Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remember how people remember

If this is how people who have to memorise new stuff ever so often help themselves remember names, and faces, it's something people entrusted with the task of coming up with memorable names would do well to remember. In simple English: If you know what people do to remember, you'll find it easier to come up with things people will remember. Umm ... ok, maybe the English wasn't so simple. Still, you get the drift.

Gyaanama: Marty on Brand Names that Zag

The author of Zag and Brand Gap has some very strong views on what constitutes a strong name. He's of the view that a Strong name should be:

1. Differentiated. It should stand out from competitors’ names, as well as from other words in a sentence. This is sometimes called “speech-stream visibility”, the quality that lets the eye or the ear pick out the name as a proper (or capitalized) word instead of a common word.

2. Brief. Four syllables or less. More than four, and people start to abbreviate the name in ways that could be detrimental to the brand.

3. Appropriate. But not so descriptive as to sound generic. A common mistake is to choose a name that doubles as a descriptor, which will cause it to converge with other descriptive names. Actually, a strong brand name can be “blind”, meaning that it gives no clue as to its connection with the product, service, or company it represents, yet still “feels” appropriate.

4. Easy to spell. When you turn your name into a spelling contest, you introduce more confusion among customers, and make your brand difficult to access in databases that require correct spelling.

5. Satisfying to pronounce. A good name has “mouthfeel”, meaning that people like the way it sounds and are therefore more willing to use it.

6. Suitable for “brandplay.” The best names have creative “legs”—they readily lend themselves to great storytelling, graphics, PR, advertising, and other communications.

7. Legally defensible. The patent office wants to make sure that customers are not confused by sound-alike names or look-alike trademarks. A good name is one that keeps legal fees to a minimum.

He illustrates his points with some valid examples. Go here to take a peek.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If it flows, it must be a hostel at IIT Madras.

South India's Ivy League Engineering Institution - IIT Madras, has a very interesting naming architecture for its hostels. The common thread is Indian river names. In all there are 13 hostels and they've been christened:

1. Alaknanda
2. Brahmaputra
3. Cauvery
4. Ganga
5. Godavari
6. Jamuna
7. Krishna
8. Mandakini
9. Narmada
10. Saraswathi
11. Sarayu (Girl's hostel)
12. Sharavati (Girl's hostel)
13. Tapti

I hear, four more hostels are on the anvil. They've been named: Sindhu, Pampa, Tamraparni & Mahanadi.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Think about it, Donna

When Donna Karan decided to shorten her name, I am sure someone whispered into her ear that DK might sound like Decay. May be that's why she went in for DKNY. But now, emboldened by her success, she seemed to have decided to milk her name. Hence DK Men. Dunno how many guys would want the smell of Decay? Rotten stuff Donna. Might as well call it, DKaran Men or Donna for Men. What do you say, Donna?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Factonama # 9

Delsey, the No.2 luggage manufacturer in the world had its origin in the Delahaye company which, in 1911, specialized in the manufacture of cameras, typewriters and record players. Mr. Delahaye and the Seynhaeve Brothers joined forces in 1946 to set up Delsey. Their individual and joint experience lead to them setting up a department producing moulded plastic "travel items" in 1965. This resulted in the introduction of the first Delsey hard-side suitcase. Courtesy: Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Factonama # 8

Lieven P. Van Neste is the man who owns the most number of domain names in the world. Some say this Belgian natural medicine doctor has well over 200,000 domain names in his kitty. Originally, his intention in amassing the names was to sell and make enough money for his wellness resort. One wonders, whether he ever achieved his goal. The easiest way to find out is to make a bid for one of his dot coms.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Instore labels now in vogue

The meltdown has started affecting people's buyer behaviour. Instore labels have caught the shopper's fancy. Same quality for less, seems to be the mantra now. MSNBC has filed a story on this trend. I don't particularly like the headline they've used. Gives an impression that brand names don't work. The fact of the matter is, a brand is much more than its name. And brands are struggling now only because they are not able to cogently communicate their value perception. Store labels are just exploiting this value gap. If store labels opt for better brand names, their chances of being lapped up is even more.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eureka, here's another Mysskin!

Mysskin, the director of Anjathey, didn't want to be one more Raja. So he chose to rename himself after Prince Lyov Nikolaevich Myshkin, the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. Looks like, it has set off a trend in Kollywood. The debutant director of Madurai Sambavam is said to be a gentleman named Eureka! At this rate, Karunanidhi will have to soon announce a tax sop for those who choose Tamil pseudonyms.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gyaanama: Steve Baba on Domain Names

The name Steve Baba has something going for it. It makes him seem like a realised soul with a 10-foot blonde beard and a 10 mega watt aura. Jokes apart, Steve is a Ph.D in Economics and the reason why we've featured him in Namasutra is his free and very handy ebook titled How to Select and Buy an Elite Domain Name. The book makes some interesting observations. Sample these extracts:

A domain name can either make you look like a fly-by-night email spammer or an established company. A company with a domain name like AmericanWidgetsOnline.net, tells people that they could not obtain the .com, could not obtain AmericanWidgets.com or American.com.

Generic names such as Hotels.com are not entitled to any trademark protection. Ownership of the .com name can only prevent people from using the same exact domain name. Others can use Hotels.NET, Hotel.com (singular) and so on. On a positive note,
since no one owns generic names, trademark lawsuits are unlikely.

When buying a used car, one could look in the paper for the prices of similar cars. There are publications summarizing the price of used cars. Both buyers and sellers know the prices of similar cars. In contrast, a domain name speculator is comparing your offer with what he thinks someone may offer him in the future. This is often
optimistic, wishful thinking. A speculator may have read that a domain name sold for $100,000. But this is like a beginning novelist hearing that another novelist earned $100,000 and expecting the same, when most novelists get a tenth of that if anything.

Amateur do-it-ourselves naming often leads to discovering "fool's gold" domain names. "We found this great name, and it was free." This reminds me of someone who had his wife make his TV commercial for free, but wasted $100,000 broadcasting the third-rate commercial. An inferior domain name is a drag on all your other efforts.

Assume that you are only going to spend $1,000 to $5,000 for a domain name. If someone else had trademark rights to the name – in a different industry – and really wanted the domain name, they should have been able to obtain the domain name by paying the same $1,000 to $5,000. Or they could use a legal procedure to recover the name from a cybersquatter for $1,000-$5,000. One would assume that no other trademark owner wants the domain name, but this is only an assumption. But as long as you have legitimate trademark rights for one industry, another trademark owner in a different industry can’t take the domain name from you.

If a great domain name compared to a good domain name will increase sales 2% and the margin is 50%, then a great domain name is worth 1% of sales.

Piqued enough to read more? Go here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sound barrier

Was reading my fellow namasutrist's (?) most informative find on material names, the preceding one, when I had this epiphany of sorts. I haven't researched it all that much, hardly actually, but I have a theory on names, which needs more than a bit of time to prove. (And perhaps a lot less to disprove.) Still, I'm going to put it out for those of you who care enough to think about these things. Take a nuther look at these names (I've aligned them into two categories for the purposes of my fledgling theory): in the first corner we have Lycra, Velcro, Tyvek, Formica, Kevlar, Spandex and in the other corner Teflon, Nylon, Cellophane, Styrofoam, Tweed, Linoleum. Maybe it's not that obvious, but put very, very simply what I'm saying is this: 'Hard' sounds like, for instance, 'k' suit a particular kind of product better and soft sounds, like 'ph', for instance, work better for another kind of product. Moving forward, the next time you visit a 'fine dining' resto, yeah, those places where they give you very little for way too much, look carefully at the menu card. I'd be surprised if you found too many dishes with 'hard' sounds in their names. Next, go to a hardware store. There's a distinct likelihood you'll find more 'hard' sound names there. The human mind attaches certain product qualities to the sounds built into a brand name. A brand name that doesn't consider these aural quirks of the brain, trained perhaps to feel this way over years of brand-naming, will be attempting to fight an uphill battle to make an impression. My hypothesis is certain sounds make more sense for certain product categories. Perhaps it's a naming theory someone might find worthwhile to research and debunk. It involves a far bit of research all right. Something I'm too hard-pressed to undertake gratis. (What to do, we all have our day jobs that take up the majority of our time.) Image from here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gyaanama - Material Naming

Lycra, Velcro, Teflon, Tyvek, Nylon, Cellophane, Styrofoam, Formica, Tweed, Linoleum, Kevlar and Spandex - they don't sound like puppy names, do they? There's a technical ring to it. Why have people named Velcro as Velcro? Why not Zipnot? Peter Karlen of Neonym dissected this very issue in a lovely piece for Brandchannel. Digest it if you want some raw material on naming materials.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

While we were lost in our world # 1

A lot has happened in the last few weeks. Betty James, the lady who gave the Slinky toy its name, is dead. Polaroid has launched a mobile printer called PoGo. And Anheuser-Busch & InBev have merged to form a new entity, Aninbev. A big thank you to Name Wire for keeping us in the loop.

Factonama #7

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), changed his name to Taj Mahal. An internationally recognized blues musician who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music during his 40+ year career by fusing it with non-traditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific. He said the idea to change his name to 'Taj Mahal' came to him in dreams about Gandhi, India, and social tolerance. Seems particularly relevant, or irrelevant (depends on your frame of mind), in times like these. (Text and image from here.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Factonama # 6

Detachment 88 is the name of the Counter Terrorist Squad of Indonesia. Formed after the 2002 Bali bombing, it is funded, equipped, and trained by the United States. The number '88' is taken from the largest number of casualties suffered by a country in the Bali bombings incidents. In that incident, 88 Australians lost their lives. The number '88' also has some other meanings. The number '8' represents continuity since this number does not show the beginning and the end like other numbers. The number '8' also looks like police handcuffs. Source: This site.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lowe renames itself. Yet again.

First it was Lintas. Then Amiratti Puris Lintas. Then they decided to call themselves Lowe. Then Frank Lowe walked out of the agency. Still they chose to stick with Lowe. Now Lowe India has decided just Lowe ain't working. So they've opted to call themselves Lowe Lintas (or at least that's the name as of this nanosecond). My gut feel is, Lowe will be eased out sooner or later. And the agency will be back to Lintas. A rather strange journey, this. From Lintas to Lintas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Names We Like # 5

I watched this lousy Eddie Murphy movie where he plays a spaceship in human form. Meet Dave is the name of the flick. The only thing I remembered after wasting 120 minutes of my time was the name of one of the production houses that financed this project. The name brought a smile to my face and raised my expectations from the movie, a bit. And that's why I like Guy Walks Into A Bar. It's got wit written all over.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Big S

Doesn't roll of the tongue quite as easily as the 'Big B', does it? My point precisely. Well, not quite mine but kinda connected to the point I'm about to make. Those of you who have read 'Freakonomics' by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner might recall what this post is about to shine the light on: How much do baby names impact their chances of success later in life. And those of you who haven't might feel inclined enough to read this fascinating old piece from Slate that I unearthed while exploring for material on the said subject matter. Speaking of which, I wonder how much farther I might have gone had my mother chosen to name me '√úbermaniam'. Not very, I'm sure. The weight of expectations, and the umlaut, would have been just too much to bear. (And spell.) As it is, 'Avinash' is a lofty enough branding to live with. That said, it does make for a good story to tell the few people who bother to ask me what it means. And when they, rarely, do, I promptly proceed to saddle them with not just what it means but also why I was 'Hindued' so. Tell me about it. No, actually, ask me about it and I'll tell you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A puppy called 'Condom'

Imagine this: You walk into a friend's place and you see that he's gotten himself an adorable little puppy. (Yeah, much like the one in the picture.) Naturally, the first thing you're going to ask him is what the little critter is called. He tells you it's called 'Condom'. Of course you do a double take and ask him whether he's serious. He tells you with a straight face that he indeed is. How comfortable would you be to call out its name? It's true. There is a puppy that goes by the name 'Condom'. And you can find out more about it here.

Mountain names not trademarkable

In an interesting pronouncement, the Registrar of Trademarks of India has declared that Mountain names 'are not acceptable for registration as trademark for agricultural and natural products'. That means Dadi Balsara's Mount Everest mineral water is in trouble. Also in deep fix is Himalaya herbal products. I feel, this legal wrangle ain't over yet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When not to hyphenate your name

Got a hilarious forward from adlist. This reminded me of this. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to fight the recession with just a name.

Laid off? Don't worry. Scrap your savings or whatever is left of it. Rent some space. Start a shop in the domain you're comfortable with. Now you might wonder, who the heck is gonna pay for promoting your store? Well, you can promote your store with zero budget. Wanna know how? Simple. Just find a good name for your store. The store name will act as your advertisement. But remember, the name must be edgy. You must either hate it or despise it. Don't get safe in these times. A controversial name will work like magic. Opt for something like Black McCain, Dirty Pope or Britney's Cups. And watch the consumers queue up with glee. That's how you melt the meltdown.

Names We Like #4

Play to find out. And ask to find out why.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Would you shop at The Ridiculous Book Store?

That's the name of a Gulfport, Mississipi-based second hand book store. It's a provocation name that is meant to grab you by the gut. Either you like it. Or you don't. It brings to mind cheap pricing and a weird collection. When you see this shop sign, it's bound to intrigue you into the store. That's why, TRBS gets my nod.

Short names are stronger?

While traveling back to Bangalore from Chennai by train, I noticed something I found quite interesting. Most brand names of cement in India are not longer than 6 letters. The next thing I know my mind is working furiouser than a steam engine to try and draw some kind of connection between these two seemingly unrelated phenomena. And here's what it came up with: is there then some merit in assuming that for any brand name to communicate the qualities of 'strength', and the like, it's better off being short? How many 'long' names can you think of for products that are supposed to convey 'strength'? Yes, I do realise most brand names will tend to be short. Obviously this is an exploration into a subset of an overall branding pattern.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Abdul Peter Iyengar & other secular names

We had a MAD magazine clone at ITBHU. It was called Graffiti. Founded by a Digen Verma kinda legendary alumnus named Surajit Roy, the defining thing about Graffiti was the mascot. He was ingeniously baptized as Abdul Peter Iyengar, an apt summation of the melting pot nature of ITBHU. Years later, the nation woke up to an Ashish Winston Zaidi - a UP pacer who got more publicity than wickets, all thanks to his name. Are there any more equivalents? Amar Akbar Anthony won't count as it's the name of a trio. Think. Think. I am sure you can pluck out something for posterity.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ryan Sidebottom: Aint' it over the top?

Cricket's a funny game. It never ceases to throw up characters with quirky surnames. Who can forget the adorable Rick Darling? Or for that matter, the small-necked Gladstone Small. Some names used to set me thinking. What if, Marlon Black were white and Cameron White, black. Would the world have seen them differently? Will a guy like Stuart Campbell always get himself into a soup? Would David Boon have been spoofed as David Bane if he had totted up a string of zeroes? Did Rodney ever Hogg the limelight? And did Stuart ever break the Law? Interesting questions spawned by very interesting names.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A restaurant named Don't Fuck Around!

Sangeetha's has a restaurant in RA Puram. For some strange reason, they've called it Okadey. Anyone with a little knowledge of tamil slang will tell you 'okka' is 'to fuck' and 'okkadey' can only mean 'don't fuck around'. I was quite amused when I saw the shop sign. I wonder how Sangeetha's didn't spot this potentially scandalous name. Photo courtesy: Deepan Ramachandran.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blackcomb, Vienna or Windows 7?

After toying with codenames like Blackcomb and Vienna, Microsoft has settled for the pedestrian Windows 7. Explains Mike Nesh, VP-Windows, "The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Simply put, this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore Windows 7 just makes sense. Coming up with an all-new 'aspirational' name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mahabharatha names and their meanings

That great epic had some very colorful characters. I've always wanted to know what their names meant without dipping into Maneka Gandhi's book of names. Now that I've found out, I thought I'll share it with you...

Yudhishtra = one who's committed to the ideal.
Bhima = one who knows no fear.
Arjuna = clarity of pure devotion.
Nakula = one who's free from pain.
Sahadeva = equal to the gods.
Duryodhana = defender of evil.
Ashwattama = one with the obstinacy of a horse.
Bhishma = one who rules fear.
Dhritarashtra = blind ambition.
Draupadi = enemy of offenders.
Drona = one who injures his foes with weapons.
Drupada = one who stands like a wooden pillar.
Karna = one who thinks of himself as the doer.
Kripa = one who does and gets.
Kunti = one who removes the deficiency of others.
Pandu = he who is without prejudice.
Sanjaya = he who is victorious over all.
Abhimanyu = one who is imperishable.

If you had pored over the meanings, you'll discover that Dhritarashtra, Draupadi and Drona's names serve as cryptic codes for their characters. So obviously it's the work of a seasoned author.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Names by George Lois

While I was reading up on George Lois (the original dude of advertising), I discovered two brands named by him. Both, a little ahead of their time. Enjoy...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Name trend forecast

The downturn will result in a dumbing down of names. More and more marketers will seek self-explanatory names that cue Value, Budget, Economy...get the drift, right? Inhouse brands will be the preferred option at retail stores. All this means only one thing: lesser naming assignments :-(

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Disease of Naming Diseases

Mike Adams made a valid point, recently. Are disease names willfully chosen to obscure and mystify the disease? Doesn't Sluggish Immune System Disease sum up cancer better than Cancer? Isn't Fatty Food Choice Disease more easily discernible than High Cholesterol? When you go through the disease list, you might actually agree with Mike. The idea of naming in this sensitive field is not to create a brand name, it's just meant to clarify. I am afraid, the exotic names being bandied about just don't do the job. May be it's time for a rethink.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Names that stuck

God Shamgod, Dick Trickle, Nathan Boob, Alexander Semin, Angry Anderson and some more of the best names of all time according to these guys. I'm sure you have your set of favourite names too. I'm also sure you won't be chartable enough to share them with us. As always, I look forward to being proved wrong. After all, as my friend and partner in crime Anantha says ... well, never mind what he says about me. This is about some really funny names I took the trouble to dig up and share with you. Enjoy. And how will all this help you come up with a great name for your company? Well, if you ask us we'll tell you exactly why these names make the kind of impact this other article talks about. Incidentally, can you tell me who the guy in the picture is? Trust me, going by the name, it's very guessable.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Factonama # 5

The most famous Esperanto word is Mirinda. It means amazing/awesome/wonderful. It is widely believed that the founder of Mirinda knew Esperanto. So quite a few people think that Mirinda is the best known Esperanto brand name. Can you think of any other Esperanto brand name?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How Crazy Mohan thinks up his crazy plays.

Playwright, screenwriter and funmeister Crazy Mohan shares one quirky trait with me. Both of us think of the title first and then write the script. It's always worked for me. So I can totally understand why it worked for him. Such is the power of a title. It contains the seed of your concept. Take Jurassic Baby, Alauddinum 100 Watts Bulbum, Marriage Made in Saloon and Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam. All of these titles have intrigue value and offer a new context for whipping humour with a gag-a-minute sitcom. The fantastic thing about the title-first approach is, if you think the comedy ain't working, you can always craft another story with the same title. As I said earlier, such is the power of a well-thought title.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal and other gangster names

I'm a huge fan of gangster names. (Don't ask why.) The reasons, if you still insist on asking me, are pretty obvious. What's not to like. They're distinct, they communicate the unique quality about a particular gangster and they make you smile. Attributes that are eminently useful to have in a brand name. Shown here, Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal and his sisters. (Yeah, right.) He died recently. Here's a bit about him: 'GAMBLERS usually go on until they have run out of both luck and money. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal went on until he was blown up. But then Lefty was not your usual sort of gambler.' For more on Lefty and his exploits, read the rest of his obituary here. Meanwhile, Googleji and myself have unearthed some links on what makes for a good gangster name. (You'll find them all at the end of this post.) They're instructive in that most of the qualities that go into making a good gangster name apply to product brand names too. Jokes apart, you could learn a thing or two about brand names from gangsters. And us. (Picture courtesy Getty Images.) Link love.

Hot is no longer hot shit

Hot This. Hot That. How many times have you been assaulted by names that desperately latch on to the Hot prefix in an attempt to sound cool? The compilation below should once and for all, hopefully dissuade future namers from adding to this cliched genre...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The (N+1)th name

If you're stuck for names, here's a genre that will come, very handy. Think of a number. Say 7. What's the first thing that strikes when you think of 7? Seven Deadly Sins. Name your brand Eighth Deadly Sin. Yeah, it's that simple. Remember, this formula works best for categories that are receptive to somewhat creative names. Attached below are some classic amplifications of this genre:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where Barack Obama becomes An Bin Rong

If you want to know the Chinese equivalent of your name, there's now a fun tool to play with. If you're bored like me, try it. Here are a few samplers: John McCain -> Meng Zhi Heng, Sarah Palin -> Peng Sheng Rui, Sonia Gandhi -> Guo Xi Nuan, Muthuvel Karunanidhi -> Kong Mu Tian, and Jayalalitha Jayaram's is Zhang Zheng Yi. The only hitch with this software is each time you type in the name, it gives a different result. I haven't figured out why. But I guess, the idea is not to get serious. So I won't.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Names on your mind

'It is what every advertiser would have dreamed of - brand names have a unique impact on our brains. Brand names engage the "emotional", right-hand side of the brain more than other words, new experiments suggest. And they are more easily recognised when they are in capital letters.' More such gyan on how brand names affect our brains can be found in the rest of this quite old, but immensely fascinating, article from the New Scientist.

Obviously, this business of naming is a lot more serious than some of us would like to believe. So the next time you ask us to come up with a brand name, think of what it does to your brain. Not pocket. (Image courtesy)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Ale Named Arrogant Bastard

I am in love with this name. It's shameless, provocative, unpretentious, clear-headed and a swell choice for a strong tasting ale. It's a classic case study name that gives the brand an advertising story from day zero. The 'You're not worthy' tack wouldn't have bubbled to the surface if AB hadn't been picked. Launched in 1996, by California-based craft brewery Stone Brewing Company, this proudly bitter beverage has its share of devout gluggers. What they've bought into is part-product, part-imagery. And why won't they. Which egoistic sonofabitch wouldn't like to hang around with a brand like Arrogant Bastard? Picture courtesy: Wikipedia. For more on the brand, visit their website.

Friday, October 24, 2008

1000 names of Vishnu

Hindus have a unique tradition of eulogy. Every god is appeased with flattering name-calling. The supreme god Vishnu was showered with a thousand names by the wise old men of vedic times. To a novice, the Vishnu Sahasranama (Vishnu's thousand names) might seem like one more nama-sutra like compilation. But in the eyes of a giant like Adi Shankara it was something more profound. Since we are mercenary namers, we shall just stick to the literal meaning of the name list. And leave the interpretation to the masters. The reason why I've posted the Sahasranama is some of us are Sanksrit-challenged. The names can give us a hint of how a new Sanskrit name can be welded together. Before you pore over the list, say a big thank you to this site for painstakingly putting it together...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nmes in SMS

Is the about-to-be launched version of the 'Mountain Dew' bottle the first brand name to be communicated in 'Smese' (the language of SMS)? Check out the way it is written and from the looks of it, it seems to have gone down pretty well with the 'commenting' crowd. Could this be the start of a new trend in naming? Why not. Imagine a product targetting kids; say a children's magazine. How interesting it would be if they chose to communicate their brand name in 'SMese'. Of course the grown-ups wouldn't approve. Which is precisely why it's likely to work swimmingly well for the young 'uns. We think more brands should try to strut their stuff in 'SMese'. It mkakes for a more personal conversation with consumers. And now for the obligatory question to elicit a reaction: Any other brand names in 'Smese' that you can think of? (No, not come up with, but think of that already exist.)

List of Indian Rock Band Names

IIIrd Sovereign
5 AM
13 AD
Acrid Semblance
Amidst the Chaos
Asian Heat
Barefaced Liar
Bhayanak Maut
Blackhole Theory
Blacklight Infinity
Blind Image
Blood & Iron
Brute Force
Cassini's Division
Crimson Wood
Dark Crucifix
Demonic Resurrection
Dry State
Fizzy Soul
Garden of Thorns
Grungy Morphines
Half Step Down
Hollow Caust
Indian Ocean
Indus Creed
Joint Family
Junkyard Groove
Killer Tomatoes
Level 9
LBG (Little Babooshka's Grind)
Molotov Cocktail
Native Tongue
Nemesis Avenue
Neolithic Silence
Null Friction
Old Saying Jungle
Orange Street
Pin Drop Violence
Public Issue
Purple Blood
Raghu Dixit Projecy
Rock Machine
Shaair N Func
Shakuni & The Birds of Prey
Silk Route
Skinny Alley
Soul Burn
Souled Out
Stiff Neck Syndrome
The Banned
The Hobos
Them Clones
Thermal And A Quarter
The Lost Symbols?
The Salvation Crusade
The Superfuzz
Unforbidden Souls
Undying Inc.
Who's Jim?
Zero Gravity

What does Aegan mean?

When I first heard the name Aegan, I had a waddafuk moment. Why on earth would a tamil film be named after the Aegean Sea? Intrigued, I googled for the etymology of Aegean Sea. It threw up a little story on a Queen named Aegea (meaning The Pole in Greek). That didn't seem convincing. My mom came up with a better explanation. She said it may have a Sanskrit origin. May be it's a short form of Ekalavyan. Just when I was about to take her word for it, I read an interview with Ajith, today. He let the kitten out of the bag. Aegan is one more name for Lord Shiva. It means All in one. When he uttered those words, I was like, why didn't I think of it. Anyways, that's the story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When a catchy name can hurt...

Movie naming is a tricky business. The catchier the title, the greater the expectations from the film. And expectations is a very heavy burden to carry. A lot of directors have learned this the hard way. Titles like EMI (Easy Monthly Installment), M3V (Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai), Snakes on a Plane are a little too catchy. Either they explain the story in a pithy way or they have no connection at all to the plot. Good titles avoid being catchy. They intrigue (North by North West), provoke (Blackmail), offer the premise in an interesting way (Strangers on a Train), introduce a new phrase into public lingo (Dial M for Murder) and sometimes lower your expectations by opting for the seemingly innocuous (Birds). May be, some day the movie industry will wake up to this realisation.

Go ahead, copy

When you don't have enough money. When you have a huge market waiting to give you their money. When you want to hit the ground running. When you don't want to make people remember one more thing. When you are lucky enough to be operating in a market like India or China. When you don't have to worry too much about being slapped with a law suit. When you don't want to waste your time with a naming company. Or when you just want to be like Google, launch a soundalike brand. To piggyback is an old and quite successful marketing tactic. And strategy. We think it also works in Naming. Don't agree with me? Fine, agree with someone 'respectable'.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Maya the most famous Sanskrit brand name?

I have this theory that, this century, we are gonna see a lot more Sanskrit brand names as namers the world over have sucked the juice out of Greek and Latin. I'll dwell upon this in another post. Meanwhile, let me state what I have discovered. I can't think of a universally recognised Sanskrit brand name. The only one that came to my mind is the Oscar-winning VFX software Maya. Christy Turlington's Sundari is not yet international. And there are not too many challengers from India. So am I right if I declare Maya as the most popular Sanskrit brand name?

Monday, October 20, 2008

A whole lot of hot air

When Nike, and Michael Jordan, launched the 'Air' series of basketball and running shoes, which eventually came to be known as 'Air Jordan', it was perhaps the first brand - apart from airlines and sappy pop bands like Air Supply - to use the word 'air' as a brand name or extension. A combination of Jordan's extraordinary ability to 'fly', some great advertising and the presence of a crucial 'benefit' in the 'air' suffix meant that the 'air' in the Nike worked like a charm and sold many millions of pairs of shoes for them. Does the 'air' in the MacBook Air work quite as well for Apple? I think it does.

Apple, I believe, is the Nike of personal computing. Like Nike, it has always been about path-breaking style and revolutionary product developments coming together to deliver a clearly superior product to its consumers. That's why 'Air' is the appropriate brand name for the world's lightest personal computer from Apple. Just like it was the right name for the world's lightest shoe, from Nike. Right, so would 'Air' work just as well if it were tagged to an offering from Microsoft? Obviously not anymore. But what if Microsoft had launched the world lightest operating system (hypothetically speaking, of course) and chosen to call it Microsoft Air? I think not.

I think that after Nike usurped the word 'air' for itself, it needed a company like Nike to take the 'air' back from for other uses. A company like Apple. Not Microsoft.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A family of fiery names

Discrete Logic (the Montreal based company that was swallowed by Autodesk in 1999)is a well-chronicled pyromaniac. I mean, look at the names of their products: Flame, Flint, Fire, Inferno, Riot, Stone, Spark and now Combustion. Considering that all these are brands of editing/effects/compositing software do aid in creating films that set the silver screen ablaze, methinks these are marvelously apt.

Factonama # 4

The Danish butter brand Lurpak debuted as Lur Mark in 1901. Lur is a Scandinavian wind instrument. It has been immortalised as the visual mnemonic in the Lurpak logo. Wikipedia informs us that any instrument that receives sound is referred to as a lur, today. For example, a telephone handset is called telefonlur.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Names We Like # 3

This online shoe store has clocked a stellar performance in the last 10 years. People still keep raving about its 'pay-your-employees-to-leave' policy. I like the brand for its name. Derived from the Spanish word for shoes, Zappos is a 2-syllable contraction of Zapatos. Phonetically, it's a nephew of the uber-cool sounding Zappa. And imagery wise, it might conjure up visions of a wizard with his magical wand. This brand is a classic example of a literal yet exotic name. In the sense, those who know Spanish will know it means shoes. And those who don't know might assume it's a foreign brand. My one teensy issue with the name is it sounds kidulty and not adulty enuf. But I guess, that adds to the likability. Given the constraint of being a mass brand, I think it's a good choice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Factonama # 3

This is an image of the Siachen Glacier picked from the Himalayan Club website. Discovered in 1907,apparently Siachen means the place of roses in the Balti language. A reference some people attribute to the abundance of Himalayan wildflowers found in the valleys below the glacier. Ironically, Siachen is also the highest battleground on Earth. That makes it a curious mix of guns and roses.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Factonama # 2

Long before Horace Smith & Daniel Wesson got together to found Smith & Wesson, they founded another firearms company by the name Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. This was in 1852.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Names We Like # 2

When you work on a name that's already famous, you run the risk of being labeled, a plagiarist. But when you add a little touch of imagination to your source name, there's always the scope for magic. I call such names Remix Names. C2B2 is one such creation. It's a nod to the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was in turn a nod to the children's book of the same name by Ian Fleming. For an animation flick aimed at kids of the Jetix generation, I thought Cheenti Cheenti (Hindi for Ant Ant) is an apt title. It uses 2 words that's part of the every day vocabulary of every North Indian kid. And as the plot is about Black Ants vs Red Ants, the name makes eminent sense. Me thinks, the catchiness of the name will ensure the movie is a multiplex magnet. I also feel, the film will do well in the DVD circuit as the title leaps at you the moment you look at it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Indian surnames & their meanings

Will keep updating this list as and when I get some time...please feel free to contribute...

Agarwal = Derived from Agarwala or 'a descendant from Agroha' (the ancient name of Hissar city). Agroha had 18 districts - Garg, Mangal, Kucchal, Goyan, Goyal, Bansal, Kansal, Singhal, Jindal, Thingal, Airan, Dharan, Madhukul, Bindal, Mittal, Tayal, Bhandal, and Naagal. All of these names are synonymous with Agarwals.
Ahluwalia = A descendant of a person from Ahlu (a village near Lahore).
Ahuja = A descendant of Ahu. Does anyone know anything about Ahu?
Arora = A descendant from Aror (today's Rohri in Sind).
Bandopadhyay = Venerable teacher.
Banerjee = Teacher from the village of Bandoghat.
Bharadwaj = One who has strength or vigour.
Bhat/Butt = Priest or Scholar.
Bhattacharya = Priest & teacher.
Chaturvedi = Learned the 4 vedas.
Chattopadhyay = A teacher with roots from the Chatta village in Bengal.
Chopra = Descendants of warrior Chaupat Rai.
Dhawan = Messenger on the field of battle.
Dubashi = Person who knows two languages = Translator.
Dutta = Drived from Aditya or Sun.
Dwivedi = Learned in 2 vedas.
Gill = Lake/Moisture/Prosperity.
Guha = Another name for Lord Kartikeya.
Gupta = Ruler/Protector.
Iyer = Derived from Tamil word Ayya which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Arya which means Noble.
Iyengar = One who has undergone the 5 purification rituals.
Jain = Follower of Jainism. Which is derived from Jina (one who overcomes).
Jha = Reciter.
Johar = Sanskrit for Jewel.
Joshi = Practioner of Jyotishi or astrology.
Kakkar = Strong.
Kapoor = Descendants of Moon.
Kaul = Means well-born. Derived from Sanskrit word Kula.
Kaur = Princess.
Khan = Turkish in origin. Means Chief/Ruler.
Khanna = Derived from Khanda (sword).
Khatri = Punjabi version of Kshatriya (ruler). Khanna, Kapoor, Seth, Mehra, Malhotra, Chopra and Walia are all Khatris.
Kocchar = Armour.
Krishna = Dark.
Mahajan = Means literally Big People. Perhaps an indicator of status.
Malik = Arabic word for King.
Mehra/Mehrotra = Descendants of Mihr (Sun).
Mishra = Mixed or blended.
Mukhopadhyay = Main Teacher.
Nehru = One who lives on the bank of a Nehr or canal.
Patel/Patil = Village headman.
Rana = Ruler. Some speculate it's the male version of Rani.
Saini = Head of army.
Sethi = Derived from Sanskrit word Sreshti (Merchant). Incidentally Shetty/Chettiar has the same roots.
Shah = Persian word for Monarch.
Sharma = Joy/Protection.
Shukla = Bright.
Singh = Derived from Sanskrit word Simha which means Lion.
Tagore = Anglicised version of Thakur (Lord).
Talwar = Swordsman/Sword.
Tandon = Warrior or sun.
Trivedi = Learned in 3 vedas.
Verma = Shield.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

List of Theronyms

Theronyms are brand names derived from animals. Here's my list of brands that have used this technique...

Bison (Inner wear)
Black Dog (Scotch Whisky)
Camel (Cigarettes)
Cheetah Fight (Matchsticks)
Cobra (Beer)
Corgi (Publishing)
Crane Paaku Thool (Betel Nut)
Crocodile (Apparel)
Deer Brand (Basmati Rice)
Dolphin (Car)
Dove (Soap)
Eagle (Thermos)
Elephant (Cables)
Firefox (Browser)
Gator (Internet advertising)
Haathi Cement
Hush Puppies (Shoes)
Impala (Car)
Jaguar (Car)
Kingfisher (Beer)
Lion Dates
Mountain Goat (Beer)
Mustang (Car)
Lacoste (Apparel)
Office Tiger (BPO)
Pelican (Publishing)
Penguin (Publishing)
Peregrine (Investment banking)
Puma (Sport gear)
Red Bull (Energy Drink)
Reebok (Shoes)
The Famous Grouse (Scotch Whisky)
Tiger Balm
Tortoise (Mosquito coils)
Turtle (Apparel)
Yak & Yeti (Hotel)

Please add to the list.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Congress Kadalebeeja

This CK (short for Congress kadalebeeja) Bun is extremely popular in Bangalore. It's a buttered, lightly toasted masala bun loaded with spicy, crunchy peanuts and quite yummy. Anyone has any theories on where the 'Congress' in the name comes from? Here's one I'm not so sure of. That said, it is very funny.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kinda like Paris Hilton

Hands up (and comments down), everyone who can tell me who the men shown in the picture are? Clue: Theirs is a brand so popular it has become the de facto name for the product category. And if you know the answer, can you give me the names of 38 other people who are like them? All is revealed in this most engaging slide show of the story behind 39 of the world's leading brands named after people: Trivial pursuit. Warning: It doesn't work in Google Chrome. Warning: It doesn't work in Google Chrome. (That's just in case you didn't believe me the first time I said it.)