Algorithms need a rebrand

Sharon Clark
4 min readApr 22, 2021


Three ideas for algorithms to refresh their brand identity.

How I used the algorithmic function in my brain to decide to write about this.

I don’t like the word algorithm. It just looks like it doesn’t want to be understood. The word is totally unapproachable for someone like me who is completely math-averse, yet I see it everywhere lately. I have no desire to learn exactly how to “do” algorithms (I tried in high school and it didn’t really work out), but I’m aware that they part of my daily life and I hate living with things I don’t understand. That’s why I’ve decided to brainstorm a couple ideas for algorithms to rebrand themselves so they make more sense to regular gals like me.

All right, so what’s an algorithm? A simple example of an algorithm is a math problem like “find the perimeter of a rectangle”. This is the kind of algorithm you see on a standardized test in the algebra section that is a total piece of cake and gives you a false sense of confidence in your overall math abilities until you get to a horrifying word problem about car speeds, distances, and arrival times. Those problems are the kind of stuff that Google Maps can figure out for me, thank you very much! And yes, algorithms are involved in sorcery like GPS navigation systems. I’m guessing that those algorithms are practically Rube Goldberg machines in complexity, so I won’t even go there with trying to explain them.

Anyway! My goal is to pitch a couple ideas to algorithms for inspiration so they can update their brand identity to make themselves a little more concrete and relatable by giving them human qualities. Here are some ideas:

The Eavesdropper

This algorithm has got so much information on me that it could sell the rights to my life story.

Gene Hackman in The Conversation (1974)

Ever since I surrendered to the Google and Facebook overlords long ago, The Eavesdropper algorithm has had its tentacles all over my browsing activity, online shopping, and other internet drama in my life. I have no idea who exactly is pulling the strings behind the scenes for this algorithm, but I know that it will hit me with an ad for fertility tracking to remind me that my eggs are simply withering away if I do so much as like a picture of a baby on Instagram. The Eavesdropper has also been known to give me a zillion ads for a thing as soon as I’m not shopping around for it anymore. Sure, the Eavesdropper knows if I’ve been looking for a sophisticated yet affordable rug that my child will drop neon orange popsicles on so it can suggest I purchase a washable one, but it needs to improve and show that it knows when I’ve gone through the checkout if it really wants to impress me with its listening skills. (Consider this my comment card, Eavesdropper. Pass it on over to QA/QC).

The Matchmaker

Kind of like The Eavesdropper, this one is always looking for some juicy details in life so it can butt in on my internet experience and make some recommendations. After I left my ex-husband, The Matchmaker algorithm noticed that I was really into yoga and meditation, so it tried to get me to sign up for a dating service to meet men with beards who wear their hair in buns.

When the matchmaker algorithm realized I wasn’t springing for the dudes dressed in fair trade linen it tried to lure me in with a dating service with men that have jobs.

Suuuure you work in “Emerging Technologies”, Johnathan.


Not really a rebrand idea per se, but if there was an “affordable” and even more awkward alternative to algorithms that wanted to launch a startup, this is what they would call themselves. Why? Because the domain name for is already taken and requires a broker on GoDaddy, so that business name isn’t in the budget.

As you can see, I don’ have the best ideas for this. I just know there’s a lot more to learn about the way that algorithms function in society. Until then, I will resent algorithms for its alienating spelling. I will live with anxiety that I’ll pronounce it incorrectly in front of a software developer and then they’ll laugh at me the way I used to laugh at people who mispronounced “quinoa” when I worked at a New American restaurant in Brooklyn.



Sharon Clark

Not a scientist. Writes about digital health tech. Works in the business of designing products & platforms out of the raw materials of life.