In a great article on TheNextWeb, Ben Woods reveals how some of the world’s biggest technology brands got their names. In an era of big brand marketing and PR, where the (often expensive) focus is on strategically aligning values and messages through out the brand, you’ll be amazed at just how many companies got their names by accident.
Take Spotify for example. According to Woods, the two founders were brainstorming a name and mis-heard one of the suggestions, which then stuck. The decision to register the name came when they Googled it and found no other company existed or the domain name was still available! Hey presto – top of the search results. The founders have subsequently spent time trying to come up with a more interesting back story of how it got its name.
Talking of Google, its name derives from the mathematical term googol, a word that represents a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. You might be a bit perturbed to discover however (I know I was) that its nickname for a while was ‘backrub’ – brings a somewhat more sinister element to the brand that’s become an adjective: ‘I’ll just backrub that’.
Perhaps the most surprising is Apple. In the article, Woods refers to an interview that Steve Jobs gave about how they came up with the name. So was Apple the result of an in depth brand analysis and messaging session? No – they simply couldn’t come up with something better. In fact, the founders decided on the name because they were running out of time to register the company and Steve apparently liked Apples.
There is, of course, a whole raft of brands with real meaning – especially those with a long history – Sony, Samsung and Nokia for example. Some of those brands are over 100 years old and launched way before the creation of the branding industry. And while we’ve become more sophisticated consumers, you have to wonder whether that billion pound re-brand was worth the money?
Claire Lamb is a consultant at Skout. She’s worked in technology PR for 20 years and has survived more bubbles than Michael Jackson.