07/2023 – Press release – AI-Industry: Innovative start-ups, boring names

July 12, 2023

Until recently, creativity was considered a typical human competence. But we know now that artifical intelligence can also produce original results. The Naming Agency, Nomen, based in Düsseldorf, wanted to know more and so took the names of 100 start-ups under the magnifying glass, who are active in the international AI-industry.  How creative are the innovative newcomers in their own right? The result is strikingly different – many start-up names do not do justice to the innovative proposals they stand for.

The naming agency Nomen International Germany GmbH (www.nomen.de) anaylsed 100 names of AI-Start ups based on the 2022 Ranking of the CB Insights platform, which annually selects the most promising newcomers. Nomen investigated the type of name and the ability to differentiate and communicate industry specific features and trends.

An overview of the most important findings:

1. Predominant Theme: Intelligence

No surprise and a typical beginners mistake: In the name the obvious is taken up in terms of content, in this case the topic of intelligence. Examples include Robust Intelligence, Modern Intelligence, Neural Concept etc. In many names there is also the letters AI (Artifical Intelligence) and a further descriptive component such as, Shield AI, Observe.AI, Landing.AI, Privat AI, Net.AI, Abacus.AI etc. Adding AI to the name is probably also popular because “.AI” is available as a country-code top-level domain (of the British overseas territory Anguilla).

2. Weak differentiating power

The popularity of the letter combination AI is similarly a problem: there is a lack of ability to differentiate accompanied by a lack of radiance. 55% of all the analysed names refer to the technology used with the letters AI and are therefore interchangeable. Descriptions with the name ‘Intelligent’ also run the risk of not being perceived as brand names because they do not sufficiently stand out in the english language.

From the point of view of the naming agency Nomen, it would be more effective to refer to artificial intelligence in a descriptive supplement name (claim, subline etc.) or to coin a new, independent generic term for the services offered. This would leave the brand name more space for an original, unmistakable brand positioning, that emphasises the customer benefit instead of describing the offer. Moreover, by freeing the name from current technology, it is open for extensions such as the integration of future technologies.

3. Missing Brand Character

Some start-up names are so generally descriptive that they cannot be protected as word marks, such as You, Unit, Modern Intelligence etc. Therefore these brands have no possibility of defending themselves under trademark law against imitators. A big mistake, especially in such an innovative sector.

4. Complicated Spelling

Special characters in names or special spellings provoke spelling mistakes and weakens the recognisability of a name. This also speaks against names such as: run:ai, Troj.AI, Apex.AI, Abacus.AI oder OctoML. According to the naming experts it can be done but it requires an unnecessarily high communicative effort so it is better to look for an alternative.

5. Innovative names

Naturally, there are some examples of start-ups that are doing well in terms of naming and stand out from the crowd. Be it through a different translation of intelligence eg in names such as Crossing Minds, Twelve Labs or LatticeFlow. Or by being conspicuous for their deliberate misspellings eg Avataar, Cheq or Alife and for their deliberate lack of industry reference eg Gretel, SambaNova or Hugging Face.

The Nomen analysis also showed a trend towards abstract names that do not convey a direct message such as Phiar, Waabi or Owkin. The advantage of this is that like a blank sheet of paper, the brand name can be individually shaped by the company and charged with the help of storytelling. From the point of view of the Düsseldorf name experts, this is also a good solution

Conclusion from Nomen-Manager Sybille Kircher

„Currently everyone is talking about AI but that will eventually change. Descriptive names have, in my experience, a shorter half-life, because new technology is always being developed. These then make the previous technology look old. It is therefore risky to get too specific about the technology in the name.” She predicts a wave of renamings as there have been for example with many social networks. „There is a reason that Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Tinder, Skype and many other platforms sooner or later have beeb renamed. The orignal naming was just not distinctive enough.”

For start-ups that want to position and name themselves professionally right from the start, the naming agency offers a special ´Name Starter Package´ at a fixed price.

About Nomen Germany:

Nomen Germany was founded in 1989 and as a part of the agency group Nomen International S.A. is integrated into a globally active network. ‘Capturing essence’ is the promise of the name experts. In addition to the brand-strategic creation of names and their worldwide linguistic and legal protection, Nomen also offers numerous other services related to successful brands, ranging from strategic consulting, cross-cultural analyses and market research on the impact of brand names and logos to the transfer of brand names into other characters.


Nomen International Deutschland GmbH
Sybille Kircher (geschäftsführende Gesellschafterin)
Gartenstraße 41
40479 Düsseldorf

Tel.: +49 (0)211 577 906-0




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