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

What’s in a Taiwanese Name?

The November 12th issue of Business Week has a good article titled “What’s in a Name? Fatter Profits” wherein they discuss the move to branded lines of computer and tech products for Taiwan’s old line companies now that they are under such price siege in the OEM market from mainland China. This comes as no surprise. But if they are going to use their own brands on computers, then only Acer has acer1.jpggot it right, even if they re-invent their logo and positioning every few years. (I hope their switch to a lower case logo doesn’t have the same negative effect it has had on other companies like SGI).

In the article, HTC are very proud of their initials.. wonder if anyone has told them they are not as famous as IBM? Nor do they have the same marketing budget. And there is another HTC (or more). The California one is recovering from a big management scandal which makes some of us very leery of any associations with those initials – that stand for nothing we know.

But the real disaster is Asustek… this is how Business Week spells it asuslogo.jpg(and they are of the highest editorial repute). But the trademark is actually on the name Asus and their website is at and not at any of the Asustek domains. And they claim their company name is ASUSTek Computer Inc. All these inconsistencies do not matter much in the OEM space but are tragic in building a consumer brand. Especially when the name is unpronounceable and so awkward to start with.. looks like a typo for Aussie Tech.. now there is a name with more hop in it.

Can I buy a vowel please?

All Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune fans know the value of a vowel. Now it seems like all the e-businesses have snapped up the “e”‘s. We know Apple has used a lot of “i’s and someone somewhere is hoarding the “o”s too.

flickrlogo.jpgHow else do you explain popular new names like Flickr, Razr, Rokr, Rizr, Loopt (pronounced looped)? Of course, we don’t need those vowels – they were silent anyway. Everyone still knows how to pronounce these names… and so the English language continues to evolve. looptlogo.jpgBut speaking of letters not needed, so often I type in Flikr instead of Flickr or Flicker. Perhaps there is too much flickering going on for the Yahooligans… you’d think they would make these other spellings (for Germanic people and those who know good English respectively) point as well to Flickr! Heck, Yahoo is now a top level domain registrar.. does someone have to explain forwarding to them?rokrphone.jpg

PS Motorola probably got tired of paying the original Razor for the name rights. We note with interest that the proper names are now Motorazr, Motorokr, Motorizr, etc.

Zune it will be over

If ever there was a product Microsoft copied off Apple that really was a me too, it is the Zune. Not to worry, new and improved versions are coming Nov 13th with more gigabytes! Yawn. Have you seen the boring new print ads? Double yawn.

zune_logo.jpgI predict this product will zune be gone from the market, long before the zunni’s are gone from the middle east. (I have commented before in my name critic column about the problems with this name.)

In the meantime, for something musical that really is cool – and different frompacemakerlogo.gif Apple’s offerings – check out the new Pacemaker.

Fun name, fun product. It’ll make your musical heart sing.

The foxy service dogs are on fire

firefoxicon.jpgYou could invent an internet browser and steal somebody else’s boring name and called it Internet Explorer (and later pay $7mill to settle the legal infraction), or you could stop being so pedantic and name it Firefox!

firedoglogo.gifBut what do you do when your direct competitor has scooped up the ultra cool Geek Squad.. and equipped them with a lot more decorated VW bugs?

Well, you set the dogs on fire.. and call it Firedog and get your service people jumping through hoops to be of assistance! Congratulations to Circuit City (a big company) to have the chutzpah to pick such a name. Sure beats old style names like Circuit Service Team.

GoDaddy cuts through the noise.. and brings a smile to all

I have previously written posts about names that cut through the noise, but in the domain name registration space there is one that stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Here are some of the boring sounding ones:
Register Fly (that turned out to be a bit of a Fly by night)
Registration Technologies
Domain Name
…and 50+ others starting with the word Domain!

godaddy.gifAnd then there is GoDaddy! I have seen staid business people literally do a double-take when this name is mentioned, either because of the shock of the name for a very serious and important business, or because they have seen some of GoDaddy’s fun marketing campaigns.. and don’t realize it is a business site, not a consumer one.

This name obviously did not come from the boardroom. What magic one man can do (Bob Parsons), with the right personality… even though he is backed up by a staff of thousands, all of whom understand the concept of customer service – with a smile. Go Daddy Go – even if you are already number one!

Web 2.0, Demo, TIE and Code Camp

When you are looking to market your event, isn’t it much easier with a catchy name? This week Online Market World was struggling in San Francisco – perhaps for many reasons. But when we have already had events like Web 2.0 Conference, Demo and TIE this year already in the Bay Area, perhaps it takes a catchy title to cut through the noise.

siliconvalleycodecamp.jpgAnd they don’t all have to be fancy registered or trademarked or protected names. Peter Kellner’s upcoming Code Camp is a great example of this. Mention that name around Silicon Valley and see all the .NET programmers, and many others, nodding their heads in unison. And talking about Web 2.0, the whole affair is coordinated via blogs.

Look up Athol Foden’s session (that is me) if you want to join our discussion on how to turn an idea into a product into a company.

The Geekipedia and Apple smackdown $$$ tab

Receiving my fat copy of Wired magazine nowadays is quite a joy since so many others have fallen by the wayside or become leaflet size. And their Geekipedia supplement this month shows how they really pay for that size through these great advertising vehicles, even when they give it such a wierd name. Of course, they are owned by Conde Nast publications who know a thing or two about attracting classy advertisers.

applesmackdown.jpgBut who are they trying to curry favor with when they rank Apple Corp (the Beetles record publishing company) as being smacked down by Apple Inc (who Think Different)? And conveniently forget that Apple Computers Inc (as it used to be) lost their trademark fight in UK High Court, and ended up paying $43 million for continued use of their name rights once they added music to their computers. On top of which, they lost the insurance claim too.. another $6 or $7 million (or more) in legal bills.

Apple is one of the megabrands of the world now, but the name rights alone cost it $50 million or so. Very interesting, especially when so many execs are reluctant to pay even $5,000 for their company name. Of course, a brand is a lot, lot more than a name. But as Al Ries and Jack Trout said a long time ago: “Your name is your primary weapon in the battle for the mind.

Time at last to shop victoriously

Taglines and slogans are part of the art and science of naming, so I thought it is about time we gave an award to a good new tagline. In case you have been on another planet, eBay has changed its tagline to Shop Victoriously. Not only is it a great tagline, it is also a great marketing slogan and general rallying cry. It is both descriptive and inspirational.

shopvictoriously.gifAnd a massive improvement over the old Whatever it is, you can get it on eBay. Oh how I love the power of the right two words… that rescue us from the boring, corporate, descriptive taglines of old.

PS Do you know that eBay’s original company name was WebAuction? See other Famous Name Changes too and learn how a less descriptive name is a better brand name in the long run.

Award to all namers who endure no-coined-name execs

camry.jpgToday’s award goes to all namers who have had to endure the raverizon_name.jpgnts and raves from corporate executives about how they hate us for making up coined names.

They saoreos_name.jpgy how they will never embrace such names – even as they drive down the street in their Camry’s, talking on their Verizonexxonlogo.gif phones, munching on some Oreos as they stop for Exxon gas, before heading over to Kinkos to send a Fedex parcel. Sigh.


Xobni is a backward name with some forward motion

While VentureBeat gave a good mention to Xobni’s presentation at the recent Tech Crunch 40 in San Francisco, more than one person has asked me about this name. In short, no –  it is not clever. Any name that has to continually be explained usually gets changed when they have some salespeople on the phones making 100 calls a day.

xobnilogo.jpgDon’t you think prospects will think they have backward salespeople if the first thing they hear is “Oh yes, that is our name, it is backwards for Inbox.” And when they do more than recover email, what then? Perhaps by then they will have raised enough money to pay a professional to get them a new name… and save as much the first month in squandered sales and marketing costs. Some people might even pronounce this name Sob Knee.

Reminds me of a friend’s email. Her name is fairly common, so she picked an email address where her name is spelled backwards. What a pain. No one gets it – or gets it right!