Names and logos: The awkward case of Cuil

I’m a bit late on this, but I wanted to briefly mention Cuil.  Cuil is a search engine developed by ex-Google employees that deviates from Google’s strict “search is the answer.  What was the question?” strategy to offer faceted search results. Faceted search results are demonstrably useful, particularly to typical users who enter few words and then need to drill down to more useful results. Faceted search is a point of difference between Google and Cuil, and a trick Google has missed, in my opnion.  Cuil also claims to index signifcantly more content, and offer more behind-the-scenes analysis of search results than its competitors.  Cuil’s search results interface leaves a bit to be desired, in my opinion (in particular the lack of clear ranking), but other than that it is an interesting tool and I will be keeping an eye on it.

Cuil has an unfortunate problem, though:

Cuil logo

Cuil logo

I understand that the company posits (possibly incorrectly) that ‘cuil’ means knowledge in Irish Gaelic, and is prnounced “cool”.  I understand that this is very Web 2.0 and the ‘i’ is reflects the word ‘ipod’ and all those other ithings, and ‘information’ as well.  However, the first thing I saw when I looked at this was a French colloquialism that is less than polite, and is spelled c-u-l. For what it is worth, I am hardly the first person to notice this–apparently other misspellings also have unfortunate meanings, though none that are so clearly suggested by the logo.

This is a wonderful example of why it is important to test branding in all major markets when you’re selling a brand on internationally, but particularly on the web–without asking locals (or consulting with localization experts), you can’t know whether you are inadvertently giving offense (or making people laugh at you).  Has anyone else noticed any other unfortunate porduct names, other than the famous Pajero?

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2 Responses to “Names and logos: The awkward case of Cuil”


  1. 1 tony Friday, October 31, 2008 at 10:26 am

    We did briefly have a library web page up for “Counter Reserve” where somebody left out the “o”

  2. 2 angelaysabelle Friday, December 5, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I find Cuil’s name confusing the first time i heard of this search engine. I went to ‘cool.com’ when a friend asked me to check out ‘cuil.com’! Hahah..Another search engine called Find.com is wise enough, in my opinion, to name their SE as such.


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