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February 23, 2006

What’s in a Name?

Filed under: Work — Bob @ 7:45 pm

Jay points out a blog article from Guy Kawasaki about this article over at Salon about naming.

The Salon article is amazingly humorous. Guy’s is good too, but not nearly as funny in my opinion. Go read both now then come back here.

OK welcome back. A few years ago I was working on a new, big product at Creo that was code-named Araxi (after the restaurant in Whistler) but everyone knew this was just an internal name and when we got to the point of shipping we’d have a real name. Everyone looked forward to having a really cool name that would go down in history as the best name ever.

During the development of the product Creo established a business venture with Heidelberg that made this product a joint development to be sold by both companies. This made the eventual product name even more important, especially to our new partner, the style-conscious legendary giant of the printing world.

Creo hired one of these naming companies. I don’t recall which one but probably its one of the companies described in the article. Some of the more memorable but not-so-weird potential names: Metro, Rally and Vivex. The development team also invented their own candidate name: Horse Choker (in the spirit of enough features to …).

There were rumors about this mysterious naming company that went something along the lines of: tens of thousands of dollars paid to a group of people who took a lot of drugs, sat in a darkened room, and invented names without knowing anything about the product or company. Those stories are just a little bit more believable after reading the article. :^)

After what seemed to be the debate that would never end a product name was finally selected: Prinergy. It was sold internally as a fusion of the words Print and Energy and the logo was dressed up with weird little lightening bolts. It didn’t matter, after a dozen weird and not-so-weird names nobody had the strength the resist. Even so, the Prinergy product is still going strong and survived the dissolution of the Heidelberg relationship, merging with Scitex (the originators of a more established competing product), and the eventual acquisition by Kodak.

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