The Ministry Of Silly Names

“We’ve noticed a growing trend for silly, irrelevant and often unpronounceable names brought about by expensive rebranding exercises. So far we’ve seen Aviva, Monday, Accenture and the potty Consignia. But why sell the company jet to pick up a moniker that suits your brand?”

So reads the Web site, launched as a lark by London graphic design, advertising and digital media shop The Design Conspiracy. Visitors to the site enter their name, choose a “core value” (“dynamic,” “innovative,” “anarchy,” etc. ) and a “main goal” (“delivery,” “quality,” “client satisfaction,” etc.), and the site chooses a silly new company name. The shop brainstormed 150 stupid names one slow afternoon last year, mainly by using an online Latin dictionary and “mixing a few letters around from there,” says TDC creative director Ben Terrett. Among the results: “Supplex,” “Vix,” “Evolver” and “Tempero.”

But then the joke backfired. In the year since the site’s been up, some 20 of the names have been registered in the U.K.—including Amplifico, Integriti, Thinc, Winwin and Ovisovis. “Some of them may be coincidences, but I think it’s unlikely that they all are,” Terrett says.

Strained monikers are somewhat understandable among new companies, Terrett suggests. But why introduce them in a rebranding?

“Consignia wouldn’t have been such a bad name, but it replaced Royal Mail,” he says. “Why take a perfectly good name and ditch it for a nonsensical one? If you’re John Smith Butchers, why would you want to become Uelo?”