I’m thrilled to have this platform to vent about a long-standing beef: awkward, made-up product and company names. Trademark lawyers call them coined.

Among the worst offenders are automobiles, technology and finance. When I was a kid, cars had names like Roadmaster, Thunderbird and Catalina. Now a prospective car buyer has to wade through an alphanumeric sea of names like IS, GLK350 and FX35.

I don’t blame trademark lawyers … exactly. But the need for a strong, legally defensible name no doubt accounts for some of the odd lexicography we see.

I reserve most of my reproach for the naming consultants who come up with these clunkers and the corporate executives who think that a vague name containing an X will magically transform their company into a paragon of the new economy.

See if you can match these 10 names to the products or services they represent. Warning: One of them is a complete fake, made up by me!

1. Celero                                   a. dental insurance

2. Tolamba                               b. private mortgage banking

3. Onvio                                     c. oil and gas operations

4. Fortex                                    d. email relationship manager

5. Xobni                                     e. fake!

6. Opteum                                 f. motion control equipment

7. Contango                              g. trading software

8. Nexxar                                   h. wealth management services

9. Provantis                               i. money transfer services

10. Graxxion                              j. allergy treatment

Answers are below the jump.


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four tractors face forward

As you’ll see, I’m no equestrian (nor equine expert for that matter), but given the non-verbal logos shown above, are you able to tell what company operates a fleet of these semi tractor-trailers?

Does the color of the horse help? Horse breed? The direction it is facing? How about its pose?

Some possible considerations and the answer below the jump.


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Earlier this week, Guest Blogger Burt Alper from Catchword Branding, provided a marketer’s perspective on the pros and cons of naming styles, here.

With that introduction, now seems like a good time to revisit the critically important line — in terms of legal protection — between descriptive and suggestive names, and also provide a handy graphic to illustrate the Trademark Spectrum of Distinctiveness:


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