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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mescalanza, formerly rose, still sweet

An excellent Salon article (you gotta watch an ad to read it) by Ruth Shalit describes companies that specialize in naming other companies. Some create consistently bland names like "Altria" or "Aquent", but others--like those from firm A Hundred Monkeys--have a bit more character:
We got so much more than a name," says Robin Bahr of 98point6 [a health care site formerly called "MedicaLogic"]. "I mean, I got a name for my daughter. One of our senior executives identified strongly with 'Mescalanza.' No one calls him Jim anymore. His name is Mescalanza." Meanwhile, she says, "our senior manager for Internet development just fell in love with the name 'Jamcracker.' And so today, the Harvey meeting is known as the Jamcracker meeting. There are 300 people at this company who identify Jamcracker with Harvey."

...

What's more, at A Hundred Monkeys, $65,000 will buy you an entire word. Some rival firms charge more than that for a mere suffix.

Consider Luxon Cara's $70,000 "identity program" for US Air. The airline "wanted to be repositioned and perceived as a major U.S. airline," says John Hudson, Luxon Cara's president. "And so we researched this. We checked it out globally. We basically lived with them for nine months to a year. It was one of the most exciting things we ever did."

What was the new name? I asked. And when would it be unveiled? I was guessing Skystar, Glident, Proficienta. "Oh, it's already been unveiled," Lagow explains. I was perplexed. "But isn't US Air still US Air?" I asked. "I was just in an airport the other day, and I could have sworn ..."

"No, no," Lagow says. "It's been changed to US Airways."

I definitely bought the US Airways rebranding hook, line, etc. Even the envelope the tickets came in seemed somehow more efficient and helpful.

I've been developing a todo list program in my spare time for a year or so, and trying to find a good name. (If you have a suggestion, please let me know.) When I look at the names of other todo list programs, the one that stands out to me is the one with a very A Hundred Monkeys-style name:

  • Bla Bla List
  • Ta-da List
  • Tudu List
  • Remember The Milk
  • Voo2Do
No question, I'd try Remember The Milk first. (Don't bother, you'd have to by a Harvard Symbology department chair to figure it out. Try Ta-da List.)

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