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.