It takes some spunk to name your company Splunk.

When I first heard the name Splunk® I thought how cool a name it was. Surely one of those new mobile apps for and by millennials. No, rather it is the name of a back end data server and privacy company. But what a great name to cut through the noise of so many other players in this software technology space.  And I don’t even have to come up with a list of companies to compare it with as they provide a list of their partners. Now you can see what a boring list of names most big data providers are just by reviewing this partial list of their worldwide partners

Great tech company name from Speelunk



  • A3sec
    • Accel Systems & Technologies
    • Aegin
    • Apius Technologies
    • August Schell Enterprises
    • Blackwood Associates
    • Blue Turtle
    • CDW
    • Clearshark
    • Comparex Turkey
    • Concanon
    • CrowdStrike
    • Davinsi Labs NV
    • Discovered Intelligence
    • doIT solutions
    • EMET Computing
    • E2 Software
    • ECS Security
    • EMC
    • Enosys
    • GKC
    • GTRI
    • Government Acquisitions
    • Guidepoint Security
    • Help AG
    • Herjavec Group
    • Homeostase
    • Imperium Solutions

Not only are most of these partners’ names boring, see how many are meaningless abbreviations. Seems like most of these system integrators preferred to describe themselves rather than name themselves. Clearly they didn’t want to stand out from the crowd like Splunk.

But what does it mean, or where did it come from? In this regard, Splunk has done a very cool little video interviewing their partners who are clearly mostly Splunk fans. Even though most don’t have a clue about the name. Just goes to show you that if a name brings a smile to your customer’s faces, it is working fine. In this case, I figured it out (as did some of their partners) though can’t say I was fully confident.

OK, do you have it yet?  From Spelunking – the sport/hobby of exploring caves. Very clever for a company that explores the deep dark depths of massive amounts of corporate data, regardless of where it is stored.

PS And one of their big competitors is Rubrik – but you know where that name came from.

PPS Since they clearly own the full trademark rights to the name Splunk in hardware and software categories, they have kept their product naming architecture simple by prefacing common descriptive words with the company name Splunk.

© Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®

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

Inside Steve’s Brain quotes me at length about iPod name

It only took 10 years, but finally a good friend called me and said “Athol, do you know you are quoted in one of Steve Job’s biographies?” Well, yes indeed, Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney has recently been expanded and rereleased. I don’t recall if I spoke to him or simply directed him to my blog post on the subject, but it is nice to see this inside story on how one of the great brand gurus of the world picked a name for a megahit product. It seems to be accurately reported, other than completing the story that Apple never did correct and update the trademark filing for over a year after the product was released.

Thanks Leander. Here is my whole 5 minutes of fame from your book:

Ipod naming history and Athol Foden

(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®

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

Patreon – Patrons for the Ages

From the minute I learned about Patreon I have been pleasantly overwhelmed with the cleverness of their offerings, and the memorability of their name. Of course I wondered why they had not tried harder to be Patron or Patron something. Now I realize they were much smarter than me and selected a unique name for all their branding efforts – but not abstract. The roots of the name continue to be strong and powerful.
Great coined name roots PatreonMust say the logo is kind of boring, not that I have any better ideas other than to tell a graphics designer to somehow imply more a sense of excitement and action and not make it look like creators will run into a brick wall.

I learned about Patreon after my son put me up to SV Delos and other sailing channels. So much more fun each week than waiting for a short season of Survivor. SV Delos name origin and sailing around the worldAnd SV Delos travels and people are so real and so educational and so much fun because all crew take part in making the videos and there is no corporate producer in site. Isn’t this logo a  lot more fun? And their buddha man is full size on their mainsail. All designs and editing and vlogging are done onboard by the full time crew or their short term helping sailors.

My greek studies are non-existent, other than the overlap with Latin, so I still smile everytime I hear Capt Brian saying “Delos – like the Greek princess”. I had never heard of her before, I am almost ashamed to admit. Anyway, now Sailing Vessel Delos brings in the most money from Patreon of any other blue water sailing channel members and has 200K+ followers on YouTube – which brings them in only a trivial amount of funding.

Thanks Patreon for a great name and a great way to support creative endeavors with crowd-sourcing that is on-going.


(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®

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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Hospitality & Travel, International Naming, Name Origins, Naming News, Strange Names, Trademarks

When your brand logo has a nickname

Fast food naming and branding, image trademarksA few blogs back we asked if you knew the nicknames for the McDonalds and Ford logos. Surely most of you knew the easy answer to the first part of this: The Golden Arches for McDonalds ubiquitos big M symbol.
Not used much outside the company, except perhaps by industry insiders, did you know Ford’s logo is called the Blue Oval. Even more interesting though is the fact that at one stage the exact value of this brand was established. This happened Vehicle naming, consumer brand naming, consumer image logos and trademarkswhen Ford got the big 4$billion loan (or thereabouts) from the government bailout when most car companies were in serious trouble. At that time they took the big Blue Oval off their conference room wall and gave it to the lead underwriting backing the deal – for safekeeping of their brand. I loved the way this was done, especially when they made a good PR event out of paying off the loan and claiming back a big physical representation of their brand – literally.

Today I see Ford are advertising that their brand is the most important brand in the world. In cars and trucks worldwide, maybe yes. But across all industries, I am not so sure. Regardless, its value is up in the 16$billion range or more nowadays.

top naming and branding agencyQuestion of the week: Most brand logos have some tie in to the company name or products. Why then does Landor, one of the biggest branding agencies in the world, use this ship as their logo?


(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®
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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Naming Education, Naming News, Retail, Trademarks, Transportation

Engineers and Scientists are People too.

Should you brand industrial and scientific products? How about embedded engineering items? Who is going to know? Who is going to care?

I have had many a client over the years wrestle with these questions and comments, to which I reply:

Engineers are people who react to branding“Engineers and scientists are people too”

Yes, even in this new world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), have you noticed that computers don’t reach out and contact one another and automatically purchase products or make a deal. There are many tools to help engineers and scientists research the available options, as well as special software for their associated purchasing departments. But not until humans have set up a deal and a supply chain do computers automatically buy products.

And all these humans are naturally affected by brand, perception and positioning. Even for embedded products as simple as basic components to complete turn-key solutions.

Your name for such products, as per usual, is not your brand. Your brand is a promise. A promise of an experience. So go out and create the best experiences you can and then give them a great name to use as shorthand for that total brand you deliver. They can then know what to call the brand they are seeking. And what shorthand to use instead of an elaborate description.  Which in turn they can use to pass along their experience and recommendation by word of mouth and word of mouse. And you can protect with a trademark.

(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®
Posted in Biotech Naming, Branding, Industrial Products Naming, International Naming, Naming News, Technology Names

Acuspire makes Startup Grind’s Top 50

In between handling our very big clients we are often working on small startups, not all of whom make a go of it. But when the do, we love it. Like hearing yesterday from Acuspire that they had been selected for Startup Grind’s Top 50 for 2018. This gives them some unique opportunities and visibility with Silicon Valley Venture Capital Investors.

Obviously they have a good business plan, some unique technology and have been grinding away up there in Canada. But a great name helps too, especially when coupled with a killer logo:

high tech agency service naming

Of course, we love to see names we helped create in the spotlight too! Visit them at Acuspire.AI

(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®
Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Naming News, Technology Names

Brand quiz answers

(Disclaimer:  I did rely on search engines and Wikipedia for some of the amusing and interesting background info. As author of the quiz, I knew most of the answers to these questions when I posted them – except Question 1)

  1. Names of the McDonald brothers: Richard and Maurice.
  2. Given and family name of Ford’s biggest rival: Louis Chevrolet.
  3. Ford model whose name comes from the given name of a member of the Ford family: what New Coke was to soft drinks and Howard the Duck was to cinema, the Edsel, named after the son of founder Henry Ford, was to automobiles. The model never sold well to begin with, but the stick-a-fork-in-it-it’s-done moment came when Time Magazine, in reference to the Edsel’s “distinctive” (read “bizarre”) front grille, popularized the description “looks like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”
  4. Not all brand names are descriptive, nor even family last names.

    Not all brand names are descriptive, nor even family last names.

    McDonald’s and Ford competitors named after daughters of founders: the gimme is Wendy’s, named after one of the daughters of founder Dave Thomas. However, many Americans (and perhaps others) may be unaware that Mercedes is a woman’s name, in use long before it became indelibly associated with a luxury German car brand. Mercedes Jellinek was the daughter of Emil Jellinek, an Austrian automobile entrepreneur who worked with Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (Daimler Motors Corporation) as their first dealer.

    The iconic Mercedes logo - a propeller in a circle - in case they ever make planes!

    The iconic Mercedes logo – a propeller in a circle – in case they ever make planes!

  5. Auto and food item with same family name: the late, great Carroll Shelby is best known for having taken cars from the likes of Ford and Dodge, and then modifying them and selling them under his own name. Before he went to that great Garage In The Sky in 2012, he also managed to make a buck or two by selling his own brand of chili mix.
  6. Super-bonus question: “Ford’s load” (2 words, 11 letters)”: Sixteen Tons. (Hey, I told you to think outside the box…)

–Greg Marus

(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®
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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Food Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, People Names, Trademarks, Transportation

Family brand name quiz – while you eat and drive

While putting together a previous post (“Nomen Est Omen?” Uh, Not Always…) I got to thinking about both family and given names that are now well-known brands. There are enough quirky examples and stories that I thought I’d put together a fun quiz; see how well you can do without resorting to the help of a search engine. Answers in my next post.

  1. Fast food naming and branding, image trademarksMcDonald’s is one of the most famous global brands, and many people know the story of the chain’s development starting from Ray Croc’s deal with the original McDonald brothers. Okay, we know Ray—but what are the given names of the McDonald brothers? (8 points each.)
  2. It’s easier to recognize a family name brand when the name is already a noun, verb, or adjective in English. (“Who wouldn’t enjoy a John Ford Western about pioneers who had to dodge arrows and ford the Mississippi on their way to Dodge City?”) Everyone knows Henry Ford; but what is the family name (1 point) and given name (5 points) of the man responsible for the brand generally considered Ford’s biggest rival?
  3. Name the Ford model whose name comes from the given name of a member of the Ford family (5 points).
  4. Both McDonald’s and Ford have competitors named after the given names of daughters of the company founders. 1 point for the easy one, 10 points for the hard one.
  5. Name the American entrepreneur that has both autos (family name) and a food item (under given and family name) named after him. (5 points for the individual’s name; another 10 if you can name the food item, which is less famous than the cars.)
  6. Super-bonus question: As I was doing this post, I happened to be engaged in solving an acrostic(*), which contained the clue: “Ford’s load” (2 words, 11 letters). I had the other elements of the acrostic to help me get this oVehicle naming, consumer brand naming, consumer image logos and trademarksne, so in fairness, I need to throw you a few clues: Think very far outside the box; If you’re old enough to be drawing a pension, you’ll have an advantage; Total letters, but several repeat, so there are only seven unique letters; one of them is an “x”. (25 points for this one!)

See you with the answers next time!

–Greg Marus

(*) Acrostic         noun

A series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc.

PS What are the nicknames for Ford and McDonald’s logos that are famous image registered trademarks?

(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®


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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Food Names, Name Origins, People Names, Trademarks, Transportation

An “-ify” Proposition

Things began, as they often do, with an e-mail from Athol: “With Spotify near an IPO, why don’t we look at other names using the –ify suffix?”

I’m back from the Interwebs with three categories for these names: the Useful, the Baffling, and the Intriguing.

  1. The Useful

A number of these names have the virtue of simply adding “-ify” to a word or phrase that lets you know exactly what the company is up to. As a quick test, I tried to categorize the sort of business the company is in, based solely on my knowledge of its name, then looked at the web site to see how good my guess was.naming help for retail chains

Name My Guess Actual
Shopify Retail Web site services (retail-oriented)
Beautify Cosmetics/skin care Cosmetics/skin care
Backupify Data backup and recovery Data backup and recovery
Expensify Business/accounting software Automated expense reporting
Fluentify Language training Language training (English)


Quick disclaimer: the boundaries between the Baffling and the Intriguing are blurry and very subjective. That said:

  1. The Baffling

What on earth are the people at Melify, Yotify, and Huify doing for a living? Would any of these names give you an idea as to what goods and services are on offer? These names don’t even have enough inherent appeal to attract clicks out of curiosity, unlike…

  1. The Intriguing

I likewise have no idea what’s up at Zensify, Moosify, and (my personal favorite) Cahootify…but wouldn’t you really like to find out? (They are, respectively: an iPhone social aggregator; music-oriented social media, since acquired by Tastebuds [nice double entendre for the acquiring company!]; and “online portfolio and team-forming platform for film, media and entertainment”.)

Music naming services and consulting branding4. Verdict on Spotify

If you weren’t following this company, or reading the financial pages, how good a name would “Spotify” be? IMHO, not very good—this is pretty much a Baffling name. First thought is laundry detergent. Maybe geolocation? Faux-leopard pillbox hats? (Spoiler alert: it’s actually online music.)

5.       Great Missed Opportunities

With so many names and URLs already taken, we regret that we won’t be able to see all of the matchups below in the real world. (Any entrepreneur following up on these: I’m sure the lawyers engaged by Brighter Naming will be able to work out a royalty arrangement with you.)

Name Actual My bright idea…
Modify Domain available! Salons to make you look like Herman’s Hermits or the Dave Clark Five.
Satisfy Under construction, not for sale Upstart competitor of Barcalounger and La-Z-Boy
Objectify Ad aggregator Porn for the Woke!

–Greg Marus


(C) Copyright 2018 Brighter Naming®
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“Nomen Est Omen”? Uh, not always…

Family names often turn into brand names, sometimes becoming strongly associated with the products involved. Play word association with “MacDonald” or “Ford”, and odds are you’ll pop up with “hamburger” and “car”.

Sometimes family names can be a bit more problematic. Today, Hellman’s is strongly associated with a top-of-the-line mayonnaise. But it must have been tough to sell the first jar of Hellman’s. (Maybe some reverse psychology at work: people figure that there had to be a real Mr. Hellman somewhere along the line, because the name “Hellman’s” couldn’t possibly be the product of some corporate marketing meeting. Unlike, say, “Best Foods”…)

naming food productsWell, if you read this blog, you probably got that joke. However, at Mariposa’s High Country Health Foods, I recently ran across the results of a decision re a family brand name that’s a lot weirder than the Hellman’s-Best Foods one. The store was running a special on a variety of Middle Eastern foods, sold under a family name brand name…which happens to be “Haig”.

Sometimes, the slogans just start writing themselves: “When ye crave a wee taste o’ the Highlands, ye canna gae wrong with Haig’s Tabbouleh Salad!”; or maybe “Haig’s Hummus? Hoot mon!”

So now I’m curious about the Levantine imperial adventures of some ancestral Haig, and I go to the web site…where I find that this is indeed a family business…run since its founding in 1956 by…wait for it…the Takvorian family.

Okay, how much would you give for the minutes of the meeting where they decided that no one would ever buy Takvorian’s Baba Ganoush…”I know! Let’s call it ‘Haig’s’ instead!”

For what it’s worth, I’ve been very pleased with every item of theirs that I’ve tried; you can get more information (except for how they landed on that name) at

—  Greg Marus

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Food Names

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:

Mar 2019:The Power and Value of a Trademark

Jan 2019:4 common branding mistakes

Oct 2018: You named it What?

July 2018: Sample processes from leading consultants

June 2018: 10 steps to develop a process

August 2016: How to select a naming agency.

July 2016: How to get International Trademark protection.

March 2016: You received a cease and desist letter. Now what?

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

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