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Monday, December 12, 2011


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Pussycat Catnap

I think any name but Second Life would have been better.

Second Life evokes all the wrong mental images.

I'm among those who'se reaction was "so um, what's wrong with my first life?"

In fact the first time I heard the name I thought it was one of those many crazy projects of baby boomers to become immortal - an idea to develop a technology to upload their brains online (something that's been seen in a few cyberpunk novels). About as crazy as the folks who freeze themselves to be thawed out later when the grand utopia arrives...

Once I got past that, it just looked like another MMO, but one for which there were too many Real-life tie-ins for me to be interested. I figured it was a 3D-mySpace meets Sims... :)

(heh... little did I know what it would soon try to become...)

"Sensarra" might actually have been a better title. A name like that - you aren't fighting against your own brand to establish an identity, you're in a vacuum, and can go anywhere.

- And that's really more of what we have. A vacuum that can go anywhere we take it.

We just have to convince people first that Second Life is not a second life...

- One newbie at a time... everyday... over and over again...


the second logo that reassembles a face with one eye is really really cool!!!

hunter walk

glad i could give folks a peek inside the early days of the Lab.

Just to clear up - it was all a team effort. I don't recall if i lead this branding or not -- i was doing our marketing until we hired someone better than me :) Robin Harper helped set much of the overall goals for our branding, etc.

Lyrical Popstar

I do not like the name "Second Life." I think it puts the wrong impression on what SL is. I feel weird saying it even. I'll almost always abbreviate to "SL," even when speaking.

And from a marketing standpoint, using the word "Second" in marketing is not all too smart. Do you like being someone's second choice? Do you like being picked second? Finishing second? Just doesn't make much sense.

I'd LOVE to see the name changed to something else.

shockwave yareach

I wouldn't have even considered logging into a place called "Sensarra". Sorry, but it sounds much too much like a bad porn movie to me.

The name Second Life is already established, for good or ill. Changing the name and not fixing the core problems (50user max sims, simcrossings, group chat, infinite items in web marketplace) won't do anything except taint another word with the ills in our second world. I can rename Yugo to Fierosa, but it'll still suck like a Yugo.

Better names for when SL is finally fixed might be:

New World
Synth Land (allowing SL to remain as the acronym)
Unreal Worlds (you'll need to license with Epic though)
Binary Earth (on the other side of reality, is your binary earth)
Sociopolitical Ramifications
Terra Computas

I personally don't have an issue with the name second life. The only people it bothers are people who are embarassed by what they or others are doing in it and don't want their grammas to know. I will admit that people who have no clue whatsoever will ask the "what's wrong with" question. But let's be honest; do any of those sorts of folks play games, spend money on virtual stuff, or even have a computer in some cases?

If I sold meat, I wouldn't care what vegetarians said about my product. Neither should LL bet the farm on the opinions of people who would never use SL, even if it was renamed Microsoft Office. Getting more customers is good. Keeping current customers is better, and not destroying everything you worked for to impress stuffed shirts who cannot grasp the concept of Play anymore is far better still.

Adeon Writer

I'm betting that if SecondLife's name were to change, the most likely canidate would be "Linden Realms"

(Not that I'd like it, but that's what I'd put my money on,)

Lyrical Popstar

I'd put my money on SL-3D. It was rumored a while back, and it still keeps the nostalgic value of "Second Life," but makes it not sound so negative outright.

I don't talk to people about SL much cause they'll say things like, "Second life? So you have another life on there?" And it immediately starts bringing up the worst in their minds about what I could possibly be doing in there. So, I just don't talk about it, period.

Nathan Adored

I don't think the point behind this article is what it would be like if SL changed their name now, rather it is pretty clear the point was... what if, in a scene seemingly lifted straight from Asimov's THE END OF ETERNITY, some time traveler went back, made a key change in some event in 2001/2002 time frame and therefor historical events changed, OR, in a scene straight from the TV show "Sliders" we went to some parallel Earth... and in the new reality, this grand VR world had NEVER BEEN called Second Life but had instead gone by some other name from the very beginning. Heck, Linden World or Linden Realms might have been a very good choice.

Pussycat Catnap

Sensarra evoked fantasy / video game to me - that's why I find it a better choice. At least its relevant and not negative in connotations unless I guess; you watch a lot of bad pron. ;)

That doesn't mean it would have been ideal. But at least people wouldn't have been asking "so what's wrong with your first life?"

I'm not fond of any name that has any of 'Linden' 'Realm' 'World' 'Virtual' 'Metaverse" or 'Game' in it though.

Some relevant reading for those who think the name doesn't matter or only bothers those who 'are people who are embarassed by what they or others are doing in it':

"What’s in a Brand Name?"
"Famous Names
Does it matter what a product is called?"

Hamlet Au

"I'd put my money on SL-3D. It was rumored a while back"

Thanks! That was actually my suggestion, but I don't know if LL seriously considered it. LL head of marketing told me that was an interesting idea. And then she left LL. :(

Emperor Norton

Well that's a little disappointing. No real explanation why they thought "Second Life" was a good name for their product.

Hamlet Au

Hunter actually talks at length about just that subject in the book. STOCKING STUFFER!

Adeon Writer

SL-3D would go by the casual name "sled"

Doesn't have that much of a ring to it. :S

Hamlet Au

As opposed to, like, WoW, LOTRO, SWTOR? :)

Tateru Nino

Calling a bad branding choice "a team effort" is actually a marketing strategy that I've seen in person on a number of occasions. It quells individual complaints, so long as staff don't talk to each-other.

In fact, every time a CMO or MM has pushed an unpopular (or even universally reviled) branding decision down a company throat. Now, I'm not saying that this was one of those, but every account I've heard from old-time staff say that Walk ended up selecting the Second Life name, and that it was unpopular among Labbers, and that they thought it gave the wrong impression of the product. I haven't yet spoken to anyone from that period who *didn't* hate the name, but there must be some, statistically.

Pussycat Catnap

I'll admit I avoided the book because, like any tech book, I assumed it would be out of date 3 weeks after hitting the bookstores.

If its more than just a series of screenshots of the 2003 viewer and a 'how to make your system hair look nice?' - then maybe I'll get your book Hamlet.


LL's either failed to hire branding consultants, or should put out a warning to anyone else against hiring whoever they did hire... O.o

Pussycat Catnap

"As opposed to, like, WoW, LOTRO, SWTOR? :)"
- Those would fail if not for what they stood for.

World of Warcraft
Lord of the Rings Online
Geek Wars, The version Lucas hasn't F'd up yet

Though it can be conceded that sometimes the initials are more powerful than the actual name, such as International Business Machines.

Hamlet Au

"like any tech book"

Ms. Catnap, my HarperCollins book, *The Making of Second Life*, is totally not technical, it's the story of how LL created SL and how the users made it real. The official guidebook I helped write is definitely long in the tooth, but my chapters are about the sociology and personalities in SL, so I think still relevant.

nexus burbclave

SL-3D would require some careful branding... including a clear and preferably large separator between "sl" and "3d". Otherwise you wind up with something that is read as "sl3d" or "sled". Invoking images of something going downhill fast is exactly what we're trying to get away from. :)

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