What's in a Name?

A name can help a brand to enter the public consciousness (think Google) or disappear quickly (haven't heard of Ultraviolet Man Summer Pop cologne, have you?)

In 1997, Google (GOOG) founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to dump their fledgling search engine's working name—BackRub—for something shorter and simpler. "We spent a lot of time on the name…because we figured that it would be important for people to be able to remember it," recalled Page in Designing Interactions (MIT Press, 2006). They eventually settled on "googol" (a math term for 10 to the 100th power), but misspelled the word while checking to see whether that Internet domain was unregistered. "It turned out [google.com] was available, and [googol.com] was not," says Page. A decade later, the Google name has the cultural cachet of such iconic brands as Coca-Cola (KO), Microsoft (MSFT), and McDonald's (MCD).

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.