« Olympus R.I.P.? | Main | Open Mike: Stereo, Circa 2020 (Very Off Topic) »

Monday, 29 June 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

This blog reminds me of the problem Chevrolet supposedly had with the Hispanic community when the introduced the Chevy Nova (no go). Of course, this might be an urban legend?

I'm rather fond of my reasonably priced Schiit DACs. One's a "Modi 3", and the other, powering my computer speakers as I type, is a "Fulla".

Hey! I own four pieces of Schiit equipment, they're great!

Heck, even before all the "good names" were taken, people struggled with it. I just started reading a book about the East India Trading Company and learned that it was originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East-Indies".

Robin Wong has a video on Olympus's problems, one of which is using the word "micro" as part of their product name. Why not "mirrorless four-thirds?" Or something. But not micro. No one wants to shoot with something that's micro. (And this from a loyal Olympus user (both Robin and me).) But Olympus isn't the only one at fault, as you point out.

I work for a big software and computer company that has inflicted absolutely *absurd* product names on its customers. And potential customers. I work in communications and I get that product names are hard. But if I could be the super-duper all powerful, I don't know, *guy* for a few hours, I would allow marketing people a maximum of seven syllables for a product name. Seven. If someone used all seven, I wouldn't fire them, but they'd lose their bonus and merit increase for the next two years. Too extreme? Consider this:

iPod. iPhone. iPad.

Three products. Three product names. Six syllables *total*! The company that adopted those names managed OK (and I don't work for that company, if it matters). You establish the brand through the quality of the product, not by making its name more bloated and idiotic, or illogical, than it should be physically possible to do.

Yeeesh!!! What was that all about!? I'll get back on the meds. Maybe there's a reason why I'm not the super-duper all powerful *guy*.

About 20 years ago I was on vacation in Montana in Glacier National Park on an August day that set a new record for high temperature. I really, really wanted something cold to drink, but the only available source was a small shop in the basement of the park lodge, and its refrigerator had already been emptied of water and soft drinks by others.

I normally do not care for beer except with pizza, but that was the only thing available that was cold. I had started to grab the closest national brand when I noticed a bottle right next to it called "Moose Drool".

My reaction for the first second or two was (not surprisingly) negative. But then I started thinking that this was not a product that was surviving on slick marketing, so perhaps the beer might be decent, and I ended up buying a bottle.

It was cold, which was really the only thing important to me at the time, and I was no expert on beer. However, out of curiosity I bought a six-pack and took it home to be judged by my much better qualified son-in-law, who found it quite satisfactory.

Like your example of Schiit electronics, this may be an example of reverse psychology, but I am told that "Moose Drool" beer is still being sold.

- Tom -

I'm glad you clarified the confusion of the subsequent renaming of "Darkroom Techniques." I subscribed from issue 1. In 1989 I moved the Bay Area to Tucson, and the subscription continued there.

I was delighted to be living only a short drive from the Center for Creative Photography, on the U of A camp https://kennerly.ccp.arizona.edu/.This is the repository for many valuable collections, including all the Ansel Adams negatives. They also had an extensive library devoted exclusively to photography. They had back copies of Darkroom Techniques and its successors, but they were missing the first two years. When I moved from Tucson to Seattle four years later I donated all those missing issues.

Although the CCP still thrives, the attached library is defunct. I hope the have those back issue in storage, somewhere.

Eyewear company here in LA, called Crap. Like Samuel L Jackson’s character said, “a rat might taste like pumpkin pie but I’ll never know”

They could have called it "CX-Pi, the most well-rounded vehicle in its class".

I'd buy something called Schiit, if it was good schiit.

The pharmaceutical industry has the same problem; with more than 20,000 (and counting) drugs in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, it's a challenge for BigPharma to come up with a unique name for a new product. And if a name is too similar to an existing drug, it greatly increases the risk of a lethal mistake.
Just to add to the problem, drug companies now do their damndest to make new drugs' generic names intentionally unpronounceable, so you're basically forced to use the trade name and give them some free advertising.

And there are problems with names as spoken in other languages. There used to be (maybe still) a Buick model called Crosse or Lacrosse or something, can't remember. But "crosse" is slang in Quebec French that means something that people do while alone.

I find it confusing that Mazda, Audi and BMW all use simple numbers to describe their models. Makes it awkward when writing some sentences, "He prefers the 3 over the 2." Lincoln was confusing for a while with MKTs and LTK, and I don't know what else. Made me wonder if a salesman ever entered the wrong name in a sales contract and they gave the wrong car to a client.

[I find it particularly irksome when a product has a single number like "Mazda 6" and a search engine will disregard any alphanumeric string shorter than a certain number of characters, so you can't include the "6." That's not as much of a problem now as it used to be, though. --Mike]

Some small computer companies start with a "fun" name that they must then change when they begin selling into the corporate market. Here are 2 examples:
FoolishIT is now d7xTech.
CrapCleaner is now CCleaner.

Lest we forget the m:robe


[They were ahead of their time is all. --Mike]

In the land of the rising sun, OHNO is a distinguished surname. The name is made up of two elements: "o," meaning "small," and "no," meaning "field."

Am I the only person that thinks phosgene gas when I hear CX ?
You would think that a company headquartered in Hiroshima would sensitive to naming a product line after a chemical weapon ( or a hazard of welding tin which is why I know)

Dairy cows have the same naming conventions. One of our cows , cleverlands darimost crystal, was world dairy champion in 1975, and I used be able to bet that I could walk into any county fair that had cows and find some farmer who knew who I was. Most of the guernsey cows in the world are probably related to our herd by now.

A famous Swiss brand started selling very coloured watches, called Swatches because they were S(wiss)watches. Then they started selling lamps, called Slamps because they were S(wiss)lamps. Finally, they started selling cars, but they did not call them Scars, even if they were S(wiss)cars.
They called them Smarts.

Oh almost forgot about Sony at one all their consumer TV sets had long numbers as model numbers and every year the new model would be one number lower than the model that it replaced apparently so salesman could confuse the customers by selling the old models as being newer and better than the new models.
I got a Crazy Eddie salesman screaming at me that I was a crazy person and after I showed him the official Sony catalog he kept screaming that I was some sort of communist. Ah NYC in the 80s.

Buick Lacrosse was poorly named for customers in Quebec.

The solution to Mazda's problem was, of course, the same answer as for AMC with the Pacer and the Gremlin - just add an X!

I’m sure there’s an Elon Musk joke to be had somewhere amongst this, but it’s just not in me this morning.

"Even though I personally absolutely refuse to buy anything called Schiit."

As I sit here listening to my wonderful Gungnir Multibit DAC from Schiit Audio, all I can say is: "Your loss."

On another note, a lot of my buddies in high-end audio weren't buying Schiit Audio product because...they weren't expensive ENOUGH. Must be the concept of "vleben goods" at work. A number of them overcame their bias against buying something so inexpensive and are now VERY happy with their "piece of Schitt."

Don't let something like as simple as a name keep you from musical bliss.

I have a hard enough time naming a photograph. Can't imagine naming something important, like a company.

Anyone know if Schiit products are good Schiit or not? Looking for some good sounding Schiit...

Must have a good sense of humor to buy products from this company that's for sure. It would be difficult to explain the name to friends who come over to listen to your new audio components.

There is a hyphen!? Really!?

Like the em5 mark II but always worry about the menu. Do not know that I do not even remember it has a hyphen even

The link to the center or at least the museum is http://ccp-emuseum.catnet.arizona.edu/ The link provided is strange got .this and does not work

What about the nonsensical conglomerations of characters that Canon has used for 15+ years for their Digital Rebel series? I can't keep up, but they are akin to this: XrTSiII.
How can that mean anything to anybody?

I started exhibiting and selling photographs and getting the stray little assignment. I needed to come up with a name for my business. Putting the cart before the horse, I was experimenting with fonts. One of the words with which I experimented was Havana. I realized that if I added an "i" at the end, to get Havanai, it could be pronounced "Have an Eye". How clever!
Absolutely nobody got it.

SARS-CoV-2 is a terrible name too, but it seems to be quite successful.

Lest we forget (if we ever knew): The Honda Fitta from a few years back. In Swedish (again) that word concerns the frontal mid section of the human body; women have one and men don´t, and not in a nice way. Ford Kuga - what at least two people do together to become more people or just for fun.

Of course, the modern U-bend plumbing trap and floating ballcock for vacuum flush toilets was invented by Thomas Crapper, whose name was plastered on his company's cisterns. I'm sure it didn't help that by the of his invention in the mid-10th Century the word "crap" was in use from the Middle English word related to bodily wastes. No doubt Thomas was rightly proud of invention and saw nothing wrong with naming the company after himself but I'm not sure I would had done it myself. Imagine his poor kids at school(!). In the photograph arena, I think it was Eastman himself who said that he chose the otherwise meaningless "Kodak" as a name that was short, impossible to mispronounce (c.f. Nikon and Pentax), and not associated with anything else.

Think of the unfortunate individual in charge of naming car colors. Cosmic black. Tundra black. Thunder black. Abyss black.

The story of the OMD E-M1 name makes total sense for the historian types. Olympus wanted to call its first Maitani era SLR as the M1, but Leica already owned the letter M, so they went with OM. Olympus Maitani? Tha D was added for the digital era, hence OM Digital or OMD.

The letter E has been used by Olympus for all SLR cameras in the digital age, starting with the E-10 in 2000. The letter D was already taken for Olympus compact Digital cameras and the letter C was taken for the Camedia range of digital for advanced amateurs. Though technically not SLR cameras, the letter E was transported to all the Micro Four Thirds camera range. Perhaps to convince existing Four Thirds users that their lenses would still work on the new bodies?

To distinguish Four Thirds models from Micro Four Thirds models, Olympus added the M, hence EM-1, EM-5, EM-10. I imagine the M stands for Micro or Mirrorless, take your pick.

If it was me, the EM-1 would have been called the Sparrow, because it sounds cool.

Legend has it that a Japanese car company wanted to make a rival to the Mustang type of pony cars. The suggestion was to call it Stallion but the Japanese have trouble pronouncing double 'l's (instead of 'hallo' they might say ' harro') so we got the Mitsubishi Starion.
(No racism or other nasties implied in this post.)
And could I just have one more beef. Why do U.K. people, and maybe others, have trouble pronouncing Mitsibushi and pronounce it Mitsubishi ?
One more.Mazda had a car named Xedos. Worrying customers might not know how to pronounce the name they ran a poster campaign with instructions to pronounce it ker- zee-dos. Funny I never heard of a ker-zy-lo-phone or a famous opera called ker-zerk-zees where a man sings of his love for a tree (Ombra ma fui)

Schiit--never heard of 'em.

A long time ago, I worked for an independent audio retailer in Phoenix. One day I asked the owner where these product names came from because they didn't make sense. I suggested calling them something simple, such as "Chuck's Radio."
He pulled out a brochure of a phono stage that we were installing in disco houses. A couple of guys, named Paul and Stan, made them, so they called their products PS Audio. I bought one of their preamps, and that was how I got into high-end audio.

Is there another reason, maybe? Apparently the number 4 can be associated with death (shi) in Japan and therefore sometimes room number 4 is missing in hotels and hospitals (or even floors in buildings). Although, if they used "CX-4" in China I guess that wipes that theory off the map :)

I have a Schiit stack next to my laptop. A Magni on top of a Mani on top of a Modi on top of a Jil. I love them!

Speaking of Panasonic cameras, and lost names, "Lumix" is hardly ever used by consumers.

Patrick Murphy: "Company and product names can take on a life of their own. In the 1980s I was working on a the World Wildlife Fund publication..."

Acronyms of company names can have a life of their own, too, and custody battles. That's the same WWF that won a legal tussle with the then "World Wrestling Federation" over use of their acronym-in-common, forcing the latter to change its name to "World Wrestling Entertainment".

As a hi-fi nerd you might be familiar with the Infinity POS speaker line. The story among folks in hi-fi retail is some development guys knocked the prototype together from the parts bin and were surprised when their "PoS" mutt speakers sounded good, and a new low-price line was born.


IDK if audio and video components have the most awful model designations but they must be right up there, certainly worse than cars or cameras. Special shoutout to my fridge. I had to learn the proper model name to search for parts and repair info. KBFS20ETSS01. I'd like Kitchenaid to put more work into this. Who could resist the Kitchenaid Tornado 20?

I agree about the baffling Olympus names, I am not actively following their product line, and I have no idea from the name convention which is supposed to be the higher-end model or whatever. Also, what is this OM stuff? I have OM lenses from the 1980s, and they do not fit the current cameras.

Cars like Lincoln made the same bone-headed mistake. MK-xyz? How is a casually interested consumer supposed to know what these things are? I bet they lost sales with this mess, as did Olympus.

"Evite" means "avoid" in French and Spanish.

Olympus could have gone with OM-D1, OM-D5, OM-D10 and OM-DX, and they never would have had to endure a single year of losses.

Oh, and maybe not giving buyers the idea their sensors are tiny, the new camera format with its 'E'lectronic viewfinder could have been the E Four Thirds.


'consider that currently there's there's a line of inexpensive audio products branded "Schiit."'
Inexpensive? Really?
I know, that for the hobby "sky is the limit", but Schiit DACs begin with nice $99.
As today's tv sets miss analog audio output and my good, old Kenwood amplifier has no digital input, I had to buy good enough DAC for around $30. That is INEXPENSIVE.

"Nova" is actually I think more likely to make a Spanish speaker think "nueva" (new) than the two word phrase "no va".

The story about it being a blunder is definitely a myth:

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007