How Tech Brands Get Their Names

how to name your business

What’s in a name? Sometimes business names are so painfully literal, and other times they leave you wondering how the name has anything to do with the company.

How did some of our household tech favourites come up with their names? I think you’ll be interested to find out.

Logo Design for Hewlett Packard

It was as simple as a coin toss. Founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin in the air to decide if their company would be “Packard Hewlett” or “Hewlett Packard.” I wonder which one was heads and which one was tails?

Logo Design for Twitter

Twitter was also named by fate. The founders of Twitter, which were currently working at another startup called Odeo in San Francisco, wanted something that represented a mobile phone buzzing in your pocket. The options were narrowed down to a few candidates which included “Jitter” and “Twitter”. They put the names in a hat and ended up drawing Twitter.

Logo Design for Sony

Sony originated from a blend between the Latin word “sonus”, meaning sound, and the slang term “sonny”, meaning a bright youngster.

Hotmail Logo Design

Most people likely assume the name refers to mail being delivered hot into your inbox, or at least that’s what I always thought. However, founder Jack Smith got the idea from the concept of accessing email from any location in the world by using the web. After numerous names ending in “mail”, he settled for “hot” because together the words contained the letters ‘HTML’, which is the language used to create web pages. The initial capitalization of the name showed this as HoTMaiL. Perhaps a bit geekier than you expected?

Logo Design for Zynga

Zynga is known as the creator of several popular Facebook & mobile games including Farmville, Cityville, MafiaWars, and Words with Friends. Mark Pincus, the CEO of the company, named it after his late American bulldog “Zinga.” I guess that also explains the bulldog in Zynga’s logo design.

Logo Design for Microsoft

Microsoft was named by Bill Gates as a contraction of MICROcomputer SOFTware. While it was originally christened as Micro-Soft, the hyphen was later dropped.

Logo Design for Yahoo!

The word Yahoo was invented by writer Jonathan Swift and used in his book ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, representing a person who is repulsive in appearance or action; Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves ‘yahoos’.

Logo Design for Google

Google began as a running joke between founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page about the amount of information their search engine would be able to catalog and search. The original name, Googol, was a scientific term for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros (a gigantic number, by all means!) After a successful meeting with their angel investor, they received a cheque in the mail made out to ‘Google’, and decided to keep that name instead.

Logo Design for Apple

Apple was the literal fruit of procrastination; apple being the favourite fruit of Steve Jobs. Steve was already late in filing the name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if his other colleagues didn’t think of something better by 5 o’clock that day. Makes you wonder if Apple would have the same hold on consumers if it was called ‘Pineapple Computers’, which was one of the other proposals on the table at the time.

Logo Design for nine10 Incorporated in Grande Prairie

Being inspired by this blog led me to ask… just where did the name nine10 originate? As with any budding business it is difficult to sum of the values and mission of your brand in one name, especially at the beginning. In this case, it all came back to the founding partners Cris Seppola and Teri Chadwick working together on a marketing project for World Suicide Prevention Day. The date for this event is September 10th, or 9.10, which was thrown around a lot by Cris and Teri while working together. Several months later when they were creating the plan to start nine10, this number kept popping up and ended up being the name. They liked the name because it was unique, unexpected, and did not box the company into any particular service or location.

How did you name your company?
Got an interesting or funny story to tell about your company name? Share it in the comments below!



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