Most execs are doing naming ass backwards

If you are naming your kid or your pet, you think of the names you like and then you pick one. This method works fine because every name you come up with is available, other than a few you eliminate as being too common or because you know someone with that name yourself. And, of course, duplicates are allowed, and often very common. In fact kids may even end up with the same name as pets or vice versa. When my sister yells “Ben” in her house, both the dog and my son jump!

How not to do namingBut this method is very unproductive and actually old-fashioned for business and product naming because the name you think of is probably taken. Worse it may be protected by trademark law giving you a potential legal headache if you proceed.  This is why I say execs are doing naming ass backwards.

Compare this with how professional namers name companies, products and services.  We first find a list of available names, then help management to like and understand and select one of the names. Yes, your favorite magic name doesn’t jump off the page right away – but it was probably taken because that is why you relate to it. But this broader view of naming gives you more chances of developing a great new name with worldwide trademark clearance to be the shorthand verbal handle for your brand going forwards.


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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Naming Resources, Rotten Names, Strange Names, Technology Names, Trademarks

Wyndham is a great resort brand

Recently Davis Love III won the Wyndham Championship Golf Tournament and I couldn’t but help how appropriate a sponsor a resort and hospitality company is for such an event. Especially since they own and manage so many resorts of their own, many of which have golf courses. Provides a real tangible tie in, unlike other sponsors of golf tournaments who are simply targeting rich white men.
naming of resorts, travel and hospitality servicesBut where does the name Wyndham come from and what does it mean? Why is it so much nicer spelled Wyndham (with a Y) rather than Windham (with an I)? Is it really a place in England? Well you find it on a map!
Fancy that. A mega consumer brand and no one knows where the name comes from. Today they are a holding company for many other hotel brands, including down market Days Inn, Super 8, etc. and are also the largest vacation ownership company in the world.

Wyndham was spun off from Cendant in 2006 and so I pose one last question:  Why is Wyndham so much better a name than Cendant? If you can answer this you know why humans do naming, and not computers!


© 2015 – All rights reserved –

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Hospitality & Travel, Name Origins, Naming Education, Sports Naming, Trademarks

Google to learn Alphabet

Alphabet Logo for new googleAfter massive growth with a very young management team, it seams like they are going to stop Googling in preschool and go to kindergarten to learn their alphabet.

Along the way they are sure to shake up some old notions, starting with the need to have your company name match a .com domain name. Their new holding umbrella company can be found at!  Wow, not even one of their own domain family names (Google owns many new gTLD’s through their Charleston Road Registry Inc. subsidiary).

So who owns and what are they going to do with the unwanted extra traffic?  Would you believe BMW! Yes, the German expensive cars company.

P.S.  I might have to revise my earlier comments about why .xyz domains would never be hot!


© 2015 – All rights reserved –

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Changes, Name Origins, Naming News, Technology Names, Trademarks

Twilio name tries too hard

When I first heard of this company, it was the name that caught my attention. That in turn made me concentrate hard to try to understand what they did. In due course I realized the potential of their tool kits and am happy to say it looks like they are really thriving well. Which brings me back to what they do and about that name and logo:

software tools naming, branding new software companies

Probably a more appropriate name for them would have been Twitter.  But if you take tweets and talks and quills and I/O and stir with the right will to succeed, you get Twilio. All in all, a clever name once you get it – but I shudder to think how most Asians will pronounce it.

But now do you understand the logo?  And what about that font they are using for their own name on the website? Even before my blogging software shrinks it a bit here, the i’s and l’s were morphing into each other. You know someone got the font style guide wrong whenever the corporate name itself is the first item to suffer on the web.


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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming News, Strange Names, Trademarks

Why is Pluto’s moon named Charon?

Naming the moons and planetsWhile all the world’s scientist are walking around in amazement about the discovery details of the former planet Pluto, I am thinking, “How did Pluto’s moon get the name Charon and what does it mean?”

Luckily for me, the whole story is fully documented on Wikipedia. After James Christy discovered the moon, he named it after his wife Charlene’s nickname. Despite some other attempts to change it, the name stuck, as has the pronunciation of  Shah Ron. Sure beats the old scientific temporary designation of S/1978 P 1!

The fact that Charon is a Greek mystical figure (ferryman of the dead) just made the name more interesting for the scientific community – after all, they are people too.

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Posted in Name Origins, Naming News, Public Site Naming, Strange Names

If it is not a Frisbee® it is a ???

For Father’s Day a few years ago, my college boys took me around Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on their favorite Frisbee Golf course. It was a lot cheaper than me taking them on a round of real golf (in fact, free, except for the sandwiches).. and very interesting. Of course, despite the name we all use, the course was properly marked as the Disk Golf course. Believe it or not, Frisbee has been the registered trademark of the Wham-O Corporation since 1959, and they have recently extended the mark to many other clothing and toy categories, in addition to flying disks.Frisbee is a registered trademark

Then, right on cue, I read an article that reminded me Frisbees were named after the Frisbie Baking Company – which just happened to ship their cakes and cookies in round tins with nice lids that you could whiz across the room!

If you have any other interesting name origin tidbits, why not drop me a comment or an email? There are more in-depth name origin stories on this website.

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Sports Naming, Trademarks

A123 Systems – Superb technology…any old name will do?

Many an executive has said (or at least thought) that any old name will do since they have such great technology or such a great solution, or even such a great sales force? But what happens when you grow up?

Rotten name

A123 Systems cut their teeth in lithium ion battery technology making batteries for RC Model cars. Then progressed to power tools. And now hybrid vehicles. The company is hot, hot, hot. (Hope the batteries are not!) So any old name will do. But really guys, A123 might work in the model car business. Isn’t it time for an adult name that doesn’t sound like you were just stuck and wanted to be at the front of the yellow pages?

Hint: Tesla has a great name, and they are also a hot startup. Maybe even your customer.

Posted in Branding, Industrial Products Naming, Rotten Names

SnapChat should snap tight

Snap Chat's tarnished logo and brandAfter reading a debate on Facebook on the need for profanity, especially in this day and age of prolific social media communications where you don’t know your exact audience, I picked up a recent copy of Business Week and read the interview with the founder of SnapChat.

He finally gives an interview with a major magazine, as it is in his interest to promote how smart he is with advertising, then he speaks to such an eminent reporter with a foul mouth! Maybe in Hustler magazine they can delete all the expletives and use lots of **! instead.  But what an insult to Business Week and what a poor representation of the company.

I don’t buy the comment that he is young and will learn. He is super rich and has mega dollars from investors. Couldn’t one of them explain what harm he just did the brand? Maybe he can learn how to hire and guide a good team, but his mother and college should have taught him the basic rules of business decency. Or at least one of his PR handlers should be present and run him through another CEO communications training session.

Well, we won’t be using SnapCrap, as we now call it, unless our customers (politely) force us to do so. In fact, I was so distracted I have forgotten what it even purports to perform.

Posted in Naming News, Trademarks

SKYY is a great name and it is not for cloud-computing

When I survey a lot of startup and popular mobile app names, I sometimes wonder where all the vowels have gone. And, of course, the letter Y is the hybrid letter of our alphabet. Sometimes a vowel, sometimes a consonant. Add to that Sky, Skye and Skyy are all pronounced the same, not making it easy for foreign English students at all.

Creative naming help for drinks and alcohol productsSkyy could have been a great name for some cloud computing application or environment, but rather this smooth vodka may be helping some programmer do his or her cloud computing Python or Ruby on Rails dance. Interestingly enough – maybe even mind blowing – Skyy is a fairly recent San Francisco startup, just like many cloud and social media companies.

“SKYY began in 1992 the same way as most things in San Francisco — a tiny startup based on the vision of one entrepreneur and his dream to make something better. In this case, exceptionally smooth vodka. It was this exceptional smoothness that has made SKYY the leading domestic premium vodka in the U.S.”

Where the name came from, I have no idea, but I do like how they play up the twinning aspect in some of their marketing and social media dealings.
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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Naming Education, Naming News, Trademarks

Absolutdata forced to run from their own trademark application.

Software product naming consultantsI am not a teetotaler (well not quite) nor a prude, but I still don’t like software companies named after alcohol drinks. Yes I know Blue Martini was successful for a while, but I never could bring myself to even investigate their offerings. Now along comes a new Silicon Valley startup striving to make a new mark – and of course they need a name. But why name it after not only a big brand in alcohol, but a big, big brand in all branding studies and textbooks.

Naming guru for drinks and foodsFor those of you who don’t know, Absolut – like in Vodka, was a struggling brand until in a master stroke of marketing, they pulled the products off the shelf, repackaged it in very unique bottles, raised the price and repositioned it as a premium drink. In addition, and no one has ever executed this quite as well as them ever, they started high end ads and PR where their bottles, and often only bottle outlines, started appearing floating in other images or just standing alone. Many of these images never even mentioned the word Vodka – and they weren’t about to tell you it was the same old formula as before. Just in case you have been living too long with your head in a laptop or cell phone, Absolut Vodka is one of the major brands of the western world today.

Sometimes when you purposefully misspell a word it frees up domain space. But that doesn’t mean it frees up trademark space, especially when it is pronounced the same and is “confusingly similar”. Why Absolute Data Group, out of Australia but with worldwide offices, haven’t been after them I don’t know.

Interestingly, AbsolutData have never filed for a trademark on this version of their name ever, only for AD Absolutdata Intelligent Analytics. More interestingly, they have beat a hasty retreat from this trademark application, even filing their own express abandonment of application. You sure don’t see that often unless someone knows they are in trouble. Though Absolut Vodka is a very different product in a very different International Trademark Class, they have protested vigorously, even to the point of referencing the Australian software company.  I am not sure, but they may be trying to claim they are a Super Brand – and surely they are at this stage even though there is still no where to file for Super Brand status in most trademark registers.

Finally, Absolut Vodka is also used in packaging studies as one of the leaders in Vodka packaging – which is mostly about the bottle. Next time you are in the liquor aisle at your favorite store, notice how varied and creative all the vodka bottles are – better than most other alcohols and way better than wine or beer. The main reason for this (in the USA at least) is that vodka is so tightly regulated that there is very little difference in the taste from one to another.

© Copyright 2015 – All rights reserved –

Posted in Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Technology Names, Trademarks

Naming Articles

New brand insider articles from an experienced marketing team. Learn all the basics of naming, branding and trademark registration from these free reports:

May 2015: How can one product line have many trademarks?

Jul 2014: What roles do copyrights and patents play in protecting names?

Jan 2014: Predictions for 2014 and Free Offers.

Dec 2013: Regional, National & International Name Styles.

Oct 2013: Planning for All the New Domain Names.

Jul 2012: The right names go down in history.

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