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Naming

Brand Naming Origins: Twitter, Yahoo!

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Brand Naming Origins: Twitter, Yahoo!

Ever wondered where the brand names Twitter and Yahoo came from? If you’re thinking there’s going to be a scientific or high-tech explanation, think again.

Interviewed by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, the co-inventor of Twitter, Isaac (“Biz”) Stone (pictured), explained the name this way:

“We had a lot of words like “Jitter” and things that reflected a hyper-nervousness. Somebody threw “Twitter” in the hat. I thought, “Oh, that’s the short trivial bursts of information that birds do.”

The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift in 1726 and used in his book Gulliver’s Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human. David Filo and Jerry Yang – founders of Yahoo! — jokingly considered themselves yahoos. It’s also an interjection sometimes associated with Southerners’ and Westerners’ expression of joy, alluded to in their commercials that end with someone singing the word “yahoo.”

For a list of more than 400 company names and their origins, see “List of Company Name Etymologies” in Wikipedia. You won’t get personal stories about every brand name, but you will get interesting answers.

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1 Comment

David Schoenecker on March 13th, 2012 said

Naming is a tricky one when it comes to the perception of value in the eyes of new brands looking to enter the market. Some naming agencies charge astounding fees to develop names like Twitter and Yahoo that were likely jotted down on a cocktail napkin on a whim. This doesn’t degrade the value of a proper naming process. It’s just tricky, that’s all. Nice post.

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