The Name Inspector

From Apple to Zumobi, some company names work, while others … don’t. The site, run by a Seattle-based linguist who considers the sounds, look on the page and meanings of company names and brands, features engaging essays to help explain why certain names, particularly of tech companies, “click (or clunk) from a linguistic point of view.” Refreshingly, there’s no annoying branding speak, just sharp insights, a distinctive voice and a smart, wide-ranging perspective. (He also offers naming consultations.) Naturally, he’s at his most amusingly cutting when analyzing bad names—for instance, the dreadful Incesoft: “Did they consider alternatives that evoked no primal human taboos in English and just find them too humdrum?” But the reasons underlying good names are even more interesting.