Will brand names that begin with “Q” be the hot trend of 2011? That’s what I propose in my new column for Visual Thesaurus, “Queuing Up.” The full text—which includes many examples to support my case—is available to subscribers only (just $19.95 a year!). Here’s a taste:
Brand names that start with Q aren’t new, of course: think of Quaker (oil or oats), Q-tips (originally called Baby Gays; now there was a smart change!), and Quonset. (Quonset huts have been around since World War II; the US trademark for “Quonset” was granted in 1972.) The contemporary craze for Q-names, however, may have gotten its start in 1989 with the naming of the Infiniti Q45 car model. There had been many alphanumeric car-model names before then, but none using Q; reportedly, Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, paid a naming consultant $75,000* to suggest “Q” and “J”—which the consultant called “utterly unused letters”—for model names. That’s $37,500 per letter, a record sum that may never be surpassed. And the idea wasn’t even original: The “Q” probably came from “Q-car,” a British term for a “sleeper,” a vehicle that disguises a high-performance engine behind an unassuming exterior.
* Not me!