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September 06, 2013


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Kum-n-Go is at the top of the list for me.

There's also a furniture store I used to drive past called FurnishIt. I don't know if the near taboo is intentional, but they also sell a giant bean-bag chair called the Monster Sak.

I've always disliked "Babies R Us." First you have the faulty parallelism with the parent company. If Toys R Us sells toys, then Babies R Us sells...babies? With both names, you have the tortured, cloying sentence structure ostensibly (I suppose) made to mimic the cute way kids talk, although no English-speaking kids really would ever talk that way. Then reduce "are" to the letter "R" and turn it backwards (again, I suppose for a misguided attempt at cuteness), and the cringe-worthy picture is complete.

Sorry, the picture is not yet complete. Also, Babies "R" Us often places quotation marks around the "R" when no marks are needed. And from a quick Google search, the company seems rather inconsistent about this.

Down the road a couple of miles is a place called Cuppies & Joe, which specializes, as you might guess, in cupcakes and coffee. The name seems awfully twee, given the gritty urban fabric surrounding their one location. Their offerings, however, are genuinely tasty. And I suppose if you specialize in cupcakes, you're not going to have a name like "Fight Club."

I agree with Kum-n-Go, terrible name. Also, my friends from the UK laughed like drains every time they saw a Jiffy Lube (bringing up visions of KY Jelly rather than engine lubricant). There is a street in my town called Janitell Road which sounds more like "genital" when it's mentioned on the radio. Also Leather Chaps Drive - a bit too "Brokeback Mountain" for my liking (loved the film, wouldn't want to live on the street). Actually, street names are full of examples of places I could never buy a house because I would cringe every time I had to give my address.

Two names come to mind for me, both of which I have written about on my blog. The first is a car wash in northern Michigan called Wiz Wash because I associate it with urine, and I certainly wouldn't want someone taking a wiz on my car. I'm sure they intend it to be the clipped version of wizard, but I can't get over the association. The second is Subway's new flatizza because there are too many potential ways to verbalize the Subway created portmanteau.

Softride makes a bike rack named "Dura," which to me sounds like a condom.

My husband dislikes the name Verizon. He says that there is no reason it should be pronounced the way they want it pronounced. He thinks it should be pronounced as "Ver-eh-zon". He says that he resents being forced to speak English funny just to satisfy their branding scheme.

I think my least favorite business name is The Dress Barn, or any other "Barn", be it Hair, Shoe, or anything associated with human grooming. It makes me wonder why the owners want to equate their customers with livestock while also making me imagine products covered in poo.

On a side note, I used to work in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, where I often walked past one of the best worst business names ever! It was a restaurant named "Half Price Day Old Sushi" - Mmmmmmmm....what could possibly go wrong?

The name of the air freshener FEBREZE always bothers me. First, I always have a tendency to pronounce it as if it were Italian, because it looks that way; so it irritates me that it's "f'breez" instead of "f'bretse". Second, FEB evokes February, not a month I associate with sweet-smelling breeze. Third, FEBRE evokes "fever", not a happy concept to couple with a sweet scented air freshener or with "breeze".

Also, regarding Henry's comment above on TOYS R US: I have always harbored a suspicion that, because they were the first big-box toy store, they might have initially considered the mark TOYSAURUS, but decided it wasn't easy on the eye and kept the pun while going for cutesy-poo instead of clever. I have absolutely no evidence of this; it may be a complete fantasy. But it's always nagged at me.

There's a trash company in my area called Orifice. It makes me go ew every time I see one of their trucks. The word orifice just bugs me, it seems so, well, moist. And I don't understand its relationship to trash removal.

"My husband dislikes the name Verizon. He says that there is no reason it should be pronounced the way they want it pronounced. He thinks it should be pronounced as 'Ver-eh-zon'."

I'm not sure I understand his complaint. It's pronounced just like "horizon" but with a different initial consonant.

@Jonathon and @Cat: "Verizon" was coined from veritas (truth) and horizon. I've never found it hard to pronounce, but I have a theory that for many people, overtly synthetic names created from word parts, like Verizon, are an aversion trigger. Coined names compounded from complete dictionary words -- Facebook, Thinkmap, etc. -- don't evoke the same reaction.

Another vote for "barn" names. Specifically Urban Barn. For one thing, it makes no sense - is it puposefully paradoxical? That, to me, is a perplexing choice. Furthermore, it is neither pleasing to say nor to hear said. The two heavy B sounds are clunky and awkward.



Urban ________

Reasoning: In all three cases, the cause was just the painful overkill of seeing too many product/company names of each of those styles that seemed to pop up simultaneously. Worst of the worst for me: the several things named "Ameristar" and "AmeriStar" and "Ameri-Star." And no, a future experience of good products or customer service won't halt the aversion. There is no cure.

I was going to say "Kum n Go" but someone beat me to it. As my other half says, it sounds like the name of a drive-in whorehouse.

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