This is one of those cases where a joke supposedly becomes reality. An advertising company (The Design Conspiracy) created a joke website called What Brand Are You
, whose purpose was to spoof the bizarre brand names that companies are increasingly dreaming upnames such as Aviva, Diageo, and Corus. Visitors to What Brand Are You
could type in their name, their 'core values,' and their goals, and the supercomputer powering the website would then spit out a personalized brand name free of charge (my brand name is 'Acclivius'). In reality, the Design Conspiracy had just dreamed up a few silly names (about 150, they say) which were randomly offered when visitors hit the submit button. But apparently a number of companies liked the spoof names, because according to this BBC story twenty of them have now been registered as trademarks
(Thanks to Andrew Nixon for sending in this link). Some of the spoof names that are now the brand names for real companies include Bivium, Libero, Ualeo, Winnovate, and Tempero.
The folks at the Design Conspiracy claim to be somewhat taken aback by all this... But the weird thing is that the companies who registered the spoof names all say that they've never heard of the What Brand Are You
website. So something smells a little fishy. The skeptical part of me suspects that the Design Conspiracy might have slipped a few existing names (that they thought were silly) in with the fake names. Now they're enjoying the publicity of having their spoof names supposedly adopted by real companies. I could be being overly skeptical, of course, but 20 names out of 150 seems like a suspiciously high hit rate. This suspicion would seem to be confirmed when a simple search on whois.org
reveals that the What Brand Are You
site was registered on June 11, 2002, whereas the domain name for the Bivium Group
(just to pick the first of the spoof/real names) was registered before this on May 22, 2002. In other words, the brand name Bivium existed before the Design Conspiracy listed it as a spoof name on their website. The pool of spoof names was seeded with real names.