We’ve previously examined how nouns over-index as brand names, mentioning proper nouns in passing. In this post, we’re focusing on toponyms, brand names inspired by places.
Perhaps the first examples that spring to mind when we think of toponyms are metaphors, like Amazon® and Patagonia®. Preloaded with meaning, metaphoric brand names provide a running start when it comes to brand messaging.
Amazon®, the world’s largest store is named after the world’s most voluminous river.
Founded in 1973, Yvon Chouinard chose the name Patagonia® because it suggested adventure and somewhere off the beaten track, like Timbuktu or Shangri-La.
Other toponyms are simply indicative of where the brand was founded, Evian® and Nokia® for example.
After drinking mineral water from a spring near Évian-les-Bains in 1789, the Marquis of Lessert claimed that the water cured his kidney and liver problems.
Nokia® is the name of the town in southern Finland where the mobile phone company was founded.
Others, toponymous names, like Adobe® and Stonewall®, are more specific, often harking back to the company's founding story.
Founded by John Warnock in 1982, Adobe® is named after the creek that ran behind his house.
The LGBQT+ charity was named after the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where the gay community protested against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Misspellings and neologisms can create standout value, Cisco® and Q8® for example.
Cisco® is short for San Francisco, the city in which the company was founded in 1984. San Francisco itself named after Francis of Assisi.
An alternative spelling of Kuwait, Q8® is an abbreviation of Kuwait Petroleum International Limited.
Myths and legends are a rich source of brand names, more about these in a future post. Argos® and Olympus® certainly thought so.
While on holiday in the Greek city of Argos, Richard Tompkins decided that his Green Shield Stamp shops would start accepting cash. The shops were renamed Argos® in 1973.
Founded in 1919 as Takachiho Seisakusho, the mountain home of Japanese gods. In 1949, the company was renamed after Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods.
There may be no rhyme nor reason behind our favourite toponymous name but there is a heavy dose of consonance. And the cacophonous name is a perfect fit for a crisp, biscuit based chocolate bar.
KitKat® is named after the Kit Kat Club, a 1920’s jazz club in London, itself named after Christopher Catling, also known as Kit Cat.
Wait a minute, does that make it eponymous?
Time for a break....