Worst Company Names
June 11, 2003 10:18 PM   Subscribe

A Company By Any Other Name Would Smell Just As Foul: A pool-cleaning company called Poolife; an Internet terminal firm called NetPecker. With all the stupid rebranding now going on, it's a pity more attention isn't paid to companies in the politically incorrect but delightful funny names game. [Poolife and NetPecker courtesy of Bifurcated Rivets.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (28 comments total)
Fun stuff Miguel, great post!
This article in IT Week entitled The Ministry of Silly Names lays the blame for many nonsensical names on a UK consulting firm called Jiz. (Haha, a hilarious name in and of itself. Perhaps the reporter was being had on that count since a Google search did not turn up a UK consulting firm named Jiz, tho it did spew forth some interesting results.) At any rate, there's some fun stuff in the article on large firms rebranding - such as the silly fiasco with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the ill-planned "Monday" moniker.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:03 PM on June 11, 2003

posted by Down10 at 11:41 PM on June 11, 2003

PricewaterhouseCoopers and the ill-planned "Monday" moniker.

Don't forget 'Accenture'. Idiots.

(God I loathe the Big 5 accountancy firms, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they were sources of income for me for years...)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:59 PM on June 11, 2003

I don't know stavros; in light of the Enron scandal and its wake, it seems that Anderson Consulting might have been experiencing a bit of fortuitous foresight in choosing to change its name.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:17 AM on June 12, 2003

Curl up and Dye.

A hair salon somewhere.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:22 AM on June 12, 2003

I am told a friend of mine needed the humour of GTA Vice City's (sadly fictional) Hyman Memorial Stadium explained to him. (Located on Hoarmount Avenue, but surprisingly far from the Cherry Poppers Ice Cream Co.)

In the not-so-fictional realm, Giant Robot once mentioned a certain US city's Chinatown containing both a My Dung noodlehouse[*] (apparently this guy's a fan) and a Hung Fat lingerie company. (these guys?) I used to love mispronouncing Four King Chinese Food when I lived in Calgary's Northeast (try it--the food, not the mockery--if you're in Rundle or Whitehorn, they're good and cheap). And not even 80's-esque intercaps can save publishit.com's choice of domain names. (though, sadly, partsexchange.com and futuresexchange.com have vanished into the netherworld.)

[*] I predict that when he retires from rap music and the Girls Gone Wild checks stop rolling in, Snoop Dogg will open a Vietnamese noodlehouse called Pho Shizzle.
posted by arto at 12:40 AM on June 12, 2003

A mobile catering van called The Doobie Burgers... o, you heard that one? OK...
posted by dash_slot- at 12:43 AM on June 12, 2003

What about the large UK construction company - Wrekin. And there's Smeg which doesn't go down so well in the UK where they didn't even get the obvious URL www.smeg.co.uk (which is quite offensive so I won't link it).
posted by jamespake at 1:09 AM on June 12, 2003

stavros: Given that Arthur Andersen got jettisoned post Enron it's a good thing that Andersen Consulting changed their name, otherwise they might have gone down the tubes purely on name recognition. It might have been a stupid move initially but I bet the Accenture board of directors are still high fiving each other to this day.
posted by PenDevil at 1:18 AM on June 12, 2003

What about company’s names that try to reassure us.

Where I live, we have a courier company called Precise Deliveries. I always have a laff when I see one of their vans.

Precise! That's good. I'm was kinda getting sick of those Slightly Inaccurate Deliveries guys!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:03 AM on June 12, 2003

Sometimes the problem's not with the name in itself, but with the way it's presented, as in this ad for the Swedish healthcare company 'locum'.
posted by misteraitch at 2:50 AM on June 12, 2003

#24 on the list escapes me, but then, I grew up with that company, sorta; Dad worked there in Dallas, and I worked in the Austin facility briefly, and a hell of a lot of us have used their products in high school and college. They've even inspired a band name (see fourth paragraph) or two.
posted by alumshubby at 4:09 AM on June 12, 2003

Retired police officer opens a lawn-and-garden store: "Lawn Order."
posted by alumshubby at 4:19 AM on June 12, 2003

As for unfortunate product names, I saw this:

when logging out of yahoo mail one day. Had to look twice. :)
posted by jozxyqk at 5:28 AM on June 12, 2003

Who could expect these "professional namers" to come up with anything other than meaningless corporateese for a company name when the ad firms "use an imaginative series of turbo-charged naming exercises, including Blind Man's Brilliance, Imagineering, Synonym Explosion and Leap of Faith ..."

Ew. My biggest beef with corporate speak in general is that it stems from people in ostensible positions of power making up new nonsense and changing the meanings of perfectly normal, acceptable words to something entirely different, then using them constantly until people just accept them as part of a new vocabulary.* So these silly names fit right in with that tendency. The people who make the decision on these names are already speaking their own language so of course they think "Agilent" is great.

PS It may have been wise for Anderson to change their name, but I still think "Accenture" is a stupid name to change it to.

*Like slang, except instead of being used to weed out would be members of a social group, it's used to maintain a sense of superiority and separateness in the workplace.
posted by jennyb at 5:35 AM on June 12, 2003

And in the "unfortunately named people" category, there were two memorable ones in college:
The University Chaplain, Michael Hunt
and a student named Tram P. Ho
posted by jozxyqk at 5:37 AM on June 12, 2003


However, in the UK most people know it's a placename pronounced "Reekin". My favourite excruciating name is the cleaning product formerly known as Jif. I gather some trademark issue forced it to be renamed, but what corporate idiocy came up with Cif, pronounced "syph"?
posted by raygirvan at 5:40 AM on June 12, 2003

We had this discussion in February (try the google cache). No one remembers Bad Ass Jack's? "Big Dick's Halfway Inn"? "Bunghole Liquors"? Anyone?

Oh, wait, Miguel wasn't in it. OK, do-over!
posted by luser at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2003

In Southern California there was an "AIDS Driving School" when I was a kid. Tough luck, guys.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:46 AM on June 12, 2003

I predict that when he retires from rap music and the Girls Gone Wild checks stop rolling in, Snoop Dogg will open a Vietnamese noodlehouse called Pho Shizzle.

Boo! (I'm totally stealing that joke)
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2003

Two years later, still my favorite.
posted by Skot at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2003

Not quite the same, but this dentist has the phone number 888-ANUSMILE (they pronounce it "a new smile"). Always makes me laugh when I hear Jay Severin give the number on the radio.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2003

Years ago, in Tampa, I used to drive past a rusty old construction trailer next to an unchanging pile of rubble. You had to look twice to read "Edifice Wrecks" on the side. Pity, I thought they deserved better. Best I could find in the phone book were "Stainless Steel Erections, Inc." and of course, "Johnny-on-the-Spot".
posted by cookie-k at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2003

There's been a longtime business in L.A. called "Sid's Baby Furniture." The first word was capitalized on some of the signs, which made me think immediately of "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" and also of what a lousy name that is for a store that sells baby furniture.

I often wondered if it was just me, since nobody else seemed to notice.
posted by chuq at 12:45 PM on June 12, 2003

However, in the UK most people know it's a placename pronounced "Reekin"

Do they? Not me, until now. Either way it's a bad name.
posted by jamespake at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2003

Poolife has been a joy in our household for years. The link shows the way they brand it. Why not a space? Why not an extra L? Pure joy is why. Pure joy.
posted by halcyon at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2003

Not me, until now

Ah. It may be a regional thing. The Wrekin is a big hill in Shropshire, and in the West Midlands "to go round the Wrekin" = "to be longwinded in explaining".
posted by raygirvan at 12:01 PM on June 13, 2003

The ballpark in Seattle is full of cute names for the food stands. My favorite is the Chinese stand, The Intentional Wok.
posted by ukamikanasi at 11:11 PM on June 13, 2003

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