The art of naming 給公司或產品起名字的藝術

A glass of coke Image copyright bbc
Image caption A glass of Brad's Drink?

Vocabulary: Marketing and branding 詞匯: 市場和品牌

When the weather's hot, do you enjoy a glass of Brad's Drink while watching your TV made by Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering, and surfing the web using a search engine called BackRub?

No? Neither do I. That's because all these companies have changed their names.

Brad's Drink is now Pepsi. The mouthful that was Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering has become, simply, Sony. And BackRub is now known as Google. Though I must admit, the idea of a back massage does sound good right now!

Joking aside, choosing the right name for your start-up is a serious matter. Think of the case of a small Canadian company called Research in Motion, who in 1998 had just developed a high-tech mobile phone that could send emails.

They were torn between names like MegaMail and ProMail. Then they sought the help of consulting firm Lexicon, who specialise in brand names. They had other ideas. They brainstormed words connected to enjoyment and freshness. Someone said "strawberry". Then someone else suggested "blackberry".

Lexicon's boss added two capital letters, and there you have it: BlackBerry was born. Since then it has sold over 33 million handsets to customers around the world. Would it have sold as well if it was called MegaMail? Who knows?

Recently, BlackBerry sales have been overtaken by Android phones and Apple's iPhone. Lexicon's founder David Placek is a big fan of simple brand names like those Apple chooses: "Take the iPhone. They took a household word and by putting one letter in front of it, it ends up being game changing."

So, for all you entrepreneurs out there, make sure you allow time to develop a catchy and memorable name. Think about what makes your company different. What's your USP? Maybe you can reflect that in your name.

What about you? What would you call a company if you had one?