Wednesday, January 2, 2008

AdoboVelo: History of the name

Names are important. It helps us know a good thing from a bad thing. For example, the name Tour-de-Francis is easy to remember because it's a play on the world famous cycling event Tour de France. We're lucky Francis Ignacio's mom didn't name him Protacio. "Tour de Protacio" doesn't quite have that "ring" to it.

This cycling club was almost named Socal Cycling International Cycling Group , or "SCICG", which you can pronounce 'siga'. In Tagalog that means the neighborhood tough guy.

In 2005, a bunch of cyclists needed a name for their new club. On their Yahoo group discussion site (which at that time was named "cyclistafilam"), member cyclists submitted suggestions. They came up with candidates like "Global Cycling Team", "International Cycling Team", "Island Boys", "ROAM - Race on a Mission", and SCICG.

Finally someone came up with the name ADOBO.
It's a Filipino food, no other cuisine has it. Food is big among Filipinos. At parties, we don't care what you wear, just what food you bring. Adobo is a dish made of chicken or pork cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Vinegar is the key. Even in the tropical heat, Adobo never spoils because bacteria does not survive in vinegar.

The name immediately garnered support, and morphed into AdoboVelo, which rolls out more gracefully in the tongue.

Thus the name AdoboVelo was born. So remember, while "siga" is tough, "Adobo" never spoils in the heat of competition.

Hey, since we're in the topic of brands, it's interesting to know how other brand names came to be.

Can you imagine the name United States of Columbus, instead of America? If Christoper Columbus discovered America first, why didn't they name the lands after him, or his queen or king? Who is this guy Mr. America anyway? Here's the story.

While Columbus was a first-rate trail blazer, his diaries were boring, and also wrong (he thought he reached the lands of India, in Asia, and he called the natives Indians).

Meanwhile, in Europe, a bunch of rich businessmen financed a lesser known navigator named Amerigo Vespucci to explore this new world further. They hired him because he was cheaper than Columbus, but more careful about his facts.

Mr. Amerigo explored the new lands, and was the first to realize it was not India, but two large continents not known before. He excitedly wrote two long letters to his friend in Europe narrating his path-finding observations.

Most fascinating were descriptions of the sexual customs and marriage practices of the people in these new lands. They were so entertaining that his friend published them as a pamphlet. It was a hit. It became a best-seller published in many languages and distributed across Europe. They sold more than Columbus' own diaries.

Around the same time, a German map maker
read Amerigo's writings instead of Columbus's. So when he created a new map containing these new lands, he called them America. His map was the first to show these new lands, so the map became a best-seller all over Europe. From then on, the name America stuck, even though Mr. Amerigo himself faded into obscurity, and even though Columbus became duly recognized as the first discoverer.

At least the lands called The Philippines is named after King Philip II. He was the Spanish monarch who sent ships called galleons to settle those new lands. The galleon trade took tobacco and sugar out of the Phillippines, for sale in Europe. In exchange the Philippines got religion and paella.

The explorer who discovered the Phillippines, a fellow named Magellan, was unfortunate enough to encounter the local "siga" there named Lapu-Lapu. He chopped off Magellan's head in a battle waged in the beach. Although Magellan and his soldiers had superior armaments, they were weighed down by their heavy armor, while Lapu-Lapu's men wore no armor. The lighter fighters won the day. (Sounds familiar, cyclists?) Today, Lapu-Lapu's name is on official money and street names, not to mention a delicious fish. He's a siga with hero status.

By the way, in order to narrate the discoveries and exploits done in the 1500's, a writer needs to use words like Explorer, Navigator, Expedition, Discovery, Pathfinder, Trailblazer. Notice a pattern? They are all names of SUVs.

Two more interesting brand names to talk about:

The people at Google are great engineers, but lousy spellers. In 1996 two bright engineers had a search engine they nicknamed BackRub (so named because it relied on analyzing the web's backlinks). When they decided to form a company, a bunch of engineers gathered in a room to brainstorm possible new names.

"Hey, how about GOOGOLPLEX?", someone shouted. It's a high-falutin' scientific word that means a very large number, basically the number 1 followed by writing zeroes until you get tired. It could be perfect name for a company that crunches large amounts of data.

replied "OK, but how about let's shorten that to GOOGOL."

Next, there
was a guy who was seated at the computer terminal whose assignment was to check if the name was still available as a domain name. But while typing it, he misspelled it as He learned that name was not yet taken. The founders liked the wrong spelling better. Within hours they registered it.

Eastman Dry Plate Co.
Let's be thankful Mr. Eastman didn't keep that name for his company. Kodak sounds better. George Eastman did not invent photography, he only invented a convenient way to take pictures, just as Henry Ford did not invent the car, he only invented a convenient way to manufacture them.

In the old days photography was a lousy hobby. You had to mix chemicals yourself and carry bulky equipment in a truck, not to mention use gunpowder (for flash photography).

Eastman was the first to sell a little wooden box that was a camera, which contained dry film (no more fiddling with wet chemicals). To develop pictures, you simply mailed the whole thing (camera and film) back to the company, and a few weeks later you got your camera back, along with the photos.

It was a hit. He named his company KODAK. The word does not mean anything at all. Eastman made it up himself. He wanted a name that was easy to pronounce and spell, and had a crisp sound. Eastman was not only a brilliant engineer, but a marketing genius as well.

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