Archive | How to name things

Naming companies, products and services is hard. Really hard! These articles will help you with first-hand experience and valuable lessons from the real world.

Trademark guidelines make for unclear copy

In many big companies, intellectual property protection – trademarks and registered marks – drive product naming. I’ve worked on several projects in November that suffered from overwrought names.  Some examples (not necessarily from my work): Intel® Centrino® Pro™ processor technology The 2007 Microsoft Office system Adobe® Acrobat® 8 Professional software The problem is that there…

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Hey, let’s write a book

I talked to a few publishers this year about doing a book of Badlangauge.net. I even wrote a few pitches. The problem is that the book I wanted to write was different from the book editors wanted to publish. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem except that they kept on referencing titles like…

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Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a “Flight service professional”?

In the latest affront to plain speaking, DayJet, has renamed its pilots “Flight service professionals,” according to Aviation Week and Space Technology (“Gearing up for launch, AWST July 2, 2007). Where will it end? Instead of brain surgeons we’ll have Cranial Re-engineering Specialists and instead of astronauts perhaps we’ll get Earth Services Representative. As a…

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Clive James on “The name-changing fidgets”

I just listened to an insightful, acute and funny radio show by legendary writer Clive James. He attacks companies that change their names and the verbal gymnastics they go through to come up with new words. Here’s a snippet: Such changes of name were once made by freshly appointed executives who wanted to announce their…

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Microsoft rules (at long product names)

How about “Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate UPGRADE Limited Numbered Signature Edition”? This is the best yet. I wish they would get me to write some copy about that. I’d only have to mention it a few times to reach my word count and get paid! Brought to you by Strategic Name Development. Thanks.

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Stupid product names III

I saw an interesting article posted about the “G’zOne,” a new phone possibly from Casio on the great Strategic Name Development Blog. The author, William Lozito, says that the name “left most consumers scratching their heads.” Not really surprising. Some good examples of technology names: Mac, iPod, Windows, Razr. It may be difficult to come…

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Naming ships

In science fiction, there seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to naming things, like spaceships, created by ‘aliens’. The first is to use almost-unpronounceable strings of vowels and, mainly, consonants. The other, better way is the way of Iain M. Banks who gives his names witty, mock-ironic names. For example: Nervous…

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Stupid product names II

Years ago, a games company called Broderbund released a game called Myst. It was very pretty and sold very well so they decided to release the game in Germany. But they didn’t change the name. In German, ‘Myst’ sounds a lot like ‘crap’. Oops. Then there’s the Microsoft’s delightfully-named ‘One Care’ which to British ears…

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Job titles, descriptive or flattering?

Okay, so I’m a real offender. My job title is completely made up: “Writer in chief”. I toyed with “Chief Writing Officer” too but it sounded less commanding. I once met a chap whose official job title was “Proud dad.” When I visited the now-defunct General Magic in the mid-nineties they all had job titles…

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