June 30, 2006
So many things to blog about, so little time.
Have a great 4th of July weekend and remember, although it's Independence Day, if it weren't for the men and women in uniform, we wouldn't have the luxury of deciding whether or not we want to eat a hot dog or hamburger, attend fireworks or not, or be with family and friends.
God bless the men and women in uniform, and God bless America.
June 29, 2006
In our recent blog post, How Important is Memorability and Pronunciation in IPO Naming?, we wrote about the May 2006 Princeton University study, which discussed how a company name can positively or negatively impact the value of its IPO stock. Short and pronounceable names were shown to affect the value of stock performance by as much as 333%.
This same research uncovered some interesting findings about rhyme. According to the authors, people are also more inclined to believe statements that rhyme (e.g., woes unite foes is more believable than woes unite enemies). This has implications for taglines, slogans, product names, and even company names.
Naturally, this is good news for speakers of Romance languages to which rhyme is natural – but Germanic languages like English suffer from a paucity of rhyme words. For example, nothing rhymes with poetry, orange, month, or business - come to think of it, nothing rhymes with nothing.
That doesn’t mean there are no brilliant marketing slogans that rhyme in English – there are. Or rather, there have been – since these perfect rhyme examples are all quite dated:
- "The quicker picker-upper" (Bounty)
- "Fill it to the rim with Brim"
- "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux"
- "Don’t get mad. Get GLAD"
- "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking" (Timex)
In the case of Brim, Glad and Electrolux, the slogans are made even stronger because the brand name is part of the tagline rhyme. Perhaps the longest, but best example of this is the slogan:
- “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”
Compare the above rhyming slogans to the dominating brand taglines of today. Which do you think are more memorable?
- My Life. My Card. (American Express)
- Safe Happens (VW)
- Imagination at Work (GE)
- I’m lovin’ it (McDonald’s)
- It’s the Cola (Pepsi)
- Region Specific Company Naming - Joe Rawlinson asks if all companies with regionally specific company names or brand names (Northwest Airlines, for example) do business in their representative geographic area... and illustrates the possible consequences when they don’t anymore.
- What’s in a brand name? More than you think - Pamela Slim discusses two important aspects to consider when developing a brand name: the brand and the unique selling proposition. Most impressive, is Pam’s suggestion on what to do next: test your brand name with your target market – it’s well-worth the outcome.
- Cristal kicks itself - This post by Laua Ries shows exactly what can happen to brand identity when the association between a brand name and a market segment is broken...by some unfortunate publicity.
June 28, 2006
We recently conducted proprietary research among a national random sample of 414 consumers and found some interesting associations that consumers have with the consonants in the English language.
For instance, X, Z, Q, and V are associated with innovation (think XM Satellite Radio or the new Motorola Q Smartphone).
While L, V, F, and W are considered feminine (think Venus or Victoria's Secret), X, M, and Z are viewed as masculine (think Nissan Xterra or Marlboro).
One of the benefits of this research is that it gives us and our clients a common language to speak in and reduces some of the inherent subjectivity when selecting a name candidate.
No, it's not a perfect science. But we're finding it to be a very helpful brand naming tool.
Most of the nine major planets in our Solar System have Roman names. Earth, of course, is English. Science fiction authors have preferred to use the Latin “Terra” instead. “Uranus” is actually Greek, though with a Latinized spelling. Ouranos was the god of the sky, grandfather of Kronos, the Greek equivalent of Saturn and the father of Jupiter. Thus the planets follow a logical pattern: son, father, grandfather.
Beyond them lies Pluto, god of the underworld (aka Hades), and in naming the planet’s two recently-discovered moons, the International Astronomical Union chose to continue the underworld theme by going with Nyx and Hydra. Except that the IAU elected to spell “Nyx” with an “i.” Nyx is the Greek goddess of night, mother of Ouranos. But “Nix”? The “ix” ending looks more Roman, but the Roman Nyx is Nox. Now Pluto has a moon named “Nothing.” Ixnay that.
Almost all of the bodies in the Solar System have names taken directly from mythology. Most are from Greek or Roman mythology, but to cover the minor moons of Saturn, astronomers started delving into Norse, Inuit, and Gallic names for giants (this because a Titan is a giant of sorts). Other moon names (including Hydra) leave the “y” intact. Harpalyke and Kalyke and Eurydome might possibly be easier to pronounce if spelled with a “y” instead of an “i,” never mind Ymir and Thrymr.
So why nix Nyx? Because “Nyx” is already taken, by a near-Earth object I’d never heard of. The more objects we find, the harder it is to come up with names.
This holds true for brand naming or product naming in general, or naming a company. And, this holds true for astronomy, of course. The astronomical use of mythological figures is so strong, it restricts the pool of available names. Or, more accurately, it restricts the pool of familiar names.
Most people of European descent are familiar with Greek and Roman mythology—usually in a distorted form suitable for small children. Norse and Celtic myth may also be familiar. But not many English-speakers, scientists or otherwise, know much Inuit, Polynesian, Maori, etc. mythology.
Chances are that as we explore space, we’ll end up with more and more unfamiliar names for what we find. And, you may have noticed this is the case for brand names, product names, and company names in general.
June 27, 2006
Jean Halliday of Advertising Age is on top of what is going on in the auto industry.
Her June 26th article that appeared in Automotive News highlights the frequency in which a number of auto brands have changed their tagline or slogan.
As you can see, even the biggest and the best have difficulty sticking to a marketing strategy and related slogan or tagline.
|The Spirit of American Style||2002|
|It's All Good||2001|
|The Power of &||1999|
|Pontiac||Designed for Action||2005|
|Fuel for the Soul||2002|
|Pass it On||2001|
|Saturn||Like Always. Like Never Before||2006|
|It's Different in a Saturn||2002|
|A Different Kind of Car Company||1990|
|BMW||The Ultimate Driving Machine||1980s|
|Mercury||New Doors Opened||2004|
|Live Life in Your Own Lane||1999|
|Imagine Yourself in a Mercury||1996|
Source: Advertising Age
June 26, 2006
Mike Tumolillo of the Albuquerque Tribune, recently wrote a very interesting article on company naming. Although his focus was on businesses in the Albuquerque area, the insights can apply to naming a company in general.
I was asked to provide some thoughts on naming a business in several different situations. It's a lengthy and thoughtful article, worth the read.
I promised to keep you up to date on the naming of 12 baby gorillas in Rwanda.
As you recall, this was Rwanda’s second annual baby gorilla naming effort designed to raise money and boost tourism in Rwanda.
Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, named two baby gorillas Urumuli (light) and Agaseke (decorated basket), respectively. Again, as you may recall, the UK Ambassador to Rwanda named one of the baby gorillas Big Ben.
I’ll keep you posted.
June 25, 2006
I have always been fascinated by space and the universe.
So I was very interested to learn that Pluto’s new moon names are Nix and Hydra, which join Pluto’s previously known moon, Charon. As you may be aware, the nomenclature for naming a new moon or planet is based on characters in ancient mythology. The International Astronomical Union very recently approved these moon names.
Nix (also spelled Nyx) is the Greek goddess of darkness and mother of Charon (the ferryman who brought the dead across the river Styx to the underworld), a fitting name since the Nix moon is barely visible. Hydra, on the other hand, is a multi-headed serpent, but I’m not sure how this relates to naming one of Pluto’s new moons after it.
I find it interesting that the nomenclature for celestial bodies is more organized that that of many companies, especially Microsoft.
In my May 18th Brand Naming: Live Has Many Lives At Microsoft post, I discussed how two divisions of Microsoft named different products “Live”.
Should Microsoft look to the stars for its naming convention? Or should they have conducted some brand name research?
June 24, 2006
The new Philadelphia area slogan is Forever Independent.
I applaud the notion of 16 tourism boards and business organizations in the Philadelphia area getting together to “speak with one voice.”
But what they have to say, in my opinion, is boring and a yawner. Yes the new Forever Independent slogan is unique to the area. It's where the Declaration of Independence was penned and home of the Liberty Bell.
However, the Forever Independent slogan just does not seem relevant today, nor does it seem particularly motivating for attracting tourism. It seems like a slogan to make the area feel good about itself, but not much else.
The images on the official Forever Independent website feel like I’ve seen them before. The same shots of smiling faces, colorful flowers and other beauty shots that could be from anywhere else. In fact the photos feels like stock photography.
The stylized image of the Liberty Bell is okay, but nothing unique or imaginative.
Any finally my biggest gripe is not the $200,000 spent to develop the new slogan, video and website, it’s that no funds have been allocated to promote the new Forever Independent slogan and that the area's 16 tourism boards and business organizations will maintain their individual slogans, websites and promotional efforts.
Here’s what other bloggers have to say about the new Philadelphia area slogan:
- The Poverty Jetset - Philadelphia. Do we really need to be defined?
- Philadelphia Will Do - Leftovers: The, Hey, It's Friday Edition
- Early Word - Excited by 'Forever Independent'?
June 23, 2006
From time to time we are asked, "Why is a name important?"
There are many, many answers to this question. One of the most important reasons for a brand name is that it conveys a promise.
For instance, if you buy an Apple computer, you just know it will be simple to use. If you buy a Volvo, you know it has been engineered for safety. And, if you drive a BMW, it promises the ultimate driving experience, which happens to be expressed in its tagline, The Ultimate Driving Machine.
A brand's promise easily explains why several airlines have change their names. The most recent example is Air Scotland, a budget carrier with a history of bad service and publicity, changing their name to TopJetAir.
But, Air Scotland's management may have stubbed their toe by rebranding themselves since Thomas Cook Airlines already uses "topjet" as its radio call sign. Furthermore, there's also a Topjet Executive air charter company.
In my earlier post of April 11th, I discuss beleaguered Olympic Airlines rebranding themselves Pantheon Airlines. And of course, we're all familier with ValuJet that crashed in the Florida Everglades and rebranding itself AirTran.
Stay informed of other airline news at the Airline Blog.
- Feeding The Inner Dummy - Tom Peters is no dummy! Tom promotes that popular series of books with the memorable brand name: Dummies. This is a great example of using your product name to speak directly to the frank mindset of your prospective customers.
- Branding without humour - Johnnie Moore asks the right questions. In this post, he writes about how companies respond to their customers’ brand dialogue, and questions where brand personality comes from – the marketing department, or your customers.
- Something mystical - A brand name that works evokes something mystical; a picture; something that stirs the soul.
- Trump Introduces "Signature" Watch. World Watches And Wonders Why. - First, we wrote about Trump cologne. Now, the Copyranter spots yet another Trump product capitalizing on his brand name: The “Signature” watch.
June 22, 2006
The parent company of Limited Too, Too, Inc., is changing their name to Tween Brands to better reflect its tween target market.
Should Masterfoods, Starburst, Smacker and Tween brands get together?
For instance, the new Starburst and Smacker cosmetics for tweens could be sold in the Limited Too stores...
Masterfoods, the owners of the Starburst candy brand, has licensed their name for a line of cosmetics.
The new line of shower products will include Smacker lip gloss and the Starburst name.
Is this a good idea? We think it's a great franchise extension opportunity for Masterfoods. Both the candy and the cosmetic line appeal to the same younger target market, and the target market will tell you that Smacker lip gloss is already like candy.
Do you have time for the answer? Actually “time” is the answer according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
The CNN.com article also listed the top 25 most popular nouns in the English language.
“The list of the top 25 nouns: time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem, fact.”
Do these findings have product naming and branding implications? You bet they do. If you want a distinctive and evocative brand name, one should probably avoid over-used words in the English language.
June 21, 2006
I just can't get Manitoba's new Spirited Energy slogan out of my mind.
Not because it's a great, or even a good, slogan. In my opinion, the Manitoba slogan is a misguided effort at best.
Judging by the recent press coverage and letters to the editor, most Manitobans are disappointed with the new slogan and its cost.
Here's a sampling of recent headlines:
- New brand is, in a word, lame-o
- Crybabies brand? 'Spirited energy' guy hates criticism
- We won't be branded like union cattle
- Public divided on new 'spirited energy' slogan (The Winnipeg Free Press)
- Feel it? Not yet (The Winnipeg Free Press Editorial)
- Branding plan fails to sizzle (The Winnipeg Free Press)
- Slogans! We don't need no stinkin' slogans! (The Winnipeg Free Press)
I think the Spirited Energy slogan is the symptom and the process of developing the slogan is the cause.
Let me explain. I think the objectives of the Manitoba slogan were aimed at too many key audiences, each with conflicting needs. The official Spirited Energy website indicates that the target market, or key audiences, are:
- Youth (18-25 year olds)
- General public
How can any one slogan or marketing initiative serve so many diverse audiences? It can't.
That's the core weakness of the Spirited Energy slogan. It's set out to satisfy too many Manitoban constituencies. Hopefully, the consulting firm that developed the slogan brought this to the attention of the Manitoban Image Strategy Development Task Force.
Furthermore, if the Spirited Energy slogan were targeted only to the 18-25 year olds, would that keep them from leaving Manitoba or encourage them to return? I think not.
If the Spirited Energy slogan were targeted only to the general public, would Manitobans feel better about poor garbage service, potholes, and other shortcomings? I think not.
If the Spirited Energy slogan were targeted only to businesses, would they be more interested in coming to Manitoba? Maybe. Maybe not. The pro-union attitude would be a barrier, but access to hydro power might be a plus.
If the Spirited Energy slogan were targeted only to tourists, would it encourage more tourism? Probably not. As I mentioned in my June 15th post announcing the new slogan, this is a generic slogan that could apply to numerous geographic locations - provinces, states, countries, cities, and towns.
Would Manitoba be better off doing what the what the Czech Republic just did? They abandoned their current slogan, Come and Slow Down, and returned to their previous slogan, A Symphony for the Senses. I say Yes. Friendly Manitoba has much broader appeal and meaning than Spirited Energy ever will.
Would Manitobans be better off doing what Tazmania is doing? The "Tasmanian government has given people from all walks of like the chance to have a say, [regarding a new slogan], instead of hiring a marketing agency to devise [a new slogan]". Only Manitobans can answer this question.
Manitoba, as well as many other political entities, should correct the root cause of its problems rather than relying on a slogan or marketing campaign alone to change perceptions. The government needs to walk the walk before talking the talk.
One final thought: could Manitoba build on its Friendly Manitoba slogan by adding to it? Such as, Friendly Manitoba. Always.? Or, is this a misguided suggestion? Again, only Manitobans can answer this question.
After several months and 10,000 entries, the new Goodyear blimp has been named Spirit of Innovation.
Although the other Goodyear blimps are named Spirit of Goodyear and Spirit of America, when I hear Spirit of Innovation, for some reason I'm reminded of the Spirit of St. Louis (the name of the plane Lindberg flew to achieve the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight.)
I'm guessing that most people don't know the names of the existing Goodyear blimps, but the Spirit of Innovation, while not a particularly innovative name, may be helpful.
However, with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company supplying the tires to NASCAR, this will probably provide Goodyear more visibility in the marketplace than the new blimp.
June 20, 2006
Pharmaceutical brand names, like tech names, draw heavily on Greek and Latin roots, yet they are rarely mistaken for anything but drugs. The old stand-by tranquilizer, Valium, could just as easily be a microchip from its name, but few of RxList’s top 300 most-searched-on drugs have names ending in –ium.
Pharmaceutical companies and their customers have a greater tolerance of polysyllables than do the manufacturers of most consumer goods, though the brand names of medications are almost always considerably shorter than the generic names.
Generic names for drugs usually tell you something about what’s in them. Back in high school biology, I learned that anything which ended in –one was a steroid, and anything that ended in –ol was a form of alcohol. But there are steroids like Florinef whose brand names don’t end in –one, and non-steroids like Trazodone (brand name Desyrel) whose names do end in –one.
In fact, while it’s easy to recognize drug names because of their multiple syllables and endings in –ol, -one, -in, -ex and the like, drugs with similar-sounding names may not do the same thing.
Take the popular –in ending. Penicillin is an antibiotic with an old-fashioned name (the –cillin is for “bacillus”). Vicodin, on the other hand, is an opiate, whereas Aspirin is a non-opiate anagesic. Neurontin was developed as an anticonvulsant, though it works better for neuropathic pain than for epilepsy.
OxyContin, popular on the black market and cause of some celebrated scandals, is also an opiate, but Claritin is an antihistamine and Wellbutrin is an antidepressant.
Or take the –ra ending. We all know what Viagra does, and get frequent offers for it by e-mail. Similarly-named Septra is an antibiotic (with the truly frightening generic name of sulfamethoxazole trimethoprim) and Allegra is an antihistamine. The names themselves don’t tell us much about which to take for allergies, which for infections, and which for erectile dysfunction.
All of them sound like drugs, but if you want to know what they do, don’t go by their names. Read the prescription label instead.
As you know from my earlier post, Brand Architecture: The Mac is Back, Apple is changing the nomenclature for its laptop and desktop product lines that use the Intel chip.
Should Apple change the iTunes name as well?
First there was music. Then video. Then TV. And now, according to CNET News.com, it’s rumored that Apple is in discussion with the movie studios to download any movie for $9.99.
The studios haven’t agreed to this yet, but with the ubiquitousness of the iPod and Jobs’ power of persuasion and Hollywood contacts, I’m betting this is more likely to happen than not.
What this demonstrates is that a descriptive name like iTunes is great initially to establish a new product or service, but longer term, it lacks elasticity, or the ability to expand and embrace the evolution of the product or service.
I say the iTunes name should change.
June 19, 2006
According to at least one research group, fifteen percent of people doing a web search for a particular site wind up either going to a competitor’s site or else a price comparison site because they rank higher on the search engine rankings.
Marketers are being told to be yet more vigilant about registering keywords on their brand names because people are doing more searching using toolbars to pull up brand and product names over typing in the URLs. I have already alerted our readers to the dangers of keyword poaching and it seems that recent brand research indicates we should be all the more careful.
The article points out that some unsavory brands are even registering misspellings of their competitors’ keywords...presumably to steal potential customers who happen to be poor spellers or careless typists.
If you're looking to find and register that perfect domain name, read these quick tips that Nathan Waters put together at his blog.
- Breakage and giveaways - Seth Godin has found an interesting way in which at least one airline is discouraging customers from participating in their promotion, and thus - in this case - discouraging them from getting "good vibes" from their brand name. More interestingly, he reminds us that trademark symbols are a legal tool, not a marketing tool: nobody ever lost their product name because they neglected to use them in a promotional email.
- Web 2.0 company names that hurt - The word on new brand naming in the Web 2.0 sphere is to avoid copycat names that sound like Flickr, Yahoo and Digg. You'll be killing your brand differentiation and joining a long list of other names that are outed in this great post at Brand Dialogue.
- Father Knows Best - How is owning your brand name like washing a car? Check out this interesting Father's Day post by Mike Wagner.
June 18, 2006
Here is yet another chance to try your hand at naming.
One of their marketing people says “It will be our most visually stunning trail, guiding hikers to viewpoints overlooking Cheakamus Lake that will include unmatched alpine views of the coastal mountains and impressive glaciers.”
They're giving away a $200 Whistler Blackcomb gift card, a Suunto S6 wrist-top computer, and a Dakine Helipack backpack.
In the past I've make you aware of naming contests for blimps, kangaroo meat and baby gorillas. This is clearly the most visually stunning naming contest I've ever blogged — take a look at the pictures taken from the trail itself on the entry site.
The prizes are pretty cool as well.
In a June 6th post, Wanna Name a Baby Gorilla? I discussed a contest in Rwanda to name twelve baby gorillas. The naming contest, the second annual, is designed to promote tourism in Rwanda.
The first of the gorilla naming contest results were announced yesterday, Saturday.
So far only one of the twelve baby gorilla names have been announced: Big Ben, named by Jeremy Macadie, UK ambassador to Rwanda.
Macadie’s hope is that Big Ben and the other eleven baby gorillas will do for Rwanda what the Big Ben clock in London does for the UK — attract tourists.
As soon as the names of the other eleven Rwandan baby gorillas are released I will post them here.
June 17, 2006
Here's an interesting product naming game you can play in a spare moment.
Go to your favorite search engine and type in almost any lower-case letter and then type Tunes beside it. You'll find, quickly, that every letter of the alphabet has been “Tuned” thanks to the prodigious popularity of the “iTunes” name.
I kind of like these new retro looking headphones, which are called mTune-N, but you’d refer to them as mTunes, I suppose.
You can also type in the the small letter i and then type almost any word… and a whole bunch of meaningless words… to get a whole new slew of product names, thanks again to the ubiquitous iPod. All of the words above from Timothy Leary’s famous quote have i products attached to them.
My favorite i name, hands down, is the iCarta, which is a docking station for your iPod set into a roll of toilet paper that even includes waterproof speakers.
You can also put any letter in front of the word “Pod” and get product names. Try zPod and open the door to Dirac’s Sea of Negative Energy.
Or check out the weird wPod brings us to a blog entry on Tempus Fugit that covers George W. Bush’s iPod use.
Gotta love what we do here at a product naming company on the weekend.
June 16, 2006
If you've been reading our blog recently, you know that I've been keenly interested in tourism slogans and recently the new Manitoba slogan, Spirited Energy.
On two occasions this week, I was on Richard Cloutier Reports on CJOB Radio in Winnipeg. You may find these audio clips of the live interviews of interest.
- Thursday, June 15th - Debate on the Manitoba branding strategy and new tourism slogan, Spirited Energy, with a member of the Manitoba Premier's Advisory Council. Listen to the live radio interview
- Monday, June 12th - Discussion with Richard Coultier about tourism slogans in general, and Manitoba's branding efforts. Listen to the live radio interview.
By the way, a city in Florida is considering a new slogan. I'll have more on this soon...
Even Manitoba's Spirited Energy logo would fit. The blue background represents water and would be more fitting for Vancouver, which is next to the Strait of Georgia and close to the Pacific Ocean.
Between artistic Bowen, the cool coffee houses, interesting beaches and great food, Vancouver is really a kind of paradise by the sea and about as cool as buttoned-down Canada gets.
Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, it's also probably Canada's most outdoor-orientated city, with beautiful Whistler-Blackcomb mountain a short drive away, and Grouse Mountain practically at its doorstep-both havens for skiers, hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers.
I have to say that I find it interesting to note that Vancouver does not seem to have a slogan, the closet thing being British Columbia's quasi-defunct "Supernatural British Columbia".
- eBay Live! - Guy Kawasaki is back from eBay Live with interesting looplets and information on the new eBay product naming, which including MyCollectibles and links with Kaboodle and FilmLoop.
- Virgin Offers World Cup Kebabs - Here's a way to get your mobile name in front of thousands of English soccer fans - offer them free kebabs upon arrival in Germany via the Virgin Mobile 'Kebab Emporium'. It is hoped that this should heighten awareness of the Virgin Mobile brand name.
- AOL May Actually Have a Winner in New Netscape - Remember Netscape? Well, it's back from the 90's and AOL has transformed the old Netscape brand name into a truly hip and useful user-voted content site, although the guys at the Business2.0 blog think it might not work.
June 15, 2006
Check out the official Spirited Energy site to learn more about the development of the new Manitoba slogan.
After viewing this site, I would be interested in your opinion of whether or not this effort was worth $600,000.
My first reaction to the new slogan was no reaction. That is, it wasn’t particularly positive or negative.
However, I applied Al Ries’s reverse strategy test. I said to myself, “Ontario does not have spirited energy. Reykjavik, Iceland does not have spirited energy. Las Vegas does not have spirited energy.”
In all three cases, these three geographies have spirited energy, as do many other countries, states, cities. Therefore, Spirited Energy for Manitoba fails the reverse strategy test.
What this says is that Spirited Energy is generic and could apply to any number of places. Strategically, a geography could implement a generic slogan provided it had sufficient spending behind it to pre-empt other places.
That’s obviously not the case with Manitoba. It’s not like McDonald’s “I’m lovin it” tagline, which could be said about any QSR restaurant, or almost any business. But since McDonald’s spends hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, if not billions, to establish the tagline, it makes strategic sense. McDonald's can pre-empt the competition.
Net net: I can’t see how Manitoba could possibly establish Spirited Energy as its own with a $1 million advertising budget.
Now, for the logo. I’m one that likes the multiple blue colours (homage to our Canadian neighbours) since it conveys water and movement. After all, Manitoba has 110,000 lakes and hydro-power.
One Manitoban suggested that the shades of blue colors of the logo represented ethnic diversity. If you believe this, I have a bridge* I want to sell you.
The font treatment on the logo, although interesting, linking Manitoba with a script font makes it somewhat difficult to read.
However, what I’m most bothered about is Manitobans paid a New York based firm $600,000 for this slogan. Yes, it included research, logo design alternatives, a website, a video, and t-shirts. But $600,000? I couldn’t imagine this costing more than $200,000 with money to spare.
I think these tourism boards and economic development commissions in the U.S., Canada, and around the world, are a soft touch. It’s another example of a disappointing use of taxpayer dollars.
Regardless, we wish our good neighbours to the north a spirited and energetic future.
I think we can safely say that the Australia tourism slogan "Where the bloody hell are ya?" was misguided from the start and now can be filed alongside some other recent tourism slogans that have questionable marketing value.
The ones that come to mind immediately are the State of Washington's "SayWA" campaign, Baltimore's ill-starred "Get In On It" slogan and Indiana's "Restart Your Engines". I have already written about how New Jersey has been working on its third slogan in six months.
Australia's tourism slogan, however, is the only one of these to actually be considered offensive and refused airtime by such important markets as the UK, Canada (promotes alcohol consumption), Asia (offensive), part of right-wing USA (obvious reasons) and the family-orientated National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel, both of which will be promoting Australia, but without the slogan.
The phrase "bloody hell" simply carries a lot more resonance in the Northern Hemisphere than the ex-colonies and, frankly, many of us who are unfamiliar with the rough and tumble Australian way of life (this would be the target market for the tourism campaign) would not understand why the country seems to be swearing at us.
Even the Australians made fun of it by making an even more earthy ad that Tourism Australia despised.
I know there was some talk that the campaign's very offensiveness would start a priceless viral buzz, but instead it started a wave of spoof virals that will take years to live down.
When it comes to branding a country, maybe using the term "hell" is not such a good idea. And "bloody" is a brand naming boo-boo no matter how you slice it.
You have to wonder what the bl**dy h*ll they were thinking.
For more opinions on tourism slogans, check out these blogs:
- So where the bloody hell are you? - SloganMurugan chimes in on "Where the bloody hell ar ya?"
- Marketing of Baltimore - McGraw On Marketing questions whether Baltimore's "Get In On It" slogan was just created for the free press.
- Life Elevated - Indian blogger Gopal M S reported on Utah's slogan, "Life Elevated".
- This is What A Bloody Tourism Ad Campaign Looks Like - Ron Nurwisah questions how the strong language of "Where the bloody hell ar ya?" will translate in China, Japan, India and Europe
- SayWa (…ht the hell?) to the new State Slogan - Karl Swenson writes about Washington's SayWa state slogan, and then asks, "Are we really doomed to always be moderately mediocre? Say…maybe…"
- Mars Brand Renamed to 'Believe' - In a landmark case of product naming history, the 86-year-old brand has changed its name to support the home team. Now you can have your candy and 'believe' in the English soccer team, too. When the tournament is over, the name goes back to 'Mars'.
- Holiday Inn targets business travellers - The new slogan is 'Look Again', but I must say that business travellers have already looked and liked, for the most part. They're linking their campaign to 'The Office', a show about how terrible being a businessperson is. I have written about how many of HI's competitors are offering hip, low priced, extended stay alternatives, and this looks to me like a move at retaining customers rather than getting new ones. I also must say that if they want to move away from the vacation crowd and attract working folks, their name is a bit of a drawback.
June 14, 2006
Sometimes, branding a soccer player’s name is easy. Take David Beckham, for instance. That’s an easy name to remember and say, and he's a worldwide brand.
A name that is just as popular, but harder to Google, is Ronaldinho. Two of the world’s most famous soccer players share this name that most of America will find difficult to spell.
To make things more difficult to remember, both were born in Brazil and play on its national team but are owned by Spanish clubs and, ironically, both at one point changed their real names from Ronaldo to Ronaldinho to distinguish themselves from other soccer players.
Even stranger, the Ronadinho name is the diminutive form of Ronaldo - yet both men are pretty big: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is 6-feet tall, while Ronaldo de Assis Moreira is just under 6-feet tall.
So let's set the record straight. When you read about Ronaldinho, you are most likely reading about Ronaldo de Assis Moreira.
When you read about Ronaldo, you are most likely reading about Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima. Both men have understood that keeping their names short and simple is easier for fans - and sponsors. As far as their grandiose last names go, well, as ESPN recently pointed out, last names don't cut it in the soccer world (think Pele).
Both men are sponsored by Nike, which is a blow to arch rival Adidas. Nike is capitalizing on that in a big way, making Ronaldinho the centerpiece of its Joga Bonito (Play Beautiful) campaign. Ronaldo is also sponsored by Nike, even though the company's footwear has given him blisters, surely good news to Adidas.
Adidas may not have these stars in its stable, but its strategy is to promote the teams that they outfit rather than individual stars--Nike has only outfitted teams since 1998.
But the fact that these two great names wear the swoosh is proof that Nike is dead set on taking over Adidas's sacred territory, the soccer field... blisters and all.
Follow Ronaldo and Team Brazil at the Brazil World Cup Team Blog. Also, read an interesting post about the Soccer dream team here at the To the People blog. And to keep up-to-date on World Cup news, visit SoccerBlog.com.
It’s probably going to be Catair, a reference to Catalunya.
I’ve written before about the intriguing resonance of new airline names like Song, Ted and Eos. Catair is another example of this kind of evocative product naming.
I was fascinated to read one post on the aviation forums that points out that the name could also refer to the Catalan language, which not only has its own similar domain (.cat) but also is spoken in Barcelona, the headquarters for Iberia.
More tantalizingly, the writer gives us a picture of a plane owned by a defunct French airline company of the same name and reminds us that CAT could stand for Corona of Aragon Territory, an important historical part of Iberia.
It also reminds me of CAT/Air, the unique airline formed by the Americans in China after World War II, used for rebuilding the country, and later to provide intelligence reconnaissance for the CIA.
- World Cup 2006... Goooooooal!!! - The current World Cup inspired trend is to elongate the vowels in spots advertising German product names of almost anything to sound like commentators shouting "Gooooooaaaallll!" MasterCard has gone so far as to give customers bonus points called "Gooals." When it comes to product naming in Germany this month, make sure when you elooongate it, it sounds gooood. Google must be very happy.
- Clear Channel wants to create one-second radio ads - I think this has to be good news for people in the product naming game: radio ads that only give you enough room to state your name...and that's it. All the more reason to go for names people can pronounce easily.
- Most Searched Products don't Equal Most Bought - An interesting post that shows us that customers are searching the Internet for brand names that offer trendy and interesting products - but not necessarily buying them. Good piece of brand name research.
June 13, 2006
As you may know from my earlier post, Manitoba will announce its new slogan tomorrow, Wednesday, June 14th.
That post caught the attention of Richard Coultier of CJOB Radio Winnipeg, who interviewed me yesterday regarding the impending slogan change.
After a followup interview with CJOB Radio tomorrow, I'll report on my thoughts about the new Manitoba slogan.
When it comes to naming their products, technology companies love Greek and Latin word endings. Neuter noun endings (“-on” or “-ion” in Greek; “-um” or “-ium” in Latin) seem to be most popular. Think Pentium, Athlon, Turion, Itanium.
Why Greek and Latin for high tech? The earliest scientists of the Western world wrote in Greek and Latin, and even after the Western Roman empire broke up and the Byzantine empire shrank to almost nothing and Constantinople fell to the Turks, these were the languages that scientists and scholars from different nations used to communicate with each other.
They’re also languages structured in such a way as to make naming new things easy. Take a root, add a suffix, and presto! You’ve named something new (trademark availability is another matter, however.)
You can do this just as easily with English roots and suffixes, but it just doesn’t sound as impressive. So we have submarines (from Latin sub, “under” and marinus, “of the sea”) instead of “underseas.”
And while any self-respecting classicist rolls on the floor laughing at “scientific Latin,” English speakers have become used to Latinate names for new discoveries, or words like “automobile” and “motorcycle” which combine Greek and Latin roots.
So it’s natural to name microchips as if they were new additions to the Periodic Table of Elements. Fermium, Mendelevium, Nobelium… Pentium. In the Latin the Romans spoke, the “-ium” ending in particular denotes an abstract created from a concrete noun or a verb.
Microchips are concrete enough, but very few people heading out to buy a new computer are going to worry about that little detail. They probably won’t even think about the fact that the chip manufacturers are following scientific naming conventions which date back hundreds of years. They just know the name sounds right for what it is.
For more on language and linguistics, I recommend the following blogs:
- Experimental Linguistics - From the post graduate students a Yale
- Language Log - From the University of Pennsylvania
- Double-Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary
No. Not yet. New Jersey has not selected its third slogan in less than a year.
However, some slogan candidates are beginning to surface from another New Jersey slogan contest:
- The Ocean, the Motion, the Magic.
- New Jersey: It Always Smells Like This
As you may recall from our May 8th blog post, the governor of New Jersey nixed the consultant-created “We’ll Win You Over” slogan, which was replaced with the "Come See For Yourself" slogan, which, as it turns out, was previously used by West Virginia.
However, New Jersey residents should not despair. As Yogi Bera says, "It ain't over 'til it's over."
- World Cup 2006: when taglines attack - "One game changes everything", the tagline for World Cup 2006, is a little close to the bone for US Soccer fans who watched their team get beaten 3-0 by the Czech Republic. This is an example of an emotionally jarring, ominous tagline.
- Hey World - This Bud's For You - I was surprised to learn that practically the only beer available in World Cup Stadiums is Bud. I mean, the Germans have their own beer brands. Ironically, before the World Cup, Budweiser could not even use its famous brand name in Germany as it was too similar to a local brand. Now, the German press is ripping into the brand, but Bud doesn't seem to mind - the audience figures here are just too attractive.
- .NET Framework 3.0 - The .NET name will not die. Microsoft has renamed WinFX. It is now .NET Framework 3.0. The .NET Framework 3.0 is a tool that allows coders to develop Windows based applications and services. It seems that for some time, Microsoft overused the name ".NET", labelling many of is programs and brands with the moniker, and they toned things down with WinFX. Now, they're back to their old tricks leading to some confusion within the blogosphere. Overusing brand names is a weakness we have noticed before in Microsoft.
June 12, 2006
When it comes to baby product naming, choose names that get right to the bottom of things.
The product name seems to have been derived from doctors who sent patients over to Butt Paste founder George Boudreaux's Louisiana drugstore, telling them "he's got really good butt-paste".
Even after Boudreaux sold out to a major pharmaceutical company, the name stuck. Why?
When it comes to product naming for babies, get right to the point. Parents live pretty earthy lives and earthy names seem to do the trick. Try out the "ThudGuard" baby helmet, for instance, or "Piddlers": cute little disposable fish you float in the toilet to help Junior with his aiming. Or get a "Wipe Warmer" that warms up those wipes for the bottoms needing pasting.
Some athletes even use Butt Paste to cure athletic itch!
- Smell the terroir! - You have to love Fred Franzia, the maker of the popular "Two Buck Chuck" wine brand (how's THAT for wine brand naming?) This guy is on a mission to bring wine to the masses, having claimed that "no bottle of wine is worth more than $10." His new brand is astronomically priced, for him. Harlow Ridge costs a hefty $8.99 and is named after a wine distribution facility near the airport. Having already been banned from using the term "Napa Valley" on his labeling for wines not grown in this area; he claims he can build the Harlow Ridge brand in six months flat (imagine all of the wine quaffers out there drinking this stuff and wondering where in Napa Valley Harlow Ridge is). We've already covered how wine naming is becoming more irreverent and animal friendly, so it comes as no surprise that a "common man" vintner is getting all kinds of good press.
- The Uncola Wars - A pretty good article about when, exactly, a product like Sprite or 7UP can be called "all natural". Making claims that can be proven false about your brand just makes no sense to me, and hurts a product name. What I do think is a cool name is Sprite's "subLYMONal" ad campaign, which got at least one blogger looking for its meaning online. Nice.
June 11, 2006
I think that extended stay hotels and hotels for business travelers have been the victims of some poor product naming — probably because people have such a negative image of them, even within their own industry. Even their supporters seem to use words like “comfortable” and “clean” rather than “awesome.”
The names that seem to dominate the industry are synonymous with office parks and strip malls. Hilton’s Homewood Suites and Marriott’s Residence Inns for example. But Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc is honestly trying to revamp the product offering and gives us what I think are the best names in a pretty stale sounding industry.
Two that I like are “W” and “aloft.” If you were a young, Gen-X traveller — the kind of person the bosses send away from home for two weeks to do some work on the road — wouldn’t these brand names catch your eye? Wouldn’t you rather stay at one of these places if you were bringing your young family on a road trip?
CEO Steven J Heyer has amped up the brand naming, noting in a recent article that people show more brand loyalty to ketchup than to 300-room hotels. The W brand is synonymous with trendy loft living, while the one-year-old “aloft” brand is a lower-priced version of W.
Now, Starwood has a new brand, codenamed “Project ESW” that will offer a high-end version of their aloft suites to extended-stay travellers. Think stainless steel kitchens, exotic, stocked pantries, big exercise centres, cafés, terraces and pools.
Hyatt is rolling out its own brand to compete with aloft and Project ESW called The Hyatt Place. I just do not see this as inspired naming, especially when InterContinental has a much better-named brand called Hotel Indigo that, like W and aloft, is essentially a lifestyle offering and offers developers a “custom design mantra” called “Interpret Indigo” that allows them to build Indigo Hotels to fit their surroundings, eliminating “cookie cutter hotels”.
For some more interesting comments on Westin Hotels' foray into the extended stay hotel segment check out:
June 10, 2006
What do you do when everyone knows you’re a geek? You try to make some cool friends, of course.
No, Gates hasn’t changed the corporate culture at Microsoft or started wearing turtlenecks and cargo pants. Instead, he’s discovered that he can supply the demand for tech-based outlets for brand name building — and they’re trying to get very cool brands to come join the fun. We’re talking cultivating partnerships with MTV, Def Jam, NBA superstar LeBron James and even the Dixie Chicks.
Microsoft has discovered that the Windows brand, thanks to the new products offered in Windows Live, is kind of cool. In fact, Microsoft has found that the Windows brand name is cooler than Microsoft’s.
It’s a common enough occurrence in product naming, when a company not only promotes its best product name heavily — it renames itself around it (3Com’s popular Palm Pilot instantly comes to mind, a product that launched the emancipation of Palm Computing). Often enough, one way cool product name can change the whole perception of a company (iPod springs to mind, frankly).
But Microsoft isn’t changing its company name to Windows just yet. It’s just inviting everyone over to see just how cool it is. It's like the biggest geek on the block suddenly deciding to share his neato toy — instant popularity.
The Dixie Chicks want to embed their own MSN writer on their tour, and Microsoft will be offering virtual tours of LeBron James' “King for Kids Bike-A-Thon.” They’ve purchased an in-video game advertising company called Massive and rolled out some cool indy production companies that can promote their stuff via, you guessed it, Windows Live.
Microsoft has even become pals with Hip Hop mogul Jay-Z, who, at an MSN sponsored dinner recently, toasted his new homeboy “Willy Gates.”
I’m not trading in my Mac just yet.
Brand Entertainment is a growing brand marketing phenomenon. For more on this subject, please go to:
- 1stapproach blog post on Jeff Greenfield, Branded Entertainment Expert.
- Marketing Blurb
- BigBrain Boy
June 9, 2006
We Minnesotans, in case you haven't noticed, inherently like to name things.
Most people agonize over naming their newborn, or even their dog, cat, or other pet. We do that in Minnesota, as well as spend a great deal of time and energy naming our boats.
Did you know that Minnesota has the highest per capita boat registration in the country? You might say living in the land of 10,000 lakes, that makes sense. But it's really 15,291 lakes of 10 acres or larger!
We combine our love for the outdoors and our love for naming with some of the following boat names:
- Blood, Sweat and Beer
- Sea-Questered (a lawyer's boat)
- Well Adjusted (a chiropracter's boat)
Perhaps you've also heard of the term Minnesota Nice. I'm sure we Minnesotans would be more than happy to help you name your boat - or pet, or child, or whatever.
Nintendo's Wii to go on sale at a wee price. Nintendo is repositioning its price to bring games to the masses - we might get Wii for half the cost of Playstation 3.
Nintendo has been greatly encouraged by the success of their cheaper priced Nintendo DS and DS Lite. This means we might get Wii for under $250, and the games will run between $5 and $10.
On June 3rd, I wrote about Nintendo’s desire to reach out and “touch” us with cheaper and better games through its new, cheap, “Touch Generations” line and the lower price of Wii yet further egalitizes computer gaming.
On May 14th, we noted that Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata, feels that the product naming of Wii, while a bit weird, should appeal to non-gamers.
The price certainly will.
By the way, as reported yesterday on CNN.com...Nintendo's chief doesn't regret the Wii product name.
- The Folly of Repositioning - Jack Yan doesn’t duck controversy but in this case I firmly agree. Repositioning a brand is very difficult. Doing it with a brand name like McDonald’s is a really tall order. I have found that of the most contentious elements of product naming is the difficulty in persuading clients that a name can only be stretched - and re-stretched - so far. Another great post of Jack's.
- WOM More Effective than Advertising Long-Term - I almost want to add “duh” but I’m so impressed with this blog that I won’t. WOM is our lifeblood in the product naming game. The WOMMA Research Blog is all over it. Check it out.
June 8, 2006
- The Seven Deadly Domain Name Variations - Bill Sweetman at One Degree has listed the seven domain name variations to watch out for when building your domain name. Crucial and common sense brand name research.
- Adidas vs. Grand Slam Dress Code - Adidas is contesting the Grand Slam dress code that severely limits the use of trademarks on clothing worn by competitors. Some of Adidas’ own competitors have tried to get their distinctive three strip logo banned from the courts. I have found that when it comes to brand naming and brand name research, where and how your name gets out there is of paramount importance. And more often than not, your competitors are the ones trying to shut you down in the name of “fair play.”
June 7, 2006
This month in Germany, a series of nations will be playing for the World Cup in soccer.
So, how should the game be called: football or soccer?
Well, the proper name of the game is... soccer, not football. Football is a game that requires touchdowns. Soccer is a game where you kick the ball and try to score goals. The soccer name was originally coined in England from the term “Association Football” and an added suffix –er.
The football name was then picked up by people around the world, except for us, Americans, who continue to call the game by its true name – soccer.
As you may know, today the game is the most popular sport on the planet played in every country... and called by the wrong name.
To read more about the history of the name change, click here.
For some interesting information about the 2006 World Cup, visit the following blogs:
Customers in central Ohio are not happy with Federated Department Stores decision to change the name of its recently-acquired Lazarus retail store chain to Macy’s.
Over the last year these stores experienced a customer visit drop of 4.5%, which means that 50,000 people stayed away in that region alone. The drop was worse than any the stores had experienced in the last five years under the Lazarus brand name.
Well, I hate to say I “told you so” but in this case, I did. Actually, my colleague Diane Prange did. Diane posted a grief stricken blog about the demise of the Dayton’s and Marshall Field’s names in September of last year when these great brands were Macyed.
And in January of this year I reported that people in Chicago reacted to the Macy-ization of their Marshall Field’s stores as if they “had been ordered to start putting ketchup on [their] hot dogs."
But Federated just plows right on, and 50,000 customers in Central Ohio have expressed their disapproval with losing the regionally beloved, 154-year old Lazarus brand name by simply staying away.
On May 29, the Chicago Tribune asked me about the risks of changing a company name.
One of my thoughts was that the decision to replace a regional brand with a national one (or, in Macy’s case, one that is being turned into a national brand after decades of being associated with New York City) was the threat of “management ego”, where managers of the national name believe it can be stretched farther than customers will allow.
Management can all too often see their brand naming strategy differently than their customers do. Even a cursory amount of brand name research – or a perusal of the blogosphere – would have indicated to Federated that changing the Lazarus name would be courting disaster.
That goes doubly so for the Marshall Field’s brand.
See what these bloggers have to say about the Lazarus acquisition:
- Visor maker offers to outfit Mt. Rushmore - Here's a pretty interesting way to publicize your company name: outfit well known outdoor monuments with your products.
- Microsoft's Playing Games - There is no doubt about it: getting your product name into a video game or two is a great strategy. It seems that Microsoft is poaching some great talent to do just that by adding Jeff Bell to its ranks, the man responsible for getting the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands into popular video games. This is starting to be a crucial part of any serious product naming campaign.
- Google Spreadsheet - It Doesn't Even Sound Right - Consumers don't use spread sheets? Managers won't sign off on a web based spreadsheet? Maybe so, but anything with the Google brand name on it seems to work. But I have to agree that from a naming perspective, a "Google Spreadsheet" just doesn't sound right.
June 6, 2006
There appears to be great interest in the business press regarding company name changes and its potential impact on the target market and market place.
There are many reasons for a company to change its name – an acquisition, bad publicity, evolving business strategy or charter, and let’s not forget management ego.
In a May 29 Chicago Tribune article, Judy Artunian discussed some of the reasons and implications regarding company name changes.
I was asked to comment on the subject. If you are interested in the subject of company name changes, I think the article is worth the read.
I was surprised to learn that there are only about 700 gorillas in the world.
They are magnificent animals and men must play a role in their survival. Fortunately, there are wild life conservationists that are working on saving the rare mountain gorilla from extinction.
In fact, on June 17, in Rwanda, where about a third of the gorilla population lives, will be held the second Grand Gorilla Naming Ceremony.
You can attend this ceremony and have a chance to name one of 12 baby gorillas.
I think it’s worth the trip. Any volunteers?
In a June 2 blog post, I wrote that the new VisitPhiladephia slogan was like a manufacture saying “Buy Me”. There is really nothing in the slogan for the tourist target market.
It looks like a country “across the pond” is falling into the same trap. The Swedish Travel & Tourism Council has changed its name to “VisitSweden”.
Admittedly, Sweden has much more to offer than Philadelphia, in my opinion – beautiful Stockholm, its many breathtaking lakes and forests, mountain hiking and Swedish culture.
Having said that, in my opinion, VisitSweden is as wrong-headed as VisitPhiladelphia; neither gives the tourist a tangible reason to visit, unlike the nixed Michigan slogan of ”Find Your True North”.
The German town of Herzogenaurach has been literally split in half thanks to a 60 year old feud.
Few people know that Rudolf and Adolf Dassler, who started respectively Adidas and Puma, both hailed from this small medieval town. After years of working together building lightweight athletic shoes under the Gebrüder Dassler (Dassler Brothers) brand name, the two brothers split after a bitter fight. Adolf (or Adi), started Adidas and Rudolf, after flirting with the name Ruda, went on to start the much better named Puma.
Each company is still located on either side of the small river that splits the town in two, and because most citizens work for either one or the other companies, different schools, restaurants, bakers and shops have evolved over time to accommodate the feuding factions.
Puma workers simply do not associate with Adidas people.
The origins of the feud lie in the dark history of World War II. Both brothers were Nazi party members, but Adi was exempt from duty while Rudi trained as a radio operator and would later serve in the dreaded SS.
During an air raid, Adi, who was hiding in the family shelter, said to his wife “Here come those pigs again”, referring to RAF bombers; Rudi believed he was speaking about him and his family.
Rudi would later desert from the military and be jailed twice: first by the Gestapo and then by the Americans. Rudi always believed Adi had turned him in, and carried his hatred for his brother to his deathbed.
The rivalry – a legend in product naming history – has received new attention in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, when the two competing brand names will be outfitting rival teams:
- Puma, while smaller than rival Adidas, will be backing twice the number of teams in the Cup
- Of all the teams playing for the cup, more than half will wear one of the legendary German labels.
One piece of advice: if you do visit Herzogenaurach, don’t wear Nikes.
- Target is a really powerful...bank? - Target just made the top ten list of credit card issuers, meaning that now millions of people see the Target name and logo when they pay for practically anything. Who would have thought that a retail store could make the same list as Chase, Citibank and Amex? I think this is a breakthrough in retail product naming.
- Meat Loaf Sues Former Collaborator Over "Bat Out of Hell" - Product naming can get big and mean. Meatloaf is claiming the Bat Out of Hell phrase is his, as he wants to use it for the name of his upcoming album "Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose." The law supports the "user of the mark", and that's Meatloaf, in my opinion, not his collaborator and not his manager.
- Addendum to Ten Questions with Dr. Joseph Chamie - Guy Kawasaki has an interesting pair of blog posts that look at the changing demographics of the U. S. If you plan on doing business in the U. S., you might want to know what segments you and your company name need to appeal to, and where. The answer may be a crucial part of your brand strategy.
June 5, 2006
Korean companies are slowly but surely changing over to English corporate identities, according to the Korea Times. Of the 715 companies on the KSE, 28 have opted for English brand naming, while 23 of 925 companies on the "tech-heavy Kosdaq" have done the same.
- Taepyongyang, Korea's No. 1 cosmetics and health care products manufacturer has changed its name to the AmorePacific Corporation
- Ssangbangwool, one of Korea's top underclothing corporations, will now be known as TRYBRANDS, Inc., named after its top selling "Try" line
- Mukunghwais, a bath product maker, is now Huenco, a name formed by combining the first two letters of the English words: human, environment and cooperation.
I think these kinds of changes are unavoidable as English entrenches itself as the language of globalization.
In an earlier post titled “Konglish Gives Korea Businesses a Bad Name”, I discussed the difficulty many South Koreans have writing in English. Therefore, it would be interesting to see how the other Korean companies choose to change their names to English.
Two years ago the Asia Times ran an article outlining the challenges South Asian languages face in a world run by English Web pages and English–speaking business interests.
The Asia Times introduced the idea of "glocal" English, that is English with a "local" flair. Already, more Asians speak English than any other population. English is a fluid and changing language and it is therefore expected that glocal English will likely affect and influence the way we speak in English-speaking countries.
To this end the Asia Times referenced the old Malay saying: "your mouth is your tiger".
Apparently, so is your brand name.
Posted by William Lozito at 11:09 AM
Posted to Apparel | Brand Architecture | Brand Naming | Branding | Company Naming | Health and Beauty | Linguistics | Marketing | Naming | Product Naming
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- Iron City Gets Presidential Endorsement - You have to love it when the President of the United States mentions your company name when the press is around. In this case Iron City Brew, the beer of choice for Steleers fans, got a mention. President Bush has been responsible for a huge rise in sales for two other brands: Timex and Trek, both of which he cannot officially endorse but whose products he buys with great loyalty and everyone knows it.
- Marketing Lessons for the Sunday Paper - If there's one solid fact I have learned in the product naming business it's this: put your product name on your advertising, and put the ads where the right people can see it.
- Software Piracy Trade Organization Accuses Law Firm of Cybersquatting - Yes, law firms do it was well. In this case it's probably unintentional, but I find it ironic that the law firm in question specializes in defending software publishers. Domain names are an integral part of your brand name research, no matter what industry you're in.
June 4, 2006
The newly-minted Michigan State tourism slogan is “Find Your True North.” Now that’s a positioning Michigan can own, unlike Baltimore’s “Get In On It,” for instance.
Does this sound to good to be true? I am sorry to report it is. Turns out that the political interests in the rest of Michigan did not feel it would attract tourism to the lower portion of the state. Do people really want to vacation in Detroit? I’ll leave that answer to you.
The slogan was watered down (pun intended) to “Dive into the Waters of Pure Michigan.” In my opinion, abandoning the “Find Your True North” slogan is a lost opportunity for the state of Michigan to own an emotional positioning in the mind of the consumer. George Zimmerman, vice president of Michigan Travel, in the Detroit Free Press, acknowledged as much:
We loved the emotional appeal of what they [McCann Erickson] created. But we also wanted a tagline that played well for the entire state.
You can view the TV commercials at the state's tourism industry e-newsletter.
I’ll go as far to say that the dropped “Find Your True North” slogan is the best tourism tagline since Las Vegas’ “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”
I feel McCann Erickson’s pain. And that’s a shame. Especially for the state of Michigan.
For some more news and views on Michigan and tourism, see these blogs:
- Red Tape Blog notes that the state's tourism industry was lobbying for more support earlier this year.
- Insta Travel points out that tourism is Michigan's second largest industry, and spending has been rising.
- Will at ...a look inside my mind gives us the track listings of an album of songs all about Michigan, one of which is the state's former slogan, “Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!&rdquo
- Dialogues and Idealogues offers the view of a resident of the Upper Peninsula on the problems faced by the toursim industry due to the ban on motor vehicles there.
It appears as though Apple is moving towards a revised Mac-orientated masterbrand (also spelled master brand) architecture with its new brand names starting with “Mac.” I agree with this new nomenclature.
- The PowerBook G4 laptop now sports the MacBook Pro brand name.
- The iBook G4 laptop is morphed into the MacBook brand.
Now it is rumored that the PowerMac desktop brand name will evolve into MacPro.
Xserve may adopt the MacServe brand name as well, and iMac may be given a “pure” Mac product name as well.
I think these brand architecture name changes make sense because the Mac brand has immeasurable equity, has a very strong emotional bond with consumers and it's a legend in the product naming Hall of Fame.
I realize some Mac lovers think the new masterbrand strategy is confusing. That's to be expected, but we (I am a Mac lover), should realize that this is “poetry in motion.” Once the full Mac nomenclature is implemented on all the new Intel-based Macs, the Mac faithful and consumers in general will accept the brand name changes.
I also agree that the iMac simply has a dated brand name. Apple has almost an obligation to build its brand around the Mac name which is almost three decades old — and anyway, any name with a lower case “i” at the beginning it is simply “too nineties,” iPods, iTunes, iLife etc. notwithstanding.
This raises an interesting brand architecture question. Should Apple drop the “i” from its iPod name? What should Apple replace the i in iPod with?
For more news on Apple, here are some blogs I recommend:
- The Unofficial Apple Weblog
- Mac Rumors
- The mini Blog
- Tech Pedia theorizes that Apple is dropping the “Power” names because they are replacing IBM's PowerPC architecture.
Here are some perspectives on Apple from some of our favorite marketing gurus:
- Guy Kawasaki, who used to work for Apple, writes about how he joined the company and offers a review of the autobiography of Apple's co-founder, iWoz.
- Seth Godin writes about a personal experience with Apple's customer support people last year: Part 1 and Part 2.
- Steve Rubel offers an open letter to MS: Dear Microsoft, I am Dumping You
June 3, 2006
The new brand name for Nintendo’s mainstream DS titles is “Touch Generations” and I think this illustrates the logic behind the company's sometimes puzzling product naming strategies.
First Wii, then Touch Generations. Like the Gap For Every Generation campaign, Nintendo is aggressively trying to egalitize its target market, in this case from hardcore gamers to everyone else.
“Wii” would do this together, and the simpler, more accessible, games in the Touch Generations range are set to appeal to the casual procrastinator rather than the serious competitor.
Nintendo, according to one rep, remains committed to turning video games back into an "inclusive mass medium that everyone can enjoy” (think Tetris and Golf, among others) and with Touch Generations, they have created a “touchy feely” brand name that is accessible to those of us who are a little put off by the really serious gamer brigade who have dominated the field in the last decade. The new Touch Generations games will be easily identifiable by their logo, an oddly colored, more old fashioned, less Apple-esque design than the Wii logo that even includes an image of a pen.
The brand launches this month with Big Brain Academy," "Magnetica" and "Soduku Gridmaster." They will also be putting out four other titles that have already been released: "Brain Age," "Nintendogs," "Tetris DS" and "True Swing Golf".
Stuart, at the Popgadget blog, reports this interesting insight: Touch Generations is part of a branding strategy that allows new, casual and older gamers to quickly identify which games are suitable for them, i.e., ones that don't involve spending hours rifling through a manual, or superhuman skill and expertise to complete the first level.
I think the Touch Generations brand name does an excellent job of speaking to new, casual, and older gamers. Go Nintendo!
I recently read an article in The Guardian Unlimited that humorously claims that Germans have no sense of humor. The claim is built on the ‘nature of the German’ language — one that is very precise and inflexible.
In my German experience, however, I would say that the opposite is true. Germans have a terrific sense of humor. After all, in German:
- It’s perfectly acceptable use the word Fahrt every time you get near a highway exit or entrance.
- You can get away with saying damit (with it) in every other sentence.
- You can refer to your friends as dich (you accusative).
- The bigger your gut, (good) the better it is.
And people named after body parts have a greater chance of achieving fame and fortune:
- Robert Koch (Nobel prize winner)
- Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (physicist)
- Heinrich Heine (poet)
- Claudia Schiffer (model)
Here are a few more perspectives on German humor, or the lack thereof:
- In a post about the Bavarian (beer) Purity Law Ronckytonk theorizes that Germans had to learn to keep a straight face while saying those huge words of theirs.
- Here's a view of German humor from Davids Medienkritik: English soccer fans are being invited to watch the World Cup from inside a former Nazi jail.
- Speaking of the World Cup, Sheridan: Con-Law points out a New York Times article explaining that certain things aren't just considered unfunny in Germany. They're illegal.
- We've probably all seen VW's television commercials, but here in the US we see ads created by American agencies. But Carscoop gives us a look at one of their German ads, and it's pretty good.
The O2Optix brand was introduced in the Fall of 2004 as a revolutionary silicone hydrogel contact lens that provides more than five times the oxygen of the leading soft contact lens — for whiter, healthier-looking eyes.
Ciba Vision has decided to change its brand name for two reasons:
- “in order to further communicate the benefits of silicone hydrogel”
- “to avoid potential conflict with another non-industry related brand present in the region where it will debut this summer (Europe, Middle East and Africa ).”
So how exactly does the new name AirOptix do a better job of communicating “silicone hydrogel” than the old name O2Optix?
I’ll admit that I don’t have a clue what silicone hydrogel is, but I do agree that “AirOptix” is the simpler and more easily pronounced of the two names.
And since the English language hasn’t changed that dramatically in the past two years, why didn’t Ciba company choose the AirOptix name in the first place before spending millions in advertising O2Optix?
As for reason #2, I’m stumped. In a preliminary search, I did not uncover the trademark conflict to which Ciba alluded, but what we did find was:
Although O2Optix was introduced in 2004, and all of its packaging proudly displays the ™ symbol following the O2Optix mark, Ciba’s trademark application for this name was first filed on April 6, 2006, while Ciba’s AirOptix mark was published on June 5, 2005 and “allowed” on May 16, 2006 — just two weeks prior to this announcement.
Ciba has been discussed on a number of blogs recently because the company has been going through some PR trouble due to the scarcity of their Clear Care product line. Tuvel sees their response to the shortage as a missed opportunity and Observations of Public Relations has a couple of regularly updated and apparently very popular posts on the situation here and here, filed under the category of "Crisis PR."
June 2, 2006
One of the better known slogans is "Friendly Manitoba".
The provincial government and its private partners, however, will launch a new Manitoba slogan on June 14th.
Look for us to analyze the new slogan here.
I genuinely hope it's better than some of the recent less-than strategic and meaningful city and state slogans from Washington (SayWA), Baltimore (Get in on it), Edmonton (It's cooler here), and most recently, Philadelphia (VisitPhiladelphia).
By the way, VisitPhiladelphia is like marketing a product with the headline "Buy Me". I can see what's in it for the manufacturer, they make money, but it doesn't speak to what's in it for the consumer.
That's what makes VisitPhiladelphia the worst of the recent lot of city or state slogans. The city is speaking to itself and not in the language of its tourist target market.
This thinking is remarkably consistent with what Seth Godin wrote about earlier today in his post, Marketing pothole (#3 of 3): What will the boss think.
Seth believes that "almost all marketing decisions are first and foremost made without the marketplace in mind". This seems to be the case with city and state slogans.
The Weinstein brothers have announced a new title for their fledgling library of Asian movie titles: Dragon Dynasty, which will be a subsidiary brand name under the Weinstein Co. banner.
I have already looked at how large movie houses are pushing their differently named art-house subsidiaries to attract the indy film market in an earlier post. The introduction of Dragon Dynasty allows Weinstein Co. to bring what is essentially a niche film market (Asian films) within a niche film market (art house films) to a wider audience.
Dragon Dynasty is of course a very descriptive name and a well used one in Chinese/American cinema: I immediately think of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon.
Of further interest, I think, is the careful way in which the Weinsteins have separated their new art-house film brand name, Weinstein Co., from this fascinating foreign film distribution effort, which seems as if it will encompass special edition DVD sets as well as movies hand-picked for theatrical release.
To make things even more interesting, they have wisely selected Quentin Tarentino to help build the brand, who is a rabid fan of Asian films and whose Kill Bill movies are worthy additions to the new age of martial arts films. Sandra Lim, in a recent blog post on Cinematical, discusses what Quentin's bringing to the table.
From a product naming perspective, I cannot help but wonder how the Weinstein and Tarantino brand names (which are both associated with edgy art house films) will have a spill over effect on the Dragon Dynasty brand.
I will certainly be watching whatever they recommend. This is a brand built by aficionados for aficionados. I am very sure that news will travel fast among the Dragon target market, and all the faster since Tarantino and the Weinstein brothers are behind it.
And a new customer base of Asian film fans will be created.
I was saddened to read that Juan Valdez is retiring after 37 years as the brand name icon for Columbian Coffee.
The actor who plays Valdez, Carlos Sanchez, claims that his role as the gentle coffee grower has led Columbians to see him “as a flag, a national anthem.”
Sanchez is only the second actor to play the role of Valdez. The first was, ironically, a Cuban man named Jose Duval. The powers that be are looking for a man who can sport a moustache, look good in a poncho and is not afraid of donkeys. Tea drinkers need not apply, I suppose.
Valdez and his donkey (named Conchita) are the main branding symbols of the $10 million annual advertising campaign of the Columbian Coffee Federation. A couple of years ago, the Federation launched a chain of coffee shops under the Valdez brand name designed to compete with the much trendier but less authentic Starbucks.
Gabriel Silva, the president of the Federation, says this about Valdez as a product naming legend: "Think about it this way: In the U.S., companies invest millions of dollars to hire celebrities to represent their brands with no connection with a product. Here it's the contrary. We have a modest coffee grower who is a world celebrity." I have to admit, that’s not bad...except for the fact that Sanchez, a former printer, never grew a bean in his life.
At least one Latino blogger will be glad to see this incarnation of Valdez go, as for many Latinos in the USA, he represents a stereotyped image of Columbians. I’m not sure I agree: the Juan Valdez brand stands for good coffee, not Latino culture.
- Chuck Norris, the Internet and Powerful Branding - Everyone has heard a Chuck Norris joke (Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water and make it drink). Kevin Stirtz has researched the phenomenon of the Chuck Norris brand name and discovered that even though Norris has not made a movie in five years and is 65 years old, there are 40,000 Chuck jokes on the Internet. I have to agree that with Stirtz: this is a great an illustration of how new consumer-driven technology can reinvent a brand name.
- Being brave with names - Podcasting and sneakers are examples of brave product naming, says Seth Godin, and examples of what you do with a name when you want people to embrace something new. You go different, or go home. I agree.
- Formerly Mister Softee - Here's an interesting blog on one of the men who invented the brand name that is synonymous with ice cream trucks, and who brought us the impossible-to-forget Mr. Softee jingle that every kid in America, and most adults, knew by heart. Great brand name research for an ice cream lover.
Posted by William Lozito at 10:02 AM
Posted to Brand Name Research | Brand Naming | Branding | Company Naming | Food | Marketing | Media and Entertainment | Naming | Product Naming
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June 1, 2006
If you want to name dinosaur-themed products this year, you're in for some tongue twisting brand name research.
It seems that Fisher Price has no plans to rename its" Thunder the Brontosaurus" toy just yet, but I'm thinking Barney had better watch out...
I've discovered that many of the dinosaur names that non-geek adults remember from our childhood - real stalwarts in toy brand naming like brontosauruses and pterodactyls (both of which make it through the spell checker) - are fast going the way of, well, the dinosaur.
It seems that as science progresses, these names, and others, have been found to be inaccurate and have been removed from toys and books about dinos (so much for Fred Flintstone's bronto burgers).
In their places are far more complex and unfamiliar dino toys with product names like pachycephalosaurus and velociraptor (which you'll recognize easily if you saw Jurassic Park). Even the mean old T-Rex is no longer the carnivore of choice for a little dino lover: any kid worth his salt knows that the giganatosaurus is the real king of the Dinosauria.
A quick look around the 'net shows us that you can quickly buy a pteranodon (the real pterodactyl) that hangs from your ceiling, as well as inflatable spinosauruses and brachiosauruses. But these are totally uncool compared to the huge demand for beipiaosauruses and caudipteryxs, which are newly discovered, feathered dinosaurs whose toy versions are sold by Safari LTD and top every kid's wish list.
Could any of these dinosaur names be inspiration for a new brand name? Or a Web 2.0 company name?
- Who created Geoffrey the Giraffe? - I think this is yet another example of the same brand name being used by many sources, but it does serve to answer the eternal question: where did that giraffe on Toys R' Us come from? Even the best known mascots can easily lose their identity.
- Absolut IKEA - Two names from different walks of life can easily co-brand. Look at the recent success of Nike and iPod, which we linked to recently. Now we have Ikea and Absolut. I like this kind of cooperative product naming...this may be a triple header as it also promotes New York, surely a brand unto itself.
- The Art of Domain Name War - I have found that the negotiations around domain names are likely to get more rather than less tricky, and using an intermediary is probably exactly what Sun Tzu would do. An interesting take on the sometimes sticky negotiations and strategy around product naming.