They are to a certain extent, that is beyond discussion. But can they make or break companies? There is a recent article over Business Week discussing that issue, the title is “What’s in a Name?”
“A name can help a brand to enter the public consciousness (think Google) or disappear quickly (haven’t heard of Ultraviolet Man Summer Pop cologne, have you?)”
I am not so sure. First and foremost because it is almost impossible to be objective in such evaluation, given that most of the “good” names are coming from companies that we already perceive as successful.
Names should be easy to remember, but that is as far as I can go. The article, for instance, mentions Microsoft. Personally I don’t think that said name was responsible, even if slightly, for the Redmond’s company success. Maybe it if was Macrosoft…