cover image

Where do you look for ideas when it comes to naming something? People name their pet Bacon out of the food they love, their child Bella out of the Twilight movie character they admire and their product with the “i” prefix such as i-Condo out of the trend set by Apple gadgets.

The latest brand naming trends in the market encompasses a variety of categories: Cutesy suffixes (Spotify, Etsy, Friendster), blended words (Wikipedia, Instagram, Pinterest) and compound words (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn).

Trends come and go, so how far has Malaysia caught up with them? In my personal observation for the past decade, the most obvious ones are (in chronological order): the D, I and the E.


Remember when it was a thing for businesses to adopt a name that has the ‘D’ prefix? There are variations to this such as D’, De’ or just simply De. Some businesses that embrace this are D’Monte Kindergarten, De’Touch Hair Salon and DeGem Berhad.

This trend spread like wildfire but there’s hardly a written record on how it started. If I were to take a really wild guess, it would be from the Form 2 History textbook, where it mentions the European trading firm Jourdain, Sullivan and de Souza. Or perhaps, it could just be how ‘de’ basically sounds like “the” in English. Anyway, the particle ‘de’ in Portuguese means “from the” or “of the”. More precisely, ‘de’ in Dutch literally means ‘the’. So it still pretty much makes sense since we were once under the colony of both the Portuguese and the Dutch.


Then came the age of iMacs and iPhones that got everybody jump on the i-something bandwagon. It’s almost a no-brainer for companies to include the ‘i’ prefix especially those in the cyber and software industry just so to sound modern and techy. A good example would be i-City, an ICT-based urban development located in Shah Alam. However, those who are not in the tech business are also investing in the ‘i’: iBilik (a rental accommodation website), Dragon-i (A Chinese restaurant) and i-Condo (a property in Penang).

So what’s the story behind the letter ‘i’? Easy. Just ask Ken Segall, the creative director at Apple’s ad agency responsible for the “Think Different” campaign in 1997. He was the man who coined the infamous name iMac for Apple computers, which helped save Apple from bankruptcy. According to Segall, ‘i’ stands for Internet and Mac refers to the Macintosh brand. ‘i’ also means imagination and individual. It was an idea Steve Jobs rejected at first but eventually settled on it. Who knows since then iMac would change the computing world altogether?


Last but not least, the letter ‘e’. This time around, instead of adopting the vowel, companies are seen disowning it. Besides international swimwear label Triangl, local startups are quickly riding on the wave of dropping the vowel ‘e’ as well. Such can be seen in the likes of Softsrve (an ice-cream bar), Helpr (a virtual personal assistant) and Shoppr (an online store aggregator app).

Prior to today’s intentional spelling error as a naming trend, it was more of a domain name issue. It’s widely known to originate from Flickr, a photo sharing website that was founded in 2004. Dropping the letter ‘e’ in ‘Flicker’ wasn’t what they initially had in mind but only did so because the domain name had been taken. Then of course, it became a trend and many brands followed suit such as Tumblr, Scribd and Grindr.

Creating a name is one thing, but a unique and memorable name is another. On top of that, you still need to consider the availability of a URL for the name you decide on. In essence, it’s a process all budding entrepreneurs go through when setting up a new company and an important step to get your brand noticeable from a sea of competitors.

So, will your brand follow the trend or set a new one?

Don’t want to miss out on the weekly shots of branding? Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

Don’t want to miss out on the weekly shots of branding? Subscribe to our e-newsletter.