What’s in a name?

For all of the time we put into coming up with just the right “target-market” sort of name — you know, the one that perfectly embodies our business or product or audience and is compact, easy to say, and easy to remember (same kind of “target-market” effort that we put into our logos) — I get the feeling that we’re over-thinking things.

I was reminded of this recently as I read a brief history of the Mercedes-Benz logo and learned that Mercedes was the name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, an early company backer.

I already knew that Adobe was named not for its world-changing technology but for the creek that runs behind co-founder John Warnock’s house in Silicon Valley. And that the Ford Taurus — the car that saved Ford from bankruptcy in the 1980s — was named for — say what? — the horoscope sign of two Ford executives’ wives.

Samsung means “three stars” in Korean. Kodak, which means nothing, was named by founder George Eastman in part because he liked the letter K. And Pepsi was named for the digestive enzyme pepsin. That ought to haul in customers!

The takeaway here? Hold your name lightly. Dare to make it something you like. If your business/product/service is great, your audience will make the association you need. If it’s not, the “correct” name (or logo) won’t help you, at least not for long.

For more from Wikipedia on famous-name etymologies, click here.



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Posted in Branding, Editorial | 9 Comments