After Hours

10 dumb company names in an ADD world

Just for fun: What company names drive you crazy? Steve Tobak suggests a few.

Let's face it: we live in an attention deficit world. Folks can't seem to focus on much of anything but tweets and texts these days. Even email and phone calls are too much trouble. If you're trying to communicate anything that doesn't fit into a pithy talking point or a short sound bite, forget it.

Now, more than ever, company and product names need to be short, memorable, and if possible, something a three-year-old can articulate. Apple's got it down: Apple, Mac, iPod, iPhone, even the CEO's name is only two syllables. And his last name's also a word. Steve Jobs. Fantastic.

I'm beginning to think some of us should shorten our names if we want folks to remember us, especially when everyone on the planet's on Facebook and Twitter.

Some CEOs and chairmen have great, easy names, especially the ones that are also words like Dell, Gates, Grove, Buffet, and Chambers. They should definitely keep them. But IBM's Sam Palmisano, that's just not going to work. If he was CEO of Palm, he could be Sam Palm. That would be cool. Howard Stringer of Sony also needs to fix his name. String or Ringer, pick one; you can't have both.

Some company names drive me nuts. The other day I was watching CNBC when an analyst from Fifth Third Bankcorp came on. I'm not kidding; that's really the name of the company. That's what got me started on this whole thing. What kind of a name is that? It's idiotic.

Here are 10 more company names I think are dumb.

Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in BNET's The Corner Office blog.

1: Plantronics

That would be great if it made Miracle Grow or something. But headsets? Can plants even wear headsets? Of course not; they're too heavy. Dumb.

2: Research In Motion

Come on, do I even have to say it? Their own ads say Blackberry; they don't even mention the company name. Change it.

3: Jos. A. Bank

This one drives me crazy. Who abbreviates a first name? If you need to shorten the name, then lose the middle initial. Dumb.

4: Daimler AG

I don't care how old it is. Look, it's a Mercedes. That's all anyone knows or cares about. Lose the Daimler ... the Benz, too.

5: AMR

We're forever saying "AMR, the parent company of American Airlines" because nobody knows what AMR is. Just call the company American Airlines and be done with it.

6: Johnson & Johnson

That's just plain redundant, I don't care how many Johnsons there were.

7: Exxon Mobil

Big merger, we get it. Now get over it and pick a name. Chevron got it right when it bought Texaco. Now you see it, now you don't. Gone. Smart. Sirius XM needs to do the same thing.

8: Hyphens

All the hyphenated merged company names need to go: Alcatel-Lucent, PMC-Sierra, KLA-Tencore, Sanmina-SCI. All dumb, especially those that are also acronyms. Nobody remembers acronyms unless they're really old (GE), scary (IRS), or fatty (KFC).

9: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Plain idiotic. Hyphenated, not hyphenated, which is it?

10: GlaxoSmithKline

Now that's original -- avoided the whole multiple names and hyphens thing by just lumping them all together. Even dumber.

You know, I can go on and on, but I'd rather not. I'd rather you did. Come on, what dumb company, product, or executive names drive you crazy?

103 comments
AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

The local postal service was privatized and is now called Itella. That's bad enough. But then, they write on their recycled paper envelopes "Itella Green"... and into my mind jumps "...lie" - they tell a green lie. On their trucks "Itella Logistics" - Lie. It's terrible, I get no other association for a continuation for that name than "...Lie", and that's so not what they wanted to achieve :)

ShockRide
ShockRide

I am sitting at my desk laughing like crazy because the name of the company is KLA-Tencor not KLA-Tencore. It shows the ADD when you are trying to make a spelling out of the second piece. What is a cor? Don't know, but change it to core and every computer geek knows that. Thanks for the good laugh. It makes it all the more funny because I used to work for them awhile ago.

ejones34
ejones34

This is retarded. I agree a little with 1 and 3, but you're simply being immature. 2. RIM makes technology other than phones themselves. 4. Lose the Mercedes. Karl Benz invented the first freaking car. Then he went on to invent the four-wheeled car. Then the German word for gasoline was named after him. Benz, Benz, Benz. Also, Daimler owns more brands than that. 6 - 10. This is the actually retarded part. Hyphens? Important part of language. Two people's last names that happen to be the same? I'm sure both Johnsons are important, don't you? No? Then don't start a partnership with anyone. They'll hate you. Pick a name? That would be like G4, and G4 sucks. Then again, you praise Apple. That means you probably have more ADD than average, anyway.

grichardt
grichardt

Hunt Moore Associates shortened to Hunt Moore Ass.

zclayton2
zclayton2

WTF? used to be Manpower. okay they traded a non-PC name for something that leaves you clueless. Oh, thats a step forward for the shareholders.

PowerPoint Rain Man
PowerPoint Rain Man

You nailed it with the first one. Fifth Third Bank is the king of all dumb names.

senigma
senigma

This was a complete waste of pixels.

tr
tr

Along the same lines, companies that think they're creative by taking the front end of one word and mashing it together with the back end of another (a portmanteau) to name their product. Abilify Accenture Verizon Are a few of the type. Yes, there are a lot that we are long used to: Intel Microsoft Palmolive Sony But the former are on the other side of the line of annoying. On the other hand, they *are* creative in that they just got free advertising by my mentioning them here.

john3347
john3347

You mentioned Apple in your article , but failed to get them placed in the number one slot on your list. While not actually company name, they have the most attention deficit and un-imaginative product naming convention in the industry, if not the world. It really does not take much attention or imagination to name every product from your company with a lower case "i" which does not even meet capitalization rules of the English Language. Running a close second to this is Microsoft. In the beginning there was Program Manager and Internet Explorer. These were appropriate and descriptive names. In their ADD skewed cubicle, somebody decided that Program Manager should be changed to Windows Explorer so it could be confused with Internet Explorer. The industry had settled on the name of "bookmarks" by then so Microsoft decided they wanted a different name to continue this confusion so they chose "favorites" to refer to bookmarks. Now with Windows 7, they have decided to expand their lack of imagination and vocabulary, so we have Internet Explorer Favorites and now have Windows Explorer Favorites to compete and confuse. EDIT: Perhaps with Windows 8 we can have Program Manager Favorites and Internet Explorer Bookmarks. NAH,--------- too appropriate and descriptive.

K_Green
K_Green

Always makes me think of a tiny Japanese Viking -- samurai armor and big long blond braided hair.

nwallette
nwallette

What? Can I even pronounce that in a way that isn't awkward? "Veco" was better, but now all the Chatoomel's cringe when you say that word.

fishcad
fishcad

Those of us from Santa Cruz hope Plantronics never changes the name. It was a big deal for us when our little company was making headsets for the Apollo program. Although it strikes outsiders as weird it makes perfect sense to those of us familiar with it and we like it - East Bay MUD. (municipal utilities district)

s-mullen
s-mullen

I'm with you most of the way until you dismiss the Benz part of the name. A Chinese friend of mine always calls the company "Benz" as opposed to my American "Mercedes." Lets just go with Mercedes-Benz. But wait, that violates rule 8!

jevans4949
jevans4949

When the UK government split up the Postal Service into 3 companies, the letter delivery service took the name "Consignia". Quietly changed back to Royal Mail after much press abuse. When the utility supply business was "opened up" to competition (same supply network, different companies billing you) British Gas, the previous ex-state monopoly split its business activities, setting up a holding company called "Centrica". If you want some more wacky names, look at www.rbg.org.uk, or www.aqr.org.uk. Also google "Elephants Cant Jump" ?????

lmassey
lmassey

HAHAHA! Hilarious! I enjoyed this a lot ... thank you.

jevans4949
jevans4949

- although I guess there must be some semi-meaningful derivation in the Finnish Language. It could easily be confused with Fruittella ... or Nutella.

Hawklord99
Hawklord99

Did no-one at Aon Risk Services notice that this shortens to ARSe ??

sfcat
sfcat

I'm working for them, and yeah, totally clueless. Comsys bought them this year (or end of last year?) and the name change will be official shortly. bleah

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...Andersen Consulting once upon a time before they got into a fight with Uncle Arthur (probably the best thing that could have happened, in hindsight). As I said in another post, I think the name sounds like the name for a female shaving cream. "Accentuate the smooth" "Accentuate the long" "Accenture for Women. Now with Aloe" Maybe that is why Tiger Woods was their poster boy for so long?? :p

martian
martian

That's one of the result of this that really ticks me off. Now we can have everything named to start with an "i". For example, iCrap - toilet Ttyl, Gary "Hey Vanna, can I buy a vowel"?

jevans4949
jevans4949

Wasn't that the fruit company that Forrest Gump had shares in? And whatever happened to Apricot and Tulip?

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

were interchangeable up into IE6 in IE7 a partial separation was made if IE 6 or lower is installed, then Windows Exploder can navigate to web sites from the shared favorites or directly from the address bar and will display the page in the window with IE7 or higher installed, Windows Exploder will start the default browser whenever it detects an attempt to access web resources either by favorites or address bar

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Windows Explorer replaced File Manager, not Program Manager. Either way, the choice to overuse the word 'Explorer' was ... unfortunate.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And I'm not Googling any of them. Gods only know what kind of diseases I'd pick up.

RoyC-Qld
RoyC-Qld

Used to work for Mercedes-Benz in the UK, before the Chrysler merger/demergers. Back then it was part of Daimler Benz AG, a global holding company containing among others AEG, Deutsche Aerospace, Daimler Benz Finance and Mercedes-Benz (who make Cars AND trucks). The AG is "Aktiengesellschaft", a German term meaning corporation that is limited by shares. Mercedes is a girls name and Daimler cars had nothing to do with DBAG. Fun reading though. My dad worked for a firm that were taken over by Brown Boveri Clark, so I could say he used to work for the BBC.

cynic 53
cynic 53

SMEG. Their fridges and freezers are a first class product but in England the word SMEG has a nasty connotation and to call someone a Smeghead is an insult.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

'herd culture', 'meet the herd', 'join the herd'. Their opening page. No thanks. Herds are for cattle. :|

jdayman
jdayman

Couldn't resist Googling "Elephants Can't Jump". Found out they are a consulting company, then went to their web site. Priceless! I haven't seen so much irrelevant distracting and annoying drek on a web page in many years. Back in the day I think they used to call all that frippery "Dancing Baloney". The best part is that they are supposedly consultants on corporate branding.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It could with a massive stretch and a severe twist of vowel harmony be construed as [i]itte[/i]+allative, of which "itte" is a slangish form of the word for "self", the whole pile then meaning "my/your/he/she/itself having". But it's just I-tell-a ... lie.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

aggrevated by global warming, of course. As their habitats warm, they must migrate to cooler environments. Many do not survive the journey; others starve, unable to find nourishment in thier new location. http://www.savethepixels.org

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

trouble with yer - boss, - supervisor, - co-workers - clients etc. there's an app for that [b]iQuit[/b]

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

to the inexcusable decision to integrate a browser into an operating system.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

also replaced the Program Manager (very poorly at that) after all the TaskBar is supposed to supplant the Program Manager and guess what, the TaskBar is Windows Exploder if you kill the explorer.exe process with Task Manager all open Windows Exploder windows including the TaskBar disappear (it was even in one of the main win95 ads where the Program Manager morphed into the TaskBar), I think I still have that video clip on a win95 CD

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

converts so easily to the much more accurately descriptive "Exploder".

seanferd
seanferd

Unfortunate, LOL. I suspect the most overused words in the MS lexicon may be "my" and "live". I'm rather certain I have delivered a rant or two on this as well as Microsoft's penchant for renaming things every year or so. Thanks for the laugh. I needed it. :D

nwallette
nwallette

Not diseases. Just ethical corrosion.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Hyphens-are-better-than-no-separation-at-all-No-text HyphensarebetterthannoseparationatallNotext

jevans4949
jevans4949

It was introduced as a mock swear-word in the TV series Red Dwarf. "In space, no-one can hear you smeg."

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Suffering similar indignities. Smegma is the medical term for what you have in mind, but yes, it's an [i]interesting[/i] name.

sdsnyr94
sdsnyr94

It's right next to the Weezer Video... :)

cynic 53
cynic 53

Like most such expressions the original intent may well have been different but these days most ordinary people would take it to refer to the secretion which can accumulate in those with poor personal hygiene and thus not very suitable for the brand-name of a fridge used to store food. Again the expression "smeg-head" is an insult and is linked by most people to this biological connotation and not to any line on Red Dwarf, a cult TV series that not everyone watched nor liked.

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