It seems like every time we talk he wants to say my name, so that when he gets to my last name he can exaggerate the bing. BING!” – Chandler Bing on Friends
It’s not like Microsoft didn’t know what was coming. Choosing a name like Bing for their new search engine was bound to attract all sorts of reaction. It’s a source of curiosity and quickly became fodder for jokes and references.
The first thing that came to my mind is Chandler Bing, arguably one of the most charming yet sarcastic characters in US sitcom history. Played by Matthew Perry, Chandler Bing was one of the six Friends on the hit TV show that helped define Thursday nights as a “Must See TV” night. On the show, both his first and last names were the sources of many a tease, but he took it all in stride, something Microsoft appears to be doing as well.
Another famous Bing is a crooner and classic movie star who went by the last name Crosby. Most famous for his hit musical White Christmas, Crosby’s smooth vocals grace our ears every December. Crosby was a true triple threat. He could sing, dance, and act with the best of them. Microsoft is taking the multi-faceted approach as well, by tackling various niches from travel to shopping to health.
Then there are the plays on the word Bing as well as colloquialisms and acronyms. Ba da bing ba da boom is a phrase that, according to Urban Dictionary, means something that is done quickly and easily. “Bing It On” is a take on the phrase “Bring It On,” while many speculated that Bing stood for “Boy, It’s Not Google.”
When I asked Whitney Burk of the Bing Team why the name was chosen, she said the word “sounded like the moment of discovery.” But Bing is more than a sound. Burk said the word is simple, easy to remember and globally appropriate.
Oh yeah, and Burk said that Bing does NOT stand for “Boy It’s Not Google.” It’s not an acronym.
The ultimate question when it comes to branding and naming is, “Does it pass the verb test?” Xerox, FedEx, Google and Twitter have all seen their names turned into verbs. “Can you Xerox this for me?” and “I need to FedEx the gift in time for Christmas” are phrases you’ve probably heard before.
Will we now hear people say things like “I Binged chocolate chip cookies and found a great recipe” or “I’m going to Bing his name and see what comes up?”
I’m not so sure. It’s not that a brand has to have a name that turns into a verb. You don’t put on your running shoes and say, “I’m going Nike-ing.” But when it comes to search, people have come to expect it. You hear it when people talk about using Google, even in the movies or on TV.
What happens with the Bing brand remains to be seen. The search engine launches to the public next week and after that, much of it is out of Microsoft’s hands. Then, the people will decide if Bing is set to join Chandler, Crosby and the colloquialisms as one of the most famous Bings in history.