Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 Baby Names of 2009




Ramon Estevez derived his stage name partially from this archbishop. What did he call himself?

"Well, when i was a boy growing up, the first tele-evangelist really was Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. And I thought of him as a magnificant actor, and so I took his name and I put it together with the Martin. And people thought I looked Irish anyway, and so I thought alright I'll , ill surrender to this and so I invented Martin Sheen."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A capital city named 'capital'?

From Samit Basu's piece on Kazakhtan. Check out Astana.

"There’s a genre of computer game called the city-building game; the SimCity and Caesar series are good examples. Your task, as the player, is to take an area of land and develop it—roads, housing, banks, markets. You build places for people to live in, and wait for settlers to drift in from the corners of the screen. Once they’re in, your task is to keep them happy.

There is no city in the world that reminds me of this type of game as strongly as Astana (meaning capital), the new capital of Kazakhstan."

Take a peek at this name

On December 23, this year, Kim Peek, the real Rain Man whose almost unimaginable powers of memory were coupled with severe disabilities and who inspired the Oscar-winning film role played by Dustin Hoffman, has died of a heart attack in his home town of Salt Lake City, aged 58.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Would you like to have some Pussy?

"Pussy is the first truly premium energy drink. We have sourced the best ingredients to create a great taste and a natural lift. We believe in challenging the consensus – and moving things forward. Pussy is about natural energy, it’s irreverent, sophisticated and a pleasure to drink. Pussy is NOT about being serious, chemical energy, having a corporate attitude or being predictable." For more pussy talk, go here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What does Eclairs mean?

Eclair in French means 'Lightning'.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Which brand is named after this gentleman?

Grundig, the german giant in consumer electronics, is named after Max Grundig.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why 'Recession' is better than 'Depression'

Names are words. (Duh!) For a name to be impactful, the word representing it must make all the right noises, if you know what I mean. And if you don't, here's what: In the thirties, after the Great Depression of '29, people didn't want to hear the sound of the 'D' word, preferably, ever again. So, they came up with a new, kinder, more compassionate sounding one: Recession. Any economic downturn in the years that followed the big 'D' came to be termed as a 'Recession'. Essentially, recession became a euphemism for depression.

That said, the Great Depression is not the only reason people prefer recession, the sound of it, also, helps soften the blow. Or at least it did, back then. Now, though, we're in a time where some of us could do with a euphemism for the big 'R'. Whatever softer sounding word we go for, it'll help to arrive at the appropriate one once we have understood why people prefer the sound of 'recession' to 'depression'. Here's a thumb rule to acquaint yourself with and apply on all words/terms in the 'bad news' space.

The explanation, in short: Recession has two 'hard sounds' less than 'Depression'. Think about how useful this kind of 'tongue-walking-on-eggshells' becomes, literally and metaphorically, when you're looking for the right words (or word) to break the bad news. Recession, from the linguistic, oral and word navigation points-of-view, was easier to handle than 'depression'. (Just say it, softly.)

Next thing you know, we'll have a euphemism for 'recession'? (Don't we, already?) Whatever the people who decide these things proclaim it should be, we think for it to work, it'll have to drop the 'sion'. Any ideas on what the next recession will be called? Anyone for 'Hiccup'? It has no soft sounds but sounds less sombre than 'recession'. Sadly, a hiccup is too short to be seriously considered as a contender for the title of 'euphemism for recession'.

How about 'slowdown'? Ok.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrity Baby Names

Aarav - Akshay Kumar's son
Alexander Pete - Naomi Watts' son
Alimayou Moa-T - Wesney Snipes' son
Anvay - Rahul Dravid's son
Arin - Madhuri Dixit's son
Aryan Khan - Shah Rukh Khan's son
Bluebell Madonna - Geri Halliewell's daughter
Cayden Wyatt - Kevin Costner's son
Charlie Axel - Tiger Woods' son
Clementine Jane - Ethan Hawke's daughter
Daisy True - Meg Ryan's daughter
Dona Ganguly - Saurav Ganguly's daughter
Emme Maribel - J.Lo's daughter
Emmy Charlotte - Ricky Ponting's daughter
Finn - Christy Turlington's son
Hania Riley - Vin Diesel's daughter
Hayes Logan - Kevin Costner's son
Henry - Heidi Klum's son
Henry Daniel - Julia Roberts' son
Henry Tadeusz - Colin Farell's son
Honor Marie - Jessica Alba's son
Isabella - Matt Damon's daughter
Jayden James - Britney Spears' son
Knox Leon - Brangelina's son
Lucia - Mel Gibson's daughter
Max Liron - Christina Aguilera's son
Maximilian David - J Lo's son
Nahla Ariela - Halle Berry's daughter
Nysa - Kajol's daughter
Oscar - Gillian Anderson's son
Pax Thien - Brangelina's son
Quinn - Sharon Stone's son
Rasha - Raveena Tandon's daughter
Ryan - Madhuri Dixit's son
Sadie Madison - Adam Sandler's daughter
Sebastian Thomas - Tommy Hilifiger's son
Shiloh Nouvel - Brangelina's daughter
Tennyson Spencer - Russel Crowe's son
Valentina Paloma - Salma Hayek's daughter
Valentino - Ricky Martin's son

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Lots of syllables. Lots of pits stops. Lots of history. And a nice bit of portmanteaugiri. Nice name for a tsunami-victims relief project. You could do worse than check out her products.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A movie called Talaq Talaq Talaq

I was wondering about the sensation such a movie title would cause. If an orthodox muslim were to read this aloud in front of his wife, it would lead to a divorce! I googled to see why no ever thought of this. Actually to be fair, BR Chopra wrestled with the idea, way back in the eighties. He dropped it when there were objections from islamic bodies. He later released the movie as Nikaah. Yes, the film that featured this lovely song...

Posted by Anantha.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Talk about funny names. The pawpaw is a native american fruit and name of a town in the state of Michigan. It is also often called 'prairie banana' because of its banana-like creamy texture and flavor. You can read, even, more about it, here. And more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How wrestlers get their names

The sport of professional wrestling is punctuated with some of the more outlandish names in the history of branding. (For instance, the dashing fellow shown here goes by the delightful moniker 'Nacho Libre'!) In this post, I direct you to the riveting story behind another wrestling/er brand, the 'Rock and Roll Express'. And more.
"Have you ever wondered where some of the names wrestlers use come from? Well they can only come from two places. Either the wrestler gives himself a name or the booker/creative people do. In earlier times, a guy could get a name in 30 seconds. Now, it might take weeks to run copyright and trademark searches. The Rock and Roll Express didn't have to wait long. Click here for the story of not only how their name was arrived at but also their gimmick."
Speaking of which, who is your favourite brand of wrestler? Mine's, hands down, 'The Undertaker'. In fact, the mere mention of the name sends a chill down my spine. Talk about brand personality.

Orissa is now 'Odisha'

For more reasons than one, this is a better name. For one, it's easier to spell. For two, the 'd' in the middle gives it a nice point of emphasis stronger than the earlier 'r' and for three, 'Odisha' is how the people of Odisha pronounce 'Orissa'. So it makes sense. (Names are more memorable when spelled the way they sound. ex: Orissa v/s Odisha.) Incidentally, Oriya is now 'Odia', which in my opinion is not as memorable as 'Oriya'. (It's complicated and can be explained only in an elaborate Powerpoint presentation.) All said and done, what do names, and name-changes, like Odisha, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai say about the principles of naming? Think about it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Tamil Name for a Swiss Watch

Just discovered this 1983-born Swiss watch. It's derived from the tamil word Kattamaram. The idea was to position it as the ideal watch for sailing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wave, it doesn't matter

I believe what you call a new brand doesn't count all that much when it is already backed by an old one with high equity and recall. Case in point: Wave from Google. In such cases, more than the name of the new product what matters, more than earlier, is the quality of the newly-launched product from the old stable. If, for example, Wave turns out to be shit, Brand Google takes a beating. On the other hand, had Google chosen to call 'Wave' 'Siht' and gone on to deliver yet another great product, 'Siht' would, in all likelihood, be hailed as a revolution in naming. (Sorta like 'FCUK'). That's how much names matter. Or not. Btw, don't you just love the 'Wave' logo? I do.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Strange Cricketer Names

Aiden Blizzard
John Snow
Gladstone Small
Anthony Llewyn Biggs
Allan Lamb
Rodney Hogg
Geoff Boycott
David Boon
Craig White
Marlon Black
Bill Brown
Gordon Greenidge
Peter Sleep
Rick Darling
Napoleon Einstein
Farookh Engineer
Derek Underwood
Ryan Sidebottom
Graham Onions

Feel free to add to the list...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A good name for an airline?

It's called Calm Air and it indicates, very clearly, it is a Canadian airline. Nifty or what?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A surname that may not work in Chennai

Tavadia is a parsi surname. Tha-waad-dia is how it's pronounced, I guess. I googled and tried to find its meaning. Couldn't. Whatever it means, it can only spell trouble in Chennai. Tevudia means whore in tamil slang. And tevudia paiya means a bastard. So any chap with a Tavadia surname is bound to be ragged at a college in Tamil Nadu. Mind it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Names We Like: dnL

In 2002, Cadbury Schweppes launched dnL. A 180-degree take on 7up. I think it was a fabulous idea. Unfortunately, it was discontinued in 2005. If it were relaunched today with a different taste, the brand will get enough trials by the sheer beauty of the name. I feel it was an audacious experiment, a little ahead of its time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Factonama: Joomla

Joomla, the content management system brand, derives its name from the Anglicised version of the Arabic word Jumla which means 'all together'. Probably the open source origins, influenced the choice. Or may be since the name itself was a colloborative effort of so many people.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

List of pen brand names

Add Gel
Caran D'Ache
Curtis Australia
David Oscarson
Faber Castell
Jac Zagoory
Jean Pierre Lepin
Michel Perchin
Mont Blanc
Porsche Design
S T Dupont

Sunami and Tsunami

There's a Sanskrit word called Sunami. Me thinks, it will make a great name for a naming company. Decoded it means 'well named'. But the only hitch is the acoustics. Sunami seems like a Siamese twin of Tsunami. And that can be a huge problem in India. Because the word Tsunami evokes the imagery of a cosmic dance of death. Too bad.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To all those who won't pay for names

A lot of people write to me asking for a name. I often tell them, I do pro bono work for NGOs. But I will never do charity for a business that leverages a name for profit.

My logic is simple. A name is the 1-word story of your offering. It's not easy to create a 1-word story that's never been told.

Even if one were to coin something unique for you, remember, it has to pass the memorability test. Any namer worth his namak will tell you, this is never easy. It takes a lot of effort and research.

As much effort as creating a logo or campaign. So to expect me to give it to you for free, is a tad too unfair. Right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Beer name Reeb

One of the most popular beers in Shanghai is named Reeb (the reverse of beer). Yes, it uses an old naming technique. But I am all for it, as mirror names have always worked. Makes the brand look clever and offers a talking point for the glugger. The only issue with the name could be the sound. Reeb's acoustics is not as good as say Tiger, Budweiser or Heineken. It's got a wimpish sound. Almost like the feeb in feeble. But who cares. At the end of the day, all that counts is it's a short, interesting name.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What is the name of the largest number?

A Googol is 1 followed by a 100 zeroes. That is 10^100. Edward Kasner popularized this concept in 1940. It's not the largest number known to mankind. Wikipedia says the Shannon Number (the exhaustive number of possible moves in a chess board) amounts to 10^120. This was computed in 1950. Long before, Kasner or Shannon, Valmiki gave us a clue about numbers not known to mankind. And Hindu wizard mathematicians had names for it. Listed below is a set of terms that should boggle your mind -

10^5: Lakh
10^7: Crore
10^12: Shanku
10^17: Mahashanku
10^22: Vrindam
10^27: Mahavrindam
10^32: Padmam
10^37: Mahapadmam
10^42: Kharvam
10^47: Mahakharvam
10^52: Samudram
10^57: Ogha
10^62: Mahaugha

Georges Ifrah mentions another set of names for large numbers in ancient India...

Koti —10^7
Ayuta —10^9
Niyuta —10^11
Kankara —10^13
Pakoti —10^14
Vivara —10^15
Kshobhya —10^17
Vivaha —10^19
Kotippakoti —10^21
Bahula —10^23
Nagabala —10^25
Nahuta —10^28
Titlambha —10^29
Vyavasthanapajnapati —10^31
Hetuhila —10^33
Ninnahuta —10^35
Hetvindriya —10^37
Samaptalambha —10^39
Gananagati —10^41
Akkhobini —10^42
Niravadya —10^43
Mudrabala —10^45
Sarvabala —10^47
Bindu —10^49
Sarvajna —10^51
Vibhutangama —10^53
Abbuda —10^56
Nirabbuda —10^63
Ahaha —10^70
Ababa —10^77
Atata —10^84
Soganghika —10^91
Uppala —10^98
Kumuda —10^105
Pundarika —10^112
Paduma —10^119
Kathana —10^126
Mahakathana —10^133
Asankheya —10^140
Dhvajagranishamani —10^421

Asankheya is supposed to have figured in Vishnu Sahasranama. It also happens to be the Hindi word for countless. It is larger than the Shannon Number. And Dhvajagranishamani beats Asankheya by a mile. So is that the largest known number? Nopes. The largest number is a never ending story. In the begining, we were told it's Googolplex (10^Googol). Then came Googolplexian (10^10^Googol). Then Googoltriplex (10^10^10^Googol). The mathematicians didn't stop. The tweaking continued. And now we're at Googoldecaplex. That's like 10^10^10^10^10^10^10^10^10^10^Googol. The only larger number I know is Anantha :-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Element 112 to be named Heisenbergium?

The hunt is on for a new name for Ununbi (one-one-two in latin), the chemical element number 112. BBC did an interview with scientist John Hemsley, who seems to indicate a groundswell of support for naming the element after Werner Heisenberg (yes, the uncertainty principal). But till it happens, we'll never be certain.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Factonama # 11

Volkswagen's new pickup truck is called Amarok. It's has been derived from the name of the giant wolf in Inuit mythology. Unlike normal wolves that hunt in packs, Amarok is supposed to do it all alone.