9 may. 2011

IGOR


I've always been fascinated by naming. Take this taxonomy of SUV names. Igor is a pretty sophisticated company that gives names to things for commercial purposes. Their own name illustrates the fact that you can give negative-sounding names to things and still be appealing. One example they give is "yahoo," a successful company whose name means a rude or violent person without very much cultivation. I used a similar principle for "stupid motivational tricks," which seems to have entirely negative connotations of unintellgience, corny motivational speakers, and deceitful trickery. Apparently, a negative name is more provocative and hence more attractive to the brain.

If I were to work for any kind of commercial enterprise it would be for Igor.

11 comentarios:

John dijo...

Google is my fave of recent brand names -- not only because of the association with Barney Google (with the goo-goo-googly eyes), but also because it's contains the subtle command, "go ogle."

Clarissa dijo...

Why do you think that "Igor" has negative connotations??

Jonathan dijo...

Igor (sometimes spelled Ygor) is the stereotypical name given to the hunchbacked lab assistant of the mad scientist character in countless movies.

Vance Maverick dijo...

I wrote a longer comment to the same effect as Clarissa's and then canned it. I understand the association, but I don't feel it unless I have my American pop culture hat on and fitting snugly. When I think of Stravinsky (or Sikorsky), I don't think of uncouth hunchbacks.

In general, to say a word has certain associations is unstable. It has them within a context, and sometimes, as here, the context is facultative.

The taxonomy you link is a bit crude. For example, it doesn't call out the specifically military character of the coinages Jeep and Hummer. Perhaps the company has a finer taxonomy (available for a price), or perhaps they really do stand in need of a trained literary scholar.

Jonathan dijo...

The company itself comments on its own name and its pop culture associations in some of their literature, so it's not like this is my attribution. They are going to put their own theory into practice in naming themselves.

Thanks for the word "facultative." I'm going to be using it soon.

Vance Maverick dijo...

OK, another example: is it funny for a jewelry store to be labeled "Schmuck"?

Jonathan dijo...

On the principle of "geeks on wheels," that kind of thing? "Schmuck" doesn't do much for me as a brand. Negativity alone doesn't cut it, I guess. Children eat candy with gross sounding names, but is grossness itself enough?

I've added a visual from IGOR's website to help clarify these concepts.

Vance Maverick dijo...

My point was that many actual jewelers in the German-speaking world do have that word on them, because it means "jewelry" (or "ornament"). Americans find it jolting, but then get used to it.

Advertisers have to work with a common-denominator sensibility -- not necessarily lowest, but common. Poets can be more flexible, throwing a word out and letting you figure out how to judge it.

(And didn't Yahoo's ads use to ignore the "yokel" association? I seem to remember the name being pronounced as a cry of triumph, "ya-HOO". Perhaps they were just striving in vain against the ineluctable modality of the word they'd chosen.)

Jonathan dijo...

I was only aware of the Yiddish meaning of that. If the Igor theory is correct, then Yahoo did not really have to fight against those connotations in the first place.

Vance Maverick dijo...

The picture of Noriega, too, only gets at half the toxicity of the name "Banana Republic". The phrase is a way for Americans to laugh smugly at the countries that have fallen beneath the juggernaut of our own economic imperialism -- reduced to dependencies of the United Fruit Co. To take it on as the name of one's company is not just to risk that one's customers will think of something negative about you -- it's to presume they're blind to something negative about their own roots. As if one were to call a shop Middle Passage, or Trail of Tears.

Jonathan dijo...

Yes, I agree. The name depends on being negative but also on an ignorance of how negative it really is. Could you have the Gulag Café? Are we really much less politically correct than we even know?