Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

No Brand Name is Perfect, Not Even Apple’s


When coming up with a brand name, it is easy to fall into a rabbit hole of overthinking. When you’re looking at so many ideas at once, it can become difficult to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of a name, even a name you like. Of course, as you continue your quest for the right name, you may find a name that resonates with you and fits most of the criteria. As you overthink the name, you keep finding something wrong with it.

You’re not alone. When Apple first announced the iPad back in 2010, a few people were scandalized by the name because it reminded them of the feminine hygiene product, a sanitary pad. Jokes rolled out in full force, and some even questioned why Apple had proceeded with the name. Had they not foreseen the fallout?

When the name iPad was released, blogger Annie Colbert wrote,  “With “iTampon” quickly emerging as a trending Twitter topic, it’s probably safe to say that many women found themselves cringing as they asked, ‘Do any women work at Apple?’”

The truth is that Apple probable thought through countless names. When the iPad was developed, there was no popular term for the tech devices we now refer to as tablets. Many people were using the term “slate computers,” and the name iSlate was discussed as a initial idea. However, Apple decided not to go with this name because slate connoted rudimentary technology and a cumbersome, heavy weight.

iPad was meant to reference home–”pad” being a term for a living space. Steve Jobs was hoping the name would evoke a feeling of comfort, as he imagined the device would be used at home by most people for watching videos and reading. However, the name quickly became the butt of a few jokes because it reminded people of another kind of pad.

Despite the continued “pad” references, many journalists speculated that the jokes would fade and the name would stick. They proved to be right. iPad is now a word that has been integrated into our daily speech patterns, even in spite of the initial reaction to the name.

Objectively, iPad is a good name. It is simple, catchy, and quick, and the idea behind it makes perfect sense. The truth is that at the end of the day, you can poke holes in any name. There is no such thing as a perfect name. The best you can do is try to find a name that means something to you and your audience while hitting most of your criteria.

The best you can do to assure that you’re name is the best name for your business is perform audience testing. This is a great way to validate your name choice and see which of your ideas perform well and which ones don’t. While testing is not a definitive method of stating that you have a perfect name, if can give you great insight on what names will appeal to people. If a name performs poorly with your target audience, pay attention–it may mean that you aren’t catching a double meaning your name holds.

About the author

Meghan O'Toole
Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

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