Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's In A Name?

I'll just admit it: I am just as excited about the Apple Tablet as Steve Jobs wants me to be. However, like many people, I was a little put off by the name "iPad." I didn't make the connection to Kotex right away, but I was disappointed that they didn't go with the other rumored name, iSlate. The sleekness of the name is far more suited to the sleekness of the product. Yes, iPad follows the trend of "iP" names in the Apple line--iPod, iPhone--but iSlate just sounds better. And yes, I had a good laugh over the MAD TV skit from 2007:

But Apple isn't the only company guilty of not thinking through its naming conventions. There are plenty of historical examples.

The Chevy Nova: sadly, Snopes has debunked this one, but the story still lives on as a lesson of lost in translation. Technically, "No Va" means "doesn't go" in Spanish, which (supposedly) made the Chevy Nova unpopular in Spanish speaking countries. If you're selling internationally, make sure you know what your product name means in the local language. What message do you send your potential customers when you sell a product called "bite the wax tadpole?"
Universal Technical Institute: If you decide to pick a long name, but market yourself by an acronym, try to find  a name that won't boil down to a common infection of the excretory system. Especially when that infection outranks your company on Google for a search for UTI.

And this lovely blog, Bad Product Names has a fantastic collection of worse ones, like Pen Island, which turns into for a URL.

What naming gaffes can you come up with?