Once I’d worked through my feelings about Marc Jacobs’ perfumed crotch, and what exactly that said about my brand, it was time to tackle a new name for my “network.” Alphabet City had always been the name of my sitcom life that coursed through the streets of the East Village. And so I had adopted ABCityblog as the title for my site that began as a promotional vehicle for the book. As it turned out, ABCityblog was a cumbersome name—people always looked at me funny when I said it. “ABCity what?” Now was the time to start anew—with a brand identity that encapsulated my idea that I was living a network of life filled with shows that were funny, honest, smart, and optimistic.
My initial thought was to head in the Oprah direction and give my new network a personal touch. Maybe something using my initials, like JPB-TV.com, or perhaps more fun using one of my nicknames like BuckyTV.com. My Kern+Lead branding expert Will explained that nonsense names get a lot of attention—think “Google.” He suggested maybe I consider something made-up that allowed me to give it meaning.
After discussing it with Chef, I warmed up to the idea of creating a word. On book tour, I learned that it was my optimistic voice—that gay Mary Tyler Moore attitude—that readers really connected with. So I wanted the name to telegraph that immediately. After hours searching GoDaddy.com for possibilities, I settled on JoPtimist.com—it had my initials, played on my favorite word, and was available (where as optimist.com obviously wasn’t).
So I polled about 20 of my most loyal fans—a cross section of women and gay guys—and asked them their thoughts on the two different directions: BuckyTV.com or JoPtimist.com
Almost resoundingly, everyone responded to the idea behind JoPtimist. Except for my dear friend Dana—also my editor at Condé Nast Traveler and later Bon Appétit. I can always count on Dana to push me to be better. And this time was no different. Her response? “Neither is grabbing me. Have you thought of anything else?” Ouch.
I shared with her my entire research list: BonVivanTV.com, TheVivant.com, BonVivantNet.com, Joptimistic.com, Optimistex.com, Poptimistex.com. And one more, Poptimistic.com, which I noted, “I’d have to buy this one for $688, I do like it, but the price…”
The thing is, I really liked Poptimistic, but was trying to talk myself out of it because of the expense. Dana’s response: “I know it is pricey but poptimistic really rings my chime. your URL is like a haircut, something you wear every day and really telegraphs who you are. I think springing for the $688 is worth it, after all you are going to be saying it a million times….”
Chef agreed whole heartedly that the name was terrific, and the cost worth it. Will the designer was jazzed. And so with just a few quick calls and keystrokes to BuyDomains.com—I was the proud father of a new network name.
Thankfully, I learned my lesson not to be short sighted and cheap when it comes to brand image. Now, I make up excuses just to say Poptimistic. Because every time I do, I smile. When people hear it, they often say, “Poptimistic? So cute.” And that’s a brand name that’s totally worth it.