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.