the product naming blog

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March 31, 2006

Links Du Jour

  • - This may be the dullest product name and brand proposition for an airline in the history of flight. No wonder it is being grounded. There may be a place for irreverent product names that reference women's anatomy. Airline travel is not one of them.
  • - Dennis Forbes has a great piece on building the perfect domain name. This is a crucial element of many companies' product naming strategies. Take a look!
  • - Interesting thoughts from a person in the business. I'm not sure it will affect our brand name research, but maybe this is one of those blogs that make you go hmmmmm.
  • - Guy Kawasaki has some interesting tips on how to compete by simply pursuing excellence over competitive advantage.
  • - Interesting take on how to creatively build the perfect brand... and career.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:55 AM

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Brand Naming: InterContinental Gambling on a Budget Brand

IHG is hunting for a to add to its collection. Already in control of the mid-priced InterContinental and Holiday Inn brands, IHG's new hotel brand name will be positioned below their Holiday Inn Express offering.

Starwood HiltonI think the new hotel brand name will dovetail nicely with the chain's plans on expanding through China and focusing on growth in the Asian gambling center of Macau, where, by the way, Hilton and Starwood are also launching their own hotel chains.

In my opinion this name development project offers a challenge to the person doing the brand name research and brand naming for the new budget hotel brand -should it be a name aimed solely at the Asian market or be with an universal appeal?

We will find out soon enough, probably within the next twelve months.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:25 AM

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March 30, 2006

Links Du Jour

  • - Dr. Pepper has nixed a $5 mil repositioning campaign that featured the "mashup" music of assorted rock and roll bands. Looks like the people doing the name research on this one decided against the weird term "mashup" as it applies to Dr Pepper (a "mashup" of 23 flavors) or else the music was just bad.
  • - Could it be that a treadmill/desk mashup (there's that word again!) is the way to fight obesity while at work?
  • - It's more modern, less wicker-ish. Looks like a slick revamp of a trusted brand name.
  • - Another writer has latched on to our fascination with .
  • - Vicks shows mom getting out of hand in the pharmacy. An irreverent commercial that might add a touch of humor to the staid world of OTC brand names.
  • - Seems to me that some groups just do not deserve to be referenced in popular ads. Linking your product name to anything like the KKK is unwise. There's a point when being irreverent crosses the line into being offensive.
  • - This is the March 28th post, look at the entire collection at . My favorite is the Scott Towel fountain - I think this gives real life to the product's brand proposition in regard to absorbency.
  • - Podcasts are taking over the education sphere, and there are already companies out there that are acting as "podcast consultants". This has to be a new trend in product naming, one is called MPReach and helps teachers and students reach each other with thoughts, ideas, and educational materials via their ubiquitous iPods.
  • - Remember Bazooka Joe? He was the main character in the little comics you got in Bazooka Bubble gum comics that also gave you the opportunity to order x-ray sunglasses and whoopee cushions. He's being relaunched by Topps to the tune of $4 million. This brand name was a staple of my childhood and I'm glad that he's getting another crack at life. Go, Joe!

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Posted by William Lozito at 1:37 PM

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Product Naming: Wine Names Bring Out the Animal In Us

Marilyn MerlotIn my previous , I commented on the new product naming strategies the wine industry has embraced, including their move away from staid old estate names towards funkier names like "Fat Bastard" and "Marilyn Merlot".

The brand naming trend in wine has continued to move downscale, centering around , with wines like "Monkey Bay" and "Smoking Loon" outselling new non-animal brand names by almost 3 to 1.

I think customers just want wines that look cute on the table, and names like "Yellow Tail" seem to appeal to the drinker at the lower end of the wine scale (between $8-$12 per bottle).

In fact, when it comes to wines, downscale packaging with a funky label seems to work - plastic corks, even boxed wines are being snapped up by customers looking for an appealing quaff. My favorite animal name still is Goats-Do-Roam, from South Africa (referencing the Côtes du Rhône region).

Check out these for another laugh. If you'd like to keep up on the latest wine information, I highly recommend the blog. But first, read about from fellow Minnesotan Doug Williams' blog.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:00 AM

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March 29, 2006

Links Du Jour

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:42 PM

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Product Naming: Lego My Eggo!

Lego EggoI just saw an FSI ad for Kellogg’s new Eggo breakfast offering resulting from a promotional partnership of Eggo® and Lego®.

Not only does it make sense to create kids breakfast food in the playful form of a Lego, but the combination of the two product names, Eggo and Lego create a perfect rhyme resulting in a memorable and sonorous brand name.

Rhyme, after all, is a sweet emotive experience. Perfect rhymes are an American birthright. Baby Boomers like me were literally raised on rhyme. We lived in a world populated with Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose; Ring Dings and Burger Kings; Dairy Queen and Lean Cuisine.

IZODSo, when creating product names that may eventually find a promotional partner, the rhyme factor is a legitimate consideration.

iPodUnfortunately, there are some product names that will never rhyme with anything: W, Tommy Hilfiger and Orville Redenbacker, for example, have infinitely poor prospects for promotional poetry.

On the other hand, many well-known brands, although they have yet to exploit it, possess the power of perfect rhyme that is waiting to be unleashed. Here’s just a smattering of potential product name partnerships ready to rhyme in prime time. Can you think of more?

  • Barbie and Arby
  • Wonder Bread and The Grateful Dead
  • iPod and Izod
  • Glade and Raid
  • Microsoft and Ann Taylor Loft
  • Apple and Snapple
  • Sara Lee and Applebee
  • Botox and Clorox
  • Prozac and Cadillac

Note from the product naming police: Remember, you can have many Eggos, but Eggo Lego is never Eggo Legos.

For more about this new product, Andrew Becraft's blog has an you should check out. So does Nick Vagnoni, in his .

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:37 AM

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March 28, 2006

Company Naming: Nice Merger, What Are Ya Gonna Call It?

SearsThe doomed acquisition of Kmart by Sears has in a merger without a store brand name one year later.

It seems incredible to me that two iconic names in American retail simply cannot perform sufficient brand name research to survive heavy competition from Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and the rest. Sure, one new hybrid brand limped into focus shortly after the takeover, called Sears Essentials, but it quickly disappeared into the equally disappointing and old fashioned Sears Grand name.

The term "Essentials" is simply overused in the brand naming business, used to describe everything from to to . And Sears Grand? Meaningless. Still, Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a 120-year-old brand name steeped in tradition.

Can it be true with all their history they can't come up with a decent name for themselves? They've got to get it right or face being wiped off the big box map.

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Posted by at 3:55 PM

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March 27, 2006

In Search of a Brand Name

What's missing from a country that produces "...three quarters of the world's notebook computers, two-thirds of its personal digital assistants and nearly 70 percent of its liquid crystal display monitors..."?

According to the Taiwanese government, its recognizable brand names. Taiwan feels China "breathing down their neck" as that country continues to manufacture more and more high-tech products.

BenQProbably the best-known technology brands coming out of Taiwan are Acer, (which is the successor company name to Acer), and . I probably don't have to state that these aren't household names yet. Nor are they particularly user-friendly to the Western world.

Acer is probably the best known as the world's fourth largest laptop maker and has a good presence in big box retailers such as Best Buy, CompUSA, and Circuit City.

The BenQ name is derived from the company vison of Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life. I think this is a decent tagline or slogan, but a rather meaningless brand name.

ASUSI'm not sure what to think about the Asustek brand name, commonly referred to as ASUS. The company indicates that ASUS is from Pegasus, the winged horse of mythology and TeK is the phonetic spelling of tech, for technology.

I don't think it's the easiest brand name to pronounce, however, China's Lenovo sounded strange to me at first but the multi-million dollar media effort is quickly making the name as common as ThinkPad.

In the brand name arena, I think the Taiwanese should aspire to be as good at brand naming as they are at manufacturing high tech products.

For more news on this subject, read this morning's Seattle Times article, .

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:37 PM

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Wanna Name a Typhoon?

You can rename the Longwang (means dragon king) typhoon of 2005.

For your ideas on brand names to rename this typhoon, just go to or .

You can also vote on the typhoon name candidates as well. The World Meteorological Organization Typhoon Committee will announce the new typhoon name choice in November of this year.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:18 AM

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Links Du Jour

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:03 AM

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Brand Naming: Megamalls Rebranded as Gigamalls

NameI read about a buzzword of the future that represents some interesting product naming opportunities: Gigamalls.

According to a recent article in Gigamalls are going to be family-friendly themed "hypermarkets" with a truly international flair. Shoppers will glide between floors using automatic, ramped "travelators" that are magnetized to keep metal shopping baskets in place. These are already being designed in Arabian countries, where the mall has been brought to a virtual art form.

The gigamall will be chiefly characterized by its great size and numerous floors, a departure overseas where mall dwellers prefer one to two floors for their shopping. Some serious brand name research will have to be done to find names that link the concept of the mall with the concept of the sky or the feeling of height.

I think one thing is for certain, though. Mall developers might consider talking to a brand naming company, because I can't see kids of the future saying they're going to go hang out at the "gigamall" or shootin' the breeze at the "gig". Maybe Google should get in on the naming trend and build its own "Gmall" to complement its .

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:32 AM

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March 24, 2006

Links Du Jour

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:12 PM

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Product Naming: Motorcycle Names May Unlock the Male Mind

PassionI read a very interesting article posted on , explaining how motorcycle brand names in India are capturing the elusive male mood.

Some of the brand names developed by HERO Honda Motors, India, include Splendour (the world’s top selling motorcycle), Achiever, Pleasure, Passion, Karizma, and Glamour. HERO Honda itself is a company name that captures the idea of men aspiring to be heros.

It seems to me that motorcycles are no longer just an inexpensive way to get around - they are aspirational brands and style products, reflecting as much about you as your clothes, or so claim the people at Suzuki, who offer the brand names Heat and Zeus.

In the U.S., Honda sells a tremendous of motorcycles, including the Elite, Ruckus, Scrambler, Rebel and Fatcat. Let's not forget Harley Davidson’s Sportster or the cool-to-be-overweight-reinforcing Fat Boy.

SplendourI am finding that other bike brand names are following suit. Guy Kawasaki, who has a very successful , may be interested to know that when it comes to aspirational product names for motorcycles, his namesake’s brands are the most dour, including the Kawasaki Eliminator and Mean Streak.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:14 AM

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March 23, 2006

Links Du Jour

  • - Seems as if a little slacking goes a long way in making us more creative.
  • - Pickle Theory: The "perceived value" of your company, and how it goes up and down from when you start the enterprise to when you start making money.
  • - Wal-Mart Recruits Bloggers? Is Wal-Mart using bloggers to counter recent negative PR about the store?
  • - Cheap cold medicines like Sine-Off have often been the base for the creation of methamphetamine, but no more, as Sine-Off changes its formula and its brand to keep people clean. Will it really work?
  • - NCAA March Madness on Demand is in full steam, slamming the critics who sad that on demand video stream sports would never fly. 1.2 million video streams later, we find the doubters were wrong: we are indeed willing to watch sports on the laptop.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:48 AM

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March 22, 2006

Linguistic Leftovers

ZenithEven though technology generates new words almost daily, language doesn’t always keep up with the world we’re living in. (a new word) talk about “tuning in” to their web-delivered mp3 audio files, not to mention “rewinding” them and being “on the air.” There’s nothing to wind in a digital audio file, and the only air involved is between headphones and eardrums. Nor is any tuning required. The very word “podcast,” a combination of the brand name, “iPod”, and the word “broadcast”, contains an inaccuracy.

New media like podcasts and blogs are better described as “narrowcasts” or even “pointcasts” - delivered directly to individual readers and listeners through the mysterious magic of RSS (Really Simple Syndication).

I think it's just a matter of people only understanding new things by referring to things we’re already familiar with. The ancient Greeks were already well aware of this, and used the verb proseikazein to describe that act of comparing and likening.

For those who grew up without cable television, it’s natural to think in terms of “tuning in” and being “on the air.” Broadcast TV and radio still exist, transmitting signals on specific frequencies and requiring some form of antenna with which to tune in. These days the transmission is as likely to go via satellite as radio tower, but the principle is the same.

8-TrackLikewise any experience with film reels (or film cameras, for that matter), 8-track tapes, audiocassettes, and even VHS makes it easy to think in terms of “rewinding.” What actually happens when you skip back or forward through a digital audio or video file is more complex than rolling a magnetic tape or film strip around a spindle. Learning to use the technology can be hard enough, without taking the extra time to learn how it works and to describe it accurately.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 9:23 AM

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Kobe Naming Rights for Sale

Mainichi Daily NewsNo. I don't mean Kobe Bryant. I mean Kobe, Japan.

The municipal government of Kobe, Japan offered the naming rights to 690 bus stops within the city to raise money and create a "tighter knit community", said the .

Surprise! Bids for the bus stop names came primarily from brothels, fortune tellers, and loan sharks. One can only imagine what some of the names submitted were.

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Posted by at 8:29 AM

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March 21, 2006

Great Brand Names in Search of a Market

I've always liked the brand name and product.

As you may know, Segway is the phonetic spelling of segue, which means to proceed or follow to the next song. A perfect product name. The Segway is a human transporter to get one from point A to point B.

CentaurThe company recently introduced another product with an evocative and appropriate brand name. The Centaur is a four-wheel device that is propelled by a combination of human power and horsepower in the form of a battery. Again, as you may know, in early Greek literature, centaurs were the first expert riders that were half human and half horse, and the source of many fables.

In my opinion, these product names, or brand names, are evocative, clever, and fit the products and their target market. Both the Segway and Centaur are relatively high-ticket items that would likely appeal to the well-heeled and sophisticated.

CentaurI'm less enthralled with the company's tagline or slogan of "Get Moving." This tagline could apply to many products in many categories and therein lies its weakness.

Although the brand naming is great, observers have noted that these are products in search of a market.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:29 AM

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March 20, 2006

Brand Naming: A Case of a Missing Vowel

Alphabet SoupMotorola popularized it with RAZR. Reebok pioneered the concept many years ago with RBK.

I’m talking about brand names or product names that have eliminated a vowel.

Check out this interesting article in the March 19th issue of the Boston Globe that identifies many product names that have eliminated a vowel:

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Posted by Diane Prange at 4:00 PM

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Brand Naming: Operation Swarm or Swarmer?

Operation SwarmerOperation Swarmer is the name given by the U.S. Military to its new Iraqi initiative, the largest air and ground combat operation since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Let me be clear, I’m not questioning the intended meaning of this brand name (yes, this is a brand name) but, I do question its grammatical legitimacy.

Drawing a metaphor from the agitated movements of a swarm of bees, the concept of swarm may be appropriate. However, the use of swarmer is not. According to the , a swarmer is

1. One of a number that swarm

2. A flagellated motile cell produced by the stalked cell of certain species of stalked bacteria

3. One beehive adapted for swarming from which a swarm is sent forth

Since there are more than 1500 troops involved in this operation, the first definition cannot apply. And, because we are talking about soldiers and not biological weapons, the second definition is also out.

The third definition only fits if all the troops are coming from one concentrated location and heading in a concentrated manner to another as a single entity. While this might have been semantically appropriate for the original Operation Swarmer (a series of airborne maneuvers in 1950 in North Carolina after which a swarm was deployed to Korea to provide airborne capability to General Douglas Macarthur) it is not the case in Iraq, where troops are coming from all over Iraq by air and by land to swarm in on one northern operating area.

Eats, Shoots & LeavesI have no way of knowing who in the U.S. military developed the brand name Swarmer, but some brand name research may have been in order. I have a feeling it wasn’t Dick Cheney. Dick, as you know, is more practiced in the fine art of English. After all, he .

For more information, Bill Roggio's The Fourth Rail blog has a detailed account of and this blog post has some commentary about the Operation as well.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:42 AM

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March 17, 2006

Brand Naming: The Alphabet Soup of Naming

Alphabet SoupI’m pleased that the March 17th article, When a Drug Maker Creates a New Pill, Uncle Sam Vets Name, has shed light on the challenges and difficulties of developing a new drug brand name.

It’s fair to say that naming a new drug is likely the most challenging of naming assignments. However, I think those of us in the brand naming game could say that about most of naming assignments since clients seem to want short, evocative names, that are trademarkable, and agreeable to management up the food chain within the organization.

With anywhere from 240-280,000 U.S. Trademark applications per year and only 80,000 words in the typical college dictionary, this makes our work challenging, interesting, rewarding, and most of all, fun. I’m reminded of the famous Confucious saying, “Find something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” That’s how the Strategic Name Development team feels about its work.

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Posted by William Lozito at 6:01 PM

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Trademark Squatters May Have Already Stolen Your Name

China FlagA March 7 article on , which I found helpful, advises US companies who plan on doing business with China in any capacity to immediately trademark all of their brand names in that country.

Chinese name hijackers are trolling about looking for brand names they can quickly trademark taking advantage of China’s "first to file system" regarding trademarks. The problem is compounded by the fact that many US companies are unaware that there is simply no such thing as an internationally recognized trademark.

As you may recall, I discussed in and , the challenges Starbucks is having in China protecting its trademark and logo and the many thousands of dollars in legal fees associated with this.

The phenomenon of stealing product names is a throwback to the well known scam of , where unsavoury computer geeks snapped up well known product and company names, added a .com and registered them, forcing the real companies to buy back their own domains at inflated prices. A typical name trademark in China will set you back about $1000. I consider that a good move.

For some additional information about trademarking and squatting, visit , which I find very insightful and detailed.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:55 AM

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March 16, 2006

Product Naming: Barbie Beaten by the Bratz

BratzI found a recent article that points out what parents of little girls everywhere have already discovered: Barbie is "dead", and long live the Bratz, the "Girls with a Passion for Fashion".

At least one Standard and Poor analyst has that the Barbie brand has been "permanently weakened" by the new Bratz: a gaggle of clothes-and-makeup obsessed, pouty-mouthed dolls that look too cool (and too edgy) to even bother stealing Ken from goody-two-shoes Barbie.

BoyzntheHoodBrand names ending in a letter "z" gained popularity with the advent of the 1991 "Boyz n the Hood" movie. This naming technique is used across many categories:

  • Oreo Cookie Barz
  • Jim Beam Sourz whiskey
  • Twizzlerz Sourz
  • Chainz puzzle game

But don't' forget the Kraft's Cheez Wiz, which has been enjoyed by generations of children and adults, existed way before the "Boyz n the Hood" movie.

BratzThe name Bratz, with its use of the "z" to signify the edginess of hip hop urban life, fits nicely into the street 'tude that is sold to young kids. The Bratz' online and offline sales material use words like kickin' cool, superstylin and scorchin as opposed to the much more wholesome sales copy used to sell Princess Barbie.

One woman academic says the Bratz look like a "pack of sultry hookers", but admits that Barbie is now "for babies" and the edgier, . Their creators, MGA entertainment, sold 50 million dolls and moved $600 million of in their first three years of existence (2001-2003).

Sorry, Barbie, I think at 50 years old, you just can't keep up - even now that you have a to play with. Today's young girl doesn't want the wholesome cuteness of Barbie, she wants the brattiness of the Bratz - and no boyz allowed.

For more on Bratz check out these blogs:

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Posted by Katya Miller at 12:15 PM

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March 15, 2006

Brand Naming: Naturally Nepal Should Try to Be More than Just “Enough”

Nepal Tourism LogoNepal a repositioning of its tourism brand on March 5: “Naturally Nepal”, with the slogan Once is not enough. I think the colors that are associated with the brand positioning are fresh and bright - possibly too bright, reminiscent of those found in a set of highlighter markers. The CEO of Nepal’s tourism board lauds the new brand, promising that it will promote Nepal’s “true feeling of hospitality, smiling people, festivals throughout the year, extreme adventure and air sports, and meditation".

This new slogan reminded me of Al Reis’s recent commentary in entitled “Why Guatemala’s New Tourism Slogan Doesn’t Work”. Guatemala’s new slogan is Soul of the Earth. Reis suggests that they look at the opposite of their slogan and see if it “applies to the competition”.

Nepal Tourism LogoNepal fails this test. What if another far flung, beautiful place like Cape Town, South Africa went head to head against Nepal in a travel magazine using the slogan Cape Town: Once IS Enough. Which would seem more appealing? I would guess that the average big spender long hauler is out for a trip of a lifetime, and wants to ensure his junket to the end of the earth is indeed enough. Granted, Nepal does want to become a travel destination of choice for Indians, but if I lived in Bombay I would rather return, again and again, to a place where once is enough because that would mean twice is more than enough.

blog addresses some other timely tourism advertising and so does . Also check out , where he comments on his state's new slogan ().

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Posted by at 10:22 AM

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March 14, 2006

Brand Naming: Where are the BMW Brand Police?

The BMW Company LogoForgive my indulgence in a little , but I find it heartening to discover that even the world's largest manufacturer of premium automobiles has trouble controlling how consumers translate its name.

Or is this a precursor to the much talked about concept these days of the "consumer owning the brand"? It's predicted that with the advent of Web 2.0 social networking companies such as , the balance of power is shifting from companies and institutions to consumers like you and me.

BMW AG, of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, or in English, Bavarian Motor Works, is, in German pronounced "bay emm vay."

In North America, however, BMW cars are commonly called "bimmers," (in the German language, the correct pronunciation of the term "bimmer" is "beemer.")

“Beemer" is adapted from the early-20th-Century British pronunciation of BSA, another motorcycle that was often racing against BMWs. Over time, the term became closely associated with BMW motorcycles, however.

Eventually the beemer pronunciation of the word was attached almost exclusively to its auto. And from there, Beemer transmogrified into a cornucopia of uncontrollable cross-cultural translations.

In Russia, for example, the car is considered a Bummer – which, in the U.S., is analogous to a bad drug experience.

In Lithuania, on the other hand, consumers actually feel safe driving in a sturdy Bambalis - a name that is achingly similar to the German word Bambus, which means bamboo.

In Greece, the Ultimate Driving Machine is a Beba – close in pronunciation to the German verb beben which means to shake, quake or rattle.

I find it most disheartening, in Mexico, drivers can park their BM just about anywhere – which, according to our American Miss Manners, is not the proper thing to do with one’s bowel movement (BM).

For more variations on how BMW Beemer is pronounced in different cultures, check out The Bimmer’s Bavaria on .

BMW enthusiasts, I think, will find these blogs very interesting: , , and .

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:23 AM

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March 13, 2006

Product Naming: Doublemint May Make You Do a Doubletake

Doublemint2.psdWrigley’s has introduced its very first new non-gum product in nearly a century. It’s called , a mint that comes in Wintercreme and Mintcreme, a similar nomenclature to the rest of Wrigley’s gum flavors (Doublemint, Freedent, Winterfresh). I think that the Doublemint brand name extension will, stick with the consumer (pun intended).

Wrigley’s sees this as an innovation on the very popular , which was launched in 1914.

I suppose that the move from gum to mints is partly in reaction to similar brand introductions from Wrigley’s arch competitor , which offers consumers Certs Cool Mint drops and Certs Powerful Mints as well as a host of gums -- such as Trident, Dentyne, Splash and Bublicious.

I think that the Doublemint Twins mint brand is a shrewd move, because it leverages a well-known brand name with an icon of American advertising since the 1930s: the Doublemint, which will be trotted out this time to promote the mint.

For additional information on Wrigley’s Doublemint Twins mint product, visit the and the .

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:26 PM

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March 10, 2006

Brand Naming: Planes, Trains, and Cliffriders?

Tata CliffriderThe new Cliffrider by Tata Motors was recently launched at the Geneva Motor Show. It is described in a recent on Autoblog as a “multi-utility vehicle”. I think the "MUV" is trying to be everything to everybody.

There seems to be a universal disdain in the blogoshpere for the company’s car, puzzlement over the name Cliffrider, and jokes about “bodacious tatas”. Tata is an eponymous name from the company's founder, Sir Jamshedji Tata, and Tata Motors is India’s largest auto group.

I think the Cliffrider brand name is unfortunate, but there is no excuse for the Cliffrider brand, which has to be one of the worst ever for a car, along with the . Cars are simply not supposed to ride cliffs, even cross-over .

Tata CliffriderAlthough India is the second fastest growing economy in the world after China, when it comes to brand naming, the emerging companies in India are still in the adolescent phase.

Keep up on the naming of new cars by regularly visiting the blog and the blog.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:05 AM

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March 9, 2006

Product Naming: The Starbucks Rwanda Blue Bourbon

Starbucks Rwanda Blue BourbonStarbucks Has a New, Blue Coffee That Makes You Drunk...Or Not...

I noticed that Starbucks has a new addition to its Black Apron Exclusives line of high-end coffees: The , and it is neither blue nor does it taste like bourbon. In terms of the product name origin, the “blue” refers to the color of the coffee cherries while the bourbon is the name of the species of Arabica beans.

I think Starbucks may have conducted brand name research on this name. In fact, the Bourbon name is from the same source as the bourbon drink, a variety of coffee invented and grown by the French and for decades on the Island of Reunion. The name is seductive and exotic, enticing for those of us who adore coffee in all its forms. The product naming, however, will have at least a few consumers thinking that Africans have found a new, blue cup o’ joe.

Starbucks Rwanda Blue BourbonThe Starbucks product line has been very popular, a godsend for the real coffee lover who wants a cup of real Kona, for instance, or some good Ethiopian. I can safely assume the Black Apron name comes from the distinctive black aprons worn by Starbucks employees. I understand the Black Apron line of coffees is part of Starbucks’ attempt to become a more socially responsible company: $15,000 is being donated to participating communities to build public facilities.

seems to think that based on the strength of the product name alone, this coffee will be a favorite.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:34 AM

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March 8, 2006

Product Naming: The Ma Bell Name Just Won't Die

Name"Ma Bell lives". That's what I said in my September 1st blog post of AT&T's decision to call the combined AT&T and SBC merger, AT&T. Of course, I had no idea of AT&T's intention to also acquire BellSouth.

It had been called Ma Bell for decades ever since its 1899 acquisition of the (the REAL Ma Bell), which in turn had been started by Alexander Graham Bell himself, two decades earlier. The smaller companies that accrued from the 1983 anti-trust lawsuit became known as “Baby-Bells”, even though they had nothing to do with either Alexander Graham Bell or the Bell Telephone Company, and we just went right on calling AT&T "Ma Bell", even though it was no longer the mother of all telephone companies and its association with Bell Telephone Company was the stuff of history books.

NameSo, it seems to me that saying you have to pay “Ma Bell’s” bill is a little like saying you want to get something out of the “icebox.” Fact is, calling the phone company Ma Bell just dates you, because the term has been dead for almost 23 years, since before mobile phones, before cordless, before the Internet.

Nonetheless, as AT&T eyes a takeover of BellSouth Corp, the press has been trotting out the Ma Bell moniker. The Chicago Sun-Times says and MSNBC, a company that was not even conceivable when Ma Bell was broken up, tells us .

NameI think if the deal does go down, AT&T should revamp its logo (again) and bring back the Bell that started this all in the first place and bow to history by saying to the world “Ma’s Back”.

Who will AT&T acquire next? Watch out remaining Baby Bells!

For more information on the merger, visit the following blogs:

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:41 AM

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March 7, 2006

Naming: Bad Spelling Might Make a Good Name

GoogleA recent article in the made me think of all the names out there that are "misspelled", that is, presented phonetically or otherwise, to catch our attention. The classic example is Google, which is a derivation of "Googol", the number made by the number one followed by one hundred zeros.

FlickrOther names mentioned in the Guardian article include a number of Web 2.0 company names such as , , , , and .

Although not the first recent example of a brand name deleting a vowel in a natural language word, Motorola's RAZR gave this naming technique significant visibility.

To many things in life, I think there's a yin and yang to them. That being the case, I predict that future product names will add a vowel to a natural language word. By the way, both dropping and adding a vowel to a natural language word, I think, is a great way to enhance the defensibility of a product name, service name, or company name.

Other well-known names have dropped a vowel according to the blog.

My favorite is "Hotmail", which is just a riff on "HTML", followed by eBay, which is a shortening of Echo Bay", a name chosen because Pierre Omidyar, the company's founder, thought it just "sounded cool."

Another I found had an interesting post on spelling and marketing, with some comments about the iPod. Check it out.

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Posted by Katya Miller at 8:30 AM

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March 6, 2006

Product Naming: It's Dynamo

NameHouston's Major League Soccer team it's name from 1836 to Dynamo.

Last week, I on the Houston 1836 Soccer team name blunder. As you may recall, they referred to themselves as 1836. Although this represented the liberation of Texas from Mexico, it was found offensive to many people of Mexican ancestry, who make up 20% of the Texas population.

"Dynamo is a word to describe someone who never fatigues, never gives up," said Team President and General Manager Oliver Luck, during a press conference this morning.

The new name, Dynamo, is a vast improvement over 1836. Names that consist of only numbers or acronyms are generally difficult to remember. What I like about Dynamo is that I consider soccer a very dynamic and high-contact sport.

For more about the re-naming of Houston's soccer team visit these blogs that I found to have some interesting debate: , , or , which listed alternatives to the 1836 name submitted by Houstonians.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:35 AM

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Don't Drink and Drive

This blog post has nothing to do with naming, branding, or linguistics. But, it has everything to do with life.

Your life, and the life of others around you.

The following two TV ads were created by DDB Canada to discourage drinking and driving. They’re very graphic and I think that’s what makes them very effective.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:56 AM

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March 3, 2006

Product Naming: A Ferrari Named For Racetrack Curves

FerrariFerrari recently the new Fiorano 599 GTB at the Geneva auto show, an incredibly fast closed coupe (berlinetta) named after the company’s test track. The “599” represents the car’s 5.99 litre engine, and “GTB” stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta.

FerrariProbably no sports car company on earth has more evocative names for their cars, most often taken either from the names of Ferrari family members (Dino, Enzo) or from racing locations (Superamerica, Mondail, Daytona). My favorite Ferrari name is, of course, that of the , which means, simply “red head” after the red cylinder head on its flat-12 engine.

I think the Cavallino Rampante (the small black horse on its hind legs that makes up the Ferrari logo) continues to provide beautiful names for their beautiful machines. Bravo, Ferrari.

For more reviews of car and truck introductions, read Tapscott's . To read about what other Ferrari enthusiasts are saying, you need to check out the . Now, if you're truly an obsessed Ferrari fan, I found Anthony Lazzaro's blog to be entertaining.

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Posted by at 3:24 PM

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March 2, 2006

Product Naming: Paris Hilton Smells "Hot"

Paris Hilton fragranceParis Hilton wants it all. And now she has a scent for all: and .

Hers are more in a long line of fragrances bearing , including offerings from Sarah Jessica Parker, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyonce Knowles. Although the celebrity fragrance market is becoming pretty crowded, I don't think that bothers someone like Paris Hilton, since nothing seems to bother her.

I also have to wonder if people are buying these scents to smell like the luminaries they're named after...or to be like them. It's probably both. However, perfumes and colognes are one of the best examples of aspirational brands.

Donald Trump fragranceThese days, I think people are fascinated by Paris Hilton and whatever brand she associates herself with. But will guys buy a scent that is named after a female sex symbol? You bet they will. Wearing a Paris Hilton scent trumps the (cologne). My guess is that the Paris Hilton brand name will be worth 5 share points in the fragrance and cologne markets.

I prefer the new Yardley creation “”, a fragrance for both men and women. A scent with a name like that tells you exactly what you are getting: a scent to wear out for a good time.

To read more about celebrity fragrances, check out what Robin K has to say in her blog about perfumes, "".

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:50 PM

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March 1, 2006

Product Naming: Heineken Takes the Leap into Light

Heineken LightLight beer lovers should prepare themselves for a new brand soon to hit the markets: Heineken Premium Light. This brand is aimed squarely at the late twenty-something crowd of guys who like high end beer. The Heineken Premium Light name may not sound inspired but according to the , there may be more here than meets the eye. First, Heineken has not simply offered up another ”light” beer (eg. Heineken Light), it has offered us a premium light beer, and there is indeed a difference.

Heineken has noted a gap in the light beers market at the premium end, a gap currently being filled by Heineken’s brand (aimed at women), while mainstream light beers from Bud and Corona battle it out at the lower end of the scale. Heineken Premium Light is meant to attract the Bud or Corona drinker who wants to “trade up” to something a little more sophisticated. Heineken will go against Michelob’s Ultra Amber with a slightly higher price position and an emphasis on “smooth”.

I wonder why Heineken has shied away from offering us a light beer in the past. Could it be a focus to avoid diluting the Heineken brand?

One marketer noted that both beer and soda companies have been traditionally shy to take the leap to light - Coke’s first diet drink was Tab, not Coke Light, and Bud’s was , not Bud Light. But sooner or later, even a pure brand like Heineken has to get thirsty for larger market share.

If you're thirsty for more beer, check out and .

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Posted by at 12:16 PM

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