What’s in a name?

Kola_Cola nuts pictureFrom time to time, we are asked if any corporates who use the word  Cola object to our using it – isn’t it part of their ‘brand’ or Intelletual Property, people ask?

In fact, there are over 200 different brown fizzy drinks in the world referred to as ‘Cola‘ – and the word is generic, like ‘coffee’. It doesn’t belong to anyone.

There are about 125 different types of cola tree or kola tree – evergreen, tropical African trees. They produce the cola nut, borne on young branches to form a star-shaped cluster of pods, usually five(1). Each pod contains 4-10 chestnut-sized seeds. The nuts contain a red pigment as well as caffeine and other mild stimulants.

It has been known for many centuries as stimulant – usually chewed, but also in traditional drinks, and is said to make thinking clearer(2). Cola nuts are used to quench appetite on long journeys and are often chewed before meals to aid digestion. Cola nuts are important in social ceremonies in Africa(3) – particularly West Africa – and in South America, and Asia.

In some cultures, a birth ceremony consists of planting a cola tree for the newborn(4). The sharing of cola nuts can be a necessary prerequisite to business agreements(5). In Nigeria among the Igbo people a cola nut is traditionally the first thing served to any visitor in an Igbo home as a gesture of friendship(6).

Footnotes and some nice analogies:
(1) You can get up to five AidPods in a crate of Coca-Cola
(2) When people hear about the ColaLife idea they are amazed at its simplicity and wonder why no-one thought of it before
(3) We’re planning for the first trial of the ColaLife idea to take place in Africa
(4) In the first application of the ColaLife idea the AidPod is likely to take the form of a Diarrhoea Treatment Kit to be given to mothers at the birth of their child
(5) ColaLife is going to require agreements between businesses, NGOs and the public sector
(6) ColaLife and already generated many friendships between thousands of supporters across the world.

Image credit: Randy Tindall