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.

Awfis Leadership Series - Future of Shared Real Estate Economy: U, V or L Shaped Recovery?

Business Innovations

20 August 2020

Awfis Leadership Series - Future of Shared Real Estate Economy: U, V or L Shaped Recovery?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Awfis Leadership Series – Future of Shared Real Estate Economy: U, V or L Shaped Recovery?

Awfis Leadership Series provides a platform to industry experts, thought leaders, and visionaries to discuss and dissect changes in the industry as well as understand shifting consumer demands that will shape how businesses evolve. They also formulate the best practices to keep up with emerging trends, helping businesses succeed.

The 6 August 2020 webinar comes at a crucial juncture when businesses are still reeling under the global pandemic and are looking for innovative measures to revive growth. Moderated by Mr. Amit Ramani – CEO and Founder of Awfis, the webinar’s esteemed panel includes eminent leaders shaping India’s real estate sector.

Mr. Anuj Puri – Chairman of Anarock

Mr. Rajesh Jaggi – V.C., Everstone Capital Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

Mr. Abhay Pandey – General Partner at A91 Partners

Dr. Nikhil Sikri – cofounder and CEO of Zolo

The panellists discuss the impact of COVID-19 on India’s shared real estate economy, the investment landscape in this sector, and devise a roadmap for the way ahead.

As Mr. Anuj Puri puts it, “This time it is going to be about empathy. Businesses able to show empathy to their vendors, clients, staff, and various stakeholders are going to see long-term sustainability.”

About the investment landscape, Mr. Abhay Pandey is hopeful. He says, “The 2010-2020 period was about China, and most people believe that the next 10 years belong to India. We will see a lot of capital come in.”

However, Mr. Rajesh Jaggi emphasizes the active role the government needs to play in improving the investment outlook. According to him, “From the government perspective, the policies are not consistent. Certainty is what we request the government to give. Across sectors, the government has to speed up reforms to attract much larger FDI. The FDI players do not know how to buy land, how to get permissions. There isn’t a level playing field. These are the things in real estate that the government should be focusing on, and I’m sure by the second quarter of 2021 we will see flows coming into our sector.”

Here is an overview of the key takeaways from this insightful conversation.

What will pave the way for the recovery of India’s shared real estate economy?

A joint effort between the government and entrepreneurs:
To reboot the economy, the government needs to provide the stimulus of resuming business normalcy. The shared real estate players also need to add health-related safety features and the flexibility that consumers are demanding in the pandemic.

Different recovery time frames:
Shared real estate has many components, and the time required for recovery will vary across such segments.

Shared office spaces:
The tenants include both large enterprises and small businesses. The small companies are eager to restart work. But the big companies are cautious about the risks they are willing to take. Thus, the recovery phase will vary across the tenant profiles and centres.

Co-living spaces:
Shared spaces where working professionals live, away from their hometowns, have better stability during the pandemic. Tenants who had gone back to their hometowns are returning. According to Mr. Pandey, one can expect a sharp 80-90% improvement in the coming months in a shared real estate economy.
The rest 10-20% recovery will take more time, probably until the second quarter of 2021.

Warehousing industry:
This sector has maintained its business operation even during the lockdown as the government declared it an essential service. In July, there has been 100% operation.
However, due to the monsoons, constructions are pending. Growth in this sector is expected to strike the rising curve by March 2021.

The good news:
All state governments are actively reaching out to manufacturing hubs across Asia to set up industries in their states. Tamil Nadu, for example, has formed an independent body to reach out to international companies. This approach is sure to boost the economy.

What are the key opportunities and challenges for the recovery of the shared real estate sector?

The changing mindset of customers:
Customer sentiments are changing with an increased focus on safety and well-being. Health safety norms must be implemented across properties to reassure consumers.

Health safety protocols:
Organized providers like Zolo have started implementing disinfection protocols to ensure safety measures, gaining occupancy.
However, unorganized providers may find it challenging to deploy such preventive protocols.

Tailor-made solutions:
People are becoming unenthusiastic about sharing private space. Providing personalized solutions is turning into a necessity.

The road ahead – Building sustainable business models

Empathy, the new critical metric:
While the role of technology and the flexibility of collaborative spaces are going to play crucial roles, empathy is definitely the most vital aspect in ensuring long-term business sustainability.

Evolution – the need of the hour:
From low-cost space providers, the shared real estate players need to evolve into solution providers. Understanding customer pain-points and providing solutions at affordable prices are the needs of the hour.

Digitization and innovation:
Shared real estate providers need to enable tenants to achieve proficiency by making sophisticated technology available at a low cost. For instance, improved teleconferencing facilities, inexpensive AWS services, etc. can be the selling propositions for shared offices.

Reducing debts:
COVID-19 revealed that cash is king. Businesses need to target cash positivity and reduced liabilities to achieve sustainability.

Investment outlook for India’s shared economy in 2021

Availability of capital:
There is surplus liquidity throughout the word. AndIndia is a large market base, a probable source of sustainable returns over time. This factor attracts investors, and market experts predict that India will draw significant advancements in the next 6-12 months, as pandemic-related uncertainties start to subside.

Importance of consistency:
Established businesses with a demonstrated track record of financial performance and operational consistency appeal to investors.

Need for reducing inconsistency:
The government has a significant role to play in boosting the fledgeling economy. Reforms are long overdue. The process of availing permissions is ambiguous. Such inconsistent government policies are a massive deterrent for large-scale FDI players. There is an acute need to modify these policies and provide investment-related clarity to attract foreign investors.

Conclusion

Most of the panel experts foresee an L-shaped recovery curve for India’s shared real estate economy. A sustainable business model that provides the right solutions for the consumers and reflects long-term efficiency in performance can look forward to an inflow of capital in 2021.

Watch the entire webinar here for in-depth analysis and further insights.

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?