Within days of each other two opinion pieces appeared about electric scooters invading San Francisco and, interestingly, looked at the story from the same point of view; they’re not cool, but they are fun. We thought we’d take a look at the brand names and see if we could draw a few insights from the four leaders; Bird, Lime, Spin and Skip.

  • Insight #1:  If anybody put in any thought in creating a name that would have market resonance it is not clear here. These four contain all the buzz of beige wall paper.
  • Insight #2: What little thought did go into creating these names appears to have been limited to “make it short.”
  • Insight #3: These names are anything but cool. But maybe that wasn’t an issue. But then again, how could it not be… these are scooters after all. Skateboards are cool. Surfboards are cool. Skis are cool, and snowboards, while not that cool are cooler than scooters. All these names are light, fluffy and decidedly unhip. But I guess if you are riding a scooter in public, you must feel pretty self-confident anyway.
  • Insight #4: They may have been working against a stacked deck. Linguistically, scooter sounds like an emanation from one’s backside. And everything else about the word is childlike; “scoot along now” is as dismissive and diminishing as one can be in three words.
  • Insight #5: Taken together they offer a meta lesson in naming; two are fanciful, two are descriptive, zero are invented, all are monosyllabic but none actually invite you into a conversation.

One is reminded of a certain highly fitting but equally inappropriate joke.