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?

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