Home Columns Anantha Narayan Name Game

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    Real story: a famed venture capital fund once beseeched us to come up with a meaningless name for an apparel startup. We tried reasoning with them and presented them some crisp, creative names with a whiff of an idea. In their infinite wisdom, they declined them all and went on to buy a four-letter domain name that rhymes with Bowie. Years later, when someone asked them to explain their name, they put out a story that ita��s the Russian word for a�?call mea��.
    Come to think of it, I have no beef with nonsensical sounding names. There are plenty of them around. The more successful ones have an iota of logic embedded. When George Eastman devised a�?Kodaka�� in 1888, he was clear that he wanted a name that starts and ends with K, with no scope for mispronunciation or misspelling. After experimenting with many combinations, he and his mum hit upon the name that sold a million cameras.
    The triumph of Kodak gave rise to a deluge of coinages. Businessmen started exploring newer possibilities in the genre of minted names. In 1903, Caleb Bradham developed a drink for upset stomachs. He named it a�?Pepsi-Colaa�� as it was a remedy for dyspepsia. The London Rubber Company fused a�?Durable, Reliable & Excellencea�� to birth a�?Durexa�� condoms in 1929. The Van Melle brothers hit upon a�?Mentosa�� in 1933, probably inspired by the peppermint flavour of their candy. Chester Carlson created a�?Xeroxa�� in 1949 from the process of a�?dry writinga�� or a�?xerographya��. Sam Walton took a piece of his surname and launched a�?Wal-Marta�� in 1962. Around 1968, Intel was carved out of a�?Integrated Electronicsa�� as it sounded a lot cooler than NM Electronics.
    The mad rush for coined names began in the late 90s with the explosion of dot coms. The pressure to create something unique led to the a�?altered spellingsa�� movement and thata��s how we got Google, Flickr, Tumblr, Reddit, Ffffound, Zomato and Qwikr.
    Another trick used by startups is the a�?odd wordsa�� jugalbandi. Pepperfry, PepperTap, Urban Clap, Urban Ladder, Freshdesk and LimeRoad are popular examples. But I am a sucker for puns. So the one coined name that caught my eye in recent times is Nearbuy. When ita��s as catchy as that, you dona��t need to settle for gibberish like Grofers.


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