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April 30, 2007 | Tate Linden
We had a client a couple weeks ago who was astonished that we would claim we could usually tell what era a corporate name was created. They seemed somewhat mollified when we trotted out the ".com" example - as a sign of the post Internet boom. They were a little more convinced when we brought up Flickr and the flotilla of corporate names with the missing penultimate letter.

Copycat naming isn't new in the corporate world.

I've gone back as far as the early 1900s and found examples. I'm sure there are more even earlier than that - we're just working our way backwards...

In the year 1900, the term "Pianola" came into use. A few years later Victrola and Crayola joined in. By 1928 there were almost 100 companies with the -ola suffix in America. For a world without much in the way of instant mass media this proliferation is quite impressive. Granola, Shinola, Coca-Cola...

What do these names have in common? To us it seems that they indicate a connection with what was new in the first third of the 20th century.

Think Motorola is an exception? It isn't. Registered in 1930, the company likely leveraged the word Motor (as in car) and ola (to reference music) as a way to carve out a new niche for music on the road.

The next time someone asks you if you know how old a company is you may want to take a look at the structure of the name. There's a lot to be found within the patterns you may find.

Tate Linden Principola - Stokefire 703-778-9925