If you’re considering a coined name for your company or product, it’s helpful to keep in mind a general rule of English pronunciation: When a vowel precedes a single consonant that’s followed by an e, the first vowel is long. Double the consonant and the vowel becomes shortened.
Later: long a. Latter: short a. Miler: long i. Miller: short i.
Yes, yes, there are exceptions. But coined words are like hoofbeats: we expect a horse, not a zebra. We look for simplicity, not conundrums.
Which is why Gruberie is problematic.
Here’s how I’d pronounce Gruberie: GROO-ber-ee. My eye picked out Gruber, not only because of the aforementioned pronunciation rule but also because there’s a fairly well-known tech guy named John Gruber—he writes the Daring Fireball blog and invented the Markdown publishing format, and I follow him on Twitter. Here he is at the 2014 XOXO Festival. His surname is pronounced GROO-ber.
The Gruber surname comes from Germany; it originally meant “a person from a pit, mine, or depression.” Wikipedia tells us it’s the most common surname in Austria, where there were a lot of salt mines. (Salzburg—“salt castle”—is the fourth-largest city in Austria.)
But Gruberie was not founded by anyone named Gruber. Its founder is a software engineer named Sven Hermann. (And he’s German, which neither explains nor excuses anything.)
Gruberie is a restaurant application that’s designed to disrupt waiters out of their jobs. (Who needs the middleman, right?) So I deduce, painfully, that Gruberie is meant to be pronounced Grubbery, because one meaning of grub is “food.” It’s had that secondary meaning since the 1650s, the OED informs us. (Do people still say “Let’s get some grub”? I’m doubtful.)
But grub has less-savory meanings, too. A century before grub meant food, it meant the larva of an insect. A hundred years before that, it meant “to dig in the ground”: see pit, mine, or depression, above. And grubby has meant “dirty” since the mid-19th century.
Here’s how I’m guessing Gruberie got its ill-advised name:
- Founder and advisors noticed a bunch of food-tech companies with Grub in their names: GrubHub, Grubster, Grub Club, Grub Runner, GrubMarket. Some of them are even successful!
- They also noticed a bunch of newish businesses whose names end in -ery: Munchery, Mashery, Guildery, Cravery, Looksery, Jackery.
Obviously—obviously—the perfect name would be a blend of grub and ery. Right? Like Grubbery, which—uh-oh—turns out to be the name of a restaurant in Denver. Change the -ery to -erie, then, to make the name look fancy and French? Too bad: there’s a Grubberie in London.
What the hell: Drop a B! (Who needs the middleman?)
Allow me to say it one more time: Kree8tive spelling won’t help you secure trademark protection. It won’t make your brand more searchable. Much of the time, it just makes you look awkward, derivative, and clueless.
If you have to torture a word to make it “available,” it’s unlikely to be distinctive in the first place. Try a new word—or, better yet, a different metaphor. One that speaks more eloquently to the actual benefit of your product or service.
I’d be slightly more willing to forgive Gruberie its naming sins if it weren’t for copy like this:
I find this whole premise deeply objectionable, but for now I’ll just point out that it’s wave down, not waive down. And here’s another writing tip: Don’t replace and with an ampersand unless it’s part of your name (e.g., Crate & Barrel).
I’ll leave you on your own to count the many comma splices in the rest of the content.
More bad-name commentary right here.