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Etymology: If there’s an app for that, there’s a name for that

Posted by: Paola Norambuena on July 23, 2010
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If there's an app for that, there's a name for that

The 25th anniversary of the advent of Wi-fi got us thinking about names and technology. At the recent Fuse conference, noted inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil talked about the phenomenal leaps in human progress driven by the breakneck speed of evolution in technology.

Kurzweil’s main point to brand managers and marketers: When it comes to technology, don’t underestimate the importance of brand. Because brands – and brand names – help us make sense of the world around us.

This is particularly true of new technology, because one minute it doesn’t exist and the next it does – so we don’t have terms at hand to help us integrate it into our world. It’s why – to the horror of trademark lawyers everywhere (think genericide) – brand names come to be used as part of our everyday language. We Google ourselves, we Bing results, we TiVo that show, we Tweet the latest, we’re Wi-Fi enabled and there’s an app for that. And the list goes on.

And technology naming doesn’t just change our vocabulary, it challenges regulations. Like URLs before them, apps have created a veritable wild west in the area of trademarks. As developers push the boundaries of what’s possible, and companies of every ilk rush to create them, we’re watching a race for names with little heed for traditional claims of ownership. For now, that is, because global trademark infringement rules still apply (see our tip in App-tly Named: Five Tips for Naming Your Mobile App).

Technology changes the way we do things. Brands show us how. Names make it personal.

Paola Norambuena
Head of Verbal Identity

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