For your weekend reading, may I recommend “The Weird Science of Naming New Products,” a longish story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about my favorite subject: naming. The article, by the cultural critic and author Neal Gabler, is essentially a case study of how one Palo Alto technology startup got its name.
I won’t spoil the story for you by revealing any more details, but I will tell you that Anthony Shore, who developed the name, is an acquaintance and a very talented namer; I know many of the other name developers mentioned in the article, too (we’re a close-knit coterie here in the Bay Area). It’s great to see a general-interest publication devote this much serious attention to our field. (It’s been tried before, with mixed results: see my post about a 2011 article in The New Yorker.)
Congratulations to Anthony on the coverage! And here’s hoping all prospective clients read the article and gain an appreciation for the work that goes into creating memorable names.
A few quibbles about the Times Magazine story:
“Weird science”? Oh, c’mon. It’s also weird art. And weird legal stuff.
“The hills above Oakland”? Check a map. Those prominences are the Oakland hills; they’re within the city limits.
The iPad wasn’t confused with a tampon; it was confused with a pad. See my 2010 post.
“We’re taxed with doing something different”? Yes, branding can be a taxing effort, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what Anthony said. I suspect that Gabler mis-heard tasked, or the copyeditor changed it.