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 startups that are redefining rural India

Business Innovations

13 January 2020

5 startups that are redefining rural India

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As we wait for Digital India to fully penetrate the rural parts of the country, there are startups that are empowering and facilitating the implementation of business opportunities for better quality of life across rural India. Technology is the key enabler, paving the way for enhanced productivity and growth prospects in the countryside. Here’s our pick of five startups that are redefining rural India:

NIRAMAI Health Analytix

A deep-tech startup based out of Bengaluru, Niramai addresses critical healthcare problems through automated solutions. An acronym for Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence, Niramai also means free from illness in Sanskrit. The company’s innovative software helps detect breast cancer at a much earlier stage than traditional methods or self-examination. The added benefits of the automated solution include cost-effectiveness, accuracy, portability and simplicity. What’s more, Niramai’s imaging method is radiation-free, non-touch, less painful, and works for women of all ages. It can be used as a cancer diagnosis test as part of preventive health check-ups, and also for large-scale screening in rural and semi-urban areas.

EezyNaukari

This Kanpur-based startup provides job seekers in rural India with work opportunities in the cities across the country. Since its inception in 2016, EezyNaukari has established its presence in over 500 villages in four states, handling the profiles of over 15,000 job seekers. As a tech-enabled platform, the objective is to revolutionise India’s recruitment process for the unorganised and entry-level jobs. The startup – founded by IIT-Guwahati alumnus Rahul Patel, along with Nipun Sareen, Hemant Verma and Mohit Sachan – scouts for skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled human resources in areas that traditionally don’t have access to equal career opportunities. After verifying personal details, work experience and skill assessment, the startup provides job aspirants with a digital platform to reach out to prospective employers.

Rural Odyssey

According to the World Bank, India houses the largest number of poor in the world: a staggering figure of 270 million people. Due to low-productivity agriculture in rural areas, employment growth is threatened accounting for nearly three-quarters of the poor population. In order to bridge the yawning rural-urban divide, Chandni Aggarwal and Kush Sharma started Rural Odyssey – a social enterprise that links avid travellers to authentic experiences at unconventional destinations. They hand-pick offbeat villages across India and promote their remarkable culture, music, crafts, art forms and much more. This not only helps generate revenue for the villagers, but also delivers authentic cultural experiences to curious travellers who want to explore the varied communities of rural India. Everything, from accommodation in the form of home stays to food, is planned and provided by the native community.

Maatritva

Started in 2016 as an internship project at the Digital Impact Square, a TCS Foundation innovation Centre in Nashik, Maatritva is a mobile platform that helps in the screening, identification and tracking of high-risk pregnant women to ensure that there is continuous care for both, the mother and the child. Given India’s maternal mortality and morbidity rates, the technology holds the promise of saving precious lives. One of the interesting features of the application is its QR code, which can be scanned to access all the information about each woman’s health and stage of pregnancy. The data helps to plot a graph to estimate the overall number of pregnant women in an area and their health status. Founded by a team comprising of Abhishek Verma, and Garima Dosar, the application is currently available in three languages i.e. Hindi, English and Marathi.

GoCoop

A Bengaluru based startup that connects weavers, artisans, cooperatives, and community-based enterprises with buyers, GoCoop was conceived as an online social marketplace by Siva Devireddy in 2005. It has been instrumental in helping handloom and handicraft cooperatives and artisans to market handmade, natural and sustainable products online to global consumers directly, thereby reducing cost, increasing efficiency, and transparency. The company’s mission is to create and support sustainable livelihoods for the nine-million-strong weaver and artisan community in India.  GoCoop is the winner of the first National Award for Handlooms Marketing (eCommerce) by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Conclusion

The digital revolution has the power to transform lives and drive new narratives of growth, especially in rural India. And startups are at the forefront, breaking barriers and venturing into hitherto unexplored business terrains. Thanks to better internet connectivity and online infrastructure, the gap between rural and urban India is getting bridged, leading to a positive impact on societies, economies and lifestyles. Because as Mahatma Gandhi put it so evocatively, “India lives in her villages”.

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.