Is Google a Good Brand Name?

written by Johannes Ippen. founder of Human Deluxe, @johannesippen

Often I get asked if a company name is good or bad. Very often you are surprised by how much a name helped to build a company - or how a company made it even though the name was more meh.

In previous articles, we have taken a look into the Human Deluxe Approach of naming companies, we have learned how to create good names and how to avoid bad names. Today we are looking at 5 of the biggest brands in the world and their names – are they good, or are they bad?

At Human Deluxe, We are using Alexandra Watkins SMILE & SCRATCH Method to find out how good a name is. At the end of this article, you will find a link to access our free SMILE & SCRATCH Matrix – the one we are using to rate the following names. Let’s Go!


Do you know where the name Google stems from? While it is often believed that comes from (searching) Goggles or has something to do with “Good”, the real answer is actually much nerdier: A Googol is a very large number with 100 zeroes – and the name “Google” simply a mispelling of that term. If you’re not a math enthuasist, you probably never heard this before.

While picking an interesting fact as a name might sound like an exciting idea, it is actually not: with the curse of knowledge, you leave out big parts of your audience: They don’t know how to spell the name, what it means – it doesn’t even evoke anything them.

The fact that Google is one of the biggest tech brands is because their product was fresh & inventive and resonated with a huge audience.


There is two things in that name: the jungle of products (books) and the letters a & z, connected with an arrow. The name Amazon is well thought out, evocative and a fun approach of naming a company. Most importantly: The name Amazon helped the company to grow out of the book store business into becoming one of the largest onlone retailer brands in the world.


We don’t know exactly where the name Apple comes from: Was Isaac Newton the inspiration? Was it because Steve Jobs was a fruitarian? There are different stories around the origin of the name Apple.

However: It’s simple, easy to remember and it helped differentiate the company from the hardware competition, eventually carrying it from being a computer company to one of the biggest entertainment brands today.


The name Instagram is a portmanteau, a combination of two things: Instant and Telegram. It is Easy to remember, fun to play around with (“The gram”) or (“Insta”), seeing itself as the polaroid picture for the Smartphone generation. Not being limited to photography in the name itself helped Instagram to grow into a visual-based communications service.


Originally named Interbank, later renamed Master Charge, the credit card company took a while to develop it’s branding into Mastercard. Combining 15 banks in one card, the association still holds up: a Mastercard is the only card you will need, a card that covers everything.

Especially great about that name: It does have great legs – the compan successfully extend their offering with a debit card named “Maestro” – playful, right?

We are using the Human Deluxe SMILE & SCRATCH matrix to judge these famous brand names. And you can do this, too. You can access the free SMILE & SCRATCH Matrix Template here and use it to compare your own name ideas, for your startup or your product.

written by Johannes Ippen. founder of Human Deluxe, @johannesippen