesame“. I am just surprised that it is popular and known in the east too. But more power to them – it is magical and memorable. Since Alibaba Group Holdings, a Cayman Islands company that owns the business, has registered the trademark, I assume the old book and movie rights expired.
On the flip side of the coin we have a name so new no one knows it yet. The owners see Kwaba as a purely phonetic word that they can brand to be the next important digital currency. And yes, to most it is a purely phonetic word. But even then, we are human and naturally strive to associate every name with something, if nothing else but to have a hook in our memory for recall. As a result this style of branding has mostly been left to the big boys, like back in the days of Kodak, Exxon, Kinkos, etc. Good sounding, meaningless words with sticky consonants for sharp recall.
Only time and execution will tell if the Kwaba name works. No problem at all for youngsters immersed in modern online gaming worlds with their own complete vocabularies. Also no problem for anyone with a knowledge of Africa words as it has a common African language construction (one of the few places you see “kw” like the kwagga animal). For many others, they may think you are saying quaba just like kwik spells quick phonetically.
Certainly this name will go down better in England and English colonial countries where they use a softer a, as do most European languages. In America the a might get loud so the name sounds more like crab a and that would be very problematic.
Pity they couldn’t get their hands on the name Kwando instead… just as abstract, although it has an implied Can Do, and a famous Kwando, kwando, kwando musical piece to go with it (or is it Quando, quando, quando?).
Caution: Just because a domain registrar or broker or trader rates a name premium, doesn’t mean it is a premium name at all – except if such listing helps them get an exorbitant fee for a pedantic name they can barely give away in a normal marketplace.
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