Naming disaster sees launch trend for all the wrong reasons

Imagine being a new start-up and almost immediately finding yourself trending on social media.

Not only that, but you generate coverage in the Financial Times and Daily Mail.

Sounds great, right?

Well, then consider that this publicity is unfortunately not caused by how amazing your new product or service is.

Instead, it is because you have made a huge naming blunder.

Yes, it is time to spare a thought for the people at Nonce Finance (no, I don’t make this stuff up), who found themselves facing a crisis media management incident almost as soon as the company launched.

The crypto firm was trending on Twitter this week after it was announced it was launching on Polygon, and it caused widespread amusement and bemusement.

Typically, the story was quickly picked up by the traditional media:

Introducing… Nonce Finance Financial Times

Cryptocurrency start-up 'Nonce Finance' announces its arrival on Twitter... to be immediately mocked by alarmed Britons over its name Daily Mail

A new NFT company called Nonce Finance launched and they quickly realised they had a problem Indy 100

I’m not quite sure what Nonce Finance does – more on this later – but it appears that in the crypto world ‘nonce’ stands for number only used once.

Sadly, it would seem no one bothered to check that in the UK it is slang for something very different.

You can only hope more effort was put into researching the product.

But how did the company deal with this less than auspicious start and cope with being in a social media storm at such an early?

Well, it probably did the only thing it could do and tried to laugh along with the rest of us.

It tweeted: “Lesson learnt. Next time will look at British meaning of words too. Thanks for the memes.”

It also posted some memes of its own and tried to take the opportunity to explain what it does.

And it has launched a poll asking whether it should change its name. More than half of those who have responded believe it should rebrand. I just hope the company treads carefully with – and perhaps Googles - some of the suggested new options.

The start-up clearly has some pressing naming and branding issues – and its Twitter bio does now say it is “struggling with brand names”.

But when heads are removed from hands and those red faces become a little less flushed, it may also want to spend some time thinking about how it describes what it does.

The current definition is largely incomprehensible.

When I was looking from the coverage of Nonce Finance launching on Polygon, I stumbled across the press release.

And in the section ‘About Nonce Finance’ – which I read with some trepidation – I saw this description: 

“Nonce Finance is an NFT fractionalization protocol that increases the liquidity of NFTs by tokenizing them into fungible fractional tokens thereby allowing them to use various DeFi Legos.

“Nonce has built a custom bonding curve optimised for fractional tokens and is leveraging a buyout game that allows someone to buy a fractionalized NFT and make it whole again.”

Wow. Does anyone know what any of this means?

I’m fairly sure I’m not the target audience here. But we do a lot of media training and crisis communication training with organisations in the finance sector, and we would not let them get away with explaining a service or product like this.

There must be a simpler way of describing this service.

Some basic punctuation to break up some of the complex sentences would admittedly be a good starting point. But there needs to be some more effort into making the language accessible.

The key when explaining anything technical, whether it is in social media posts, media interviews or business writing, is to show what it actually means to people.

How does the Nonce Finance product help people? What does it enable them to do that they cannot do currently?

I realise we have said this before in our media training blogs, but the key is to think about how you would describe it to a friend or family member who does not have anything to do with your industry.

If the conversation came up in a restaurant, bar or café, what would you say?

When we talk to delegates on our training courses about the importance of simplicity, they sometimes ask whether it is the same as dumbing down.

It isn’t. It is about making content accessible.

And part of this is achieved by knowing what you don’t need to say. All the points identified in the Nonce Finance company description may be vital to the people who work for the company. But does your audience need to know them?

You need to determine what the crucial points are and leave the rest out. Boil it down to the bare bones.

For now, however, it is surely back to the drawing board on that unfortunate name.


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