Name Awards Professional Commentary on Company Names, Product Brands and Business Names

Athol Foden

Some of you who are programmers (and others) talk about a GUI (pronounced Gooey) for a graphical user interface. Well I can remember having a SUI (Store of Useless Information) when I was only fourteen. I had even memorized the spines of the set of encyclopedias by my bedside. In fact, I can still remember it started A-Bal, Bal-Boa, etc. And a key category in my information store was names. They have fascinated me for over 40 years.

Many years later, long after I immigrated to the USA, I was a marketing manager at Sony Microsystems and we had naming problems with our product line. By then I had won a number of naming competitions, but I was still struggling, so we looked for help from the first naming agencies springing up as stand-alone entities. However, Sony corporate policy dictated we couldn’t use such services. But the seed was planted, and I kept thinking I can do it better – being of course the computer nerd that I was.

In reality, all I wanted to do was make up names. It was my hobby. I didn’t want to run a business. But luckily my partner kept me involved, and we became a very successful agency. Business 2.0 named us the 7th biggest naming agency in the USA, and later did a profile story where they featured me and called me a namiac!

FullNewLogo300Since then I have started another agency, which has already celebrated its 10th anniversary. Today the Brighter Naming team is spread across the USA and Canada, with a key member of the staff based in Europe too. Some days I have to pinch myself. What the heck is a guy with two computer science degrees doing running a business usually staffed by creative writers or linguists? And I still have a great sense of fun and fascination with names of the world, as well as languages, peoples and businesses of the world.

Like most namers, I am well traveled, own a lot of real dictionaries, and spend too much time on the internet. Yet computers still are not nearly as smart as a clever namer, though I do try to know about many of the latest software tools. But they are a great help with the back end of naming – all the heavy lifting and processing of 500 + names on the master list, even for the smallest of clients. So I can run projects really quickly yet still feel like I am having fun with my hobby – except for when I am doing all those boring legal checks of course.

What I have failed to mention explicitly so far is that between being a computer techy and being a namer, I had many years as a sales and marketing executive, as well as starting some other less successful endeavors. From product manager to VP Sales and Marketing worldwide, I have walked in many of the same shoes as you do, both in small no-name startups (or worse, badly named startups) to international major corporations.

This blog, however, is more of an editorial and journalistic fun endeavor than a business one. It is an attempt to connect with other people who are fascinated by names, whether it be out of their natural interests or out of business necessity. And since this is about business and product names, and not about baby names or medical or botanical names, do expect we will often still discuss marketing strategy and other business planning issues. In fact, for a few select clients, as well as for UC Extension Silicon Valley, I do still do some marketing consulting and teaching. See more details about these endeavors on my personal website,

In addition, please see to get copies of my marketing books which include Brighter Names, Brighter Branding, Spreadsheet Marketing, Brighter SEO and Emergency Golf.

And follow me on Twitter @namiac.