Jomax Technologies. It wasn’t exactly the name of a company that would popularize a then-esoteric process–web domain registration–with a middle America experimenting with the internet for the first time. So in 1999, a group of employees thought about rebranding, beginning with the name. “How about Big Daddy?” someone asked. The URL was not available. Then owner-entrepreneur Bob Parsons suggested something different: “How about Go Daddy?”
Ironically, Parsons shared that story on a now-expired web page. And GoDaddy is now killing off the strangeness and quirk of its graphic identity, as Brand New points out, debuting a new logo with the same generic, sans-serif look as dozens of other technology companies, from Airbnb to Google. Starting with ads that debuted earlier this spring, GoDaddy murdered its eponymous daddy in favor of yet another anonymous wordmark. His face lives on in just a few corners of the site.
Daddy–or as I will henceforth call him, Big Daddy–never really made any sense. What did this cool dude have to do with website registration? Nothing! GoDaddy was of the same generation and ethos as Amazon, whose book logo had nothing to do with its name. But as one famous logo designer told me years ago, the most successful visual brands aren’t really all that much about the look of the identity. Their repetition is ultimately what makes them memorable.
And Big Daddy was a memorable guy, who spent almost two decades multiplying himself across the World Wide Web and television commercials. He had those wireframe sunglasses that looked straight off of Beverly Hills 90210 (which are full-circle back in style now). His cap was covered in orange hair–or maybe they were stink lines. There was no mistaking Big Daddy as anything but himself: Big Daddy. The guy may have had his flaws, but he hooked you up at 2 a.m. when you drunkenly registered http://facebooksbutt.biz believing in complete earnest you had the next billion-dollar idea.
His quiet retirement signals the end of an era. GoDaddy was one of the last remnants of first-generation web companies–for better or worse–with a brand built on quirk. Now it joins a slew of other companies rounding down to the safest common denominator of a grown-up Silicon Valley branding (in contrast to major consumer brands, which are scrambling to appear cool and authentic on social media). But here’s hoping that, wherever Big Daddy landed, it includes white sand, an open tab of mai tais, and endless conversations about the good old days on a beach chair beside his good friend, the Pets.com sock puppet.