What’s in a name? How did some of our favourite brands get their names?

Business Innovations

08 February 2019

What’s in a name? How did some of our favourite brands get their names?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Brands and brand names are deeply entrenched in our lives; almost staple, one could say. We all ‘Google’ information, Skype with friends, and love to treat ourselves to a Häagen-Dazs ice cream every now and then.

But did you ever stop to wonder where these brands got their names from? Surely someone or a group of people sat in a boardroom and came up with these names. But what do they actually mean? Let’s look at some of our favourite ones, shall we, in no particular order?

Google is a typo!

Google’s founder, Larry Page, was brainstorming with a bunch of graduate students at Stanford University to create a massive data-index website. Someone (no one is sure who) suggested ‘googolplex’, which means the largest describable number. A student misspelled the name and that’s how ‘Google’ came to be.

And you thought Adidas stands for ‘All Day I Dream About Soccer’?

Sorry folks, the Adidas name has nothing to do with athletic sports. Story goes, the founder of the brand, Adolf Dassler, started making shoes when he returned home after WWI. He needed to give a name to the brand, so he combined his nickname Adi, with the first three letters of his last name. As simple as that. Now use this knowledge to correct someone else’s misinformation.

Twitter means just what it stands for.

The podcasting company, Odeo, was brainstorming one day. Jack Dorsey, who was then an undergraduate student at NYU, came up with the idea of an individual using an SMS service to send messages to a small group. The original name given for this service was ‘twttr’, an idea inspired by Flickr as much as the five-character length of American SMS short codes. In fact, the service was launched as ‘twttr’ also because twitter.com was already taken. Six months later the domain was purchased and there’s been no looking back since. According to Dorsey, “…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Did you also believe IKEA to be a Swedish word?

IKEA is a fine example of a make-believe word. And no, it has nothing to do with Sweden, not directly at least. Founder Ingvar Kamprad created the brand name by combining the initials of his name, IK and then adding on the first letters of the farm and village where he grew up in southern Sweden: Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd. We, for one, are glad that he went with the initials only. Can you imagine saying those names aloud!

Amazon is named after the world’s biggest river.

Amazon, launched in 1995 as a bookstore, was meant to be called Cadabra by its founder, Jeff Bezos. It seems, however, that the company’s first lawyer, Todd Tarbert, felt the name sounded too similar to ‘cadaver’. Bezos then chose Relentless (if you visit relentless.com you will get redirected to the Amazon website. Try it, we just did.), but he eventually decided on Amazon – the world’s largest river. In fact, the company’s first logo even had an image of the river.

Starbucks finds its origins in Moby-Dick.

Starbucks cofounder Gordon Bowker tells an interesting tale of the origin of the name. They definitely wanted something that began with ‘st’ because it sounded powerful. Somehow the conversation veered to the old mining map of the Cascades and Mount Rainier. The old mining town of Starbo caught their eye, and Gordon immediately thought of Melville’s first mate, Starbuck, from Moby-Dick.

Häagen-Dazs is real, but the name is all made up.

Reuben Mattus, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, wanted to pay tribute to Denmark (the only country that saved Jews during WWII) and decided to name his ice-cream company Häagen-Dazs. The name doesn’t mean anything, but the combination of letters, especially the umlaut, does the job splendidly.

Xerox isn’t random, unlike what you might have thought.

We’ve seen made-up names and names that used initials of the founders or those that got their inspiration from entirely unrelated subjects. Xerox isn’t one of those; it has a clear etymology. It comes from the word xerography, which is a technical term for the dry copying process used in photocopiers, which itself is derived from the Greek words xeros (dry) and graphos) writing. That ‘x’? It was added for some techy punch. So popular is the brand name that today Xerox has gone on to become the generic word for the act of photocopying.

Sony needed something simple in English.

Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering) made perfect sense in Japan, but wouldn’t have the same impact in the US. How did the company overcome the hurdle? By reinventing the brand as something short and simple. Sony seemed to be a good choice as it was easy to say, and additionally it also suggested ‘sonus’ which is Latin for sound. Moreover, it was similar to ‘sonny’ an American slang for a young lad. That made the name friendly and approachable.

Facebook or Facemesh?

When Mark Zuckerberg was studying at Harvard’s University, there used to be an online directory of all the students in the college called Face Book. The idea behind this was to familiarize all the students with each other. If you’ve seen The Social Network, you will be familiar with how Mark hacked the servers and created a competition of sorts to ask people to choose who looked better. He initially named it Facemesh. This later evolved into a networking site where people could communicate with each other and even put up their photographs, and he reverted to calling it Facebook.

Then there’s Pepsi, named after dyspepsia (meaning indigestion) because it was meant to aid digestion. McDonald’s is named after the two brothers Dick and Mac McDonald who ran a burger restaurant. Gap literally indicates the generation gap between adults and kids. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory (apt, isn’t it?). Skype is derived from ‘Sky peer-to-peer’, which was shortened to ‘Skyper’. However, the domain name was already taken, so the ‘r’ was dropped to make it Skype. Gatorade was launched as an energy drink for the Florida Gators.

Whew! The list of brand names and their origins is actually endless, but these are just some of the more popular ones that we encounter almost daily.

Conclusion

What does this list tell you? Original, unique and catchy names are very important to building great brands, as against descriptive or rational ones. Fun business names have more power and it is important to think out of the box when naming a brand.

Do you have any names that you think are quirky in their own right? Tell us in the comments below.

5 TED Talks to Fuel Innovation

Business Innovations

30 September 2019

5 TED Talks to Fuel Innovation

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Innovation is the key to progress, especially in today’s hyper-connected world where original ideas are revolutionizing the way we live and interact. But where do good ideas stem from? Is there a secret to unleashing great ideas? These 5 stimulating TED Talks try to decode the key to innovation.

Where good ideas come from – Steven Johnson

“Chance favours the connected mind” – Steven Johnson.

People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka” moments. But do ideas just come out of nowhere? Or is there a hidden pattern behind it? Steven Johnson, an acclaimed author, takes us through a fascinating tour through the corridors of history and science to come to a somewhat conclusive evidence of the origins of a great idea.

From how Britain’s first coffee house gave way to The Enlightenment to how the Sputnik led America to invent the Global Positioning System, Steven unravels how places bustling with people are often idea incubators. Bouncing one intriguing anecdote after another, Steven Johnson keeps you hooked with witty and profound one-liners. But that isn’t all this TED Talk is about; underneath all those anecdotes, we’re sure you’d find enough inspiration to stimulate your grey matter.

The surprising habits of original thinkers – Adam Grant

“Take the initiative to doubt the default” – Adam Grant.

What do original thinkers do different from the rest of us? Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, analyzes the minds of original thinkers (or originals, as he likes to call them) in this witty TED Talk. He defines originals as people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. He classifies their habits into three categories:

  • Originals are moderate procrastinators
  • Originals feel doubt and fear
  • Originals have a lot of bad ideas

He takes us through various experiments he conducted to understand the creative mind, while also relying on historical figures to prove his point. He uses the fact that Da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa on and off for 16 years to explain how creativity doesn’t happen in an inspired moment but involves a lot of hard work and self-improvement. The TED Talk is filled with cheeky humour and myriad inspiring stories that will motivate you to buckle up and work on that great idea you had rejected long back for whatsoever reasons.

The secret to great opportunities? The person you haven’t met yet – Tanya Menon

“To truly widen our network, we’ve got to fight our sense of choice” – Tanya Menon.

We all reside in narrow social circles and gel with people we feel comfortable with. But Tanya Menon, a management guru, opines that this is what limits our chances of exploring something great, something that may transform our perspectives. It makes sense when you look at it like this: how many of you have got a job through a close friend or relative? Not many, right? “Your weak ties, people you met just today, are your ticket to a whole new social world,” Tanya explains.

The TED Talk is refreshingly interactive and very insightful. Tanya goes on to give tips and tricks of how to maintain an active network of weak ties that opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Watch this TED Talk to unlock the power of fostering meaningful relationships with relative strangers.

Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits – Navi Radjou

“When external resources are scarce, you have to go within yourself to tap the most abundant resource, human ingenuity” – Navi Radjou.

Jugaad or frugal innovation is what Navi Radjou, a leadership and innovation advisor, talks about in this incisive TED Talk. He defines frugal innovation as the ability to create more economic and social value using fewer resources. He then goes on to give tonnes of examples of frugal innovation from all over the world – from telemedicine centres in China to M-Pesa and M-KOPA solutions in Kenya.

But that isn’t what his talk is all about. Navi Radjou gives three principles that he gleaned from his study of frugal innovation across the globe:

  • Keep it simple
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Think and act horizontally

The TED Talk has a wealth of knowledge to offer in terms of challenging traditional approaches to innovation; after all innovation has always been about defying traditions. Watch it not just for the insights it offers but for the beautiful way Navi Radjou blends resource constraint challenges with innovative problem-solving techniques.

How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas – Manoush Zomorodi

“Know that by doing nothing you are actually being your most productive and creative self” – Manoush Zomorodi.

Do you sometimes have your most creative ideas while folding laundry, washing dishes, or doing nothing in particular? It’s because when your body goes on autopilot, your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems, explains Manoush Zomorodi, a renowned journalist and author. She quotes several researchers, psychologists, industry leaders, and her own independent experiments to show how boredom can act as a catalyst to creativity.

The real strength of this TED Talk lies in the fact that it is filled with extremely relatable and light moments that give way to something epiphanic. So, the next time you use your phone to distract yourself, think again – you may be limiting your most valuable quality for the sake of killing time!

Conclusion

We all feel that innovating is a tough and demanding job and yet, ironically, it is everywhere. Well, either we’re witnessing a mirage or innovation isn’t as tough as it seems. These TED Talks certainly tend to emphasize on the latter. Who knew all you needed to come across that brilliant idea was boredom, chaos, and moderate levels of procrastination in the face of excruciating challenges?

Top Innovation Podcasts to Play on Your Way to Work

Business Innovations

19 June 2019

Top Innovation Podcasts to Play on Your Way to Work

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

For working professionals, business leaders, and entrepreneurs, continuous learning is critical; learning new skills and strategies is an integral part of growth. However, it is not always possible to stay abreast of the latest trends and resources, more so, when maintaining work-life balance is equally crucial to success.

Of course, there’s an alternative – and an entertaining one at that: podcasts. Packed with insightful discussions, expert interviews, and creative content that can be consumed on-the-go, podcasts have been growing in popularity among business leaders and entrepreneurs. And why not, when you get to learn from the best in the business, as they share valuable tips, experiences, and advice that can be readily applied to your own journey as an entrepreneur.

In this post, we’ll discuss four innovation podcasts that are a must-listen. From candid interactions with the greatest thought leaders of this age to amazing tips and tricks that can boost your business, these podcasts are all you need to inspire growth in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Innovation Hub

A comprehensive podcast that doesn’t restrict itself to a certain ‘genre’ of topics to be covered, Innovation Hub is one of the most immersive and, we dare say, profound podcasts on the internet today. It explores new avenues in education, science, medicine, transportation, and more.

Why Innovation Hub?–Fromthought-provoking debates on politics and climate change to deep, insightful discussions about the latest breakthroughs in technology and business, Innovation Hub comprises an exhaustive collection of podcasts, featuring some of the most creative thinkers of this age.

The Brains Behind – Innovation Hub is an initiative by NPR, a non-profit organization with a mission to spread awareness among people about crucial issues. NPR reaches over 28.5 million listeners in a week and over 105 million monthly audience across platforms, including radio, social media, and apps.

The Action Catalyst

The Action Catalyst is a platform for inspiration and valuable insights for young entrepreneurs and experienced leaders alike, covering a broad range of relevant topics about the business environment in today’s age.

Why The Action Catalyst – Withover 250 episodes across a variety of subjects, including key insights on leadership, integrity, creativity, and more, The Action Catalyst helps you identify and overcome common traps that can push you down the lane of mediocrity. What’s more, it features interviews of some of the best thought leaders every week, sharing meaningful advice on achieving life and business goals.

The Brains Behind The Action Catalyst –Thepodcast is founded and hosted by Dan Moore, President, Southwestern Advantage, America’s oldest direct sales company. With an extensive experience of over 45 years in sales, management, and leadership, Dan has a treasure trove of knowledge to share on time management, goal setting, leadership, and more.

Creative Warriors

A podcast fueled by passion and enthusiasm to help new-age entrepreneurs make it big in their careers, Creative Warriors is the place to go to if you’re a creative person wanting to make the most out of your job.

Why Creative Warriors – Creative Warriors celebrates out-of-box thought and innovation. Its large ensemble of podcasts discusses several topics, including management, leadership, business ecosystem, and more. Plus, it features interviews of top business experts, authors, and entrepreneurs about how to build meaningful relationships with clients and customers, which forms the foundation of a successful business.

The Brains Behind Creative Warriors – Creative Warriors is founded and hostedby Jefferey Shaw, a business coach, author, and photographer.Having gone through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship himself, Jefferey made it his mission to help other talented entrepreneurs passionate about taking their business to the next level.

Sweetlife Podcast

A highly engaging and insightful podcast, Sweetlife Podcast was established with a singular aim to help entrepreneurs build businesses that make an impact, without regrets.

Why Sweetlife Podcast – From social media marketing and impactful media coverage to crucial topics like branding and profitability, Sweetlife Podcast features some of the most relevant topics for entrepreneurs looking to expand their business’s reach.

The Brains Behind Swetlife Podcast – The podcast is founded and hosted by lifestyle and business coach,  April Beach. Having coached over 4,000 entrepreneurs, developed world-class corporate programs, and createdthe Lifestyle Entrepreneur System­TM,April has a wealth of knowledge to share about entrepreneurship, business modeling, business strategy, and much more.

Conclusion

These podcasts are all you need to stay motivated and committed towards achieving your life and business goals. Every episode is replete with insights and wisdom that will help bring the best in you. Just plug in your earphones and discover newer ways to enhance your productivity and innovative thought.

5 emerging ecommerce trends to follow in 2019

Business Innovations

17 May 2019

5 emerging ecommerce trends to follow in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The world of ecommerce is an exciting place to be in. It is seeing rapid growth with many shopaholics preferring to shop online over visiting a mall. The woes of traffic, challenges of parking and spending hours trying to find the perfect attire or accessories create a nightmarish scenario. Compare that to sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned environment, scanning thousands of options that can be bought with the click of a button. Then there is free home delivery, no-questions asked returns and exchanges. Stepping out to shop is so passé.

For businesses too, ecommerce is a great low-cost alternative to offer more variety to customers. They can also do away with expensive overheads and pass on the advantage to customers. Is it any surprise then that the ecommerce industry has been experiencing steady growth over the past few years?

Studies predict that global retail ecommerce revenue will amount to $4.88 trillion by 2021, with millennials making more than 50% of their purchases online.

This scenario, while exciting, does present a few challenges. Ecommerce businesses need a few tricks of the trade to keep up with this continuous growth and the competition that this brings to the marketplace.

Here are the top 5 emerging ecommerce trends that e-businesses can capitalise on.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping or Drop Shipping is an ideal business model for those ecommerce businesses that are just starting off and don’t have much capital. It means acting as the middleman between the manufacturer or supplier of the goods and the customer.

The customer views the products on your portal, you process the purchase, but it gets shipped directly from the manufacturer without you even seeing the actual physical product.

Why is this getting so popular?

  • You’re buy the product only after a customer places an order
  • There is no inventory
  • Your overhead costs drop drastically

Dropshipping is great for businesses that deal in bulky items that eat up warehouse space. Of course, there are also some challenges with dropshipping:

  • You have no control over the shipping duration
  • Unprofessional or unethical sellers could negatively affect the customer experience. It is important to whet your sellers, and establish shipping and service rules.

Multi-channel Selling

There are numerous avenues for your customer to make a purchase. While brick-and-mortar stores are still an alternative, even within the online channels there are options like Amazon, branded stores online, eBay, Facebook and even Instagram now.

As a merchant, you need to have a presence on multiple channels to cater to the needs of the omni-channel shopper. Besides your own website, create a strong ecommerce presence on social media sites as well as other online stores.

No one says it will be easy; you will need to set up a team to manage all these diverse channels. You can also use the services of ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce that help streamline online sales across multiple channels.

Smarter Payment Processing

Did you know that nearly 79% of customers abandon their online shopping cart at the payment gateway if the checkout process isn’t effortless and smooth? Even after researching and considering several products thoroughly, customers are willing to leave it all if the final step isn’t quick and easy.

To stay ahead, you need to relook your payment gateway this year. If your business is global do you offer a local payment option? Can you accept payments in other currencies? Or are you expecting international customers to click again for the ‘other country’ selection?

Look at ways to consolidate all your payment options in a single gateway. Yes, compliance might make it difficult to manage all currencies on one platform. This is where you can consider a third party service provider like Payoneer.

Omni-Channel Personalisation

We bring up omni-channel selling again to highlight another important facet. It’s not enough to just be available on multiple channels; you need to also offer an inclusive brand experience by recognising the customer as the same person irrespective of which channel she is on. Else you might end up offering an irrelevant experience which can be quite irritating and intrusive.

A great personalised experience can make the difference between a one-time customer and a repeated shopper. Apply AI-driven targeting to identify customers and match the right experience across multiple channels.

Custom Packaging

Packaging still matters. Studies have shown that customers perceive packaging as part of the product, and 68% of the shoppers in the study believed that a brand becomes more upscale simply by its packaging. And the more unique the packaging, the greater the customer’s engagement with your product.

Take the time and effort to design customized packaging for your product. This should help set you apart in the marketplace and make your brand more recognisable.

Conclusion

The ecommerce industry is on a roll, growing, changing dynamically with each passing day. And the advent of AI is taking it to unheard of realms, creating new experiences for consumers. By combining omni-channel marketing and consolidating payment options, ecommerce businesses can manage operations more effectively.