Rhymes with FOPE
How would you pronounce this?
- As in "dope"
- As in "soapy"
- As in "floppy"
- With two syllables, the last one like "touche"
Answer? I don't know. I've heard it pronounced like #2 and #3 above and will no doubt encounter a pronunciation like #4 before long.
What It Does is What It Is
So what exactly is FOPE? Glad you asked. FOPE stands for "Forefront Online Protection for Exchange." It's a Microsoft service; you can read about it here. In simpler terms, FOPE provides the anti-virus and anti-spam functions that are part of any good messaging system.
Let's dissect the name.
- Forefront: OK, this has a tinge of Marketing. "Forefront" as in "out in front," which is where you want your anti-virus and anti-spam to be--helping you before a message is received, not afterwards.
- Online: yes, this is an online (hosted "in the cloud") service, vs. software you install and run on your own server.
- Protection: yes, this provides protection from viruses and spam and similar nastiness that assails the world of email.
- for Exchange: ah, it's a service that works with Exchange, Microsoft's email service. As far as I know, Microsoft is not in the anti-virus business the way Trend Micro or others are. So their anti-virus and anti-spam service is built to run with Microsoft's product, period.
Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. This is a classic case of naming a product based on what it does; the name says it all. You often see names like this in companies that have a strong technical culture.
That would be fine, but there's a problem. The name is a mouthful. Imagine the poor sales represenative on a cold call. He knows he's only got about ten seconds to engage the prospect, and he's going to burn two or three of those just getting the product name out. He'd be much happier if the product were named "Blitz!" or some other monosyllabic word.
Of course, the sales rep isn't the only one who doesn't want to say "Forefront Online Protection for Exchange" over and over. Hence, FOPE is born.
FOPE might be fine for internal use, but no one in Marketing or Sales is going to want to talk about a product that might rhyme with "dope". It just sounds stupid.
Why It Is is What It Is
Now imagine a different name (we'll even anticipate the acronym):
Forefront Mail Protector
or FMP if you prefer.
What's the difference? The emphasis here is on why it exists: to protect your email from threats that arise from spam, phishing and viruses. I can easily understand what a "protector" does for me. And the great thing is, I don't have to know (or care) how it does its job. I use Forefront (the likely short form of the name) and I'm protected. Done.
Move from Description to Value
It's easy to end up with a name like FOPE. Early in the project, people want to give the thing you're making a name and no one's thinking about its ultimate value. They just want another reference besides "that thing." So all eyes turn to the Product Manager, who blurts out something like "EasyLAN with Meridian Extension!" (no kidding--my first product name).
My advice: name the project using some arbitrary name... say, Cybele. Make it obvious that this would never be the name of the product. This will buy you some time to work with the Marketing and come up with a name that expresses how it benefits the customer, not just what it does. Let the technical folks call it by some acronym that's convenient. But get cracking on the ultimate market name, the one that Sales won't be inclined to mumble over or replace with a name of their own invention (lacking any direction from you). Then let the techies make that into an acronym--hopefully one you've already planned to use.
In short, don't be a FOPE.