Hurricane Cecil - What’s in a name? | ...Gasp!

Hurricane Cecil

What’s in a name?

The curious nature of hurricane names leads The Blogfather on to what is great about the Google and Jump Giants brand names, whilst pondering genericide.

Surely people are more likely to batten down the hatches when they hear Hurricane Hitler or Hurricane Dick Dastardly is poised to strike, than they are for a Hurricane Percy. No?

As I perused the news on my lunch break, whilst chomping into my third foot-long Subway (ate reasonably fresh) of the week, I read an article on the strongest hurricane on record that was poised to hit central America. But what was this all-powerful hurricane called? What name could encapsulate the sheer, brute strength of nature?

Patricia. Trish, to her mates, presumably (El ‘Naughty’ Niño etc).

I’ve always thought the naming of hurricanes curious. Very personable, affable names that are hardly befitting of what often turn out to be quite catastrophic events. I wonder if it’s a bit of denial. The thinking being if we give it a nice name, maybe it won’t turn out so bad. Or they just don’t want to panic the general public, who are notoriously easily panicked:

‘There’s a force 5 hurricane coming!’
‘You’re joking! I’ve just finished the Gazebo. What’s it called?’
‘Err…Alan, I think. Yes, Alan.’
‘Alan? Sounds alright actually. Ah, sure it can’t be that bad. I’ll leave the swing ball out.’

You could argue it would make more sense to name hurricanes after evil historical figures, or super hero villains. Surely people are more likely to batten down the hatches when they hear Hurricane Hitler or Hurricane Dick Dastardly is poised to strike, than they are for a Hurricane Percy. No? And who is even responsible for naming hurricanes?

I’ll google it.

Google. Now there is brand name that is so successful it has entered into the English language as a verb. It’s currently at that point on its new etymology adventure where it’s trying to drop the title case from its usage, to become a fully-fledged verb. I’m sure that will happen.

Though Google has to be a little careful not to become a victim of its own success. It verges on the Brandslaughter/genericide stuff that my talented Blogfather predecessor Olly blogged on. A snippet:

If intellectual property lawyers can convince a court that a brand name has entered common parlance as a generic term, then by law that brand loses its exclusive trademark

This is what befell aspirin and thermos. See, their capital letters have gone. Alas.

Getting the correct name for a business or brand is obviously massively important. Google is a play on the word ‘googol,’ a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. Here is a key reason why it is a good brand name – its roots are in the essence of what the founders wanted to achieve. Larry Page and Sergey Brin's mission was to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web. Solid naming foundations.

Also, a bit of alliteration across the two syllables helps it roll off the tongue the quicker. It’s just a good sounding word. I suppose it’s what you call the cadence of the word, it has a quick two beat. I can’t imagine many people saying they will ‘BackRub it’ (the name of the Google founders’ first search engine).

Our Andrew likes the sound of the word ‘pendulous’ (don’t ask). I like ‘plinth’. All have an ‘L’ in them, I notice. Is there something in that? Probably.

At Gasp, one of our long-standing clients, Jump Giants, a trampoline park, didn’t have a name they were happy with before they came and talked to us. It’s great to get involved in in the conception of a new business and brand, and see it all the way through to fruition, as it does not happen too often. Now the name ‘Jump Giants’ is synonymous with the world of indoor trampolining in the UK, having seized some previously unclaimed brand real estate. It resonates with the American sports look and feel we devised for them, and I suppose it even has a bit of the Google alliteration thing going on, though over a longer beat.

Either way we thought it a good choice. And they agreed.

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