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September 30, 2005

A Brand is More than a Promise

The makes some amusing yet valid points about the importance of the customer experience based on an unpleasant evening at an Italian restaurant.

I agree that a brand is more than a promise, it's an experience. It's even more than an experience, however.

That experience is reinforced by the brand name used to describe it. For instance, refers to its New York to London flight as "Suite Dream". Singapore Airlines also uses a clever name for its business class service - . Raffles as many know, is also a in Singapore. This hotel is known for an unparalleled guest experience as is Singapore Airlines, one of the most profitable airlines in the world.

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:18 PM

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Is a Name Change in the Air for Delta and Northwest Airlines?

Delta.jpgNWA.jpg The same day filing for bankruptcy, by Delta and Northwest, on September 14, 2005 has some pundits in the airline industry wondering if a is in the cards.

Already one industry watcher suggested a new name for the combined airline, , a play on Northwest's former brand name .

Although the Delta Orient name is an interesting one, it falls into the same naming trap that I discussed in an earlier post, that historically, airline names have had dull place references such as American Airlines, Northwest, USAir.

I believe what is really needed is a name that is short, catchy, evocative and easy to remember as with the new cut-rate carriers Ted and Song, or the new upscale airline like Virgin and the new luxury carrier Eos.

Delta Orient may be a passable brand name since delta traditionally means prosperity and the word orient reminds customers of Delta's strong Asian routes. However, a name that retains the word "Delta" might seem especially grating to the Northwest people, creating a winner/loser scenario like the name that came from the recent US Airways and America West Airlines merger - a rather smug .

Boeing 757 The temptation may be to develop a name that is a compromise like Delta West, or North Delta. What is needed, I think, is a completely new name to signal a much-needed fresh start in the genre of Ted, Eos, or Song.

What about Delor (from Delta Orient)?

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Posted by Diane Prange at 7:30 AM

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September 29, 2005

Can You Think of Any Quirky Brand Names?

I read an interesting blog post by William Arruda, who specializes in . He noted that "quirky" was the number one attribute for two of his recent clients.

At first blush, quirky could have negative connotative meanings, but although the word is of obscure origin, one of its popular meanings is "unexpected."

Therefore, as the Arruda blog points out, this is what makes his clients "memorable and successful." Likewise, this can be applied to a product name or brand name. I think we all agree that Ted and Song are two unexpected names for an airline, both of which are memorable.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:50 PM

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8 Principles of Internal Branding

Much has been written about branding. Much less has been written about internal branding. That is, encouraging employees to "live the brand."

While living the brand is important for most companies, it is especially important for employees in service companies. Ever fly Southwest? Ever fly Northwest? The former's employees are brand ambassadors.

BrandXpress has identified that are worth the read. It should be required reading for CMOs of service companies.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:03 PM

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Body Snatchers: No Longer Invading, Just Visiting

InvasionBodySnatchersWarner Brothers is set to produce yet another remake of the 1956 sci-fi film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which in its original version starred Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The movie made a campy reappearance in 1978 starring Donald Southerland and Brooke Adams. In 1993 it returned once again named simply Body Snatchers, starring Terry Kinney and Meg Tilley.

Nicole KidmanNow, Nicole Kidman takes the lead in a version that producers have renamed twice. First, it was changed to Invasion. I think the reluctance on the part of Warner to stick with the Body Snatchers title might be due to the fact that the name has been used and spoofed so many times: Invasion of the Girl Snatchers (1973), Invasion of the Body Stealers (1969), and more recently, Invasion of the Space Preachers (1990) and Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers (1992) starring none other than Bugs Bunny. It might also be due to the fact that the 1993 film, which was directed by Abel Ferrara, may be simply more intelligent than what's been scripted for 2006.

Alas, Warner Bros. soon discovered that the title was already being used in a so the Kidman movie, which is still in pre-production, has been rechristened again and will be called The Visiting.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a movie name that virtually everyone knows and sci-fi audiences have a huge loyalty and long memory. The original versions have all been reissued in DVD format so they are very much out there.

But The Visiting, while a much less-used name, is nowhere near as effective. It's inaccurate as well. In this movie, the aliens are not just visiting, they're here to stay.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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September 28, 2005

Areva: Divinely Inspired and Consistently Inconsistent

ArevaAreva consists of five main companies: T&D, Cogema, Framatome ANP, Technicatome and FCI.

The name Areva was inspired by the in the Spanish city of Areválo. The derivation of Areválo is uncertain, but the city's historians speculate that it comes from a Celtic compound meaning "against the wall" or "near the wall." The Latinized form Arevalorum dates back to the year 1090.

Why Arevalo? According to Areva's website, a French business daily referred to the merger as "a Cistercian abbey that weds perfect symmetry to great dignity." Though it's doubtful the average visitor to the Areva website will (or should) think of monasteries, I think Areva has both dignity and symmetry as a name, starting and ending as it does with the same letter.

In addition, it seems to me the name has the benefit of being easy to pronounce, at least for anyone who speaks a Romance language or a Latin-influenced language like English. It's a name with a sense of movement in its root "rev," a fluidity invoked by its similarity to "river" and its false-cognate similarity to English "arrive." In fact, Areva does not mean anything at all in any of the Romance languages.

I consider these all good associations for the name of an energy company.

Less felicitous is the similarity to the name of the cold sore treatment , presumably linked to "abbreviate."

I found the implementation of Areva anything but an example of "perfect symmetry."

  • The title of Areva's homepage is "Living better through advanced technology." This is both bland and uninformative. It doesn't tell us how our lives will be better, nor what kind of technology the company provides.
  • Areva's homepage indicates the A in Areva is for .
  • The voice over in the Areva TV commercial ends with, "A new generation for energy generation."
  • Finally, the super, or text on the screen, at the end of the commercial states, "Areva. Energy Experts."

Arevalo In sum, I think Areva is a good name for the combined companies; but the implementation is a work in progress at best.

Is it time for the marketing department to go back to the Arevalo abbey for inspiration?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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September 27, 2005

Mama Mia! Another Luxury Airliner

Boeing jet Three months from now MiMa, a new luxury charter airline operated by Eurofly, will begin service between Milan and New York City. The acronym MiMa is an abbreviation of "Milan-Manhattan". MiMa's advent, it is claimed, will promote "greater cultural understanding" between wealthy denizens of the two cities. We have written at some length in these pages that the exciting new trends in product naming are resonant, evocative, stand-alone, memorable names like Song, Ted or Eos.

MiMa reminds me of "Mama Mia!" a pejorative Italian exclamation that often means disappointment or frustration, surely not a good connotation for an airline company. MiMa is not as resonant as MoMA, the familiar acronym for . Further, the name limits the brand. What if MiMa wants to offer flights from Milan to Los Angeles (MiLAX) or Washington to Milan (WaMi)?

soho_tribeca Map1.gif Acronyms are traditionally labels formed from the beginnings of words (Greek: acro [head] and nym [word]) -- or very rarely, from letters in the middle of words. It seems clear that this is a device best suited to place names like Tribeca, Delmarva or SoHo rather than high-end transportation services. It seems incredible that one would resort to acronyms in naming a product from Italy given the wealth of beautiful Italian words that are out there especially since MiMa will link Manhattan with Milan, the capital of fashion and sophistication.

Delmarva Map.jpgI think it's unlikely that a business traveler, clearly the target market for this airline, would want to phone into a client in New York and announce that she's flying in on "MiMa". The word is easy to mispronounce (Meemah? MyMa? Mimay?) and thus hard to remember and spell for a Google search. MiMa will appear on a ticket with a series of destination and ticketing abbreviations, thus making it difficult for the product name to stand out. On top of all that, I think it sounds effete and small. Mama Mia!!!

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Posted by Katya Miller at 7:30 AM

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September 26, 2005

Verizon FiOS: Myth or Fact?

Fios logo.jpgVerizon is testing a that is more than 10 times faster than the current broadband speeds.

To me, it looks like FiOS, is an acronym for , the technology that's transporting the data.

It also looks to me as though this service was named by Verizon's engineers and probably was an internal project name first.

Whether Verizon realizes it or not, Fios has Irish Gaelic origins and is generally believed to refer to knowledge. On the other hand, Fios is one of three Druids or priests the Greeks brought to Ireland, commonly linked to intelligence.

I think it's unlikely that when Verizon was naming the service, they had mythology in mind. As it turns out however, what the mythology conveys is consistent with a super-fast broadband connection. The faster the connection, the more knowledge the user obtains and the more intelligent he or she appears to others.

But, if I had to guess, this is an example of inside-out naming. By that I mean it appealed to some within Verizon with likely less regard on how the target market would perceive it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:59 PM

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Tragedy Has a Language All Its Own

hurricaneMost discussions of Katrina and Rita have focused on the unprecedented ruin and despair along our southern coastline. I find it difficult to find the right English words to express my sympathy and concern for the tragedy and loss suffered by our southern neighbors. When it comes to describing the climatological events leading up to the storm, however, the English language is ripe and ready to aptly and precisely depict nature’s unfolding fury.

The word "hurricane," of course, has nothing to do with English "her" except in the minds of semioticians. Spanish explorers brought the word huracan or furacan back with them from the New World; with 39 different spellings listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, it's a word as mutable as what it describes.

The difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon seems to be largely a matter of where it takes place. The word "typhoon" is roughly contemporaneous with "hurricane," but the Venentian merchant Caesar Frederick was talking about storms in the East Indies. It's anybody's guess whether he was trying to say tai fung, the Cantonese word for cyclonic storms in the China Sea, or tufan, the Persian, Arabic, and Hindi term for the same thing.

"Cyclone" is a relative latecomer to the scene, coined by Henry Piddington of the British East India Company in 1848 on the basis of the Greek word kyklos, which can mean either "circle" or "cycle." In modern usage a coriolis storm is a hurricane in the Atlantic, a cyclone in the Indian Ocean, and a typhoon in the eastern Pacific.

The recently unleashed Cyclone Pyarr in India was named by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Until very recently, WMO used latitude and longitude identification methods to name their cyclones. In 2003, WMO started the practice of christening their cyclone with real names — since short and distinctive appellations are less subject to error than the scientific notations.

Once it strikes land, a hurricane becomes a "natural disaster." The classifies wildfires, eruptions, avalanches, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, storm surge, lahars, and drought as natural disasters.

In its article on , the Wikipedia adds blizzards and snowstorms, epidemics, famine, hail and ice storms, and sinkholes to the list, and provides as part of its definition of the phrase the shocking statement that a natural disaster isn't a natural disaster unless it destroys human lives and/or property.

The word "disaster" itself comes from the Italian disastro, "ill-starred," and means a state of ruin and misfortune. It takes a sociologist to decide that the word refers exclusively to situations of extreme social disruption. "Catastrophe," didn't become a synonym of "disaster" until 1748; prior to that it meant only a reversal, particularly in a dramatic plot. Strophe is Greek for "turn," and kata is "down" or "downward." One could therefore say that an economic downturn is equivalent to an economic catastrophe.

Again, my sympathies to the victims of Katrina and Rita.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 7:26 AM

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September 23, 2005


Yellow TaxiEven if your only language is English, there's one word you can say in Basque, Czech, Dutch, French, Galician, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, and Valencian. To add Portuguese to the list, all you need is an accent over the "a". While you might misspell Turkish "taksi" or Japanese "takushi", you'll pronounce it just fine.

How did this word get to be so ubiquitous? "Taximeter" was the name Wilhelm Brun gave to his 1891 invention for measuring the distance traveled in a hired vehicle. Brun's classical education shows: "taximeter" comes from Medieval Latin taxa, meaning a tax or charge, and Greek metron, meaning "measure." The shortened form "taxi" first appeared in English in 1907.

KleenexXeroxBecause "Taxi" was a product name, it was imported intact into other languages along with the carriages and automobiles in which the taximeter was installed. Like "" or "," the taxi brand has been generalized, or has become a generic term, to include similar unbranded products.

Posted by Alwynn Gilgen at 11:16 AM

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September 22, 2005

Behind Hurricane Katrina: Catharsis and Torture

In the tragic aftermath of the recent natural disaster in New Orleans, my first thoughts are of the countless victims and their sufferings. One yearns to connect to a person, to a named individual. Instead we, as a nation, are left only with the personification of a storm and the beautiful name Katrina.

Aristotle The exact etymology of the name is disputed. The name may be related to that of the Greek goddess Hekate, best known (though somewhat inaccurately) to later history as the patron of witchcraft. Other possible origins of this name include the Greek verb "katharizein," meaning to purge or purify--the root of "catharsis." Aristotle considered this a major element of tragedy, a term frequently applied to what happened when Hurricane Katrina made landfall; "hekateros," meaning "each of two," and "aikia," meaning "torture."

Doubtless this last theory seems most apt for what the people of the Gulf Coast states have had to endure.

Posted by Diane Prange at 11:00 AM

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September 21, 2005

Marshall Field's: Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Brand

Macy's LogoToday we mourn the final passing of a great brand. For some, it only died today. Yet others, myself included, have missed it for a very long time. We have missed its quintessential sense of style, its reassuring nearness and its unerring ability to make us feel like someone special. and its predecessor, Dayton Hudson belong to now, not just in financial terms, but in name as well. Frankly, I preferred it when they belonged to me.

I have emotionally bonded with Dayton's for almost 30 years, since the day in 1978 when they gave me my very first credit card. I loved them for their liberal return policy, their Daisy Sales, their Santa Bears, their Christmas memories. But most of all, and more than love, I trusted them. Which speaks volumes for Dayton's since what is, after all, a brand, but a promise?

Dayton's BuildingWhen Dayton Hudson bought the likewise Midwestern Marshall Field's a few years ago, the brand changed, but it did not die. The Dayton's name morphed to Marshall Field's with its fancy Frango mints, Field Days and Field Gear. The return policy tightened, but the sale days flourished, and some sense of regional, if not local, presence was retained.

Marshall FieldsToday, however, we lay both Dayton's and Marshall Field's to their final rest. They have been replaced by an East Coast name and logo. They have been replaced by a brand we barely know. A brand that does not share our Midwestern values. A brand that will not even allow its employees to greet us with "Merry Christmas."

I tell myself this really hasn't happened and I realize I'm embracing the first of five stages of grief: denial. Denial will soon be followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance. My recovery will take a very long time.

Posted by Diane Prange at 4:33 PM

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If the Name Fits, Wear It

Over 96% of the world's footwear carries a brand name. Generic shoes, or shoes with boring product codes just don't fit. Why?

Here's a clue: the in the USA is a $40 billion-a-year market, and women pony up more than their share.

sandalThere's no way around it, women are passionate about shoes and this sector's product naming reflects this. They're a constant obsession in pop culture, endlessly talked about and fetishized in television, movies, song lyrics. Most notorious of the shoe-loving pop culture media is the smash HBO series , in which shoes are one of its main themes.


Some of the biggest brands in product naming history come from Nike. Athletic shoes represent 35% of the , Air Jordans are one of the top selling brands ever.

Online shoe retailers offer some luscious browsing for the shoe lover. The names you run across illustrate just how much we match our feelings and personalities with our foot apparel.

  • Bombshelle offers shoe names such as Flutterby, Groovy Tuesday and Lucky Charm
  • Tribeca offers products with the name Heart-N-Soul, Swing Music, Vapor and Save-Me

But wearing good shoes means being more than just sexy

  • DYNY offers us Resolve, Perfect and Grand Slam
  • Charles David offers Bling, Flash and Daunting alongside more cheeky names like Kiss, Frill, Pinch and Frolic

Clark's, on the other hand, offers staid, literary names such as Hemmingway, Eliot, Bronte and Poe.

Place names get big play as well: DKNY offers Sydney, Liverpool, London, Madison and sexy Melrose, illustrating what at least one has told us about female shoe lovers: a woman who loves to buy shoes yearns to travel.

Posted by William Lozito at 7:00 AM

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September 20, 2005

The Power of The Brand Name Nickname

is the latest example of a company that recognized the power of a nickname trademarked as their company name. In this case rather than trademarking a company nickname, they chose an international term for cellular phones, mobi, a clipping of mobile. Mobi

Mobi PCS is in good company. Coca-Cola trademarked its nickname Coke and Federal Express trademarked its nickname FedEx.

Although not trademarked, other well-known popular brands with nicknames include Lex for Lexus, Beamer for BMW, Belvi for Belvedere Vodka, Merz for Mercedes-Benz.

Will other companies follow the road of Mobi and Coca-Cola or insist that consumers refer to them by their trademarked name as does?

I guess time will tell.

Posted by Katya Miller at 12:12 PM

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Product Naming: CN U SPEK LEET?

Researchers at Harvard call it . Computer boffins just call it , (or "1337" in leet) a phonetic spelling of the word "elite" used by early hackers to bypass automatic text parsers.

RAZR cellphoneLeet is the Internet generation's streamlined version of Pig Latin: a neat, systematic communication tool that, as one linguist has put it, improves "the efficiency of natural language" by literally getting down on paper, or computer/cell phone screen, what we say.

green sinkLeet has, of course, found its way into brand naming, whether in the form of Motorola's RAZR slim cell phone, Motorola's ROKR handset with iTunes, Pfizer's VFEND antifungal immune booster, the BRX hair care line, the TH RML hair appliance, or the new lighting design brand name GNR8 (that is, "generate").

ROKR cellphoneAs far afield as South Africa, leet has found its newest dialect with the recent introduction of super fashion brand Loxion Kulca (African leet for Location, or township, Culture) and Internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth's (Hip to be Square) educational foundation.

VfendBack in the USA leet has made its way into entertainment with the 1995 Brad Pitt thriller Se7en and the Al Pacino comedy S1m0ne not to mention the pivotal proto-leet 1981 Journey album ESC4P3.

Sears used the product name for its new Kenmore clothes-washer and dryer in late 2004. Super band Linkin Park, a group of leet aficionados, used the format for all the song titles on their 2001 album . These latter product names use another abbreviated language that substitutes numbers over letters called B1ff, leet's predecessor, that hardcore leet geeks try to disassociate themselves from.

Leet is especially useful in text messaging and in any situation where language compression is needed. The simplicity in which leet is used is infuriating to language purists but it does allow for new frontiers in product naming, where 95% of the words in the dictionary have been trademarked.

It also allows new brands to gain access to Internet domains that might otherwise be unavailable. Finally, it allows a brand to gain instant appeal to the hundreds of millions of people around the United States who use the language, knowingly or unknowingly, while sending the over one billion text messages yearly from cell phones.

Add into this the rampant use of leet in message boards, chatrooms, email, online gaming and instant messaging, it looks like leet is here to stay and those of us in the product naming biz better PA A10SHN.

Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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September 19, 2005

The Softer Side of LEGO

LEGO On September 9, I reported that LEGO goes to great lengths to protect its trademark from becoming generic.

If a consumer types in , he or she is taken to a site owned by LEGO and sees a notice that encourages the consumer to refer to the brand as LEGO, not LEGOS.

On the other hand, indicated LEGO was quite accommodating when some adult LEGO aficionados hacked its newly-launched LEGO Factory, a service for customizing a LEGO design.

The lifetime LEGO fans modified the LEGO Factory digital files to the delight of LEGO's management. Ronnie Scherer, Senior Producer of LEGO, as reported in CNET said, "We really encourage and embrace" some modifications of our software.

Now, that's taking advantage of user feedback. Perhaps LEGO will take this to the next step and acknowledge that LEGO is referred to as LEGOS and trademark the latter as did Coca-Cola with Coke.

Posted by William Lozito at 8:52 AM

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The Von that Refreshes ...

Von Dutch logoCoke's new and fashionable caffeinated energy drink, Von Dutch, is scheduled to launch in October in camouflage cans. Setting its sights on über-cool teens and twenty-somethings, it takes its name through a licensing agreement with the Originals fashion label.

The brand, Von Dutch, is eponymous for the prolific, hard-drinking, neo-Nazi, zany beatnik artist of the 60's and 70s.

Established post-mortem through an agreement with the family, Von Dutch clothing purposefully brings high fashion to new lows.

Von Dutch's $150-plus blue jeans, $20-trucker caps, $149 bowling bag totes, $1,000 silver belt buckles and $995 leather jackets have landed in the center of a flourishing white trash fashion trend. (Britney Spears wore a Von Dutch trucker cap for her recent nuptials.)

But the brand has recently lost some its luster among the artists' original fans who see it as overt commercialization that has ventured far from its real red-neck roots.

MakeitReal.pngSince fashion is fickle, Von Dutch Originals could easily become an annoying memory and an annoying beverage name. Already there are copycat shirts reading "Von Suck". What's next? "Make it Real, Von!"

Posted by Diane Prange at 8:00 AM

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September 18, 2005

Don’t Forget the Olevia LCD TV Product Name

On Friday, September 16th, I praised for introducing an interesting product name, BRAVIA, a refreshing departure from the often dull corporate names as brands for LCD TVs.

Olevia LCD TVI should have included the Olevia LCD TV brand, from a two-year-old Hong Kong company, .

Olevia is very close to Olivia, a female first name in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German from the Latin olive. Olevia is an approachable and warm name, fitting for new technology designed for the mass market, in an undifferinated sea of corporate based alphanumeric product names.

What makes the Olevia brand all the more interesting is the high praise the LCD TV product line has received from and its competitive price.

I’m seriously thinking of buying an Olevia 32” LCD TV this fall.

Posted by Alwynn Gilgen at 4:43 PM

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September 16, 2005

It's a BRAVIA New World

Sony.jpgRecently, in a packed Yankees Stadium, SONY introduced its latest in high definition LCD TV technology with the BRAVIA product line, upgrading with eight new models this October.


Although most likely not evident, the BRAVIA product name is an acronym of Best Resolution Audio Visual Integrated Architecture. This is not the first time SONY opted for this naming convention; its SAIT (Super Advanced Intelligent Tape) back up system and stylish VAIO (Video Audio Integrated Operation) computers are two other examples.

With BRAVIA, SONY managed to put some zing in that often dull and undifferentiated category of TV names that follow alphanumeric naming conventions of combining the corporate name with model numbers such as the Toshiba 32ZH36 and Philips 25PT4458.

On the other hand, the first hand-held music device--the Walkman--and the Cybershot digital camera demonstrate SONY's creativity and diverse use of naming styles. The company name itself derives from a combination of the Latin sonus "sound" and the energetic and young-sounding phrase sonny boy.

While BRAVIA does not mean anything in English, it is, in Spanish, synonymous with wild and untamed, a positive yet probably unintended reference to the product's target market of sport enthusiasts. Probably also unintended, the brand's initial letter "B" is a plosive that conveys speed and power.

Bravo to SONY for redefining TV both technologically and phonetically!

Posted by Alwynn Gilgen at 12:36 PM

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September 15, 2005

Natty Up: Nat Yu Fadda's Budweiser

Anheuser-Busch plans to test market a new caffeinated version of Budweiser Natural Light beer, named Natty Up in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Missouri.

Natty Up is targeted to the younger, college crowd who plunk down their dollars for brew, Red Bull and other energy drinks; which, of course, explains the name.


If you're not still in college, you may not know that Natty is clipped slang for Budweiser Natural Light. Because it is relatively cheap brew, Natty has long been considered a major food group on college campuses across the country.

The Natty Up line extension capitalizes on this college cult following, espousing an inexpensive light beer that gives you energy or keeps you "up."

But what makes this new product name even more intriguing is a verbal heritage that reaches beyond the barley. In Caribbean vernacular, Natty derives from knotty, as in kinky, jungle thick and matted. As in Bob Marley's Natty Dreadlocks, Natty is also Hip Hop slang for Cincinnati.

Fortuitously for A-B, the exact term, Natty Up, is also emerging as a cool colloquialism. Popular Reggae lyrics like "Natty up wid he gun" or "Natty up yu head" imply that it's a verbal phrase. And a pretty energetic one. Natty bad idea, Bud.

Posted by Diane Prange at 12:44 PM

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September 14, 2005

Google This. One "G" Too Many

In an earlier blog on September 2, I reported on the new George Foreman grill, which uses "G5" in the product name. The letter "G" has also been used by Apple to identify its next generation computers, the latest being the G5 series. And, Pontiac introduced the G6 car.

The interest of using "G" in a product name continues, but not without some potential conflicts as reported by CNET. Google is being challenged by German Giersch Ventures who obtained a temporary court order preventing Google from using the "Gmail" name.

Additionally, Independent II Research, is challenging the "Gmail" moniker in the UK and has been using the "G" since May 2002 to represent the Graphiti web-based email product name.

What is it about the appeal of "G" for a product name? Latin constantly confused the "g" and "k" sounds; therefore, Spurius Carvilius Ruga invented the seventh letter of the Roman alphabet (c. 300-230 BCE).

"G" also stands for "money" in vernacular, "government," and the "g-force," which pilots refer to as "G's". It also represents "ground floor" in architecture and "acceleration" when presented in physics equations in lower case.

What product name will want to use the "G" moniker next? Or, should they?

Posted by William Lozito at 11:43 AM

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If a Centipede Has a Hundred Feet, Does a Centigon Have a Hundred Knees?

Armor Holdings has just rebranded its mobile security division, grouping several subsidiaries under the company name Centigon.

Centigon,” a name coined by Armor's naming company, is certainly easier to say and more memorable than “Trasco GmbH, Labbe, S.A., and O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Co.” But is it the right name for this business?

Centigon rhymes with “Pentagon,” which evokes defense and security—appropriate to the business Armor Holdings is in.

Given that Centigon manufactures armored vehicles, the “-gon” also suggests an origin in “wagon.” So far, so good.

But does the name live up to its billing? According to the naming agency's recent press release, the name “borrows from the word ‘sentry,’ suggesting protection, fortification and strength, and the word ‘paragon,’ indicating a model of excellence.”

The concern I have is that “Centigon” does not call to mind either sentries or paragons. The English word “sentry” actually comes to us via French from the Latin “sentire,” meaning to hear or perceive; the Romans used “custos” or “vigil” to mean “sentry.” Everyone who has ever held a penny knows that the “cent-” root means “one hundred.” If the rebranding objective was to have people think of "sentries," why not spell the new company name with an “S”?

The “-gon” is equally problematic. The “-gon” in “paragon” is actually the Italian form of the Greek word “akone,” meaning “whetstone,” but I doubt Centigon’s customer will know or even guess that. The Greek words from which most English words get their “-gon” roots or endings are “agon,” meaning “contest” (as in “antagonist”), and “gonu,” meaning “knee” or “angle.”

A hundred-angled figure would actually be a hekatogon, but only a Greek speaker or a mathematician would know that.

Everyone encounters pentagons and hexagons in junior-high math classes, but paragons are rarer creatures. Centigon’s customers are unlikely to be expecting one.

Posted by Diane Prange at 8:00 AM

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September 13, 2005

Elexa Gets Intimate With Females


The makers of the Trojan condom, this week introduced a new intimate product line named "Elexa." Targeted exclusively to women, the product line includes a condom, vibrating ring, intimate gel, and refreshing cloths.

Unlike their competitors, Elexa condoms will be sold in the feminine hygiene aisle because market research has found many women, who make up about a third of condom buyers, feel embarrassed to browse where the men traditionally buy condoms.

With its seductive packaging design and the Greek-sounding name, this brand is sure to help Trojan find new users among women who might be turned off my its clearly masculine parent name.

Trojan commands about 65% of the US condom market. Recent campaigns designed to attract female buyers have focused not on "safety," but on "pleasure", with product names like "Ultra Pleasure," "Very Sensitive" and "Ultra Thin." Smart move: in 2002, London International Group, which produces Durex condoms, started naming products "Ultimate feeling," "Ultra comfort" and "High Sensation." This focus on pleasure and comfort, designed to appeal to females, led to a 35% increase in sales to women.

Incidentally, Elexa's etymology derives from the Greek Alexa, and means, "protector of mankind." Good fit, Trojan.

Posted by Diane Prange at 6:00 AM

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September 12, 2005

Another Vine Grows in Virgin Soil

The Virgin brand's core idea is making "consumer's life easier - delivering better value for money, a better service, challenging the status quo, and injecting an element of fun into what have traditionally been dreary marketplaces."

Sir Richard Branson has been referred to as the king of über-stretch. Starting with Student Magazine, he has taken the brand to a plethora of product categories - airlines to mobile phones, jewelry, gaming, health clubs, cosmetics and now wine.


Has Sir Branson overstretched the brand with Virgin Vines wine, and do the new wines deliver on Virgin's core idea? Probably not.

Virgin Vines is a logical extension of the Virgin brand. The wines are targeted to younger consumers, most likely 21-35, which would include the Virgin Mobile and Virgin Cola target of 15-30.

And, for the most part, the new wines deliver on the Virgin brand promise.

  • At $10 a bottle, the wine is priced at the sweet spot to attract younger consumers.
  • One could say that a screw top is, broadly speaking, providing a better service since the wine is easier to open and more portable.
  • The Virgin Vine website is definitely "injecting an element of fun" in the wine market by reducing the often stuffy wine terminology to a light-hearted fun one.

    • Traditional Wine Term: Body
      What They Say: The overall texture or weight of wine in the mouth. Most influenced by alcohol, glycerin and, in the case of dessert wines, sugar. See “light-bodied” and “full-bodied”.
      Virgin Vernacular: What everyone shows off when they are young, and hides when they are older.
    • Traditional Wine Term: Depth
      What They Say: Refers to a wine that is demanding of more attention. It begins with subtle layers of flavor that go deeper into more complex and secondary flavors.
      Virgin Vernacular: A very sought-after yet elusive quality in a partner. An especially rare find in men.

If I do have one quibble with the Virgin Vines extension, it's the product name. The noun, virgin, usually refers to pure, chaste and unadulterated products, such as Virgin Wool and Virgin Olive Oil. In the case of spirits, it has traditionally applied to non-alcoholic drinks - a Virgin Mary, for example.

Is the Virgin Vine product name an oxymoron, or another example of Virgin adding the element of fun to a category?

Posted by William Lozito at 1:01 PM

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September 11, 2005

Airline and Auto Touched by the Gods

Boeing 757The introduction of the super luxury airline Eos is another example of how naming a product in the airline business has moved from dull place references - American Airlines, Northwest, USAir -to names that are short, catchy, evocative and easy to remember - Song, Ted, Virgin.

Eos is a super luxury airline for transatlantic business customers accommodating only 48 passengers on a Boeing 757 jet.

EosIn Greek mythology Eos was the winged goddess of the dawn, mother of the winds, and the evening and morning star.

Eos is a clever name for an airline that promises to treat its passengers divinely by offering them space, service, and creature comforts like personal DVD players, cashmere blankets and meals served on fine china.

Passengers who depart from New York to London in the evening will wake up to the dawn, while travelers coming back from overseas will experience the stars.

Volkswagen, long aware of the power of simple, punchy names — Golf, Beetle, Jetta — will also be using Eos as the product name of its new Concept C coupe, an apt name for its new convertible.

VW EosDriving with the top down, the driver and passengers will be able to feel the wind and see the stars. The ancients often referred to Eos riding a chariot pulled by horses across the sky, surely a nice parallel to the impressive 1.6-liter 115- horsepower VW Eos.

Both products are for upscale consumers - few will be lucky enough to be touched by the gods.

Posted by Diane Prange at 6:34 PM

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September 9, 2005

LEGO: To S or not to S?

LEGOLEGO is a great brand with a noble goal. LEGO is derived from combining the Danish "leg godt," which means "play well" and translates to "I put together" in Latin; although the company stresses that the name etymology is totally Danish.

LEGO doesn't want to become the next Kleenex or Cellophane. Yes, Cellophane was originally a brand name.

If a consumer types in, they are taken to a site owned by LEGO and see a notice that encourages the consumer to refer to the brand as LEGO, not LEGOS.

From day one, Rollerblade stressed to the outside world that the brand is a product for inline skating. Most would agree today that Rollerblade has lost its battle. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Let's go inline skating?"

However, English is a very fluid and accommodating language. It is estimated that only 1% of words in the Oxford English Dictionary are derived from Old English. Furthermore, new words are being added to the OED at an increasing rate. From 1992 to 2002, over 3,500 new words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

FedEx logoOther companies seem to recognize the fluidity of the English language and embrace it in their brand name. Consumers were referring to Coca-Cola as Coke, and the company decided to also trademark the Coke name. Likewise, many customers were referring to Federal Express as FedEx, and the company shortened its name to FedEx.

It will be interesting to see where the LEGO brand ends up.

Posted by William Lozito at 5:49 PM

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September 8, 2005

Coke's Finally "Got Milk?"

ProSlammersBottle_T1.gif Having worked for large CPGs (Consumer Packaged Goods companies), it was amusing to see what those writing about the company observed versus what was actually happening within the company.

That said, some of the reasons that Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Coca-Cola’s largest bottler, inked a 10-year distribution agreement with Bravo! Foods International rather than the Coca-Cola Corporation may be that

  • CCE was able to move much faster to capitalize on an opportunity
  • Coca-Cola, in recent years, seems to be following rather than innovating and leading Coca-Cola
  • Organizational changes at the top and in the marketing organization have been somewhat distracting from marketplace trends and needs
  • CCE can function as a quasi co-packer whose historic role is to minimize risk until a new product is established in the marketplace

Swerve Believe it or not, although we are a name development company, we recognize that many elements of the marketing mix must work in harmony for a successful product introduction. We did identify, however, that one of Coke’s earlier attempts, in 2003, at a milk-based product called “Swerve,” did not connect with consumers. For instance, only 8% of consumers unaided thought it was a beverage while 29% felt it related to a car/driving.

Bravo!’s vitamin-fortified, flavored milk Slammers brand will be distributed by CCE to C-stores, vending and schools. This is an obvious good move for Coke since there is growing concern and criticism of soft drink companies targeting school children and the growing concern about childhood obesity and Type II diabetes.

Posted by William Lozito at 1:50 PM

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September 7, 2005

Enviga. New Product Name or Enigma?

Coca-Cola Enviga, a very new name for Coca Cola’s new carbonated, caffeinated green tea drink which has yet to be launched. There are, however, rumors that the Enviga name may change before going to market. This new Coke product, assigned to Saatchi & Saatchi, was developed to compete with Jana Skinny Water.Jana Skinny Water

This breakthrough diet drink uses thermogenesis to burn 50 to 100 calories just by drinking a 12 oz. serving. Developed in partnership with Nestlé, the new beverage product will target active lifestyle consumers.

The name, Enviga, is meant to play off the verb ‘invigorate.’ But it also correlates with other emotional English nouns such as vigor, vigilance, and envy. All of which could build a story about an inspirational brand that:

  • Energizes you
  • Helps you be vigilant about your weight
  • Makes others envious of your new, svelte figure

But what if the product falls short of its thermogenesis weight-loss claim?

What if Enviga simply doesn’t work?

Linguistically, the problem is easy to solve. By converting one letter, Coke can simply change ‘Enviga’ to ‘Enigma.’

Posted by William Lozito at 2:53 PM

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September 6, 2005

Sprint Follows the Yellow Brick Road

Sprint wisely has kept the Sprint brand since it is a stronger consumer brand with a rich heritage. Nextel, on the other hand, primarily has business customers as its base.

 New Sprint/Nextel LogoThe new Sprint logo incorporates Nextel's colors, yellow and black, which catch the eye. The yellow reminds one of the Yellow Pages and CNET's homepage, however. Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, formerly Nextel's agency, is the lead agency on creative for the national brand and consumer efforts.

Yellow has a special use in product naming. According to the recent thinking in color theory, it is associated with joy, happiness, intellect and energy.

Conversely, yellow often communicates caution according to Ries and Ries in the “22 Immutable Laws of Branding”, but "can help a brand burn its way into the mind.”

Although yellow may be a challenging color to execute on store signage, the Sprint logo incorporates a stylized bird wing suggesting flight and perhaps span. Plus the co-branding of both companies with "Together with Nextel" is fresh and original.

Posted by William Lozito at 9:29 AM

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September 2, 2005

Power Mac or Power Lunch? You Decide on Which G5!

George Foreman

The tenth anniversary of the partnership between George Foreman and Salton will be commemorated with the production of the new George Foreman® G5 Next Grilleration grill.

George Forman Grill The G5 marks one of the greatest stories of how properly naming a product can radically transform a business. In 1995, after naming a poorly selling health grill the “George Foreman Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine” and asking the hamburger loving heavyweight champ to be its spokesman, sales took off to represent more than 45% of the company's $922 million in revenue by 2002, making the Foreman Grill one of the great knock outs in the product naming business.

Macintosh G5 The G5 shares the same name as Apple’s Power Mac G5, which debuted in June 2003. Apple may skip the G6 moniker with its next generation computer to avoid potential confusion with the Pontiac G6.

Pontiac G6Pontiac introduced the G6 series, or Oprah car, which the talk show host gave out to surprised audience members in 2004 to mark the start of her 19th season.

And while the target market of Oprah-watching, burger-grilling computer aficionados out there may be small, it does make one wonder if somebody in charge of naming product extensions for Salton hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that “G” might represent more to consumers than simply “George” or “grill”.

Posted by William Lozito at 8:31 AM

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September 1, 2005

“Konglish” Gives Korean Businesses a Bad Name

Misused English words make effective corporate slogans in Korea, but they don’t impress foreigners. When the corporations in question are pursuing global markets, this is a serious problem.

Many Koreans are concerned by what the Corea Image Communication Institute characterizes as “marketing ineptitude” and “unsound and inconsistent” promotion efforts. Choe Yong-shik, author and marketing lecturer at Sejong University, claims “Konglish” is What’s Wrong with Korea’s Global Marketing.

HTH Logistics Logo For instance, consider HTH Logistics’ slogan “36.5°C Delivery Service.” The company is intending to convey a warm customer approach (36.5°C is the human body temperature in Celsius), but in the world's largest market, the U. S., we use Fahrenheit, and many are likely to miss the reference.

Even astute brand marketer Samsung stubs its toe with Konglish. The slogan for its life insurance business is “Bravo Your Life!” Bravo is not a verb, therefore the slogan should read “Bravo to You.”Samsung Life Insurance Logo

Western branding experts working in Korea fight an uphill battle against disorganized management, aversion to market research, and corruption. So far no one has made much headway against a corporate culture that isn’t willing to let marketing and communication professionals do what they do best.

Do U.S. companies embarrass themselves when advertising in foreign languages?

Posted by William Lozito at 10:26 AM

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Forget about it. SBC, that is.

SBC LogoWisely, SBC has decided to adopt the AT&T brand name worldwide.

Those outside the company considered the decision a “no brainer.” It is likely that those within SBC felt the same way.

However, it wouldn't be surprising if the company spent $1 million worldwide to research the decision.

AT&T Logo Ma Bell lives. Congratulations on the naming decision, SBC.

Posted by William Lozito at 9:03 AM

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