The Name Game


When I was a kid I hated my name, because I didn't know any cool guys named Tim. I wanted to be Mitch or Chuck or Clint or Harrison. Everyone called me Timmy. Ugh. When I heard that name, I thought of a greasy-haired, ukulele player or the helpless owner of Lassie.

When you hear the name Frisbee, what do you think of?

When WHAM-O decided to license a plastic disc from Fred Morrison (who, by the way, was "Walt" to his friends), the toy was released as the "Pluto Platter Flying Saucer." But a funny thing happened on the way to toy immortality. Kids in New England referred to the new toy as a "Frisbie." So WHAM-O decided to incorporate that name and rechristened its new flying toy the "WHAM-O Frisbee Pluto Platter Flying Saucer." One guess on which name stuck.

As I recently blogged, when I first had the idea for a game where you read a definition aloud to a group of kids to see who will be first to blurt out the corresponding word, I thought the game was all about the clues being read, so I dubbed it DeFUNitions. In play testing I soon found out that I was wrong. The game was all about the blurting. I changed the name to Blurt! and over a million games later, I am thankful that I did.

There are many stories of toys that were almost called something else.

Rainbow Modeling Compound was destined to be called Play-Doh

The Little People became Cabbage Patch Kids

Word-Cross puzzles morphed into Crossword puzzles

Power Drencher was changed to Super Soaker

Whoopee Hoop became Hula Hoop

Bouncing Putty never stuck, but Silly Putty did

Instant Life became Sea-Monkeys

Muff Ball became Nerf Ball

Lexiko became It which eventually gave way to Scrabble

Pretzel became Twister

Of course play is king in this business, but don't discount the value of a good name, because a good name can become a good trademark, which can become a good brand, which is very valuable indeed.

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