If you’ve ever ordered a book from Amazon, then you probably get their steady barrage of email reminders and advertisements. If you do, then you no doubt have seen the announcement and promotion of Amazon’s new e-book reader: Kindle.

I’m not sure how I feel about Kindle as a new product name. On the one hand Kindle has a positive and evocative meaning. As a verb it’s active and suggests exciting or arousing an interest in books. It also suggests illuminating the mind, something a good book should do. On the other hand, Kindle also has a negative meaning in this context. The primary definition means to burn or light on fire. Because this is the first meaning I associate with the word, I immediately thought of book burning, Fahrenheit 451, and kindling. These aren’t the primary associations I’d choose when creating a new product name.

Of course, there have been successful brand names that have capitalized on a negative or edgy meaning in the past (Fuddruckers, FCUK, Banana Republic, Flickr, and Yelp just to name a few). I’m a big fan of distinctiveness and edginess when it comes to new product naming. However, I feel the name Kindle isn’t an example of the deliberate choice of an edgy meaning. Instead, it appears to be a badly chosen name with an overlooked negative association.

As it turns out, even a fantastic name probably wouldn’t salvage this poorly executed product. The Kindle’s Orwellian terms of service have likely doomed the product to obscurity despite any effect the brand name may have.


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