Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
It's funny.  Laugh.

The Corporate Lame Name Game 647

daniel-san writes "I've always wondered where names like Lucent, Aptiva, Infiniti, Agilent, Aquent, Naviant get invented. Not just pertaining to e-commerce companies, the article at Salon describes some of the silliness and the willingness to pay for these names. With companies like NameLab, NameBase, Name/It, NameTrade, Namestormers and TrueNames behind the scenes, I now understand the source of my comedic relief (and sometimes utter horror.) " What are your choices for lamest names for companies or products?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Corporate Lame Name Game

Comments Filter:
  • Enough said. But seriously, how can anyone think this is a good name for a product. Its not even a name, but a description, and besides how can something be powered by itself?

    This would be like /. being renamed /. powered. Granted, its a little recursive, but its mostly dumb.
  • by MaufTarkie ( 6625 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @09:57AM (#1482196)
    At my previous job, we were bought out by a bigger company who thought they could do the ISP business. In the process of "finding" their name, they hired some outfit from California (IIRC), which spent weeks and weeks discovering *the* name that would revolutionize the ISP business. The contractor met with the companies representatives and suggested... Syndic (and the slogan was "The biggest thing on the Internet"). Yes, the only ISP name that could double as a pr0n site. :-D

    Needless to say, they said *thank you* and went somewhere else.
  • I always believe that companies that are named after people, usually their founders, have the lamest names. However, not all the names are like that. A name like Dell for example sure is a good and successful one.
  • ... is what English majors do after they finish college.
  • I read this story a couple of days ago, much to my amusement.
    Well, I worked for MacTemps (now Aquent, *shudder*) back in the spring, and when I got the new corporate brochure with the new name and logo, my first reaction was "What the #&$@* does "Aquent" mean!!??"
    The USAir -> USAirways change strikes me as lame to the extreme. How much money did that take? Oy.
    Note that not all the ideas these guys come up with are lame: PowerBook is brilliant, and I really like the name Lucent. It's just after the inital blast of smarts comes the followers: Livent, Aquent, etc.
    As for my choices of lame-ass product names, any new car of the past decade pretty much qualifies! Tercel, etc.

  • Aptiva
    Aeron (Cool Chair though)
    Proliant (Nice Servers though for the most part)
    NetWare (I really don't like the name of Novell NetWare)
    IROC-Z (I know it's named after a race...still...bad name)

    Those are just some of the names I hate...I'm hungry...can't think of more.
  • by Star Traveller ( 115341 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:01AM (#1482203)
    The Problem is that most of the good English real names are taken.
    You either have to make up a word, pull something out of another language or Norse Mythology, buy it from someone else for the price of a small country, or choose to go for a meaningless acronym.
    Ask the people at BZET, they'll tell you

  • by Skinka ( 15767 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:02AM (#1482208)
    I remember when I first heard the name Pentium, I though fuck, why not just call it 586. To me, Pentium seemed really silly at the, but I don't think anyone can seriously claim that Intel went wrong with that choice.. I had similar feeling with the name Athlon, but it too has grown on me. Itanium? I still don't like it very much, but I expect that it will start to sound better as more people use it, and everyone will totally forget the name Merced in a year.
  • Well, if they had it to do over again, UNIX isn't such a great name. I mean it looks like an acronym, and not too many people apprecite the pun on the name of a 30 year old operating system.

    I still think Xeon sucks too as a name, but what do I know?
  • How about stupid logos? Let's not forget Lucent's coffee-mug-stain-on-a-napkin logo :)

    I think that was the butt of a Dilbert joke once too.


  • Yes, now I remember the name I hold with the most disgust:
    Take a big guess what they are.

    They used to be The Mutual Group.
    Take a guess what THEY do.

    This is the worst example of "rebranding" since Silicon Graphics changed to SGI. At least SGI kept consistent.
    "Clarica" means jack-shit.
    At least with a name like "The Mutual Group" you could expect them to be related to finance.
    Now they sound the name of a crappy subcompact.

  • quixtar: 69 points on a triple word score (forgoing any double letter scores, of course) plus 50 for using all 7 letters. That's my kind of word!

    funny, offtopic, what's the difference? ;)

    The Good Reverend
  • by BenHmm ( 90784 ) <> on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:08AM (#1482225) Homepage
    last time I was in Seattle someone told me how Starbucks got their name...much cash and hand-wringing, then someone read Moby Dick. Starbuck was the ships mate who loved coffee.
    ay wah-lar

    that's why they have the mermaid.

    not relevent really, but at least they had brought in some literature.

    On another point...any company that is an iBar or an eFoo, gets immediately filed under c for clueless IMHO
  • Am I the only one who gets the impression that company names of the late 90's are going to be remembered in the same light as bell bottoms and platform shoes?

    Of course, this coming from a guy who calls himself Effugas and runs a website named DoxPara Research...Look mah! Mid-Name Capitalization, the Almighty X, and *Gasp* RESEARCH!


    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • by P_Simm ( 97858 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:10AM (#1482231)
    This one doesn't sound silly, but it's a prime example of what big fatcat corporate name designers will come up with.

    I mean, why would someone type in 'Amazon' into their web browser? To search for 'sexy amazon babes', of course. obviously grew into the commercial giant they are today solely because they engineered their name to grab the most 'net pr0n boys possible without offending the others. ;)

  • I know a gentleman who founded a small electronics engineering company. He sold it and made himself rather well-to-do. The company's name was something like "Applied Electronics, Inc." or some such. Something bland, but descriptive of what they did. When the company was sold, they hired a naming consultant to rename the company. It is now known as "Zetaco." This acquantance of mine didn't like that much. He's a rather literally minded gentleman (as electrical engineers often are) and he still occasionally asks the rhetorical question, "Just what the hell is a 'Zetaco?'"

    Of course, the reason for all the goofy names is to try to come up with something than can be trademarked and hasn't been used before. Its impossible to search every state for every trademark, so you don't bother with real words -- any useful real word has probably been used. Hence things as goofy as "Athlon" and, let's face it, "Pentium."

    Pentium III? Fiveium three?
  • With Celeron and then later, Itanium...

    What the hell is itanium? almost itanium??? It just does not convey any meaning in the world to me...
  • Speaking of Jesus Christ, I'm not trying to start any flamewar here, but I always smirk whenever I see the posters on campus advertising a meeting of "Campus Crusade for Christ". Now, speaking personally here, if I were trying to get people to join a Christian group, the last thing I'd want to bring to mind is the Crusades.

    Well, maybe not the last thing, but it's only marginally better than "Campus Inquisition for Christ" :)
  • by Verde ( 40099 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:14AM (#1482242)
    About 10 years ago Enron Corporation, which was then called Houston Natural Gas (I believe) paid a bunch of bucks for a new name. The name-guru came up with Enteron. Unfortunately, as they were about to go public with the new moniker they discovered that enteron means alimentary canal! But after spending all that money they had to make do, so they shortened it to Enron.
  • GeForce 256 is the lamest product name. I pronounce it like Guh Force (like gefilte) because "Gee Force" is lame. GeForce is a lame way to spell it, and the 256 is not even relevant to the product in any meaningful way. Very nice product though.
  • by EisPick ( 29965 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:17AM (#1482256)

    ... is to blame for a lot of these names. If you plan on doing business worldwide, your name needs to be pronounceable by people with many different native languages, and needs to lack bad connotations in those languages.

    For example, Federal Express officially changed its name to FedEx in part because people in many countries had trouble pronouncing Federal.

    So we get the worst of decision by committee -- only names that have no chance of offending or confusing any one among the world's 6 billion people will survive.

  • Being a Pittsburgher I have heard a little smoke about the USAir to USAirways thing. (My mother also used to work for USAir)

    The name was changed in inticipation of a merger between USAir and British Airways. The name was a logical combination of the two others. It's just that the deal never went through and they'd already made the effort to change their name.

  • I remember when I first heard the name Pentium, I though fuck, why not just call it 586.

    It got called "Pentium" because Intel wanted to trademark the name of their chip, and you can't trademark a number -- 3rd party competitiors could have made chips called "Ultra 586" or something (which is just what happened anyway with Cyrix). By picking an actual name for the chip, Intel was able to have brand-name protection.

    (ob-hypothetical company name suggestions:)

    • ZOLTAN Acronym Management Consultants
    • Granzor XJ-19 373333333333333333T Telecommunications
    • Unspeakable Black Shroud of Eternal Despair Child Care
  • quite possibly

    or it could be worse []
  • Who needs to pay $65,000 for a name like "Aptiva" or "Athlon"? I can do that:
    • Quincenta
    • Protiqua
    • Dynistrix
    • Interique
    • Cenplexon
    • Ulta
    • Megalta
    • Actidyne
    • Superistra
    • Optystix
    • Astraulta
    • Paramaxa

    Want to use these names for your company or product? I'll give you a discount ... $100 each.
  • Let's face it, the "secret" code names that companies come up with for their projects are much better than the actual marketing names. Why? Because usually they can be attached to something with significance. Hydra was the name for Microsoft's terminal server. That was cool. Cairo was the original name for the product to be called NT (though a lot of Cairo's promises have not been realized), and we all know that referred to them building ontop of ancient VMS designs that are being resurrected from their mummified remains in banks everywhere because they have run so long and so well that they are encased in dust.

    A potato is better for you than a slink. I think. Manhattan is great but what's a Hedwig? I've got a Neptune board but think I'll move to a Seattle. Coppermine, I really dig that one.

    The military comes up with great names: Battle of the Bulge, Operation: Just Cause, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Roundhammer (Space above and Beyond Rocks!).

    And what's with this silly trend to spell stuff wrong? Changing an S to a Z. My company sells labels not labelz.

    The Pentium name was Intel's desire to start selling themselves as a brand. I don't think you can copyright, or trademark, whatever it called, a set up numbers. So, they sell Pentiums, not a 586. The silly part is to have Pentium II's, and III's. They are afraid to give up on the market recognition of the name Pentium. Sad.

    Same thing goes for this crap about Office 2000, Windows 98, WordPerfect Office 2000. I hate identifying it by a year. Pretty soon, Dell will sell Dimension 2001. Come 2002 you will feel SO COMPELLED to upgrade. Look, it is Word 9.0, Excel 9.0, etc. Flash those numbers around and people will start to say, hey, I don't need to upgrade, I'm at version 8.0 by God, what could be so much better in 9.0 that they couldn't fit into the previous 8 versions? Answer? Bugs! Bloat! Feature Creep! Don't miss out, get your copy for only $549!

    I say, piss on them all! I won't fall for all that marketing hype and name branding. I'm going to stick with an OS which has arguments about how to even pronounce, not to mention about whether it should have a prefix of GNU which 1000's more probably don't know how to pronounce.

    NOW! Pass me a Potato!
  • Then some of the later models had the 68lc040, as did the Centris.

    Maybe the centris got it's name because of the lc near the Center of the word.

  • You know, the one with the ant commercials and red blocks that make you think it's a Dodge [] commercial, but the name that sounds like a Ford [] minivan.

    Of course, they have that loopy logo that looks like a Meta key on an Apple [], and of course the obvious similarities to the name of a Microsoft [] product or fifteen...

    What is Winstar [], anyway?

  • You could just picture the writer trying to keep a straight face when he interviewed all these ultraserious name-gurus. My favorite quote:
    "But if it's your own brand, how can you possibly be objective? I mean, would you name your own baby?" Redhill thinks for a minute, then backpedals. "I mean, of course you would name your own baby."
    That cracks me up.
    Someone should write some perl scripts to scan the dictionary and randomly chop words together. Call it GNUName or something; hell, that's probably already trademarked.
  • was the monkeying about that SGI did when they made a big deal about their search for a new name, and changed to ... SGI
  • I'll second the vote for meaningful names. I've often thought the best business name in the world was something like "Bill's Main Street Foreign Car Repair." It tells me who owns it, where it is, and what Bill does.

    Robin "roblimo" Miller
    Proprietor & Driver,
    Robin's Limousine
    Elkridge MD USA

  • I hate names that have punctuation (like exclamation points, e.g., SomeExcitingCompany!) or are spelled incorrectly on purpose (Kool Aid).
  • ... that the name companies have some of the stupidest names around? Name/It? Namestormers?!?

    It's funny, because unlike many /.ers, I think the names they sell are actually pretty clever...
  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:31AM (#1482299) Homepage
    One name immediately comes to mind. Itanium. I guess they wanted to recapture the glory of the Pentium name. They failed. It just doesn't have the same...oh, I don't know, it just sucks.


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • But mostly laughed. This article reads like a chapter out of a Douglas Adams novel. Therein lies the sorrow, as this isn't fiction where things are larger than life itself and words are frequently discovered that didn't exist before. No, this is the state of corporate America, further alienating itself from the common man by paying focus groups and consultants to create a fiction that will be their nameplate - thier face to the world. Sad indeed. kristau
  • Nope, sorry.. Federal Express still exists, under the PARENT company FedEx.

    They did this becouse they couldn't trademark FedEx becouse it was being used as a generic term to ship something overnight. Hence, they changed their name, and can now use/own the term, FedEx.

    "Hey, I need to FedEx this package to Florida"

    "Ok.. UPS Next day ok?"
  • Related, the Vic-20 was a stupid name, but for different reasons.. They released it under a different name in Germany, becouse apperently Vic is a cuss in German.. ;-P
  • by PD ( 9577 )
    Nova means new star. I think Nova means new star in Latin too. But of course, they don't speak Latin in Latin America anymore, they speak Spanish. I think that nova means star in Spanish.

    So what's with this urban legend about No va?

    Patrick "Funny, he doesn't *look* Latin" Draper
  • Itanium stands out a a particularly bad one -
    let's choose the next one in the line... hmmm Pentium... Sexium... d-OH! um, how's ITANIUM catch ya. Sounds like a metal, with a vague flavor of silicon (I hate that FDIV aftertaste, though)...
  • As for my choices of lame-ass product names, any new car of the past decade pretty much qualifies! Tercel, etc.
    Actually, a tercel is a type of hawk. (Looked it up when I bought one.) So while it's not a common word, it's not a lame made-up-by-committee name.
  • Microsoft is a pretty pathetic word. It's just that nowadays it's SO common, that it sounds just as normal and just as "english" as the workd "the". I guess that's what millions of dollars worth of branding does for you.

    Think about it. "Micro", I guess from "microcomputers" (which they aren't called anymore :) and "soft" from software? So really, their name is a silly shortening of "Microcomputer Software" or at least that's my take. Even if it wasn't shortened, it would still sound weird by current conventions. The last time I saw the term "microcomputer" was in a Lisp programming manual from the mid/late 80s.

    But again - it doesn't sound strange really since it's so common in the language. But I guess you'll find out that if you say a word over and over, and don't focus on its meaning but rather just the *sound* of it, anything starts sounding very strange. Try "salad" which has absolutely no composite parts that I can see.

  • Reading this article it struck me how closely all this parallels the state of the architecture industry in The Fountainhead. In the story, the concept of architecture is touted at every level, from those that teach it to those that make their living by it, as simply putting together preexisting architectural ideas. They would constantly state that all the good ideas had already been thought up, so there was no point in being original, and that an architect's job is to simply implement preexisting architectural styles. Their job wasn't to create something useful and appealing to their clients, they're job was to create something that looked like the standard notion of good architecture.

    So here you have all these naming firms. Apparently all the good (English) words have been taken already. Their task, as they see it, is to simply merge existing words (note how everyone seems to think of Greek and Latin as the penultimate source of style -- I guess English or Italian or Russian or Chinese or Swahili isn't established well enough to be allowed in corporate naming circles). It doesn't matter whether or not the client likes the new word or if the word fits the client, the word simply has to adhere to a certain set of rules and taste. Thus the end results are as ugly monstrosities, quite similar to the dominant architecture "style" in the book.

    I guess I have no point to all this, it just seemed interesting. It'd be interesting to know where all these supposed rules for naming things come from. Also, if the goal is brand name recognition, a good brand name isn't going to create recognition. Only a good and seemingly omnipresent product will (though a bad brand name could damage that, I suppose). The best these names can do is offer some vague ideas of what the business's attributes may be. People fear blunders like trying to sell a car named "Nova" in a Spanish speaking country, when a name is only going to cause problems when it's very blatantly bad. I guess if it only brings to mind vague ideas then it's safe. Vagueness also suits these companies very well. God forbid they actually state what they do in their name! People might actually remember their company, and then they'd get business, which means more work for them. We certainly don't want that happening!


  • I think the point is that the "e"ing of the word is lame. It's a buzzword thing that currently sounds OK becuase it's so ubiquitous, but in 5 years when that fad has passed, prefixing everything with "e" will make things sound really weird.

  • by PD ( 9577 )
    Well, if you're going to one-up me and actually introduce facts into this forum, I'll have to hit my dictionary:

    Spanish nova is the same as the English nova, which is an astronomical term for a star (or car) that blows up.

    So, I guess a car that blows up is even worse than a car that doesn't go.

    Patrick "what does Pinto mean in Spanish?" Draper
  • Have any of you ever been to Nags Head? Let me tell you they are the kings of dumb names down thier. Let me just name a few. I swear I am not making any of these up:

    BS - (They sell bathing suits.. either that or BullShit, I'm not sure)
    Awful Aurthurs - (The sell food. Oh yeah, I just love my food awful. I hate that good tasting stuff)
    Birthday Suits - (Not quite sure but I think you pay them to steal all your clothes.)
    And the king of all time stupid business names:

    Dirty Dick's Crabs - (It's a restaurant. Let me tell you seeing a biplane carrying a banner that reads "Dirty Dick has Crabs!" is very very dangerous when you are in the ocean holding a body board. A wave caught my board, it popped up and... well lets just say it hurt. Although the people that some my near lifeless body corkscrewing toward the shore thought that I was just a really good bodyboarder. hehe)

  • That's the worst!

    I someday hope that I'll have something happen to me that is clearly my fault, that will get national media attention, that has everyone telling me to sue for "huge tracts of land", so that I can tell everyone: I'm an idiot and I'm the one who caused this to happen. My mother, father, sister, brother, nephew, uncle, government, teacher, priest, wife, mistress, daughter, son, friend, airline, restraunt, car, neighbor, etc, had nothing to do with it. I am the one to blame. I cannot sue for the land because I'm to blame.

    I spilled the damn coffee on myself. I knew it was hot, but I did it anyway.

    I rear ended your car, let me pay for you doctor's fees, but screw your emotional distress cause gump happens. I've got a burn on my face from the airbag, but I'm just thankful I didn't get impaled on the fschking steering column.

    I'm an overweight weenie who closed the toilet lit down on my schlong (and ladies, it is a schlong!) and then sat on it, then twisted around a bit for good measure. I mean, c'mon fellows, how many of us don't know where our one eyed Jack is at all times?

    My baby swallowed a penny and choked. I think I'll sue the goverment for not putting a child warning label on it. 20 years later that child is going to shoot up a post office over a 1 cent stamp increase, I just know it.

    Pretty soon, people will be sueing Microsoft for charging too much for their products, even though no one forced them to buy the damn thing! So what if Dell didn't let you get a computer with something else on it, punish Dell, tell them you are buying a computer somewhere else. I don't get too upset with Honda for not having ALL the options on my Prelude that I wanted, I still bought the car. But, but, Chrylser offered that on their car, why don't you on yours?

    Hey man, you can have any color car you want. As long as it is black--Henry Ford.

    Damn, monopolies. I'll show him, I'll pick a white horse over his black car.

    Build a toilet seat that even an idiot can use, and only an idiot will sit on it.
  • Or NYNEX. NY & NE stand for something. What's the "X" for?

    Well I would guess because NYNE would be pronounced "ninnie" hehe.

  • by humphrm ( 18130 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @10:58AM (#1482363) Homepage
    A few comments about the remarks in the article:
    • "We're not really interested in what the client wants," he says. "What we do reflects what the client needs. We have our own analytic system for looking at what the structure of a name should be, and actually, tend to ignore the client's wishes"
      Ooh, sign me up for this service! That's just what I want, someone who not only doesn't give a hoot about my wishes, but is willing to tell the press so much.
    • Funniest quote: "I'm not suggesting that a company couldn't get it right with a stroke of insight or genius or luck. But if it's your own brand, how can you possibly be objective? I mean, would you name your own baby?" Redhill thinks for a minute, then backpedals. "I mean, of course you would name your own baby."
    • I do like Lu Cordova's comment, pretty much sums up these bunch of "naming service" wankers: "Let's face it," she says. "We know who's in these big naming companies. We went to college with some of them. They say they're experts at this and experts at that. But they're really just our peers. They don't have any special mystical powers."
    • It's clear from these remarks from insiders that are two types of people in this business: a bunch of overcharging snobs that just replicate their process for every customer and charge each one as if they were doing it for the first time, and a bunch of snobs who think that their linguistics skills are just so much better than the average person.
    • Good points about car names too; all decided by a bunch of snobby wankers who think too much of themselves and end up creating soulless names nobody cares about.

    Sadly, I participated in one of these "naming" focus groups once; it was when I was doing about weekly "focus groups" for a market research company that paid me about $75 for 2 hours work a week. You get into these groups, they've just handed you (or are about to hand you) a good lump of cash, and then ask you how you feel about this-or-that. Frankly, I would have dis'd all the names I heard - that was my first thought - but I wanted to get invited back so I could keep making the bucks. So, I chose the least stupid name, sounded really excited about it, told them it conjured up all these images of [insert adjective or verb here], got my $75 bucks cash, and forgot about it. Yeah, and I can't even remember what names I picked! That's how effective those focus groups are.

    Eventually, this self-aggrandizing attitude will catch up with them, I hope. There's just no room in this economy for more self-aggrandizing holier-than-thou business models. Once the fame and money wears thin, this crowd will be back doing real work somewhere.

    My $0.02.

  • Excepting the very few liberal-arts types that retrain as geek-coders and spend their literary creativity on symbol names that are never seen outside the source code. A mercy it is, too. Talk about lame names; I have many times used "thing1" and "thing2" as internal symbols; if I need a third one it's always "cat_in_hat", never "thing3".

    Yeah, yeah, real creative that, you say. I just don't remember any of the nested structs I used to create that.formed.complete.sentences. But I'm sure somebody around here could provide an example or two of their own.

    But nothing like that *ever* could be allowed to show to the "outside world", could it?
  • They did after they changed the name.

    IIRC, it translated as `Goes well'. Don't remember what it was in spanish, though...

    Jedi Hacker (Apprentice) and Code Poet
  • by nohat ( 38834 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @11:00AM (#1482374) Homepage
    Slashdotters and their technically-minded ilk will often hate these "clever" names because they don't appear to mean anything and "sound lame." But that's not the point: techno-geeks don't buy a product based on its name. If Dell were to sell PIII-500 systems called the Dell Piece-of-Sh*t for $49 we would buy them up real fast despite the name. Computer product names (and product names in general) are created for people whose purchase decisions are based at least partially on name. Names that just describe the product don't work very well for the general public either. Think about it: are you going to buy a "Chocolate, Peanut and Caramel Candy Bar" or are you going to buy a "Snickers"? These companies know that you're going to buy their technical product (if it's good) no matter what the name is. They want to inspire confidence in your mom when she's picking it out by giving it a name like "Performa" or whatever because she gets a feeling, if not the thought, that it's going to Perform.

    These names aren't just chosen randomly. Their parts and their meanings and the feelings associated with them are taken into careful account. Copious market research is done. So I guess the point is all these comments about how much we hate this name or that name aren't really an indicator of anything besides individual taste: they don't really matter very much. The names are not designed for us. They're designed for PHBs and airhead shoppers. And they work.

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @11:04AM (#1482381) Homepage

    Itanium -- what the hell is that? Can I make a boat hull out of it?

    Inprise -- sounds like a combo on "internet" and "surprise", which I suppose is pretty meaningful

    TurboLinux -- come on. Like they'd name it "supercharger linux" or "carburator linux" or "really slow linux" or "nitrous oxide linux"

    Netlojix -- corporations have ruined my scrabble game. Now all the words I know either aren't real or or spelled wrong

    Equinix -- maybe some kind of equal-opportunity gelding service for horses?

    SmartForce -- you know, like "military intelligence"

    Metacreations -- what the hell does that mean? I suppose paint and canvas are both metacreations, in the way this company uses that "word," but they are called "paint" and "canvas," not "metaart"

    Metalink -- sheesh.

  • by YeOldeGnurd ( 14524 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @11:05AM (#1482386) Homepage Journal
    Camre? Previa? They read like a misprint! Toyota has not used a real word in naming a car since the Corona, have they? Okay, I guess Tundra is a real word.

    How about Kia? They make the Sportage, Retona, Clarus, and Pregio?!?

    Here's some cars that should have been introduced during the nineties:

    Geo Scrotum

    Geo Speculum (would compete with Ford Probe for "Car most likely to make women squeamish"

    Infiniti Q45 Explosive Space Demodulator

    Cadillac Coupe de Soixante-neuf

    Solaris Java, a solar-powered "smart car"

    Ford Excessive, an SUV bigger than the Excursion

    and, of course, the Isuzu Hemos

    Bravery, Kindness, Clarity, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity

  • What happens when companies keep merging and just add their names together? You get the longest name on the NYSE: PriceWaterhouseCoopers -- sorta old-fashioned in that they're retaining the surnames of their founders, but newfangled in not using spaces or puncuation.
    "I am not trying to prove that I am right... I am only trying to find out whether." -Bertolt Brecht
  • We (Dallas) have a KFC band spin off too.

    Hellified Funk Crew

    Their logo is the Colonel with a pitchfork and horns.

    Kinda silly, but cool, in it's own little dimented way :-)

    Jedi Hacker (Apprentice) and Code Poet
  • Yes, sorta, and yeah, ok...

    Athlon *does* sorta inspire thoughts of fleetness (for me, at least) - sorta that Athlete thing in the back of my mind... Athens... gods... it's all good...

    GeForce 256... I've never heard anyone say the 256 out loud, only in type... I mean, really - there's no GeForce 128... and I'm one of those poor people who still thinks that G-Forces are cool - maybe I've watched too much Top Gun, and still hope to be in a plane, but if you want a 3D accelerator, don't you want it to "throw you back into your seat" (I always picture those Maxell commercials...

    hmmm.... Maxell... Teac...

    just my $.02...
  • But you don't have a big company name like "Names-R-Us" or something like that yet.
    Hmmm...did you notice how many of the naming companies had meaningful names with the word "name" in there somewhere? Seems like they don't name themselves the same way they name their clients.
  • Daewoo... people who have no right trying to manufacture cars... they should stick to the fourth-rate TVs that they give away free with any car purchase.

  • nope

    How did you get a triple word score on a seven letter word that used all your pieces? The only time a seven letter word can use them all is the first word, and the first word has to be put right in the middle of the board, no triple word there. Then of course quixtar is a name not a word, but anyway..... So, nope, it can't work :)

    (that's the problem about geek humor, it not only must be funny, but *correct* as well...)
  • I'm all for people making a buck in their chosen fields, but do they REALLY think that choosing a new name for a massive mega-corporation is going to make the slightest bit of difference? They could have called Lucent AssCo and it would still be a successful comnpany. They were a successful company before the name and they'll be a successful one after it. Same with HP and Agilent. Short of being offensive there's not much you cant do to name a company that's already been successful for decades.

    And the guy ripping Yahoo? What is he high? Yahoo is the only internet company whos brand name is strong enough that they make money on it alone. Yahoo continues to turn a profit like most of the other iThis and eThat companies. I think maybe those Yahoo guys were onto something.

    Who do these guys think they're kidding? The most successful companies of this century are almost all abbreviations, GM, IBM, GE, AT&T, all the television networks, etc. Of the ones that are left, they're usually people, Chrysler, Disney, Warner Bros. Over the last 20 years or so we have even more foolish names... Intel? Microsoft? HBO? Who in their right mind would name an entertainment company almost the same as a homeless transient? Or a submissive term like small-soft. Or name a chip company like a phone company? About the only guys who get it right were Apple, and they named it themselves on a whim.

    I just dont get it.

  • Really. C'mon. How much did they pay to change their name to what people already called them?

  • I used to work for a pharmaceutical company and name companies do a very important service. For one with a drug you need to find a name that is not too similar to other drug names -- otherwise pharmacists, doctors and patients get drugs mixed up which is a bad thing. Find new names for things is not easy given the huge number of registered products.

    Besides, Aptiva is a much better name than Slashdot.
  • Sorry, but it could be made to work... imagine "LANCE" running downward, then "QUIXTAR" hangs off it horizontally and also gets you points for "LANCER" (no doubles or triples, of course).

    Okay, so its a lame example, but that's the first example I can think of...

  • In the electronic music world, it's not uncommon to chose weird nonsense words to name compositions. I say this is for the same reason that nonsense words are getting chosen for technology corporations and their high-tech product lines.

    First some examples of electronic music names:

    Names like:
    Heliosphan (aphex twin)
    zeiss contarex (autechre)
    entresol (sun electric)
    Versivo (bola)

    The reason these kinds of weird names are chosen is that in both the case of electronic music and technology firms, the product is extremely abstract. Most normal language deals with relatively specific concrete terms and concepts.

    These companies don't have one concrete or specific mission. Technology's moving fast, and people realize this.No company wants to name itself after a specific technology or product which could be obsolete in 5 or 10 or 20 years. So you pick names that have meanings unrelated to what you currently do or produce. AT&T doesn't see a whole bunch of business in telegraphy any more.

    This leaves several options.

    * Pick a word that conveys something good unrelated to your technology. Zenith. Sun. Saturn. Problems: How many appropriate words are there? Don't want to violate any trademarks..

    * Use a family name. Who's family? I think a lot of technology companies NEVER were a family business, due to the ammount of capital required to get started.

    * Make up some word that linguistically hints at other meanings, but has no explicit meaning of its own. Novell (novelty?) Lucent (Light?) Itanium (Titanium?) Problems: Some people say they're dumb.

    * Use some acronym, ignore the original meaning.. AT&T does this now.

    The electronic music names tend to evoke notions of Science, space, chemistry, & technology in general. The technology industry tries to evoke speed, dependability, luminence, and innovation. And vowels. They want you to think of vowels.

    But it's the same game - Picking a word for an abstract concept which has none.

  • I am sure that Intel must have gone to one of these awful compaies for that one, alright. Pentium itself was considered pretty dumb by most people I talked to way back half a decade ago, too.

    You can pretty much see where this thought process went...:

    "We need something that conveys power and greatness!"
    "We need something that sounds like Pentium so that the idiots... ah, users will realize they are related."
    "Uh... What convey's power and greatness?"
    "I dunno... rock?"
    "Nah... That sounds slow..."
    "... No..."
    "Uh... Metal!"
    "Yeah! Metal! Err... PentIron?"
    "That is truly lame."
    "Yeah... Wait! Remember that one ship... uh, the Titanic!"
    "It sank."
    "Yeah, but that's not the point! It had that one strong metal right? The one that sounds like the ship?"
    "I dunno. Uh... you mean Titanium?"
    "That's it! That sounds powerful and great!"
    "Yeah! ... Wait! We might not be able to patent it!"
    "Damn! How about Itanium?"
    "That sucks."
    "Got a better suggestion?"
    "No... Let's go with it."

    After much debate, and the fact that Chrystler Benz was secretly threatening to sue over the blatant theft of their Mercedes brand in Merced, they decided to go with it.

    B. Elgin

  • A few years ago, Hoechst-Marion-Rousell bought or merged with a firm in the town I live in . Suddenly, there were billboards everywhere saying things like "My daughter works for Herkst Marion Roo-sell." I'm not sure why they wanted to train the populace in pronouncing their name correctly, but I was amused.

    I recently worked for a company that did contract work for them, and I found out that internally they called themselves "HMR."
  • Naming a company after yourself is the smartest thing you can do. That way, it's harder for the board to try to oust you from the company! Who can imagine a Dell without Michael at the helm or a McDonald's without Ronald as CEO? Of course, it didn't work for Carl Karcher, but you get the point.
  • This is the worst example of "rebranding" since Silicon Graphics changed to SGI. At least SGI kept consistent

    Their page says that Silicon Graphics Inc owns the copyrights.. Everywhere else it says "SGI", tho.
  • But I'm pleased to say that when we unveiled the name last month at an all-company
    meeting, a thousand employees stood up and gave the name a standing ovation

    I've been thru these. Could it be they were simply relieved at getting it over with?

  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @11:42AM (#1482461)

    Last year my company spent 25 million on a new logo. A couple days before the big announcement of what the logo was they told all emploiees that we won't get a bonus because we were missed the target by 10 million. Conincidence? We think not. (Managment will disagree, but stock prices few several bucks just after the anouncement)

    Ask anyone around here though, the surest sign of a big lay off is a company moving to a new building, changing their name, or changing their logo. The old timers hold that as true.

  • It's true that "no" is one of the words for "no",
    and that "va" is one of the words for "go", but,
    get this, the Chevy Nova sold very, very well in Mexico.

    Please see
    for a very thorough treatment of this nonsense.
  • These are by no means the worst, but they ARE crazy... (Some are also oooold!)

    • Ultimate Play The Game
    • Superior Software (a tad sure of themselves!)
    • Imperial Computers, Limited (yeesh! arrogance, incarnate!)
    • Apple (sorry, gov, taken. unless you plan to byte the beatles.)
    • Commodore (well, I suppose that their ship did sink...)
    • Virgin (Richard Branson wouldn't even go all the way and pick a decent name!)
    • Compaq
  • wow, someone mark this up as "funny", i laughed so hard when i read "Who can imagine...a McDonald's without Ronald as CEO". I don't know if that was intentional, I sure hope so.

    i dont display scores, and my threshhold is -1. post accordingly.
  • My usual choices are band names, song names, and album names. I rarely forget that, say, 'battery' is a member of 'masterOfPuppets'. Of course, I still occasionally use something meaningful, but I love the looks produced when people read code like

    jhn_cgr_mlncmp::elton_john(temp,"Connection down", theWho.megaDeth(instantkarma),"Ok",0);
    beatles::come_together(instantkarma, alicecooper->default_device());}
    else {
    jhn_cgr_mlncmp::crumbling_down("Operation cancelled",alicecooper.max_wait());}

  • I think the true meaning of VAIO is 'Video Audio Input Output"

    It would seem slightly more standard to say
    AVIO for that though.
  • I would have though PROfessional and reLIANT.


  • I spent some time trying to think of a domain name that I liked, wasn't taken, and was short. The best I could do was two out of three. Finally I decided to go with the automatically assigned hostname (g27) that was given to our server before we had a domain. It worked out great because everyone using the server already refered to the server as G27 and was used to typing it in as the hostname. It also ended up being easy to remember and unambigous (almost no one is going to type instead of Best of all I fit five syllables into 3 characters.

  • Historical perspective

    I remember when Intel announced that the
    fabled 586 would be called "Pentium". We (the hacker community) thought it was a dumb name at
    the time, and I remember saying that everyone
    would probably call it 586 anyway.

    So, maybe five years from now, we will be talking
    about the glory of the Itanium name.
  • Interesting point that you made me think of; With all of this IPO hype lately do you suppose that soon the most popular company names will be the ones that match or closely match their stock symbols?

    Could happen.
  • by craw ( 6958 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @12:42PM (#1482541) Homepage
    Some ppl have commented about car names. Here's some tidbits from the book, "Eastern Standard Time."

    The founder of Toyota is name Toyoda. A fortune teller told him that a name with eight brush strokes (Toyota) would be luckier than one with ten (Toyoda). He was also told that cars with names starting with C would sell better. Camry, Celica, Corolla, Cressida...Tercel?

    Nissan (Datsun) was going to sell a car with the name Fairlady. The US division didn't like it so the name was changed to the production code name, 240Z.

    Mazda had a van that they didn't import to the US. It would have been extremely popular with a certain group of people. The van's name was, Bongo Friendee.

    Nissan came up with the name Leopard J. Ferie, but later changed it to J30.

    On a slightly different plane: I always thought that Microsoft was not a particularly "macho" name (if you get my drift).

  • Note that the parent company of them all is of course that's unimaginative :) But hey FedEx is cool, so we will excuse them :)
  • The name was also a hit among the NewCo rank and file. "It's funny, because 'Agilent' isn't even a real word," muses Redhill.

    Neither is Itanium, Pentium, Athlon, etc. Names != words :-)

    Now let's play some word association based on what it sounds like:
    -- Flatulent

    -- Pentagram

    Pentium Pro
    -- Professional evil

    Pentium ][
    -- Crap v2.0

    -- Cheap vegetables

    Pentium ]I[
    -- 1984

    -- I think not

    -- Bicathlon

    -- Coconuts

    -- Inbred
  • Oh, sure, they're changing it to "Windows Powered" now, because it "emphasizes the integrated nature of the palmtop appliance," or some such BS.

    But we all know the truth: It took the geniuses of Microsoft marketing this long before it finally dawned on them that the natural contraction of "Windows CE" is a word meaning "an expression of pain".
  • I read that a while ago, someone linked to it in a post. One of the funnyest things I've ever read.

    I registerd the name 'jamcracker' at slashdot after I read that :P
  • The nicknames people give products are usually much cooler than their actual names. Celery is a great name for a processor. What's even cooler is when companies actually start using the nicknames themselves. This doesn't happen very often though. Could you imagine Intel refering to their processor as the "Celery" on their web site?
  • by Mawbid ( 3993 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @01:20PM (#1482578)
    Guess what the second Icelandic TV station was named. Go on, guess!

    "Channel 2"

    The next time somebody started another channel, they had a public naming competition. Guess who won the big prize. Yeah, you guessed it: the guy who suggested

    "Channel 3"


  • Andover?

    What the hell is that?

    Sounds like I'm getting mugged by some Londoner:
    "Oy! 'And over yer dosh, else I box yer ears"

  • > But after spending all that money they had to make do, so they shortened it to Enron.

    Did they get a refund for the two letters they returned?

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • You agree with the post you're repling to :)

    Anyway, I prefer calling the OS line-ucks, even though I always refer to Linus as Linn-us. And speaking of Linn-us, hes stated that he dosn't care how people pronouce it, so why should anyone else?
  • I believe Daimler continued doing small auto stuff (maybe custom cars?), then joined with Chrysler later...

    I'm not sure about that. DaimlerChrysler was formed in 1998.
  • You do relize that people don't speak Latin in Mexco or anywhere else for that matter. They speak Spanish. Where 'Va' means go, and 'No' means no.

    nova = nogo. its a direct translation.
  • ISP names add some interesting complexity that's just not appreciated by your average non-technical boss. Case in point...

    The ISP had started out as Phoenix Datanet with the domain Classy. Very rarely misspelled.

    The company was purchased by Charter Communications to add an ISP to its portfolio of technology. The new domain name was Here begins the trouble. When on the phone, one would say the domain name as "cee dash com dot net" and quite often get confusion from the customer. "What? Cee dot com... uhh... what was that again?" Thankfully, legal troubles ended that domain name.

    Then the company merges with Pointe Communications. The Charter name is abandoned (there is much rejoicing). The new domain name? Yes, the 'e' is silent. Once again, on the phone with the customer... you can't just say "point com dot net". That would get you "".

    My solution? Pronounce the 'e'. "point Eee com dot net - no spaces". Its a tribute to the pointy-haired bosses who come up with these naming ideas.

  • Pronounceation isn't the only problem in a global economy. A name can look good in one language and really suck in another. About 30 years ago Chevrolet changed the name of the Chevy II to the Nova. Unfortunally for the Chevrolet dealers in Mexico, In Spanish Nova litterly means No-Go.
  • Getting back to the topic, I've been a regular reader of Salon for over a year, but I still hate the name Salon. It just makes me think of snooty high-society types lounging about in fur coats sipping champagne (getting their hair done?)

    It also reminds me of a hilarious (though stupid) Saturday Night Live skit years ago with Dana Carvey (I think) playing a Vidal Sassoon-type, and the whole joke was that he would always pronounce it "SAHL-lonn" with a pretentious French accent instead of "sa-LON".
  • The numbering scheme would have worked if it was only better planned.

    eg. the 7300 was FASTER than the 8500 in most configurations.

    The 7200 was SLOWER than the 8100. But the 7200 was faster than the 6100. There were also 7100s that were faster than certain 7200s.

    They could have made it work, but they run the resk of hitting the Presario naming scheme's pitfalls. 5543, 5545, 5546, etc...

  • I STILL say Dreamcast sounds like a Fender guitar, not a game system.

    (well, ok, that would be dreamcaster)

    And PSX sounds better than Playstation.
  • It's actually not a Japanese word, just shortened forms of "Pocket" and "Monster" to make it sound Japanese.

    Incidentally, in Japan the games are called "Pocket Monsters." Apparently, English is as chic to the Japanese as Japanese-sounding names are chic to Americans.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @02:48PM (#1482661) Homepage
    Here I was thinking "Andover, Michigan" ... but I like your explanation better!

    "Made money and over fist, they did, in that IPO!"

  • 85%? Try 90%, easily. In the Pittsburgh airport, you'll find rows and rows of monitors for US Airways flights, plus a whopping TWO labeled "Other Airlines." Those "Other Airlines" all get crappy gates, too, like D80 and higher.

    Just a subliminal way of letting them know they're not welcome here.
  • I think its Corolla. Corona is a beer

    ...and is, or, at least, was at one time, a Toyota model name as well.

    So is Celsior [], but it's called a "Lexus LS400" in North America.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe