Friday, May 27, 2011

Hemingway-esque apparatus judges names

Ernest Hemingway said that, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector.” I’m sure you’d agree – and doubtless have come across prose by bad writers that should have been scooped up and heaved into the bushes.

It’s the same with the naming of companies. I declare that the most essential gift for a good naming team is a built-in, shock-proof… well, the same apparatus as for good writers.

Creating a good name is not easy. Just look at what’s coming down the name-production line these days. The aluminum company Alcan – sold by the mining giant Rio Tinto – is now independent and has renamed itself Constellium. How would our Hemingway-inspired naming apparatus judge this one?

A friend and top naming expert wrote me that Constellium is “a little strange… tries too hard… but you can get used to that.” I think he is sympathizing with fellow namers who struggled to replace the catchy Alcan and to match the colorful Rio Tinto. But I ain't sympathetic. Of Constellium I say scoop and toss.

Now here’s a name for you. EMC2… Well, EMC with a little baby 2 up there by the C.

I can’t tell if this is a product name or the corporate name. On the website, the parent seems to be just “EMC” without the little 2. “EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations" blah blah blah.

To confuse things, there is another company – or is it the same? – that is called Engineering Management Career Consultants and uses the logo E=MC2.

What's going on here? As long as we’re ransacking the history of Western mathematics, why not name a company this:

The funny thing about the EMC (squared) company is that it claims to own EMC2 as a trademark. How do you do that? Can no one use Einstein’s famous revelation without getting sued by “a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to" blah blah blah?

Just when our Hemingway-esque apparatus is working over-time to detect foul-smelling names, we stumble upon something good in a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Apparently there is a consulting firm in Massachusetts with the disarmingly simple name Exit41.

Let me check the name-judging apparatus. Yep. The print-out says "Exit41 smell like honeysuckle."



Anonymous said...

What is a constellium? It's like Decadron -- is it a drug or a Pokemon? Name mavens should take this test (if they havent' already -- it's been making the rounds on the Internet) and see if they can tell which is which.

brandsinger said...

I didn't try to deconstruct the name or seek its etymological origins. I just ran it through the detector and found that it was... well, you know what.

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iriske said...

it is hard to be understood.

vivek seth said...

can we reverse the equation, can energy can be condensed to the matter

Red Penn said...

Always wondered whence came the phrase "shit detector". Thank you, I can now drop it into conversations, and justify its provenance!

Your thoughts - yes Constellium sucks - so what could you pull out of the hat? Heheh

brandsinger said...

Hi guys - thanks for your comments.

Vivek! - what a great question! However, my expertise only extends to converting weak communications into effective communications.

As for Red Penn's challenge - I love naming assignments - they're never easy. What do I recommend in place of Constellium? I can answer that... Just give me a budget.

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