There are plenty of weird company names out there. At a glance, names like Google or Xerox can seem extremely odd, particularly when you don’t know where the titles came from, or what inspired the business to choose them.
However, odd company names can be surprisingly powerful.
Although there are certainly some unfortunate business names which fall into the “odd” category, there are also plenty which are quite effective at capturing their audience’s attention.
After all, if a business name sticks in your mind, or leaves you thinking about the organization for longer than you usually would, it’s actually doing its job quite effectively.
Weird company names offer an insight into just how complex the naming process can really be. When the title for a business isn’t immediately obvious, most business owners need to think outside of the box, which can lead to some odd creations.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the most unusual company names, and whether they’re effective at defining the brand in question.
Weird company names: Strange company names with meaning
Weird company names come in a variety of different flavors. Some are unfortunate, like Passmore Gas, or Stubbs Prosthetics. Others are just plain ridiculous, like Pee Cola, or the Morning Wood Company.
However, not all of the odd company names we see in the world are bad for business.
Used correctly, strange company names can actually be quite compelling. They’re easier to remember than their more straightforward counterparts, and excellent for getting people talking about your brand.
More often than not, when we dive down into the story behind an unusual moniker, we also discover some hidden meanings which make it easier to understand the name’s value.
Here are some of the weirdest company names you may be familiar with, and where they came from…
One Kings Lane
A luxury home décor business located in the United States, One Kings Lane chose its name for a very specific purpose. At first, the title seems quite unusual.
It’s not particularly common to name a company after a specific place, as geographical titles don’t usually tell us much about what the business has to offer, or what it stands for.
However, this name was actually a very deliberate choice by the founders. The company wanted to make up a completely new address to reference a time when older businesses used to be better-known by their location, than their name or branding.
The use of the word “Kings”, also provides a useful insight into the luxury focus of the brand, making us imagine something indulgent and sophisticated. According to the founders, this name was intended to combine old and new sensibilities into a unique brand.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Etsy is one of those odd company names which don’t actually mean anything. It’s a fun and playful title which rolls off the tongue, and is quite easy to remember, due to its conciseness.
However, Etsy does have a couple of different meanings around the world.
The word “Etsy” actually translates to “and if” in Latin, as well as “oh yes” in Italian. When coming up with this brand name, Robert Kalin, the founder wanted a meaningless word he could transform into a new brand.
Listening to foreign movies, he eventually came up with “Etsy”.
The title benefits from being unique and memorable, while also having some hidden meaning behind the term. The translations of the word actually provide an insight into the creative nature of the products we find on Etsy, as well as the joy of discovering something new.
A Russian search engine company with more than 70 internet-related products and services, Yandex might not be a familiar name in some parts of the world, but it certainly has a lot of impact in Russia.
Like many technology companies, Yandex wanted a name just unusual enough to capture attention.
The name actually stands for “Yet Another Indexer”, according to the founders, which makes a lot of sense when you consider what the solution actually is. The name definitely sounds odd, but like competitors (such as Google), it’s very easy to remember.
Yandex is now the fifth largest search engine in the world, and there’s also a pun hidden in the word for Russian customers, because “Я” (“ya”) means “I” in Russian.
GoDaddy seems like a very unusual title to choose for a company offering hosting and domain names to businesses around the globe. There’s nothing in this name to really link it to the digital world, or give you an insight into what you can expect from the business.
However, it still has meaning.
When choosing a name for the business, the founders almost selected a range of other monikers, like Jomax Technologies and “BigDaddy”. The “Daddy” reference might have something to do with the business acting as a sort of digital parent for the websites it hosts.
Eventually, the name “GoDaddy” was chosen because of one simple reason – it made people smile. According to founder Bob Parsons, this emotional impact was crucial for the brand.
Twitter is probably one of the best exampless of how effective weird company names can be. The title might not be the first term you’d automatically think of when choosing a social media brand moniker.
However, it makes a lot of sense when you consider the fast-paced content on the website.
Notably, the working title for the company was initially “Status”, but the business leaders felt this wasn’t impactful enough. They wanted to find a name that captured a “physical sensation” of chatting with friends through the web.
The term “Twitter” was ideal for drawing attention to the company’s focus on helping customers to share short bursts of information in a fun and fast-paced manner.
An American developer known for running a range of social video game services, Zynga first launched in 2007 with its unusual business name. The company is probably best-known for creating the “FarmVille” title for Facebook, though it’s produced a wide range of other games since.
An insight into how inspiration can strike almost anywhere, Zynga’s name actually comes from the name of the founder’s bulldog, Zinga. Pincus decided to name his company after his dog to highlight the focus on friendship and community behind the brand.
The name also inspires the logo for the company, which features a silhouette of a dog on a red background. It’s an odd choice for any business, but it works.
Probably the most famous example we can offer in our list of odd company names, Google is definitely an unusual choice for a technology company.
The business leaders behind this organization experimented with a range of less-appealing titles like “Back Rub” before eventually settling on “Googol”.
The term “Googol” comes from mathematics and was chosen to reference the sheer volume of data and information Google wanted to manage and share online. The spelling “Google” was actually the result of a mistake, but it stuck when the founders liked how it looked.
Today, Google’s unusual title has become a household name, and something many of us use in our everyday vocabulary.
As you may have noticed already, weird company names are pretty common in the technology industry. Often struggling with the complex task of trying to define an entirely new and complex concept through a single word, many tech brands turn to made-up or borrowed names.
Yahoo! Comes from the book, Gulliver’s travels, where the word was used to refer to unsophisticated youths. Of course, the founders weren’t trying to define its users this way, they just liked the way the name sounded, particularly with the added exclamation mark.
While this name is certainly unusual, it’s memorable, convenient, and rolls easily off the tongue, making it a good choice for a tech brand.
The Eastman Kodak Company, better known as just “Kodak” is an American brand responsible for a host of different products, focused mainly on the photography space. Kodak is another example of a made-up name which doesn’t appear to have a lot of meaning at first glance.
When coming up with the title, the founder actually concentrated a lot of his attention on the letter “K”, which he considered to be a particularly strong-sounding character. The term “Kodak” also has a fantastic sound, with two “clicking” notes which mimic the shutter on an old camera.
The auditory appeal of the word “Kodak” allowed the name to become a household staple in no time.
Today, it continues to be one of the most memorable names around.
Depending on your background, the word “Hulu” might make you think of a number of different things, including Hulu dancers. However, this term actually has a more significant meaning than you might think.
According to the CEO of Hulu, Jason Kilar, the moniker was chosen through a series of brainstorming sessions with the team.
The word “Hulu” might seem unusual, but it actually has two very relevant meanings in Mandarin. The term translates to “gourd”, and “interactive recording”.
Both meanings seemed to resonate with the brand, as gourds were used to hold precious things, and the Hulu brand was also heavily focused on the recording and streaming landscape.
While the name has no meaning in the English language, it leaves a lasting impression on the people who hear it, making it a great, but odd business name.
Meebo was an instant messaging and social networking solution eventually purchased and shut down by Google. Unlike the other weird business names, we’ve covered so far, this is one of the few which doesn’t have a hidden meaning or reference to anything in particular.
When choosing their name, the founders at Meebo only had a few basic requirements. They wanted the title to be no more than two syllables long and have no prior meaning. The team also had a strong preference for using the letter “M”, perhaps in reference to the word “messenger”.
Meebo sounded like a fun and easy title, it felt like a good choice to the company because it didn’t stand for anything but had a memorable ring to it.
If you’ve ever looked for a new home or you’ve ever wanted to sell your property, you’re probably familiar with the online real estate database, Zillow. The name is certainly unusual, but it has some underlying depth to it too.
According to the founders behind Zillow, they wanted a name that would combine the word “zillions” with “pillows”. The title was chosen to reference the huge number of homes and properties available for sale on the website database.
The reference to “pillows” reminds us of somewhere comforting we can lay our heads at night.
Zillow’s name is definitely odd, but it has an emotional impact on its audience. It feels modern and comforting at the same time, just like an online real-estate company should.
At first, the this sounds like an example of one of the more unfortunate company names out there. Most people don’t want to connect their companies to something negative, like death, particularly when they’re trying to sell a food or beverage product.
However, Death Wish coffee’s unusual choice of name is actually pretty powerful. The company wanted to set itself apart from other coffee brands by doing something unique. The whole USP behind the business is the desire to create some of the world’s strongest coffee.
According to the founders behind the brand, “Death Wish” was chosen to convey a sense of daring and reckless abandon capable of attracting more confident customers.
American athletics company Reebok has a reasonably unusual name for a sports-focused brand. It doesn’t really reference things like victory, similar to Nike. What’s more, the name sounds quite unusual when spoken out-loud.
According to the brand, the name actually comes from the word “Rhebok”, which is a kind of African antelope. The founders found the word in a South African dictionary and felt it was a compelling term to use for their own business.
Since the Antelope is a creature often connected with elegance and speed, it actually makes a lot of sense for an athletics brand.
If you’ve ever spotted a Banana Republic store before and wondered where the unusual name comes from, you’re not alone. This is a very odd choice for a clothing company, but it’s actually a reference to the brand’s commitment to bring more exotic styles to its customers.
According to the founders, in 1978, Patricia and Mel Ziegler got the idea for the moniker after collecting unique items of clothing from around the world. They wanted to bring a safari-style theme to their store, which they felt Banana Republic did very well.
The name has remained consistent over the years, even though some people have responded negatively to it. The phrase “Banana Republic” is sometimes also used as a derogatory term for smaller South American and African countries.
Mention coffee to most people and one of the first brands likely to jump to mind is probably Starbucks. But have you ever asked yourself where this name actually comes from? It doesn’t make any kind of reference to coffee or hot beverages, so it seems like quite an unusual choice.
According to the founders of Starbucks, the team actually went through a wide selection of different potential monikers before eventually settling on “Starbucks”. Apparently, the name is a reference to a character from Moby Dick.
While the name might be an odd one for a coffee brand, it’s managed to take the world by storm, perhaps thanks to how different it is from other coffee companies.
At first, the term “Xerox” seems pretty bizarre. It’s an unusual looking name, and it sounds unusual when spoken out loud. However, there’s some deeper meaning to this title.
It actually means “dry writing” when translated from Greek and refers to the unique process of printing created by the Xerox company.
The unusual name is also fantastic for offering an insight into the modern nature of the brand. Using two “X’s” in a name is extremely unusual for most companies, as it can sometimes be difficult for customers to determine how the letter should be pronounced.
While this name wouldn’t necessarily work for every business, it’s a good choice for a modern business attempting to highlight a focus on the future.
When are odd company names a good idea?
As you can probably see from the examples of weird company names we’ve covered so far, there are definitely some unusual titles out there. While some are more unfortunate than others, many odd company names are actually quite powerful in their own right.
In simple terms, when they’re chosen with care and consideration, strange company names can be excellent at grabbing attention. They force us to stop and pay attention in a world cluttered with countless companies to choose from.
Ultimately, as studies show, unusual or distinctive terms easily capture attention. They’re more likely to connect with your audience on an emotional level and leave them thinking about your brand for longer.
Some of the best times to use weird company names include:
When you want to engage your audience
Unusual names are provocative, and excellent at pushing your customers to think a little harder about your business.
People like to develop understandings of names they don’t fully understand, which means they’re more likely to look at your company for longer, trying to see the meaning behind your title.
To be more memorable
Unusual names are more memorable. They stick with your customers and create a sense of curiosity among your target audience. Unusual names set you apart from the competition and define your business as something different.
If there’s a hidden meaning behind the name, this can also resonate with your audience on a deeper level.
When you want more ownership over your brand
Odd company names can be a lot easier to own, because it’s easier to trademark a made-up or different name. It can be difficult to achieve the same level of ownership with a name utilizing pre-existing words or phrases your customers are already familiar with.
Exploring strange company names
Weird company names aren’t always a bad idea for businesses looking to create a powerful brand. Though it can be helpful to choose a descriptive name in some cases and provide your customers with an immediate insight into your business, odd names have their value too.
Chosen with care and focus, weird company names help to capture your audience’s attention, and differentiate you from the other businesses in your industry. They’re original and engaging, and often have hidden meanings for customers to figure out.
The key to success is ensuring the strange company names you choose still resonate with your target audience. There needs to be something about the name which helps you to connect to your customers on a deeper level.
Otherwise, you have the risk of simply creating confusion among your community.
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