Friday, April 27, 2007

The last post

Life's got too hectic. So I am closing the tap. You can catch me at my website. Adios.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A very icky name

Dentsu India has launched Iki, a creative boutique. Apparently Iki means chic in Japanese. Funnily, Iki sounds very icky to the English ear. Is anyone at Dentsu listening?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A brand that means the same in Spanish & Tamil

Did you know that Chupa Chups is derived from the Spanish word 'Chupar' that means 'to suck'? I am sure you didn't. Did you also know that the Tamil word 'chuppardhu' means 'to suck'? Funny, ain't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sticky Post

Thought of a nice name today for a possible adhesive brand. Got to find a taker for it. The name has longlasting cues and is suitably controversial. What's more, the dotcom domain is available. The coinage is Glueteus Maximus. Anyone interested?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fun way to choose brand name

1. Pick your telephone directory.
2. Randomly flip pages.
3. Read out names (street name or person's name) listed aloud.
4. Shortlist 100 names that sound exotic.
5. Check domain name availabity.
6. Filter down the shortlist to one name you like.

The telephone directory technique was used by no less a company than Proctor & Gamble. They arrived at the name Pringles using this interesting procedure. So it's tried & tested. Why not give it a shot?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Love this name

Namewire features the travails of a Michigan restaurant originally named Mother Cluckers. William Lozito of Name Development labels this name as distasteful. I disagree. Mother Cluckers rocks. It's got spice and is suitably controversial. It's an either you like it or hate it kinda name. Unfortunately the owner didn't see the potential in the name. He dropped it for a much watered down Smokin' Chicken. I think the man made a mistake. He lost a hen that could have laid golden eggs.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Which bi-monthly mag is named after this man?

Luerzer's Archive named after Walter Luerzer.

Image courtesy:

Monday, March 26, 2007

The logo that changed the brand name

This is a unique case study. I bet you've never read anything like this before. Here's the beef: Fujitsu has a global brand of air conditioners named General. The brand is sold in India through their partner ETA, who never spends a pie doing good advertising. ETA didn't teach its customers to pronounce the brand name right - using radio spots. Instead all they did was to spend money on shop signages & glow signs. So a lot of people got to see the logo, which looks like this:

People saw the logo and confused the reverse 'g' with letter 'o'. As a result of this confusion, they started referring to 'General' as 'Ogeneral'. Seeing the average Joe's mispronunciation, what did the chaps at ETA do? They started calling their global brand OGeneral. They even chose that domain name for their Indian website. What an irony! Why is Fujitsu silent about this?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A game named Trylateral

This post is a shameless plug for my latest game & name. The game is about connecting the unconnected. It's about linking three seemingly unrelated clues to a person, animal, bird or thing. As the game is a celebration of lateral thinking and it involves 3 clues, I've called it Trylateral. To play the game, go here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No Man's Land - Tamil Brand Names

In our country, people have no qualms about coining names in English, Sanskrit & Latin. But very few namers muster enthu for coinages in other regional languages. Take the Tamil names for instance. I can hardly count 20 popular brands that have opted to use a patchai tamizh peyar. Here's my pattiyal:

1. Dinathanthi (A newspaper name that means 'The Daily Telegraph')
2. Dinamalar (A newspaper name that means 'The Daily Blossom')
3. Dinamani (A newspaper name that means 'The Daily Bell')
4. Kungumam (A mag name that means 'The Vermillion' mark used by women)
5. Kumudam (A mag name that means 'A Flower')
6. Ananda Vikadan (A mag name that means the 'Merry Magazine')
7. Suriyan FM (A radio station name that means 'Sun FM')
8. Murasoli (A newspaper name that means 'The Drumbeat')
9. Makkal TV (A TV channel name that means 'People TV')
10. Mangaiyar Malar (A mag name that means 'Woman's Blossom')
11. Ponvandu (A washing soap name that means 'Golden Bee')
12. Maan Mark Kudaigal (A brand name that means 'Deer Mark Umbrellas')
13. Jamaai (An ice cream brand name that means 'Enjoy')
14. (A website name that means '')
15. Koothuppattarai (A theater group name that means 'Theater factory')
16. Cavin Kare (A cosmetics company name that means 'Beauty Care')
17. Cholayil (A cosmetics company name that means 'In the Garden')
18. Idhayam (An edible oil brand name that means 'Heart')
19. Aachi (A masala brand name that means 'Grandma')
20. Udhavum Karangal (An NGO name that means 'Helping Hands')

Can anyone tell me why people are ashamed to coin names in their own language? Is it because they think it sounds uncool? Or is it because of a preference for anything anniyan.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A brand named 1431 Pyorrhea Palpodi

Any eighties kid who grew up in Tamil Nadu will recognise this name. When I first heard it on a radio spot as a lil boy, I had a classic waddafukwazdat expression on my face. Ever since, I've been trying to figure out what could have been the logic behind the name. I haven't yet found a convincing explanation. But I think I am somewhat there. Let's examine the elements that make up the name. Pyorrhea is a severe gum inflamation disease. Palpodi means tooth powder in Tamil. But what about 1431? This proved to be the tricky bit. Is it a reference to the atomic weights of Nitrogen & Phosphorus? Or a cue for molar tooth # 14 & 31? I did some googling to choose between these two hypotheses. All I got was a third hypothesis. It seems in a standard dentistry course DHYG 1431 refers to pre-clinical dental hygiene treatment. So was it an allusion to that? I dunno. But of the three guessplanations, this seems to be the best. Anyone with a better theory?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Branding Blunders

If not for Namewire, I'd have given this piece a miss. The IBM Grafitti experiment quoted in 'Corporate Branding Oops' is an eye-opener for the creative ilk. Another interesting case study featured is Wal Mart's Metro 7 conundrum.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A brand named The Skinny Cow

A delicious name choice for a low fat ice cream. Some would say, the name sounds similar to Happy Cow. But I would disregard that. This is a gutsy choice. The visualisation of the logo has neutralised any possible negatives associated with the name. For Nestle to have approved this, the brand manager must have been really bold.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Murphy's Law of Naming

When you present 100 name options, the client asks for the 101st.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Research would have killed this.

"Founded in 1895 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, OshKosh B'Gosh, Inc. has grown from a small-town manufacturer of adult workwear into a global marketer of children's clothing and accessories." If the head honchos of OshKosh had done a research before taking their brand global, they would've discovered that many find their name a tongue twister. A name like Kidorable would have notched up better scores than OshKosh. Thankfully OshKosh didn't press the research button...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Names of Searchbots

Created by search engines, searchbots are programs that scour the world wide web to get what you want. Every search engine has a different name for its searchbots. Here's my Top 10 selection picked with the brandnama searchbot:

For data search by - Kilroy (great choice)
Northern Light - Gulliver
Goodlookingcooking - Muncher
Alta Vista - Scooter
German search engine Nathan - Tarantula
For - ParaSite
Planet Search - Fido
Diggit search engine - Digger
Hotbot - Slurp
Lisa search engine - Voyager

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Name change for a cause

This nugget is quite dated. Nevertheless interesting. Christopher Garnett, a PETA volunteer, actually changed his name to, for a short period to turn the spotlight on animal abuse to chickens. Methinks, it's an ingenious tactic. So I wasn't surprised when I read that the campaign did really well.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Which coffee brand is named after this gentleman?

The Italian coffee brand Lavazza. The gentleman is the founder Luigi Lavazza. Brand Lavazza just picked up Barista and Fresh&Honest in India. Picture courtesy: Sovrana.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A galaxy-sized naming scam

There's a company called International Star Registry. For a few dollars, they let you name a star after your mom, girl friend, boss, child or ex-flame. They'll even gift you a certificate for your efforts. The International Astronomical Union has deplored this as a despicable 'act of commercial trickery'. Wikipedia gives us a neat lowdown on ISR here. The success of ISR has probably emboldened others to widen their canvas. A new site now promises to let you name galaxies for free. Wonder what's the catch there.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mafia & other celebrity pet names

Are celebrities creative in their name choice? Well, find out by poring over this list extracted from the net.

Audrey Hepburn - Mr. Famous (A Yorkshire terrier)
Gwyneth Paltrow - Holden (A Black Labrador). CITR lover?
Clark Gable - Commissioner (A Daschund)
Sigourney Weaver - Petals (A Greyhound)
Shahrukh Khan - Chewbacca (A dog)
Salman Khan - My Son & My Jaan (French Mastiffs)
Charles Dickens - Turk (A Mastiff)
Isaac Newton - Diamond (A dog)
George Washington - Vulcan (a Hound dog)
Celina Jetley - Heineken (A Cocker Spaniel)
Hillary Clinton - Socks (A cat)
Bill Clinton - Monica (A Pussy). Nah! Just kidding.
George Dubya Bush - India (A cat)
Edgar Allen Poe - Catarina (A cat)
Snoop Dogg - Miles Davis & Frank Sinatra (2 cats)
Cameron Diaz - Little Man (A cat)
Nicholas Cage - Moby & Sheeba (2 King Cobras)

And Mafia was Frank Sinatra's gift to Marilyn Monroe!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Interesting Blog Address # 1

Most people use their blog name as the blog address. But some go further. They pack a little touch of intrigue into their location descriptor. Shyam of Whatdreamsmaycome has chosen madatadam as his address. It sounds like My Data Dam. And if you look closer it's a palindrome. Good one, maan!

Monday, March 05, 2007

A t-shirt brand named Nogunarmy

"Nogunarmy are two people who live in dirty London town. Simon, an English gentleman and Rebecca a Brazillian gentlelady. They live together and are expecting a child of some sort in the summer. Simon is a graphic designer who also works on TV programmes and Rebecca is a financial wizard, weaving number magic out of incomprehensible data." The brand name is evocative. The designs are classy. I see this brand going places.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

YourDictionary now dishes out YourBrandnames

While I was scouring the net for rhyming names, I stumbled upon this page. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover the naming venture of YourDictionary. Their nameroll didn't look that hot though. No. I am not being a namebitch. Check it out, yourself. Metafiction, Dr. Language, Polyplay & Nonesuch Publications were the only stand outs.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Whistler, Longhorn & the works.

Microsofties have this habit of coining imaginative code names for rather pedestrian products. Take the case of Windows XP. The code name was Whistler. Longhorn was the cryptic version for Vista. And Memphis was the covert choice for Windows 98. Looking at some of these names, I feel Microsoft is needlessly cling on to Windows. Let go, Steve Balmer.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Which softdrink is named after this bloke?

The bloke is Dr. Charles T. Pepper. And the drink is Dr. Pepper. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Here comes the Air Indian

Air India has formally merged with Indian (formerly Indian Airlines). What will the new entity be called? Air Indian? Indian Air? Air India? Or is it going to be a totally new name? The rational part in me says Air India is what it should be as everyone's familiar with the name. The namer in me feels this a great opportunity to choose a distinctive name and identity. Pushpak might be a good starter. There are plenty of other mythological names to choose from. But knowing the 'secular' lobby, they might shoot down anything remotely Hindu and opt for something sterile like Air India.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Saab Naming Convention

"Every car Saab makes has a name that starts with the number 9. The 9 simply means "this is not a military vehicle."
When the company was founded in the 1930s, Saab was an acronym for Swedish Aircraft, Ab (the Swedish equivalent of Inc.) After World War II, while Saab was still strictly an airplane company, it was decided that all civilian projects should be given numbers starting with 9. The Saab 90 and 91 were civilian aircraft.

Saab's next project was a car. Since it was not a military vehicle, the car was given the number 92. Since the numbers always had to start with 9 it didn't take too long before Saab was into three-digit, then four-digit, car names.

In 1998 came the car that would have been the Saab 90,000. At that point, Saab went back to double digits, but the numbers were now separated. In ordinary text, the numbers are written with a hyphen in between, like this: 9-5. On the back of a Saab, the second digit is offset in a slightly different typeface.

As with BMWs, the second number indicates the relative size and price of the vehicle. If it's followed by an X, as with the 9-2X, that means it has all-wheel drive."

Extracted from Cartype.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Label Whore

Urban Dictionary says, "A label whore is someone who only wears brand name clothes, with the name of the brand usually placed somewhere for all to see. A walking advertisement for a clothing store or brand." Don't we lurve label whores.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"I work for Question Mark"

Would you park your fortunes with a company named QuestionMark? Is Comma too pedestrian a name for a software company? Is Hy-phen too generic for a recruitment solutions company? I think so. These are names with no personality. No point in appropriating them. Of the three, I think at least QuestionMark has a logic for their choice.

Out of curiousity, I typed to see what pops up. As expected, I discovered a digestive health site. Semicolon however, did not throw up a portal on colon surgery. During this odyssey to spot punctuated companies, I discovered one trend. Punctuation marks are a huge hit with software companies. There's even a software development site called OpenParenthesis!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Brandy Candy # 1

Logos get all the applause. Good brand names don't even get a word of appreciation. Brandy Candy is a series that aims to put the spotlight on some great brand names coined by our fraternity. If any of you has a nice nominee send the name to brandnama at gmail dot com. Meanwhile, here's the first of my picks.

CRUEL WORLD for a career placement service. Naming by A Hundred Monkeys.

Why I like it: An unusual name for a placement firm. It sticks in your head the moment you hear it. It's bloody evocative. And it offers immense scope for logo design and advertising.

Why I chose it: In the left corner you have names that promise the moon like Careerbuilder, Monster, Hotjobs & Sixfiguresalaries. And in the right corner, there's this quiet guy who offers you the reality check on workplaces. Whom would you listen to? It's this 'tell-it-like-it-is' spirit, that makes Cruel World work for me.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Can we get more silly?

I dunno why seasoned pros are running down coined names. For godsake, it's a friggin genre in naming. How can you rubbish a whole genre? It's as ridiculous as a comedy film maker trashing tragedies. Grow up guys. To sell your names, you don't have to put down the other guy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Why John Jones won't win the US presidential elections.

Who the flick is John Jones? Is he a Democrat? Republican? Republicrat? Democrican? Hold on. Don't get so curious. John Jones is any presidential hopeful with a commonplace surname. My theory is the more exotic your surname, the better your chances of victory. Look at some success stories of yore:

Roosevelt. Fr - President for 12 years.
Roosevelt. T - President for 8 years.
Washington - President for 8 years.
Reagan - President for 8 years.
Eisenhower - President for 8 years.
Clinton - President for 8 years.
Bush Jr. - President for god-knows-how-many-more-years.
Clevland - President for 6 years.
Coolidge - President for 6 years.
Lincoln - President for 4 years.
Van Buren - President for 4 years.
Fillmore - President for 3 years.
Ford - President for 3 years.
Kennedy - President for 2 years.

I am not saying the Jacksons, Johnsons and Harrisons don't have a chance. All I am positing is 'exotic surname -> clutter breaker -> better chances'. Among the current presidential hopefuls Obama & Guiliani are fresh and clear stand-outs. I won't be surprised if either of these two go on to win the race.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A brand named FUBU

An ethnic brand of sportswear primarily targeted at blacks, FUBU is an acronym for "For Us By Us". Founded by Daymond John, it seems FUBU was born as a reaction to 'predominantly white brands' like Nike. So says Wiki.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What a name cannot do.

Some people pin a lot of hopes on their brand names. They think it's abracadabra. Time for a reality check. In my limited experience, I think no name on earth can:
a) Do the job of a long copy ad.
b) Catapult you to the cover of Fortune magazine.
c) Act like a super eye magnet for your target audience.
d) Please every earthling on this planet.
e) And eclipse every other brand in every other category.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's your surname Mr. Iyer?

South Indians are funny characters. You can't slot them into any category. No templates fit them. The Mallus are different from the Tams from the Gults from the Kannadigas. At least when it comes to naming conventions. Take four names for dissection: Vishwanthan Anand, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Arackaparambil Kurian Antony & Ramakrishna Hegde.

Vishwanathan Anand is a Tamilian name. Vishwanathan is Anand's dad's name and Anand is his given name. The Nara in Nara Chandrababu Naidu is the family name while Naidu is the caste name and Chandrababu is his given name. The AK in AK Antony stands for his dad's name. Hegde is the surname of a man named Ramakrishna.

Got the drift? Ain't the naming so different? There's a well-written piece in answers dot com on Indian naming conventions. Read it up if you want the answer to the poser in the headline.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Would you have bought Ruda shoes?

After his tiff with Adi Dassler, Fast Company reports that Rudolf Dassler contemplated launching a brand named RuDa (a short form of his name - using the same funda as Adidas). It seems he dropped it when someone thought it sounded awkward. Actually, I wouldn't have minded Ruda. It sounds more macho than Puma. The reason why I posted this stale fact is I found a nice quote in Fast Company. "It wasn't something that came out of research it was just something that was a gut feeling at the end of the day." That was a quote from Jochen Zeitz, CEO, Puma, summing up how he hit upon the now successful fashion strategy. I sneaked it in this blog as I am not exactly pro-research.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A brand named Baby Einstein

A well-conceived name for a company that's into baby videos, toys, books and music. Founded by Julie Aigner-Clark in 1997, Baby Einstein was bought over by Disney (Source: Brandchannel) In my opinion it's a smart choice but a risky one. Because I am not sure if one is allowed to use the name Einstein. Can anyone with some trademark experience give their inputs on this?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nike's big mistake

Why would a well known brand which has spent billions of dollars on building awareness and affection for its name, opt to drop the name altogether from its shop signs and instead replace it with the over-hyped swoosh? Beats me. In a country like India, where people are more verbal than visual, this is a Himalayan blunder. Dunno when the Portland Pashas are gonna wake up to this fact.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What does an art director do when the name says it all?

Logo designing for evocative names can pose quite a few dilemmas:

A) Do you visually state the obvious? Will it be derided as an unimaginative logo?

B) Do you play it safe and use just a stylised font? Will it be panned as a lazy logo?

C) Do you add a little twist to the A-for-apple logo? Is it risky?

D) Do you create an abstract visual mnemonic (with name or the initials)? Will it be too abstract?

E) Do you look beyond the name and cue a benefit? Will people blame you for not leveraging the name?

Option a is what most people try. I'd go with d or e. What do you say?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New improved Citigroup

Citigroup has renamed itself as Citi. I am not at all surprised. They should have done this in 1977 when Wells, Rich & Greene came up with the memorable, 'Citi never sleeps' campaign. Better late than never. Who knows, Bank of America might opt for BankAm next. And Standard Chartered might choose Stan-C. Ye nick name ka zamaana hai, bhai.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Brand Name Blues

I read recently that Jeff Bezos of Amazon had launched an aerospace company called Blue Origin. I found the name to be quite original. At least for a moment. Then I did a bit of google fishing for azury names. I was a bit surprised with my catch. See it for yourself.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ten goofs made by goofy brands

I hate pedantic pieces. This one is not. It's brutally honest. And is a must read for brand wannabes, brands-in-the-making and brand has-beens.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bono's social fashion label

U2's Bono has a fashion label named Edun. The name trivia is it's supposed to be 'Nude' read the arabic way. The website claims that Edun's mission will be to help create sustainable employment for developing areas of the world with an emphasis on Africa. Apparently Edun's stuff is produced in Kenya, Tunisia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Peru & India.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Clever stock ticker symbols

Stock ticker symbols are usually a no brainer. Truncate the name into three or four letters. Job done. Not all companies take this template route. Some apply a lot of thought into their ticker names. Here's my pick of imaginative tickers from the NYSE alphabet soup:

VCA Antech Incorporated - WOOF (a company into vets and pets)-
U S Global Investments Incorporated - GROW (a company into growth funds)-
The Asia Tigers Fund, Inc. - GRR (ain't the choice, smart?)
Tarrant Apparel Group - TAGS (nice abbrievation)
Star Maritime Acquisition Company - SEA (look how they've hijacked the category)
Southwest Airlines Co. - LUV (a tribute to Lovefield in Dallas - the airport from where Southwest started operations)
Sotheby's - BID (one more attempt at appropriating a category)
Origin Agritech Limited - SEED (makes you wonder why the other agro guys didn't think of this)
Magma Design Automation - LAVA (what's the first short word that strikes you when you think of magma?)
Echostar Communications New - DISH (now i see a formula emerging for half-decent ticker names)
Avis Budget Group, Inc. - CAR (look what Hertz missed out?)
Aries Maritime Trnsprt Limited - RAMS (a better choice than ARYS)
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. - BUD (their best known brand put to great use)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A curious brand named TJ's

TJ's is a brand of potato chips in India. TJ's is short form for Tihar Jail's. For the uninitiated, Tihar Jail is India's equivalent of Sing Sing. TJ's chips, pickles, biscuits, breads and cakes are made by the thousand odd inmates ekeing out a dark existence in dingy cells for grave crimes committed in their prime. I wonder if people would enjoy their chips as much if they knew that their favourite snack was made by the same hands that sliced a neck or two in a fit of rage. Anyways, the point to note is how the name TJ's has made the unpalatable seem cool.

The purist reacts to branding

When William Safire speaks, you better listen. This is what he wrote in April 2005 on Branding. Here's a sample thought stirrer from the article: "The typography forced on us by some brand names bothers me. Yahoo!, its name taken from Jonathan Swift's 1726 race of brutes, inveigles anyone who writes about the company to express the enthusiasm required by the built-in exclamation point. Why should we meekly go along with that advertising stunt? Henceforth, in protest, I will refer to that ''little search engine that could'' with different punctuation: Yahoo?"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brand Architecture Basics

Three pieces that should get you started on what brand architecture is: Building your brand by Martyn Tippling, International Brand Architecture Development, Drivers & Design by Susan, Samuel & Edwin and The Future of Brand Architecture by Research International. Piece 1 is clearly written by a practitioner. Piece 2 is quite academic. Piece 3 sows some seeds of doubt in your mind. If you're into brand bull shit, this should be good fodder for you.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A brand named Red or Dead

Wayne Andrew Hemingway created this hip label way back in 1982. His logic for the name: "We came up with Red or Dead, reference to my Red Indian background and the fact that the first collection that Geraldine did was Russian inspired and so Red or Dead was started and off we went." The brand has an interesting site. Feels quite Indian. Not Red Indian though.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fun with names

If you trip on names like Belle Lee Button, Bjorn Again, Drew A. Blanc, Erin Troublenow, Frank Incense, Gene Poole, Godfrey A. Theist, Herbie Hind, I.M. Boring, Justin Case, Lance Lyde, Luke Warmwater, Marcus Absent, Meg Lomaniac, Phil McCavity, Quint S. Henschel, Rachel Slur, Ray Beeze, Sharon Apartment, Sue Yourazzof, Tara Hymen, Upton O'Good, Warren Peace, William Arryme, Xavier Self & Zack Lee Wright, then you must visit Namehumour.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A brand named Rubbish

Rubbish is a women's apparel and accessories brand from Nordstorm. Not much dope on the web as to why they called it Rubbish. May be it's the price. May be the R-word is the F-word for women! Whatever the logic, the name is quite bold. I hope the risk paid off. If it did, it will spawn a whole new bunch of anti-category names like Gutter (a mineral water brand), Deadly (a pain killer), Daily Shit (a newspaper) and Uglee (a chinese beauty parlour)!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Why bland titles work for movies.

Snakes on a plane surely sounds more appealing than say Flags of our fathers. Assuming cast-parity and zero word-of-mouth to influence your decision, you will be tempted to check out Snakes on a plane first. But if and when you commit that mistake, you will realise that Snakes on a plane is all about Snakes on a plane. There's nothing more to the movie. The chills and thrills simply don't turn you on as you know what to expect, thanks to the tell-all title. That won't be the case with Flags of our fathers. It just sets the tone for the movie. Doesn't reveal too much. And above all makes you watch the movie with very low expectations. Me thinks the trick is to lower expectations. Some of the greatest flicks did precisely that. Could anything be more bland than On the Waterfront? City Lights doesn't hold any promise. The Graduate sounds so matter of fact. The Matrix could have passed off as a documentary by a math professor. Fun with Dick and Jane is a lot more sexed up than The Mask, but ask yourself, which worked better? The point I am making is simple. Movie studios needn't waste their time thinking of a clever name. Study the script first. See the rushes. If the cast has created expectations, lower the hype by using a bland title. If you've got a movie with a thin plot, keep the name simple. If you've got a film with many layers, opt for a seemingly unassuming title. Because at the end of the day, movie making is all about expectations management.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Baby babble and branding

Prasoon Pandey is an accomplished ad film maker in India. He broke away from Highlight to start his own outfit. When he was searching for a name for his joint, he turned to an in-house expert: his little daughter. She had a rather cutesy way of pronouncing Tortoise. She called it Corcoise. Prasoon just loved it. He asked his son to scribble a logo for him. And thus was born Corcoise Films. Ever since, I heard this story, I've started paying more attention to the profound pearls spat out by my nephew. Who knows, there may be a great brand name lurking in his mouth! While on the subject of baby babble, let me guide you to an interesting research piece put out by the University of Texas.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

English surnames. And what they mean.

Behindthename has a nice listing of English surnames and their meanings. Here I discovered Ramsey means garlic island, Pressley means priest's meadow, Perry is derived from pear tree, Palmer means pilgrim, Ogden means dweller of the oak valley, Nixon means son of Nicholas, Kipling is the name of a town in Yorkshire and Kellog is derived from killer of hogs.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A brand named 7 for All Mankind

7 for All Mankind is a designer jeans brand based on the logic that most Americans own an average of seven pairs of jeans at a time. Wikipedia says 7 is available in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales & Nordstorm. Clients please take note, long brand names do work.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How did Crocin get its name?

Wikipedia says Crocin is a diester formed from the disaccharide Gentiobiose and the dicarboxylic acid Crocetin. My guess is Crocin is a short form for Crocetin.

Monday, January 29, 2007


If you have a nose for names, you'll love this fantastic site put together by Peter van der Krogt. It's an astonishingly well-chronicled and well-detailed library for researching names of chemical elements. I swear it's not a waste of time. There's loads of trivia to be devoured. More importantly, from a lingusitic angle, you can pick a smattering of Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and Russian, on the way.

The Seven Dirty Words

In 1972, comedian George Carlin was arrested for performingthe Seven Dirty Words at Milwaukee's Summerfest. Nothing has changed even today. If you want to get quick attention, get dirty. FCUK proved this premise in a charmingly sophisticated way. I wonder if there are six other potentially explosive brand names waiting to hit the ceiling. Let's wait. And watch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Best Chinese Brands 2006

Do you know any Chinese brand names? Except for Lenovo, I am sure you know precious little. Can't blame you. We're so caught up with America & things American that we tend to ignore the also-rans. Thankfully InterBrand has been keeping track of Chinese brands. Here's Interbrand's list of the Top 20 Chinese Brands:

1. China Mobile
2. Bank of China
3. China Construction Bank
4. China Telecom
5. China Life
6. Ping An
7. China Merchants Bank
8. Moutai
9. Bank of Communication
10. Lenovo
11. Netease
12. Gome
13. ZTE
14. Wuliangye
15. Air China
16. ChangYu
17. Vanke
18. Gree
19. CNC
20. China Overseas Property

From a naming perspective, I think Lenovo, Netease, Moutai, Vanke, Gome & Gree have the power to travel beyond China.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bitch, Butts, Nipple & Puseyville

This is not a post with a sexist slant. This is just a piece on Strange City Names. Almighty Guru has a lovely collection of these names. I've culled out some stunning ones for your benefit: Windpassing in Upper Austria, Vagina in Russia, Six Days Only in West Yorkshire, Kissing in Bavaria, Hell in Norway, Fucking in Austria, Condom in France, Bastard in Ontario, Dildo in New Foundland, Embarrass in Wisconsin, Fairplay in West Virginia, Butts in Virginia, Mosquitoville in Vermont, Nipple in Utah, Hitchcock in Texas, Boring in Tennessee, Lucknow in South Carolina, Puseyvile in Pensylvania, Okay in Oklahama (OK is the shortform for Oklahama), Lesbia in New Mexico, Pronto in Nevada, Gross in Nebraska, Square Butt in Montana, Not in Missouri, Whynot in Mississippi, Why in Arizona, Climax in Michigan, Accident in Maryland, Belcher in Louisiana, Big Lick in Kentucky, Ransom & Tennis in Kansas, Santa Claus in Georgia, Utopia in Florida, Allah in Arizona & Bitche in France.

A brand named Free*Lance

Jean-Baptiste Rautureau's new line of shoes for women is named Free*Lance. I found the name rather odd. In any case, it's odd enough to get your attention.

Friday, January 26, 2007

NBA: Names Bloody Apt

I don't like the sport but I am a fan of NBA team names. Though most of these teams were born at different points in time, the names seem to belong to one family. They are evocative, thoughtful and very, very appropriate. If an Extra Terrestrial were to study these names, he might just come to the conclusion, that all these creations are products of one skilled naming consultant...

The Team Names

Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics
Charlotte Bobcats
Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers
Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets
Detroit Pistons
Golden State Warrirors
Houston Rockets
Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
Memphis Grizzlies
Miami Heat
Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves
New Jersey Nets
New Orleans Hornets
New York Knicks
Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs
Seattle SuperSonics
Toronto Raptors
Utah Jazz
Washington Wizards

The only Indian team name that I find as good is Mambalam Mosquitoes (a cricket club founded in the 1940s). Anyone who's lived in West Mambalam will love the buzz the name generates :-)

What's Japanese for Mountain Leaf?

Yamaha! The company founded by Torakusu Yamaha.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

20 questions that dog a brand namer

Clients will be clients. They keep throwing the same old questions at you, no matter how good your names are. I've compiled a dhobi list of 20 queries that've haunted me all my life. I am dead sure, you face the same posers everyday...

1. "I like your Top 20 names. But how about showing me your Top 100?"
2. "Will this name be understood by Tom, Dick & Hari in Jhumritalaya?"
3. "Is this too long? Is that too short?"
4. "I want a name like FCUK. At the same time I want it to sound corporate. Possible?"
5. "My first preference is your 19th choice. How do we reconcile this?"
6. "I have a shoestring budget. Can you give me a name that's as catchy and original as Kodak?"
7. "Is that your annual income or assignment fee?"
8. "How come research didn't like a single name you proposed?"
9. "Will it make me a millionaire?"
10. "Can you give me a lucky name that adds up to my lucky number?"
11. "This name sounds so long and you say it has just 3 syllables. Are you kidding me?"
12. "My wife loves the name Hersheys. I am thinking of using it for our lingerie brand. Could you help us coin a better name than Hershey's Innerwear or Hershey's Lingerie?"
13. "Boss, I know morphine. What the hell do you mean when you say morphemes?"
14. "We've done a lot of research in office. My 47-year old secretary thinks this name won't work for teenage girls. Can you convince me as to why we should still have it on our shortlist?"
15. "You have given me the pluses and minuses of all brand names. Now can you give me a brand name without any minuses?"
16. "Assuming I do zero advertising, the brand name on the pack will be the only advertisement. So can you give me a brand name that's self-explantory and yet grabs eyeballs by the dozen?"
17. "Look, I already have a name in mind. I am not going to tell you what it is. I'll wait for your names. If my name is better than yours, would you still want me to pay you for your efforts?"
18. "What do you mean by rejection fee? How can you expect to be compensated for churning a few hundred words that won't even fill a page?"
19. "I am going to be the only decision maker. I usually go by my gutfeel. If I like it, I invariably okay it. I'll just consult a few hundred well wishers of mine. If they veto it, could you consider giving me more options?"
20. "Nike may be Greek. Nivea may be Latin. But it's still not Greek and Latin to me. I want a foreign sounding name like that. You get what I am saying, right?"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mirror Brand Names

An easy way to arrive at a weird name is to write out the mirror names of leading brands. Here are a few samplers to explain my point:

Elgoog = Google
Oohay = Yahoo
Nozama = Amazon
Kobeer = Reebok
Dopi = Ipod
Aikon = Nokia
Tukro = Orkut
Nigriv = Virgin
Xemit = Timex
Agemo = Omega

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Unusual Bank Names

Nancy Friedman's post on TomatoBank piqued me into digging for unboring bank names. This is what I could manage after rummaging wikipedia and google:

The 77 Bank (a Jap bank based in Sendai)
Egg (an Internet bank floated by Prudential)
Alpha Bank & Omega Bank (two banks based in Greece)
Lord Krishna Bank (a Kerala-based bank. incidentally LKB is tamil campus slang for pubic hair.)
Ram Ram Bank (a Lucknow bank that has an interesting cousin in Varanasi. rediff has a nice article on these two banks)
Fifth Third Bank (a Cincinnati-based bank, born out of the merger between The Fifth National Bank and the Third National Bank)
Yes Bank (a private bank in India that presumably never says no for loan requests)
Old Second Bankcorp (a Geneva based bank that sometimes refers to itself as the O2 bank)
Banque Worms (a creepy, crawly name for a Paris-based bank)
Apple Bank (a New York-based bank that chose this name way back in 1983)

Wanna add to this list? Names can be deposited by posting a comment. Your deposit should preferably attract more than a 0% interest!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A sea of sameness

While researching on mineral water brands, I discovered this site. It lists out nearly all the brands in this crowded category. Would you believe it if I told you that there's over 150 Aqua This & Aqua That kinda names in this list? Wonder who got paid for such lazy names... Anyways, the Weirdest Name I chanced upon was Assindia (no jokes!). Apparently it's a German brand. I'd love to see this launched in mera bharat mahaan. It should give Pissleri a run for its money!

Friday, January 19, 2007

All about dead domain names

iGoldrush has put together a comprehensive piece on The Domain Name Expiry & Deletion Cycle. I found it very useful. Especially the tip off on how to track domain names that have expired in the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days or 60 days.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Here comes the name bot

Are you the type who loves plenty of name options? Are you the type who doesn't mind a meaningless new coinage? Are you the type who couldn't spare a paisa for a new name? Well then Rinkworks has a solution for you. They've created a fantasy name generator that can churn out short, long, mushy, serious, funny, idiotic and exotic names in a jiffy. All for free. Click here to check it out. For more such generators visit Name Development.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Which car is named after this French explorer?

Cadillac. Named after the founder of Detroit - Antoine Laumet, dit de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brand Names & Rivers

Okay. The task is to gush out names of all brands that have any direct or vague connect to rivers. Got it? Here's my seven bits to get you off the starting blocks.

Amazon (the name Jeff Bezos chose for
Nyle (a shampoo from Cavin Kare)
Ganga (a soap from Godrej)
Brahmaputra (a brand from Tata Tea)
Viagra (vigor + niagra)
Avon (vague connect - there's a river in england by this name. the brand is named after the bard of avon.)
Nokia (nokia got its name from the town nokia which was named after the river nokianvirta)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

How Ikea names its products

Nokia can learn a thing or two from Ikea. Instead of assigning eminently forgettable numbers, Ikea has a name for everyone of its products. Name Development did a piece on this Ikea quirk way back in 2005. I just discovered it. I learnt that bathroom items are named after Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays; garden furniture after Swedish islands; dining tables and chairs after Finnish placenames and carpets after Danish placenames...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Did you know?

Picked two interesting nuggets, today. One, Camry is an anagram of my car. Two, nomatophobia is the fear of names. Got this from Namix.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What's in a brand name?

William Dillon, a prof in South Methodist Universiy's Cox School of Business, did a study in 2003 on a very simple question - what is it that makes people pay a premium for brands? The issue may seem very basic. But sometimes research can reveal the complex layers underneath a seemingly obvious query. Go chew on it.

Buy brand names off the shelf

If you're in a mood for some window shopping, check out NameSale. These blokes sell brand names for a price ranging from 5000 to 25000 USD. 'That's a lot of money', you may say. But they've done some basic ghodagiri. As in, they've booked the domains, designed logos and even trademarked a few names. Citagon, Offshoria, Aurance and Passandra are some of their better creations. I found it in an interesting concept. Dunno if it works. Let's wait and see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Honey, the car name gave me a road rash.

Forbes reviews the best, the worst and the weirdest car names. Among the names flaunted, Daihatsu Motor Naked, Suzuki Cappucino & Honda Life Dunk caught my eye.

Who owns the iPhone domain name? was first created on 24-Aug-95. It belongs to the Internet Phone Company based in Santa Rosa, California. Source: GoDaddy. was first created on 28-Jan-98. It belongs to Cisco Technology. Source: Network Solutions. was first created on 16-Dec-99. It belongs to Apple Computers. Source: Network Solutions. was first created on 23-Mar-05. It belongs to PARAVA NETWORKS, INC. Source: Network Solutions. is for sale. It belongs to Sadasiva Ulaka of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. Source: Network Solutions. was created on 02-Apr-04. It belongs to A. Trachtman of GeeX Inc. Source: Network Solutions.

Clearly Apple is on a weak wicket. BTW, and have also been booked :-)

Four companies have a claim over iPhone.

While the mass media would like us to believe that Cisco is on the verge of sealing an agreement with Apple on the 'iPhone' usage, blogger Russell Shaw has provided us evidence that proves beyond doubt that 3 other companies (Teledex, Ocean Telecom Services & Extreme Mobile) have pending trademark applications for this rather generic name. Wonder how many millions will change hands.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Oddball Names # 1

The founders of were all Ex-Oracle employees. So they called themselves Xora! I know at least one company that used the same logic - the Bangalore based 3xus.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Name Fest

Cultural festivals in India are as abundant as, say poverty. Every Indian college worth its badge has a talent show with an inventive brand name. I've plucked a few good, bad and ugly names from memory. See if I've left out any juicy one.

BITS Pilani - Oasis (the best ever organised fest and what an apt name)
IIT Madras - Mardi Gras (the herbivores used to call it Mardi Grass)
IIT Bombay - Mood I (aka Mood Indigo – quite evocative, I must say)
IIT Delhi - Rendezvous (a South Delhish name for a very Dilli festival)
IIT Kanpur - Antaragni (a rather deep name for a fun fest)
IIT Kharagpur - Spring Fest (unimaginative but does the job)
ITBHU - Kashi Yatra (wonder why they ever chose the silly Spandan as replacement in between.)
REC Trichy - Festember (a smart port manteau for Festival in September)
St. Xavier's - Malhar (the name can mislead you into thinking it's a music show)
MCC - Deep Woods (an allusion to the campus, I guess)
Loyola College - Down Sterling (at one point in time, I found it interesting)
IIM Ahmedabad - Chaos (an oddball name for a show by an ivy league biz school)
IIM Calcutta - NBSM (before you rush to point out that Carpe Diem is the new name, let me record it for posterity that the Jokers from Joka till recently used to host a culfest with the bland name NBSM - an abbrievation for National Business School Meet)
IIM Bangalore - Unmaad (not unmad, my friend. that's unmaad, okay. and guess what, it means madness.)
IIM Kozhikode - Backwaters (a very oasis kinda name)
IIT Guwahati - Alcheringa (wikipedia tells me alcheringa is an aboriginal term for 'Dream Times')
Anna University - Kurukshetra (a pompous sounding name but at least catchy)
BIT Mesra - Bitotsav (in the nineties, they had a better name - Pebbles)
AIIMS Delhi - Pulse (not bad. doctors can name babies too!)
IISc Bangalore - Vibrations (same logic as the AIIMS name)
Mount Carmel - Cul-ah (very decent considering that it came from the Bangalore bimbettes)
St. Stephen - Winter Festival (is that all you guys could manage?)
Sydenham College - Brouhaha (that's a charming name. trivia - fest was called Rainbow Lane before Brouhaha)
IIT Madras - Saarang (man, somehow this name is so wrong!)
National Law School - Le'Gala (clever and nice, actually very nice.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Which is the longest brand name?

Google failed to throw up a definite answer when I posed this trivial query. Looks like we'll have to do the job ourselves. Let's try and reach a conclusion by digging into the deepest crevices of our collective craniums. Let me set the ball rolling by rattling out all the long names I know. Then may be you can add yours and finally we can pull out the lurking rabbit out of the hat. Here's my shortlist (cut off criteria - 15 letters):

Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific! (25 letters)
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! (24 letters)
Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (24 letters)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (23 letters)
Oxford English Dictionary (23 letters)
Screaming Yellow Zonkers (22 letters)
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (22 letters)
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (22 letters)
Oxford University Press (21 letters)
Fruitshop on Greams Road (21 letters)
Guinness World Records (20 letters)
The Wall Street Journal (20 letters)
Jacksons-of-Piccadilly (20 letters)
Alcoholics Anonymous (19 letters)
Jupiter Drawing Board (19 letters)
Just Around The Corner (19 letters)
Strawberry Shortcake (19 letters)
Ananda Bazar Patrika (18 letters)
Mad Dogs & Englishmen (18 letters)
Everyone's Connected (18 letters)
Vacheron Constantin (18 letters)
Standard Chartered (17 letters)
The Economic Times (16 letters)
Jean Paul Gaultier (16 letters)
Nantucket Nectars (16 letters)
Malayala Manorama (16 letters)
Sri Krishna Sweets (16 letters)
Market Salamander (16 letters)
Amar Chitra Katha (15 letters)
The Famous Grouse (15 letters)
GlaxoSmithKline (15 letters)
A Hundred Monkeys (15 letters)
Van Cleef & Arpel's (15 letters)
Crabtree & Evelyn (15 letters)
Daddy Buy Me a Pony (15 letters)
Turner Duckworth (15 letters)
Saks Fifth Avenue (15 letters)

And the winner is...Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific! Also my gutfeel is Fruitshop on Greams Road is the longest brandname in India. Disagree? Then fire your list, will ya?

UPDATE-1: The Dzinebites Diva has rightly pointed out that the longest brand name in India is Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri. This brand now shares the top slot with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Name Game

I played an old game, today. I just asked myself to spit out 26 top-of-the-mind brand names that strike me when I think of the 26 English alphabets. I was kinda surprised with the results. Take a look at it.

Johnnie Walker
Qibla Cola
Sun Microsystems

There are some glaring omissions in this list. There's no Google - may be I didn't see it as a brand? There's no IBM either - Iridium over IBM, how could I? I spent more than 30 seconds on W and could just come up with Wella - did my mind see Wii as a sub-brand? No Apple - I use a PC! I chose Vaseline over Virgin - is that because Virgin is a small fry in India? And Canon over Coca-Cola - not a Cola person. But what about Pepsi then - why did I opt for it? Why did my mind pick Nike, Adidas & Reebok? Why did I choose of all the brands - Qibla Cola, Unisys & Elle? How did Zune, Lenovo, Fcuk & Blackberry get into my head so soon? Interesting questions. I am still searching for the answers...If I were you, I'll try out the same exercise and study my mind map. What sez you?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A brand named FAT Bastard!

Wine namers have all the fun. Not one client of mine has ever bought such a name. Lucky sods. Here's what I found in wikipedia about this curious brand: "FAT bastard is a French wine produced and distributed by a British and French partnership. A 2005 survey found that 72 percent of the adult French population finds it difficult to understand French wine labels, and the problem is not unique to that country. Research has also found that most American consumers, especially younger ones, dislike wine labels that picture chateaux, that appear elitist, and that are difficult to understand. FAT bastard appears to solve that marketing problem. The label reflects the fact that most New World (and many Old World) consumers prefer to buy 'brand name' wines that are labeled by the variety of grape from which they are made. The wine is reported to have started off as an experiment, and when Thierry Boudinaud tasted the wine he proclaimed 'now that is what you call a fat bastard'. The wine label says that it's 'named after a British expression describing a particularly rich and full wine'. FAT bastard is a fast growing brand, recently selling over 400,000 cases per year in the United States alone, shortly after its introduction."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Do you want a brand name or a pseudo brand name?

Everybody wants a snappy brand name, catchy logo and zippy tagline. But a brand is more than plain symbols. Most people don't realise that. They just see advertising and branding as a nice outfit to appear good. This all surface, no core approach is what Tenaya Group calls Pseudo Brands. Read it. The faqs might just open your eyes.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The risk of naming your brand after yourself.

Hotel Saravana Bhavan (HSB) is a huge brand in South India. When its founder Rajagopal was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for a murder, I expected their sales to dip. I mean, who'd like to eat in a murderer's joint? But I was wrong. HSB went from strength to strength. Now, when I look back, I think the key reason for it was they didn't name themselves as Hotel Rajagopal. The woes of Martha Stewart the brand, has only cemented my belief that it is damn risky to go on an ego trip when you name your brand.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Skype doesn't mean anything

"Skype does not mean anything. It just sounds good, and the dot-com domain name was available. We hope people will start saying, 'I'll Skype you' instead of 'I'll call you,' which means 'I'll call you without paying any rip-off per-minute charges and with superior better-than-phone quality.'" Thus spake Janus Friis, Founder - Skype. For more of the interview, go here.

How to register a trademark in the US without using an attorney.

Simple. The US Trademark & Patent Office has a website where you can search & file trademarks online. But before you get started, I suggest you read up the basics first.