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From wonderfully simple to simply woeful: 2011 names in review

Posted by: Paola Norambuen on January 24, 2012
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From wonderfully simple to simply woeful:
2011 names in review

As the holidays are done blaring, and the promising buzz of the next has already begun, we find it's our favorite time to take stock on the year that was, and publish our famous, unquantified, limited-sample-size, purely personal, highly debatable naming analysis. Here's what we found:

By popular vote

Not surprisingly, the names launched in 2011 that most of us loved are wonderfully simple. Far from serious over-thought linguistic constructs, these names instead show something we'll likely see more in the months to come: a real, functional word with a simple little twist; and for good measure, a little nounification granting thingness to ideas.

Dude No. 1: Even when the demographic acrobatics were complicated, this name cannily mixed high tone with hipsterism, uptown luxury with Williamsburg irony. Plus, it's fun to say.

Pinterest: Are you surprised that it's a name of an online bulleting board? Did you know users pin up the bits of cultural ephemera they're interested in? Yep, we get it.

Svpply: Using the Latin V for the U doesn't seem like it should feel fresh, but it's a knowing nod to the old-timey aesthetic that many users of the site seem to adhere to.

Mindtap: Maybe you're thinking Spinal Tap. Maybe not. We were thinking it's simple and direct when talking about access to expertise for Cengage's new learning experience.

Dyson Hot: From the makers of the Air Multiplier, minus the high-concept name. What more can you want from a space heater?

The Mutual: A discount site that makes "selfless acts rewarding" landed on a name that sums up its win-win business model.

Some do, some don't

Because of the statistical perfection of our analysis, it's always a surprise when we violently disagree over names. Some of us loved them. Some of us hated them. We'll let you decide for yourself.

Supercalifragilipstick: It's as fittingly bright and colorful as the Kate Spade brand that makes it.

Wahlburger: Because what's better than a burger served by a Wahlberg?

Fruit Ninja: We couldn't decide if the votes for great descriptive app naming simply came because we couldn't get these guys to stop playing this, unless we distracted them with Angry Birds.

OK, maybe not

Naming is subjective. There are a million reasons why a name may feel like a near miss, and no magic formula for determining exactly why. Just opinions, like those we list below.

Trip: A juice box for kids that might make them a little too imaginative.

Gapmyprice.com: Cool concept on first blush, but then we wondered if Gap was trying to make its name synonymous with haggling.

Honda's EV-neo and BMW's Megacity Vehicle (MCV): Low emissions, zero fun in these environmentally friendly car names.

Pumagility: Shot for, and missed, youthful wordplay. Plus, it's hard to say.

Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24: Alphanumeric naming that sounds a little long, and a little exhausting.

Qwikster: Enough said. Not surprisingly, customers weren't fooled and Netflix withdrew the name. O.co was simply confusing and met a similar unhappy ending.

And some so bad, they may just be brilliant

2theLoo, Earthworm (unisex fragrance), Diesel's Loverdose, and Skunk Juice ear buds.

So, welcome to 2012. We look forward to the names we'll love, love to hate, and hate to love in the new year. And we'll make sure to document them right here, all year long.

Paola Norambuena is the Executive Director of Verbal Identity for North America.

Category: Etymology




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