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Naming Matters

Oct 5, 2011 • Behavioral Economics, Businesses, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Economic History, Economic Thinkers, Households, Innovation, Labor • 127 Views    No Comments

Combine something enjoyable like a strawberry with a color that connects to high tech. Then add the one letter that has a “reliable” sound in most languages and what do you get?

Blackberry.

Actually, the Blackberry might have been called the MegaMail. However, its creators soon discovered that just thinking about an avalanche of emails made consumers cringe. Telling the story behind the name Blackberry, Intel’s Pentium chip, Apple’s Powerbook and beyond, this New Yorker article wonderfully describes the art and science of naming. 

You also might look here to see why certain names and ideas “stick.”

The Economic Lesson

In his Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments, indeed, throughout thousands of pages, economic philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) was said to have referred to the “invisible hand” only 3 times. And yet, his description of how the market economy’s participants coordinate their behavior has “stuck” for hundreds of years.

An Economic Question: In each of the 4 basic market structures–perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly and monopoly–is the impact of a good name different?

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