September 30, 2006
As you may already be aware, Nikon and Flickr (the very popular Web 2.0 company just purchased by Yahoo) made a unique deal a few months ago. www.flickr.com, the place to store and share photos, would place Nikon branding on its site and then Nikon would launch a campaign called “Nikon Stunning Gallery”, where photographers could upload their images to Flickr and tag them as part of the “Nikon Stunning Gallery”.
And although some initially viewed this move as another “annoying branding deal”, the cooperative effort seemed to be working. And the great part is that the “Nikon Stunning Gallery” contains very little agency-created content. It is, for the most part, consumer generated content.
This past Thursday, at the Momentum Growth Conference 2006, (covering the exploding digital media ecosystem) Susan Kuchinskas, of The 360 blog, wrote about advertising within consumer generated content and reported that “Jason Zajac, Yahoo’s vice president and general manager of social media, said that the most successful promotion overall this year was the Nikon Stunning Gallery, the branded photo gallery that pulled in images from Flickr.”
Nikon’s next move: Get its customers to promote the brand.
A group of heavy Flickr users were sent free Nikon D80 cameras and told to use them as they saw fit. Some of their pictures have been collected into a 3-page ad insert in the latest issue of BusinessWeek. With this move, Nikon has developed an extension of both the Nikon "Stunning" campaign as well as the partnership between it and Flickr. The Flickr brand name and logo is featured prominently in the Nikon ad, by the way.
So, it seems to me that the “Nikon Stunning Gallery” advances Nikon’s long-term strategy to “transform imagination into creativity”. And I think it does this in three ways:
- Promote Nikon cameras within consumer generated content, encouraging photographers to use Flickr
- Associate the Nikon brand with the Flickr brand, which represents the ideals of community, empowerment, user interaction, and knowledge
- Created a URL, nikonstunninggallery.com, that sticks and combines the brand name with an adjective evoking the brand promise
Rohit Bhargava, VP Interactive Marketing, Ogilvy, had some great thoughts about the campaign: “This promotion is simple, relatively easy to implement, and perfectly on brand for Nikon. The Stunning Gallery positions Nikon again as the choice for photographers of all levels serious about capturing stunning moments in images. Best of all, it doesn't alienate Flickr users, but rather engages them in the promotion and encourages them to add their content to this gallery.”
I think Nikon's partnership with Flickr does what it is supposed to do: motivate camera buyers to feel passionate about the Nikon brand. What do you think?
HP to Buy Voodoo, Don't Think About HP Scandal - HP is buying PC company VoodooPC and Joystiq thinks this is a ploy to divert attention from HP’s current woes. The link between this well-known computer maker and the well-known gaming PC brand name is very similar to Dell’s recent buy of Alienware.
Brand Credit or Brand Debit - John Moore has a great post up that explores the idea of a Brand Checkbook to determine what activities are beneficial or detrimental to your brand name. This is naming research direct from Starbucks. You can read his complete article on the subject at MarketingProfs.com.
R.I.P. Vital Radiance - Revlon is dropping its Vital Radiance line after shares in the company dropped 12%. Michele Miller has some very strong feelings about why, exactly, this good product is not working — and why cosmetics companies in general seem to be striking out in pushing good brand names for women over 50.
The new Ubuntu Linux Beta just launched and its been named Edgy Eft, and includes a host of new technologies.
Ubuntu is a free, open source, solid and reliable linux operating system that South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth feels will revolutionize the computer industry. The name he choose is an African word meaning, essentially, “sharing and community” although a larger definition is on the Ubuntu site: "humanity to others", or "I am what I am because of who we all are". Many of the smaller apps are named after South African animals including Hoary Hedgehog, Python 2.5 and Warty Warthog - even its code name was Breezy Badger.
Ubuntu's naming architecture for its other projects is pretty cool: Other product names include Kubuntu, Edubuntu, and Xubuntu.
- Xubuntu is a GNU/Linux based system using the Xfce Desktop environment
- Kubuntu is based on KDE, the K Desktop Environment
- Edubuntu is Ubuntu aimed at classroom use
Many South Africans hope that Ubunto will bring South African culture direct into the cybersphere. Governments in Brazil, China, India and Malaysia are already using open source software, and Shuttleworth is convinced that his project will help bring computers into Africa, where Microsoft has already introduced versions of Windows in the Zulu, Setswana and Afrikaans languages.
But Shuttleworth, the first African in space, is a well respected, flamboyant figure in South Africa and may have the ability to work some serious juju on his bigger competitors in California.
September 29, 2006
Chinese miffed by lewd Japanese computer game - History often has its part to play in even the most cutting edge product naming: Chinese gamers are angry about a new game named “Slaves of the Red Mansion” that seems to be a clear slur on the classic Chinese literary work entitled “The Dream of the Red Chamber.”
The latter is an ancient morality tale written by Cao Xueqin in the mid-eighteenth century during the Qing Dynasty and considered the Zenith of classical Chinese fiction. “Slaves of the Red Mansion,” is a mildly pornographic game with a heroine much like that in “The Dream of the Red Chamber.”
Chinese gamers are furiously creating a new game that extols the virtues of the Chinese resistance to Japan during WWII - it has yet to be named but is sure to further strain relations between the two countries.
Microsoft and Yahoo Messengers update their Mac clients - Yahoo and Microsoft's instant messaging products can now speak to each other and are updating the Mac clients to allow for a new symbiosis of brand names that was not available until recently.
This gives Microsoft another badly needed foothold in the Web 2.0 world: Messenger can now communicate with Yahoo IM, AIM and iChat. This also helps make the relationship between Yahoo and Microsoft yet cosier, and a clear move to match the virtual marriage between the Google and Apple brand names.
Pole officially Pesky - The Boston Red Sox have named their right-field foul pole in honor of Johnny Pesky before the Sept 28th game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The pole has had the official moniker for some years but yesterday it was made official - it’s now Pesky’s Pole, after the first player to have three 200-hit seasons. The honor was bestowed to him on his 87th birthday, and he threw out the first pitch of the game.
Final score: Tampa Bay 11, Boston 0. Congratulations, Johnny!
September 28, 2006
CNN Money has a great article on the rising popularity of the strange-looking shoes called Crocs, which are also an interesting example of product naming.
The name for these pretty ugly shoes comes from the creator, Lyndon "Duke" Hanson, who claims they, like their namesake, are “good on both land and water, live a long time, and have no natural predators.” Plus, when you look at a green Croc from the side it looks just like a crocodile.
Movie stars love them, as do people from every walk of life from yuppies to outdoorsmen. The brand name’s success would make a crocodile smile: in 2003 they sold 76,000 pairs to the tune of $1.2 million. The forecast is for sales of 20 million pairs in 2006, which would gross $300 million.
Crocs are eminently comfortable, lightweight and sweat proof. They are examples that pop up now and again of really ugly, comfy shoes that capture the market for a time before slithering away: think Uggs, Birkenstocks, Jellies and Earth Shoes, all of which are profiled in the CNN Money article, and all of which are truly weird examples of shoe naming.
I may be rushing to judgment, however: the mysterious writer at Searchblog finds them beautiful. On that note, Crocs are also one of the most blogged about shoes in history. There’s the Croc Shoes Fans blog and the Cute Crocs blog just for starters.
As Tim Manners of the Reveries Magazine blog points out, the inventors of Crocs (Scott Seamans, George Boedecker, and Hanson) have “created their own category of footwear,” which is known as “ugly but comfortable,” and despite the clear faddishness of the shoes and the name, they have extended the brand name to sandals, slippers and boots as well as knee pads, t-shorts, and, interestingly enough, therapeutic Crocs Rx Shoes, as well as sponsoring a beach volleyball tour.
At $30 a throw they’re a bargain and you can even put them in the dishwasher, dryer and microwave.
Try that with a pair of Pradas.
Is Flash-y E-commerce Always a Safe Bet? - Kelly Mooney brings up an interesting point about online commerce, in general inspired by Nike’s relaunch of its online store: secure web pages for checkout. She’s noticed that the all important page is “http” and not “https”, which means that she’s a tad worried about entering her credit card details on an open page.
She also points out that she’s not fooled by the “Verisign” logo on the page, because it probably isn’t being used - its just available to the Nike developers. She makes the point that trust online is crucial for shoppers who want to buy your product...and that tiny difference in the URL makes all the difference to the savvy shopper. If Nike is making this mistake, who else is?
But Jack asks us to think of this: could expanding the Rover product name to Mercury exports possibly work? The Mercury Milan is a great candidate for this, and with a little tweaking could be a great flagship for the ailing Rover brand, which still commands a great deal of loyalty for European buyers.
This is a pretty crafty idea, as the Mercury name is hardly known at all in Europe, and Rover is beloved.
NTL: Telewest and Virgin launch Quadplay - The package includes multi-channel TV with video-on-demand, broadband, home telephone and a mobile service. It’s the very first offering from the newly united NTL:Telewest and Virgin Mobile brands, which will be rebranded (and possibly renamed?) as a single communications/entertainment provider.
Looks like they beat Vodafone and BP to the punch - but as Vecosys points out, telcom companies have been merging across Europe all with the purpose of linking communications with entertainment, so look for more new brand names offering the same services.
September 27, 2006
Alcohol ads suddenly awkward for Paris - Paris Hilton's recent charge over a DUI has caught up with her and ironically she has lent her name to winemaker Prosecco, who uses her as the subject of his ads touting his Rich line of sparkling wines. Chris Thilk wonders aloud whether somebody who was caught driving under the influence is a great person to associate with an alcohol product name.
One Fruit's Story - Martin Schwimmer leads us to an interesting post on how the humble Kiwi fruit is benefiting from some really savvy handling of intellectual property law.
CBS.com uses "Netcast" instead of "Podcast" like Leo Laporte - Great conversation on Digg right now about whether CBS has chosen to use the term "netcast" over "podcast" to avoid litigation by Apple. Check out some other posts I've linked to here and here about this issue. It seems as if Apple is not going to be successful in protecting the “podcast” name.
The thick layer of dust on the phone book on my shelf is a sign of the times. Why look in the White Pages when we have Google and InfoSpace?
This change has enormous implications for company naming. Back when we depended on paper directories, there was a real advantage in having a name that started with “A.” Open the Yellow Pages under “Storage” and what’s the first thing you see? AAAAA Rent-a-Space. Everything from taxis to mortgage companies has been tagged with the name “A-1,” and not just to indicate good quality.
But search engines, unlike directories, don’t rely on alphabetical order. Unless your company's name is also a keyword or phrase that people search when looking for a company that does what you do, having it start with “A” won’t help much.
What search engines like best are descriptive names. Computers are boringly literal creatures. They won’t know you’re a bank or a car dealer unless you put “bank” or “car dealer” in your company name.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a fanciful name and appeal to humans as well as search engines, but if you choose a name which isn’t one of the keywords people search when looking for products like yours, you need to take steps to make sure you put those keywords elsewhere on your company's website, like in the title and the body of the text.
For more perspectives on naming for search engines, check out the forum at Search Engine Roundtable.
September 26, 2006
The US is to “relax” its ban on liquids on planes, restricting travellers to 3 oz. containers or less if they are in “zip-top bags,” according to Yahoo News.
This seems like another opportunity for web sites and business that have sprung up to deal with the new rules, like www.mywetstuff.com, for example. Little bottles of toiletries that look like “samples” offer airlines wonderful co-branding opportunities.
In fact, UK based easyGroup must already be ahead of the curve: they offer us easyJet as well as easy4men, a cosmetics line that is sure to be resized. So it seems that whoever can imaginatively and immediately introduce new toiletry products that come pre-bagged and in small containers will have a distinct edge. Are you listening, small brands?
An article in the Hartford Courant illustrates all the different, heretofore little known product names that are benefiting from the new air travel restrictions, and which are scrambling to take market share from the lucrative business traveller market.
Brand names that are niche products now, like Superbrite Dry Mouthwash, or Burt' Bees Shampoo Bars are taking center stage over the big names from Proctor and Gamble that are either too wet or big to take onboard. Hotels are already getting into the act -- Clinique has hugely benefited from the ban, but so have the Omni, Wyndham and Marriot brand names.
Hotels supply these to customers and gain their kudos, but think about it: If you were to be the high-end, small-time toiletry maker that offered an entire range of products in 1-3 oz bottles, your first customers would probably be hotel buyers.
And what about Ziploc, the brand name that is - let’s face it - synonymous with the term “zip top bag”? It seems like now is the right time to push their very middle class brand name to travellers and yuppies and not simply stay-at-home moms and brown baggers.
Ziploc has an opportunity to offer prepackaged deals with cosmetics and toiletry manufacturers, and co-brand with high-end product names like Clinique and L’Oreal. If these restrictions stay, I would imagine it should be a breeze to get a carton of shampoos all individually packed in Ziploc bags that would fit in a briefcase or carry on.
Or maybe they should create a “travellers” Ziploc brand extension that offers slightly smaller bags to accommodate those little shampoo bottles. Ziploc, if you don’t do it, some other "zip-top bag" maker will -- and probably one you’ve never heard of.
How Apple, at its core, is like the French - Stephen Baker at Businessweek Blogspotting tells us that Apple’s recent struggles to trademark “pod” and “podcast” illustrate exactly why the French try to stay away from words that come right out of advertising. So, if things go well, instead of podcasts, we might have “baladodiffusions.” You can read all about Apple’s struggles to trademark the names on ZDNet.
Spoiled Rotten (Apple) - Joseph Jaffe links to some great posts that are generally critical of Apple’s efforts to protect words related to “pod”. Interesting material here about how Apple may be hurting its brand name with this action - is “tripod” next? Watch out, camera buffs.
Once again, death becomes her - Take a look at the graphics used to support the new Black Dahlia Movie versus those behind Six Feet Under, both of which probably appeal to the same audience. I do not think this is an outright trademark violation but the Six Feet Under image is very much associated with that particular brand name and Black Dahlia’s promotional poster looks very similar.
The recent exploding battery issue faced by Sony, Dell, and Apple (and now Toshiba and Panasonic) is not helping the worldwide perception of Japanese brand names, while giving a serious boost to Asian competitors such as Samsung and LG.
The quality problems have spilled into the motor industry as well, with auto-giant Toyota also calling back millions of poorly made cars, (2.2 million of them in 2005 vs 200,000 in 2003) and even into the food industry.
Indeed, Korea’s Samsung plans on taking Sony’s place as the second largest battery maker in the world within the next few months and Hyundai can barely conceal its delight at Toyota’s failings.
The Japanese conception of “kaizen” or “improvement” is so central to the Japanese national identity - and for years so well represented in the craftsmanship of Sony and Toyota products - that the recent damage done to these brand names has caused a national furor and a suspicion that “something is amiss in Japan.”
September 25, 2006
Brand Impressions Formed At Retail - Corporate branding and experiential marketing can go a long way: the Umpqua Bank in the Pacific Northwest has grown from $150 million in deposits to a whopping $7 billion in 12 years by providing comfortable “lobbies” for customers, offering them Umpqua brand name coffee and even doing away with the word “branch” - Umpqua instead operates “stores” and sees itself as a “retailer”. Interesting post and comments.
Materazzi has the last laugh in Nike ad - We already wrote about how Zinedine Zidane of the World Cup Head butt fame has found his (brand) appeal double in recent weeks despite losing the all-important game for France. It also seems that Marco Materazzi, the Italian recipient of the head butt, is also doing very well and is the subject of a recent Nike commercial.
Virgin Atlantic revises complete Dell, Apple laptop ban - Virgin has slightly changed its policy of banning all Inspiron, Latitude, iBook, PowerBook, MacBook and MacBook Pro batteries on its flights but Cyrus Farivar at Engadget wonders whether batteries from Panasonic, Toshiba and IBM aren’t next.
The battery fiasco must be horrific for these brands which are already suffering from recent airline bans. Are inspectors savvy enough to distinguish the “good” laptop brands from the “bad” ones?
September 24, 2006
For some time now Disney has touted the Princesses brand name collection (Cinderella, Aurora, Jasmine, Belle, and Snow White) in their clothing, games and DVDs, but now it seems the 50 year old Tinkerbell brand name is taking over — at least as far as grade school girls are concerned.
Watch out, Barbie
September 23, 2006
There are 63 federal trademarks for the name "Fusion". Many of the Fusion brand names, it seems, are for innovative products that blend various features: Flavia Fusion drink maker, Maxtor Fusion drive, Ford Fusion, and Gillette Fusion razor are examples. Fusion can also communicate a neat "2-in-1" feature, like in the tagline of a restaurant nearby, "The fusion of Asian and Latin cuisine."
The Gizmodo blog, which reports on new techie gadgets and gizmos, created a special website showing all of the "Fusions" it has covered.
I suppose if a company was about to launch a new product, and the brand needed to convey innovation and a combination of features, in a segment not already over-crowded by other "Fusions", then I could understand Fusion as a product name candidate. But, in many cases, I don't think Fusion communicates the benefit to the consumer, nor does the name reflect a unique and ownable brand strategy.
Frankly, I can't help but feel like the Fusion name is a bit overused...and lazy.
P&G and Ford will have spent several million dollars on "packaging" their Fusion razor and Fusion car brands this year, and thereby successfully creating memorable brand names. But, I don't understand what fusion really means in those instances.
Unless there's a TV infomercial playing in the razor aisle at Target, I'm never going to remember what the Fusion razor does, and I don't have time to read the package. I'm into speed. Maybe that's why I've stuck with the Mach 3 Turbo. I'm always in a rush in the morning, and nothing says getting out the door fast like "Mach 3 Turbo".
In my opionion, Fusion is a better name for a juicer, since it "fuses" several veggies and fruits together to make one delicious drink.
I also think Fusion would be a great name for super glue. It "fuses" two different materials (like wood and metal, or plastic and fabric) together.
Elmer's Fusion - Now that's a name that sticks.
For some more thoughts on the Ford Fusion and the Gillette Fusion brands, check out Ford's "Bold Moves", courtesy of the Global Giants blog and this analysis of the Gillette Fusion, courtesy of the ThirdWay Advertising Blog.
Apple Wants to Own "Podcast" Trademark - Steve Rubel wrote an interesting post yesterday about Apple issuing a cease and desist to Podcast Ready, claiming that the terms "Podcast Ready" and "myPodder" infringe on Apple's trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers. Like Rubel, I would also not be surprised to see some product name changes as a result.
Soccer Star Zidane May Have Lost His Head, But(t) It Hasn't Hurt Him - Stephen Baker at Blogspotting confesses that he was wrong about head butter Zinedine Zidane’s head butt in the World Cup costing him $20 million is endorsements. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Marie Valla, Zidane’s allure (and brand) has only been “enhanced.” He is now France’s “favorite personality” and Adidas and Danone have both stood by him because of the “immense reserve of goodwill” he has garnered over the years from fans.
ASA backs Razr-wielding designers - There was a recent outcry over an ad for the Motorola RAZR that pushed the boundaries a bit: it shows the allusion to a “razor” in the brand name being taken to a rather violent end in a recent ad that smacked of violence: the tagline “"the cutting edge of technology" was presented a little too literally.
Why Google is your brand - Great blog on Bizhack by John Koetsier that points out that for many marketers what Google says about your brand name is pretty much what customers know about your brand name. Which means that ”the new tastemakers are us”. I agree.
September 22, 2006
I am now pretty sure that the Microsoft Live Search Center product name has been scrapped.
The news is not firm yet but a few very reputable blogs, including Liveside, show that evidence exists, supported by a recent newsgroup post at MSDN, to announce that Live Search Center is going to be renamed Windows Search Preview. Liveside gives us a nice history of the ill-starred product name:
- Originally codenamed Casino and internally called OneView
- Announced by Bill Gates as just Windows Live Search
- Named as Windows Live Search Center by Steve Ballmer
- Now being called Windows Search Preview
This may actually herald the end of the Live product name itself (although I doubt it). We have all known that there have been problems with the Live brand name that have been picked up by the press especially as it applies to the Windows search engine and it seems somebody in Redmond was listening.
This is the second application, after MSN Soapbox, to lose the “Live” name and I am sure that trend will continue: the Live name is now appended to email, domain hosting and games, and it’s just too confusing.
Watch out for the official announcement, it’s surely on the way, just as more Live products are going to be renamed.
My life. My card. My work. My lawsuit. - A freelance art director who submitted his "My Card. My Work." portfolio to AMEX's advertising agency, Ogilvy, claims they stole his slogan to promote the American Express brand, with the “My life. My card.” slogan.
Yahoo To Buy Facebook For $1 billion - Yahoo and Facebook are now one. As I have written before, Microsoft is also linked to Facebook. Linking the Yahoo brand name with Facebook is a great move, just as the Google brand name is inextricably linked with MySpace, which is now even more popular than Yahoo and Google.
How to explain RSS the Oprah way - The name RSS means “Really Simple Syndication” which is anything but a really simple concept for millions of people. This article on the Back in Skinny Jeans blog offers a very usable alternative definition of the application’s name (“Ready for Some Stories”) and is a great introduction to the concept of RSS.
'Grand Theft Auto' Fan Arrested For...Guess What? - Sometimes a product name can give people dumb ideas. Especially interesting is that he had the Grand Theft Auto name and logo tattooed on his back, which reminds me of the fact that the Nike swoosh is the most popular corporate tattoo, pushed tirelessly by a group of employees who are ultra-devoted to the NIKE brand who refer to themselves by the name EKIN (Nike spelled backwards). At least they’re not out there stealing cars.
September 21, 2006
The Disneyland brand does not seem to have the same cachet in Hong Kong as elsewhere despite the best efforts of the company to appeal to Chinese vacationers.
The problems they have faced in China are myriad, from workers striking over low pay and hot costumes to disgruntled visitors fed up with long lines or simply locked out on huge Chinese holidays. A public opinion poll taken in May shows that 70% of Hong Kong people now have a negative opinion of Disney.
The problem is Disney’s inability, despite its best efforts, to assimilate into the culture: Asians are not as interested in scary roller coasters as Americans, instead preferring more sedate pleasures and opportunities to take photographs.
Disney’s market researchers have found that while Chinese familiarity with the Disney brand is high, familiarity with the Disney theme park concept is lacking. One executive said, simply, that Hong Kong people “need to understand what Buzz Lightyear is" before the Disneyland brand can take off.
Meanwhile, Disney’s biggest competitor in China is 30 year old Ocean Park, a much more sedate water park that has more brand name recognition and fewer crowds based on the California Sea World model.
Although, as Jared Huber correctly explains, it seems likely that Disney will bounce back, given the multiple touch points between China and the Disney. So, it seems that the Disney corporate brand name in China is insulated from the Disneyland Hong Kong brand.
Noise Is Good - Greg Veerman at Fresh Glue writes about noise and asks if it could be beneficial in the marketing communications arena. He discusses the book, Noise, by Dr. Bart Kosko, and how noise, in all its formats - auditory, visual, informational, or neurological - affects how we perceive the world around us. Does the “noise” of competing brand names really impede your brand from being heard?
More "Americana" - this time from Toyota - Japanese giant Toyota is trying to be yet more American than GM in its promotion of the Tundra truck brand name by associating it with NASCAR, the uber-American name.
There is ferocious competition between pick-up brands in the U.S., and this news is likely to send waves of fury through this hugely macho industry. I would like to be a fly on the wall in Ford’s war room today, where you’re not even allowed to eat sushi, much less say the “T” word.
Hard Luck - Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion brings us this news of the Hard Lox Café’s recent tussle with Hard Rock. The Hard Lox Cafe in Forsyth Park Festival will need to change its name. Unfortunately, this sound-alike name is a trademark infringement.
Here are some other examples of trademark infringement:
- Engadging in trademark parody
- Unauthorized counterfeit usage of a well-known trademark
- Using a name outside agreed-upon boundaries
- Any violations of the Lanham Act, whether you are in Lebanon or Mexico, or pretty much anywhere else
September 20, 2006
Which fictional products would you buy? The writers at the Adfreak blog like Dunder Mifflin paper because it was featured in “The Office”.
However, people who are interested in taking advantage of TV shows for cool product names that have an “inside” cachet ought to be careful: Fox already sued somebody for trying to sell Duff Beer, Homer Simpson’s favorite drink.
You can take a look at the pretty startling and congruently branded list of products from the Simpsons on Wikipedia, which also has a very nifty list of fictional company names which offer lovely fodder for a business hoping to use its company name to bridge the gap between reality and imagination.
In a slightly different vein, Boing Boing gives us a little lesson in Dr. Suess’s taxidermy: apparently when Dr. Seuss was not writing children’s books he was literally creating fictional animals and naming them: how would you like to check out the “Two Horned Drouberhannis, the “Andulovian Grackler,” and the “Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn.”
On the other hand, according to Miss Snark, if you are writing fiction, you can indeed have your characters using real products in your novel or script so long as they are not portrayed in a negative light. Remember, however, if you are writing for the ages, dropping real product names dates your book or movie.
If that’s not confusing enough, you should also remember to think about the ramifications of associating the names of your fictional pitchmen, like the Maytag Repairman, with other ad campaigns.
Intel readies Quadro chips for November release - It’s official, says Cyrus Farivar, of Engadget: Intel’s first Quad-core "Kentsfield" Intel chip will be called “Quadro.” Farivar also reports that the next generation of low-voltage Centrino chips, which are currently code-named the "Santa Rosa” are due to be released in January. Intel's naming architecture continues to hold our interest. Watch our blog as we continue to report on it.
Students Design Convenience Store Beer Cave - Rich Ottum reports that a Citi Stop convenience store in Shyville, North Carolina invited some local college students to redesign its walk-in fridge since customers have been confusing it with a storage room.
The result is a new facade and the new name "Beer Cave". Citi Stop keenly listened to its target market, college students, and allowed them to help solve its business problem. The result, which is typical of what good brand name research uncovers, is that customers (many UNCA college students) are buying more beer.
Copywriters Needed at Adobe - Check out this hilarious blog post by SethyG, of American Copywriter. Would you agree that the Adobe Updater needs to be renamed? We think it should...and very quickly. This post shows how some product names can confuse and frustrate even your most loyal customer.
September 19, 2006
The entire spinach situation in the US has offered us an interesting case study in how brand names deal with business threatening emergencies like this one.
As Steve Rubel reports, two well-known brand names have taken entirely different tacks: Whole Foods has been largely silent on the matter, Dole has been very proactive, offering a minute-by-minute update and taking out web-based ads to keep the public informed about what is going on.
The end result is that the perception of the Dole brand is likely to take a boost rather than a knock, while Whole Foods, which really could have built brand name equity off this ("wholesomeness" is, after all, built into its name and its positioning has been the organic, natural supplier of choice), missed an opportunity.
There are many precedents on how a corporation can take ownership of a crisis and use it to its advantage. One similar to that faced by the spinach brand names comes from South Africa, where food giant Pick n' Pay was recently faced with a hoaxer who claimed to have poisoned a whole assortment of Pick n' Pay products.
Pick n' Pay aggressively advised the public to bring back any Pick N' Pay products for a full refund and kept them informed via the web, radio and newspaper on the status of the problem - which turned out not to be a problem at all.
The end result was that the company garnered more customer loyalty rather than less because it had proved itself trustworthy in a crisis, and was willing to stand by its customers.
Compare this to the damage done to the Sony and Dell brand names over the recent battery debacle: Sony and Dell obfuscated, Apple simply came clean. Apple has ultimately suffered the least damage, while its competitors have been mauled.
When it comes to protecting your brand name in times of crisis, honesty and communication are always the best policy. To learn more about owning your brand, visit Mike Wagner's Own Your Brand blog.
Top-secret Elmo Revealed! - Yes, the 10th Anniversary Tickle Me Elmo has been unveiled and he is to be called TMX Elmo. The TMX Elmo product name represents two things: Tickle Me Extreme" or "Tickle Me 10" and it looks like he will be pretty hard to get (just like his predecessor was).
Hopefully, consumers will not confuse this name with the Mexican Telephone Company ticker symbol (TMX), the computer term "Translation Memory eXchange", the company called TMX Communications, or TELEMETRIX Network Construction.
Talk like a pirate training film prepares you for the upcoming holiday - Yes, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, so here’s a quick link for those of us who want to bone up on the lingo. Pirate brand names and product names are all the rage now, so we may as well give in for 24 hours.
Finally, a Definition for Web 2.0 We Can Agree On? - Steve Rubel reported on a recent InformationWeek article that defined the term "Web 2.0": "Web 2.0 is all the Web sites out there that get their value from the actions of users."
Rubel thinks that corporate sites that brand themselves by valuing their customers' thoughts and comments are also "Web 2.0". Examples of brands whose names are unquestionably associated with being "Web 2.0" would include: Wikipedia, Digg, Technorati, and Flickr.
Some argue that MySpace and Facebook should be considered "Web 2.0" brands as well, given their influence and interactivity.
One comment to Rubel's blog post suggested that this reflects our need and interest in naming our technological cycles, something that Intel was arguably in control of, with its 286/386/486 chip naming architecture.
Citizendium: a more civilized Wikipedia? - The founder of Wikipedia is branching out and forming a new online reference called The Citizendium that promises to be a more reliable (though less fun) version of Wikipedia.
Techcrunch is cynical about this move gaining as much popularity among users as Wikipedia. The name itself is a giveaway: Wkipedia is a unique product name that melds the words Wiki and encyclopedia, with “wiki” referencing the Hawaiian word for “fast”. The word encyclopedia comes to us from Greek egkuklios paideia, meaning “all round education”.
Wikipedia is just that, a very fast “all round education”. A Citizendium is a combination of “citizen” and the word compendium. Compendium is from Latin, and usually means a “summary” of a larger work or an abridgement (from compendere, or “that which is weighed together”).
Therefore, to call something a Citizendium is to put a severe limit on the offering - and to suggest it is less than complete, unlike the word Wikipedia. This is ironic since Citizendium, as a brand name, is meant to be the exact opposite.
September 18, 2006
In a recent blog post on Brand Autopsy, Flip-Flops, Mystery, and Marketing, John Moore talks about a new sandal by Reef which has, embedded in the sole of the sandal, a church key bottle opener.
This is a great concept since sandals and good times go together, and this sandal, named the “Fanning Sandle”, has become Reef’s best selling shoe. The kicker, of course, is that the company does not advertise the bottle opener. Seth Godin calls this type of unhyped add-on a “free prize” and it is a clever way to add subtle value to the brand.
Free prizes are things that customers want, but do not necessarily associate with the core values of a brand. In this case, Reef is a sportswear manufacturer: calling a flip flop the “brewskie” or the “party sandal” (a few ridiculous product naming examples) would anathema to the core values of this well-respected surfing brand. Choosing not to tout a selling point has precedence.
A recent article in The Mac Observer, Hidden Dimensions - Why Apple Has Not Advertised Mac OS X, gives a simple, elegant reason why Apple did not promote its "free prize inside": Apple has a very cool OS, but the average Mac buyer doesn't care about what's inside. They care about what it can do and how cool it looks. Windows people look under the hood. Apple people are into driving. Generally speaking, Apple builds its brand name, not its specs.
The Reef bottle opener is useful, I suppose, but it’s also more of a talking point than anything else. The erstwhile VW Beetle also came with a pretty famous tool kit that customers are still looking for decades after the original Beetle was scrapped. Still, VW never pushed its inclusion with the vehicle, preferring to focus on its durability and not its capacity to break down every so often - but people liked having the unique tool kit.
As John Moore notes in his blog post, the Chrysler Sebring has hot and cold cup holders. These do not sell the car, but they are great for word-of-mouth advertising.
Cory Doctorow, at the Boing-Boing blog, wrote a great post over the weekend about the new documentary about MPAA ratings, "This Film is Not Yet Rated."
According to Doctorow, a small, ultra-conservative group controls the film ratings system, which in turn controls the marketing and promotion of a movie or DVD to audiences.
Anyone working in the movie marketing industry should read this blog post and see the movie - especially the parts about copyright infringement and piracy.
Part of the pre-release hype that movie marketers aim to create is certainly a function of how well the public responds to the name of the movie. But, a great name can be irrelevant if the MPAA slaps an NC-17 rating on it.
As Doctorow explains, studios then won't promote NC-17 movies and Wal-Mart and Blockbuster won't carry them. So, in a sense, I think, the rating then becomes part of the movie's brand. And that's the image that people, specifically parents, remember.
I wonder what Chris Thilk at our favorite movie marketing blog, Movie Marketing Madness, would have to say about this film?
The LA Times is quite correct in asserting that “Eris” is an appropriate name for the dwarf planet UB313, nicknamed “Xena”.
Eris is the Greek goddess of strife, or discord. She was famous in antiquity for spoiling a good time. When Achilles’ parents got married, Eris was a gate-crasher, staying just long enough to start an argument between Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite about which of them was most beautiful.
They chose Paris, a prince of Troy, as a judge, and then tried to bribe him. Hera offered power, Athena knowledge. Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world—who just happened to be married to the king of another city.
That resulted in enough strife to satisfy even a bloodthirsty goddess: the ten-year-long Trojan war.
Though generally unpopular with the Greeks, Eris has her modern-day fans, namely the Discordians. Members of this “religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion” are none too pleased with the fact that Eris has not been granted the status of a full-fledged planet, though they have long campaigned in favor of this name.
Eris could have been named a tenth planet, but instead the discovery of UB313 in 2003 inspired the International Astronomical Union to demote Pluto (discovered in 1930) to a “dwarf planet” in August 2006 - a change controversial enough to cause Wikipedia to lock its entry on Pluto and invite commentary from the likes of Seth Godin and The Agitator. There’s even a petition to save Pluto and a humorous site about Pluto coming out as a “planette”.
The naming of Pluto’s two moons, on the other hand, created far less controversy. So far, the definition of a moon appears to be more stable than the definition of a planet.
The Zune is out, finally. I have Previously blogged about Microsoft Zune and am very interested in seeing how much of the iPod's 75% share of the digital music player market it can grab.
The Zune Info blog is the best source for up to the minute news about the Zune release. Love it or hate it, it will be interesting to follow the market acceptance of this product, and to see how well the brand name, Zune, is received among its target market. The name will certainly add some creative depth to the Microsoft naming architecture. If you're curious, read about Microsoft’s imaginative strategy to trademark the Zune brand name.
The Microsoft Zune is only one digital music player among many attempting to imitate Apple's success with iPod + iTunes. In the Wall Street Journal this morning, companies like Sandisk, Samsung, Microsoft, and others, are attempting to create a better digital music brand and service.
In some cases, co-branding is their strategy. For example, the well-respected Sandisk brand is teaming with the well-known RealNetwork's Rhapsody music service brand. Microsoft will connect its Zune player to its own online music service, Urge.
The Gizmodo blog reported that we will soon be able to buy a Microsoft Zune at Wal-Mart. They might be reading too much into it, but Gizmodo thinks the linkage of the Wal-Mart and Microsoft brand giants seems a little puzzling. Although Wal-Mart is in the process of upgrading its merchandise and image, the typical Wal-Mart shopper doesn’t appear to be the target market for an mp3 player like Zune..
Engadget reports that Apple will be updating its co-branded U2 iPod. The U2 and Apple brand names just seem to go together pefectly. Consumers will be happy to know that it looks like the ultra-cool U2 iPod will be reintroduced and revamped just in time to compete with the Microsoft Zune.
When it comes to brand naming, it's a never-ending battle between Apple and Microsoft.
September 17, 2006
Titles Work For Nobility, Not Grubby Promoters - AdPulp is a little peeved about a recent New York Times article that makes fun of some of the names we in the marketing industry bestow upon ourselves.
Customer Evangelists and Marketing Sherpa, the names of two of my favorite sites, are among the marketing monikers that the Times shows disdain for. They also take a quick look at some of the admittedly more unusual examples of company naming: Amalgamated, Anomaly, Droga5, Mother, Naked, Nitro, StrawberryFrog, Taxi and Zig.
Probably just sour grapes coming from a newspaper everyone refers to as the Old Grey Lady.
Simplifying Simplicity - John Moore at Brand Autopsy takes a look at a new book by MIT Professor John Maeda named The Laws of Simplicity.
Professor Maeda’s blog looks at the exact same thing and his conclusions are always interesting for product namers. I especially like the laws of shrinking (Apple Nano) and hiding (RAZR) as they apply to naming, and have written about both.
The poetry of the Lanham Act - Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion points us towards an Israeli blogger named Yehuda who has written a series of poems summarizing US Trademark law. One law that applies to naming that I like:
Trademarks can be transferred
If it's all done in writing
It's nice when done pleasantly
Without any fighting
I have said he same thing without such elegance myself.
September 16, 2006
Hotels have found a niche market that is longing to be exploited, and which opens up a whole new frontier in product naming: the $11 bil mancation travel industry. Vince Vaughn's character coined the term in the recent movie The Break-Up: "I’m excited. I look at it like I’m on mancation." Think on-demand Porsches, cigars, cold beer, fishing, Jacuzzis and flat-screen TVs and you get the picture. A mancation is a group vacation taken with friends; in this case it references the sacred all-guys getaway.
Hotels and resorts are offering a whole new class of enticingly-named packages meant to cater to the needs of a bunch of guys on a tear. Indeed, hotels have long catered to the female "girls escape," and now hotels are cropping up offering guys all they could ask for, like the Regent South Beach in Miami or the Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, which offers the "Dudes on the Dunes" package. The Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale is offering "The Fishing Emanation" (a fishing day complete with cook), and the Jetsettersblog reports that the Fairmont Chicago has a new "Mancation Package" which includes multiple variations including a "Speed Meets Spa" option that melds race car driving with good food and a spa treatment. And for the more adventurous, there’s the Land Rover Golf & Drive Package at Quebec’s Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello — a neat way in which the Land Rover brand name will be put in front of a bunch of good ol' boys who are likely to make up its target market. Count me in.
Maybe It’s Just a Mirage - Mirage Speakers has some serious explaining to do with the lawyers from the Mirage Casino who might see some pretty suspicious similarities between the two organizations’ logos that promote their brand names. Bill Baker warns that usually casino reps are not that diplomatic about people who steal their logos.
Copyright Modernization Act of 2006 - Here’s some serious reading for those of us in the name service industry interested in copyrights. The Patry Copyright blog brings us a nice summation of the 100 page bill just submitted to the House that essentially is designed to protect digital music brand names and give the FBI more investigative powers in copyright piracy issues. You can read the whole bill here. (Hat tip to The Trademark Blog.)
Kazakhstan Even More Pissed at Borat - Sacha Baron Cohen’s TV personality Borat, a fictional bumbling, foul mouthed Kazakhstan native, has made the president of the country so angry at his continued attack on the Kazakhstan brand name that he is taking out "educational" TV spots and print ads for the US market telling us about the "real" Kazakhstan — and plans on discussing the ailing Kazakhstan image with President Bush.
September 15, 2006
An excellent post in the Christian Science Monitor blog talks about the notion of “borderless” in brand names. The author, Ruth Walker, profiles the “borderless brand” which has been claimed by the world NGOs and humanitarian organizations (Doctors Without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, even Clowns Without Borders).
The term “without borders”, when applied to an organization, is a kind of shorthand for a humanitarian group that wants to help the world. Walker points us to an article in Utne which discusses just how many “borderless brands” there are out there trying to make the world a better place.
Now, film producer Geralyn White Dreyfous wants to market a documentary called “Doctors Without Borders” that will probably bring the “without borders” name into mainstream entertainment, and thus into for-profit product naming, especially since the appeal of pseudo-brandless advertising has caught on so well in the press recently.
As Walker observes, brands are truly “without borders”, and I would add that branding can be used just as effectively for nonprofits as anywhere else. There are:
- Recipes Without Borders
- Trade Without Borders
- Geeks Without Borders
- Business Without Borders
Also, nonprofit brand names, especially big ones, face many of the same problems and hurdles that for-profit brands do, argues John Quelch at Harvard Business School. How many people know that Habitat For Humanity has the same brand name value as Starbucks, for instance? I think the "Borderless" brand name also has an equity worth protecting, but those using it should remember that they need to build their brands, too.
- A Few Great Names - Stefan Liute points us toward a very interesting article on Brandchannel that profiles strange product names for beer and wine, a subject I have written about before. I have also profiled some weird whisky names.
- Walking billboards invade planet - Here’s a very interesting new way to get your product name, website and blog out there: use real people strapped to real computers who walk around allowing the world to log into your site. That's some great brand name promotion.
- Celebrity weeklies giveth, and taketh away - Interesting blog about how Kitson, a Hollywood boutique, is launching a suit against Us Weekly for not mentioning its name enough within its pages after a supposed falling out with the owner. Do boutiques that stars frequent have a right to get free promotion within the glossies?
September 14, 2006
In reporting the Iceland Naming Committee’s approval of four new first names for babies, the Iceland Review claims that the Icelandic language “conjugates nouns as well as verbs.” This is impossible by definition, as anyone who has studied an inflected language like Latin knows. Verbs conjugate; nouns decline.
There’s an old joke about the decline (declension) of Rome that Latin students learn which may help readers remember this:
- Roma - Nominative
- Romae - Genitive
- Romae - Dative
- Romam - Accusative
- Romā - Ablative
The Mímir Icelandic grammar website presents a strong and weak declension of nouns, each with variants for masculine, feminine, and neuter, with nominative (subject), accusative (direct object), dative (indirect object), and genitive (possessive) cases. A name which didn’t decline according to standard Icelandic grammar would confuse those trying to use it in sentences and set the child apart as “foreign.”
But conjugation, with personal names, is never at issue.
Hasbro has launched a new “Here and Now” Monopoly Game that has at least one writer suggesting parents cross the old product name off the Christmas list this year.
The new edition shows the biggest changes ever in the 70-year-old product name that has sold 50 million copies in 80 countries and been translated into 26 languages.
Times Square is the new Boardwalk, Fenway Park replaces Park Place, Reading Railroad and B&O have been replaced by Atlanta's Hartsfield and Chicago's O'Hare, and you get a cool $2 million for passing Go.
Monopoly "Here and Now" also replaced the light-blue Connecticut with Minneapolis' Mall of America, the mega-mall that's just 5 minutes away from the Strategic Name Development office.
Most interesting, well known brand names have revamped the tokens: you can now play using a metal Toyota Prius Hybrid Car, an order of McDonald’s French Fries, a New Balance Running Shoe, a cup of Starbucks coffee and of course a Motorola RAZR cell phone.
I’m sure that there will be an outcry from some that Monopoly has sold out, but it should be noted that these brand names did not pay to play, they were chosen by consumer vote last year. Anyway, how could a game that is so greatly imbued with the virtues of capitalism be criticized for making a buck off big brand names?
The classic game will still be available if you have a thing against today’s best known product names and love nostalgia, but if you go for it you'll miss your chance to play with plastic Yes, a Visa-imprinted debit card replaces the old Monopoly money. Cash was always so retro, anyway.
Counterfeit Chic hits the massive time - Can fashion be copyrighted? Because if it cannot, then every fashion brand name could be in trouble from copycats. Counterfeit Chic falls on the side of allowing fashion designs to be copyrighted and a Wall Street Journal article, Can Fashion Be Copyrighted?, presents opposing viewpoints.
Trademark Application Blows LonelyGirl15's Cover - Lonelygirl15, one of the most popular names on the Internet recently, was not just some lonely girl. The Trademark blog found the tell-all trademark application that proves she was a pilot for a movie or TV show. The New York Times reports further on the creation of the Lonelygirl15 brand.
Starbucks brings back boobies - Starbucks is celebrating its 35th anniversary by briefly reintroducing it’s old logo, which shows the bare breasts on a mermaid, and this, in turn has enraged at least one school principal. Millions of kids drink Starbucks and millions of adults are going to listen to endless boob jokes for awhile.
September 13, 2006
Gizmodo has done a fantastic job of profiling what Apple has to offer us next year and as we suspected, there has been a huge leap forward towards putting computers in the living room with the introduction of iTV.
Yes, it looks much like the Mac Mini and its introduction kicks off a new phase for iTunes, which will now be offering movies from the recent link-up between the Disney and Apple brands. Obviously, Apple is probably hoping to link up with other entertainment companies to add more heft to its video offerings, yet Universal, Viacom, Sony, NBC Universal and Fox are not coming to the party.
Nevertheless, Apple is making a real link from the home office to the living room and right now is one step closer to pulling in cable, downloadable movies and TV firmly into the realm of the computer.
This means that Apple as a brand name is that much closer to being a media/entertainment company rather than a computer company. Apple is the place to go to for media and entertainment if you want to play it, make it, or edit it, in any format. The new video iPods live up to this assessment.
But what I want to know is how British based ITV dealt with Apple’s introduction of the iTV unit. ITV in the UK is very well known, as is Mac-friendly EyeTV, which, as one blogger put it, is having its space encroached upon.
I suppose there must have been some agreements made behind the scenes but it does offer UK consumers a confusing offering and certainly makes one wonder if Apple should keep using the "i" naming scheme. For now, it seems clear they will.
TubePort? Who's doing your branding these days, Ted Stevens - Apple’s new wireless gadget for streaming movies is rumoured to be called “TubePort” (it will probably be officially announced today.)
I agree with Ted Stevens that TubePort doesn't appear like a brand name you would expect from Apple.
First of all, it's for groundbreaking technology, but the name appears to emulate an existing brand name, YouTube.
Secondly, TubePort, as a name to describe the delivery of video from a computer to a TV wirelessly, focuses on the technology, as opposed to the content and user experience. Long-term, in my view, Apple would be better off with a brand name that has more of an emotional component to it.
Lastly, again, I dont' know if this rumor is true or not, but the name seems antithetical to everything Apple is all about: innovation, simplicity, and leading the market. A name that is similar to YouTube doesn't seem to do Apple justice.
Dave Caolo at TUAW agrees that "TubePort" is a really lame-sounding name.
eBay Sues Over Its Its - Martin Schwimmer, of The Trademark Blog, reports that Ebay is suing World Class Auctions on 13 counts of trademark infringement. One of the points of contention is the use of eBay’s “trade dress” on its home page and its "it" mark.
Study: Wikipedia Dominates Brand Search Results - This is a fascinating study done by Micro Persuasion that shows just how influential Wikipedia is on building your brand name.
Most brand and product name searches on Google yield a Wikipedia result right off the bat, meaning that what Wikipedia says about a brand name could be crucial to shaping consumer perception of that brand name. The questions is: can brand managers control it? Probably not, reports Steve Rubel.
The Influencers Have Arrived - This may sound too good to be true, but there is a Canadian site out there called The Influencers that is billed as an “online hub” for self-appointed trend “influencers”.
They are able to network with other people who share their interests. Here is a great way to test the waters direct with consumers on interesting products and ideas, like a new brand name.
Kate Trgovac, at One Degree, asks, "Is this site for consumers, or is it really for marketers? Regardless, a site like this should be a key resource for brand managers and marketers.
September 12, 2006
Wal-Mart is a brand name that is more associated with blue jeans than Gucci. However, fashion is facing “democratization,” according to the New York Times. Brand names like H&M, Zara and Topshop are bringing high fashion to the masses through a savvy combination of off shoring production and beating the couture houses like Gucci and Burberry off the runaway and into the stores.
Rock stars and TV stars are now frequenting low-end retailers looking for brand name apparel that in the past was hardly synonymous with glamour, but now has just as much street cred as Dolce & Gabbana.
Wal-Mart is basically emulating Spain’s Zara brand in flaunting really cheap clothes that make you look like a movie star. Democratic brand names like Miss Sixty, Energie, Killah and RefrigiWear are making millions of dollars dressing the person on the street like a model. How did they do it? Places like Wal-Mart have more reach than the smaller houses and often bring out the new fashions - cuts, colors and styles - months faster than the more expensive houses.
So, welcome to high fashion, Wal-Mart, and let’s see how you strut your stuff.
Apple to Bring Internet, TV Set Closer Together - It seems likely that today there will be a big announcement from Apple that will either reposition the Mac Mini as a TV device or else offer us a totally new Apple product. Insiders are saying that Steve Jobs has finally merged Cable, Wi-Fi and the Mac into a living room ready device.
If this is true, it will bring a whole new meaning to Apple brand name. Watch this space for a possible announcement of the new product name.
Live.com leaving beta, replacing MSN search - We reported a while back on the carelessness in which Microsoft has introduced Live.com. It is now moving out of Beta and is rumoured to be replacing MSN, which right now houses Soapbox. I thought Microsoft would avoid confusion by introducing Soapbox under the Live.com brand, but instead they introduced it under the MSN brand.
Secrets are the new big thing - It seems that many companies are leveraging the trend to associate their brand names with the "confessional culture" of reality television, where people divulge their secrets to the world. I wonder how this strategy might work for a brand name that already emphasizes a secret formula, like Pop Secret popcorn. Or Secret deodorant.
Microsoft is launching a YouTube clone, which will be named “Soapbox” and follows Microsoft’s partnership with social networking site Facebook.
The Soapbox brand name offers users their own “soapbox” to stand on and speak to the world. Although the younger generation may not know the history behind the "soapbox" name, it's a great metaphor and one of Microsoft's better brand names.
One blogger tells us that this sounds like it will be allowing users a space for a “personal whine”. That's just fine.
Congratulations, Microsoft. Great brand name. Metaphors do work.
September 11, 2006
The introduction of the new luxury edition Sirocco heralds this new philosophy in brand naming (which reminds me of the VW Scirocco.) This announcement comes as people are thinking about cell phones, and the names associated with them, in a whole new light.
Cell phone makers have linked with famous fashion brand names to make charming, high end devices for the couture-conscious. The linkage of brand names like Motorola RAZR and Dolce and Gabbana, creating luxurious product names like the V31 D&G, illustrate an imported-from-Europe trend in cell phone naming: the perception of the mobile phone as a personalized fashion accessory rather than simply as a technology tool.
The V31 D&G is just one example of how some high end cell phone users are more concerned with making a fashion statement than simply having a neat gadget. Nokia Africa has linked the new Nokia 7230 with the high end Stoned Cherrie fashion house, referring to it as the “lipstick phone” (not metaphoric product naming: it has a mirror included for quick touch ups) and offering it in cocoa and silver colors much like Stoned Cherie’s designs.
Compare this to the new Motorola PEBL, which comes in many colors, including a limited edition Maria Sharapova model.
Chanel offers a phone strap, as do Hermes International, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, all of whom are brand names we do not usually associate with cell phones. The bloggers at Gizmodo, where techhie-cool is king, show some contempt for the new direction in cell phones but even they have to admit they’re pretty and part of the fashionably named L-Amour collection aimed at people who want a little sophistication with their phone.
I think this is a logical direction for cell phones, which have tended to become commoditized with feature bloat. We can only handle so many features on a phone. But the aspiratonal and intangible cell phone brand name is what will differentiate it in the marketplace.
Sean Combs has called himself Puff Daddy, Puffy and P. Diddy. When he finally dropped the “P” and changed his name to “Diddy”, he was sued in Britain by Richard Dearlove, who also happened to have been using the name “Diddy” for years. Combs has agreed to pay £100,000 ($247,000) in legal costs and £10,000 ($24,700) in damages.
Plus, he’ll have to rebrand himself in the UK, which could prove to be much more costly. I imagine that Diddy’s people simply told him this is part of the cost of going through a name change so many times. A protected legal battle with another person with the same name would go nowhere and frankly, this is about what Diddy pays to fly his luggage from Paris to Rome.
September 10, 2006
John calls this a "transformational" clothing company that will meld social responsibility and good gear. Evan Orentsen at Coolhunting gives it a huge thumbs up and notes that it is being run by ex-Patagonia and North Face people (among others, including at least one person from Starbucks).
I think it’s a nifty company name and brand name. Nau means "welcome" in Maori and obviously sounds like "now" in English.
Another reason why I like the Nau company name is that it is also the prefix in English for things relating to the ocean or sea handed over to us from the Greeks — think "nautical" or "nautilus" from Greek "nautikos," meaning "sailor". This is a nice link for a company that makes rainwear among other things. Their blog is called the Thought Kitchen, which I really like as most thinking, cooking and partying goes on in the kitchen.
The company will be selling its products mostly online. They have a great name, and a great philosophy: doing well by doing good.
September 9, 2006
Paris Hilton was recently arrested for DUI. She claimed she was on her way out for a burger. Alas, Carl’s Jr. (who produced the hugely popular viral video of Paris washing her Bentley while eating one of their burgers) will be unhappy to hear she was not driving a Bentley and not on her way to Carl’s Jr.
As AdFreak points out, she was driving her Benz to In-N-Out, another hamburger fast food restaurant. You have to wonder if either company will be on the ball enough to capitalize on Paris’s unwitting promotion of their brand names over their major competitors. Viral videos are on the way, methinks.
Who wouldn’t want to dress like this guy? Here’s a great piece of brand name research: a post on the product names behind Mac Guy. If you are really into Macs, then today's your day. These brand names have certainly benefited from being associated with Mac Guy. Now I want to know the brand names behind PC Guy.
Car names from overseas, especially from Asian countries, sometimes don’t translate. As Dave Legget points out on the Just Auto blog, the Japanese have offered some howlers in the past: Nissan Cedric, Isuzu Big Horn, Daihatsu Step-thru Pantry Boy, Mazda Bongo van, Nissan Stout pick-up. They have called trucks Big Thumb or a coach Super Dolphin.
The Japanese seem to have cleaned up their act but now that China is on the rise we can probably expect some more interesting brand naming faux pas — they already offer the Nanny Van and the Beauty Leopard Coupe.
The replies to this blog post are full of more ridiculous howlers: a Dutch car that shares its name with a margarine brand; a Fiat that was almost named after a sewing machine. One of the replies leads us to another hilarious link of names that just do not travel well — maybe it should be renamed "the work of errant name development companies." I suppose we in the West should not have too hearty a laugh at Asia’s expense: Chevy did try to sell the Nova in Spanish speaking countries, while being blissfully ignorant of the fact that no va in Spanish means "doesn’t go" or "no go."
An article on the Billboard.Biz site about the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Conference & Awards notes that linking a recording artist with a brand has great benefits so long as it is done with authenticity. I have to agree and appreciate the way in which the music industry is acutely aware of the importance of linking the right artists with brand names that are already deeply established with the consumer.
Also discussed was the "create your own brand" phenomenon of digital music files. The advent of play lists published by DJs has meant that listeners are more than ever responsible for the distribution and perception of an artist's brand name.
The music industry seems acutely aware of the fact that the big labels are no longer in charge of these brands; they are working in tandem with music lovers.
September 8, 2006
The really important question, though, is whether Microsoft’s new product will actually translate any better than current online translation applications, which are so literal as to be almost useless - except as a source of humor.
Forty years ago today Star Trek boldly went where no man has gone before - into brand naming legend.
The franchise has been worth about $4 billion to Paramount, and is one of the company’s most profitable brands in history. Paramount VP John Wentworth said, it’s the “most successful franchise in the history of entertainment, with brand extensions in every single direction."
Partial credit is also due to Star Trek for the inspiration behind Tablet PCs, the PDA, and mobile phones. As if that wasn’t enough, Kirk’s ship, the “Enterprise”, was the namesake of the first Space Shuttle.
CNN may say that the show is dying, but fans seem willing to make their own episodes...one site that promotes these home made videos boasts 30 million downloads of amateur episodes that look almost like the real thing. You can get into the action today, says Boing Boing, by sending your favorite home made Star Trek pics to Wired News.
I think it’s safe to say that the Star Trek franchise, and the Star Trek brand name, will undoubtedly “live long and prosper.”
Technorati Tags: Star Trek
Nokia just announced the company will change its naming nomenclature, following Motorola's lead. Nokia is going to embrace brand names rather than alphanumeric naming in future cell phones after seeing the success of brand names developed by competitors like LG’s Chocolate and Motorola’s RAZR.
I have written extensively about Motorola’s naming strategy, from its treatment of vowels to its transition from RAZR to SCPL. I think Nokia is making a good move, as long as they included brand name research.
It looks like Federated Department Stores senses the unhappiness many customers feel about the loss of beloved brand names like Marshall Field’s to their Macy’s brand, a subject I have written about a few times.
Federated is now trying to win over the hearts and minds of customers to the Macy’s brand name, in what they're calling their "biggest advertising campaign ever to support the re-branding.” I think they have their work cut out for them: some company names are hard to forget. But, time will tell.
How should Katie sign off each newscast? Here’s your chance to contribute to Katie Couric’s recent debut: figure out a good sign-off tagline for her and send it in to CBS. Cronkite’s was “And that’s the way it is”, Murrow’s was “Good Night and Good Luck”, Dan Rather’s was “Courage”…what will Couric's be?
Readers of the Adfreak blog have some pretty interesting thoughts. Can you think of some creative sign-off taglines?
Posted by William Lozito at 8:37 AM
Posted to Apparel | Brand Architecture | Brand Naming | Branding | Company Naming | Consumer Electronics | Marketing | Media and Entertainment | Naming | Product Naming | Taglines | Technology
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September 7, 2006
Names have held power since time immemorial. We say “Speak of the devil” when someone we’ve just been talking about walks up to us because of an old belief that speaking the true name of a supernatural being would summon it.
Fairy tales like Rumpelstiltskin demonstrate a tradition that knowing someone’s true name gives you power over them. Therefore people avoided speaking the true name of anyone (or thing) that they feared and avoided telling their own names to potential enemies.
Modern businesspeople are not supernatural beings, but very often the name we know their business by is not the legal name of the business. The purpose of adopting a fictitious business name is not to avoid hostile spells, but to create or maintain a brand.
If you’re a sole proprietor and you name your business “Joe Smith” after yourself, it doesn’t tell prospective customers anything about what you do. And in most cases, you can’t trademark a personal name. Another person with the same name can open the same kind of business using that name, and you can’t do a thing about it.
At the other end of the size spectrum, a large company which buys a smaller company may want to continue trading under the subsidiary’s name in order to hold on to the existing customer base and brand equity. When eBay bought Skype, they didn’t rename it or do anything else to change the way the product worked at the consumer end.
Unlike supernatural beings, businesspeople are not allowed to hide their real names from the public. Fictitious business names in the United States are registered with the County Clerk. Some states also require those who file for a fictitious business name to publish an announcement of the fact in the newspaper, along with the real legal name and contact information for the business, including the name of the person who acting as agent.
Saying the legal name of a business doesn’t cause the CEO to appear in your living room in a puff of smoke, but knowing it does give you the power to issue a summons.
Yes, an Apple is a better-looking computer, but will an association with sexy lingerie tarnish Apple's brand name? It occurs to me that Victoria's Secret and Apple have another thing in common: Bob Dylan.
Is it a coincidence that the sexiest lingerie company in the world is linking its name with Dylan and so are the sexiest computers in the world?
Is it a clever name, or a stupid one? Even if you can’t tell the difference between a Web 2.0 company and a Star Wars character, there’s still logic behind their names.
In their response to the question “Who came up with this stupid name?”, the founders of Oyogi explain “the word ‘yogi' in the moniker refers to the fact that people who may answer your questions could be considered experts or ‘yogis' (a Hindu word) […] o + yogi = a questioning concept/respectful protestation aimed at a sage/expert.”
This is a modern, generalized use of the word “yogi,” which classical yoga defines much more strictly, but which nevertheless makes perfect sense to Oyogi’s intended market: people looking for expert answers to their questions.
Check out this great post from Techcrunch on other question and answer services.
In a brilliant display of sales promotion at the expense of its biggest competitor, Caribou Coffee (based here in Minneapolis) is accepting coupons from Starbucks.
Yes, the Starbucks coupons proved to be an embarrassment when they had to be pulled due to an over-generous expiration date.
As Chris Thilk at AdJab keenly points out, this is an opportunity for Caribou to capitalize on its competitor's mistake and welcome some otherwise loyal Starbucks customers. And that will undoubtedly increase the recognition of the Caribou brand name.
In a Chicago Tribune article yesterday, Hard-core fans stay loyal to brand, Sandra Jones reports that many people are simply not taking well to the Marshall Fields name change to Macy's.
The “Keep It Field’s” campaign is proof that a long-standing brand name like Field's can't just go away easily. In fact, one loyal customer has spent $2,000 of her own money to preserve the brand name. Some name changes make people so irate it catches on with even some of the least loyal customers, a subject I have written about before.
For more commentary about the name change from Marshall Fields to Macy's, check out our September 2005 blog post announcing the name change and the comments.
To understand the challenges facing Federated Department Stores as it re-brands stores to Macy's, check out Vanessa O'Connell's September 5th article in the Wall Street Journal.
September 6, 2006
¿Hablas español? More importantly, does your target market speak Spanish?
Mobasoft, LLC’s MyChingo audio comment system has become popular with podcasters, but Christine Goodman of the San Antonio Byline blog pointed out that she could never use that product in Texas, or even discuss it in a business environment, because “chingo” is a very rude word in Latin American Spanish. In fact, it's slang for the F-word.
Neville Hobson, of the For Immediate Release podcast, clued us in to some rumors that Mobasoft was planning to change the product’s name to avoid offending the Spanish-speaking market. However, nothing has happened yet and there’s no mention of such plans on the product’s home page.
- Do you find the name of the popular Mexican American rapper from Texas whose name is "Chingo Bling" offensive? It doesn't seem like he's offending his fans, Nor does it seem like Asylum/Warner Bros thought his name was offensive, since they signed him to a deal.
- What about the several high-profile bloggers that have signed up with MyChingo already? The potential offensive language doesn't seem to bother them, either.
Listen to FIR 168 for the details (the MyChingo discussion starts at 49:45 of the 75-minute podcast) and let us know what you think...
September 5, 2006
Congratulations, Katie, we knew you had it in you. Talent that is, courage too, and the ability to present the pure journalistic truth. Your debut tonight night was nothing short of newsworthy. But we’re not surprised, after all, you’re named for it.
Katie, as you probably know, is a diminutive of Katherine, a name which means “pure.” And Couric, most likely derives from the French word Courier, which means “messenger” or “deliverer of news.”
As a “pure deliverer of news”, it’s obvious that you were fated to be a serious journalist and not just a glamorous morning show host.
For your new role, however, you should consider, a little back formation of your given name. Katherine, after all, is much more serious than cute little Katie. (In fact, Katherine may have the effect of adding an inch or two to your height.)
In either case, your name not only makes semantic sense, it also has a wonderful cadence (perfect Iambic Dimeter) and authoritative plosive consonant alliteration.
Now if only we could say the same for Bill O’Reilly.
Technorati Tags: Katie Couric
A recent MarketWatch article, The Jet-Set’s Shopping List Unmasked, looked very interesting: it was a report on the spending habits of the very rich that studied people rich enough to own private jets.
As one would expect, ultra high-end consumers spend $30,000 on alcohol per year, $147,000 on watches, and $250,000 on jewelry. The brand names they are buying are pretty easy to guess. But what I find intriguing is the amount of cash ($98,000) jet setters spend on “experiential travel” destinations: flying to out of the way places to do unique things like paddle kayaks with whales, hike in the rainforest and go on safaris.
Not to mention the $107,000 the average jet setter spends on spas when they are not trekking or bundu-bashing. More and more people are tired of being hassled at the airport and are electing to get their own jet. So, what are the top brand names for those who would like a jet of their own?
First of all, as far as private jet brand names go, the New York Times reports that the Embraer Lineage 1000, a Citation X, or a Gulfstream IV or Gulfstream V are the Lexus or Mercedes-Benzes of air travel for the well-heeled.
The pickings are so rich that Honda wants to offer its own jet with “better fuel efficiency” - do the rich look at the mileage? What gives the rest of us hope is the rise of NetJets, where you buy a piece of a jet, a form of time share.
Or, you can try out a very interesting card offered by Bombardier Skyjet, CitationShares, Sentient Jet, Le Bas International and Marquis Jet. This card allows you to access a private jet without owning one. You just fill it up like your Starbuck’s card (think $300K) and you can swipe it to fly to Europe. Or Vail. Or Nantucket.
Just be careful, because you don’t want to fly to any old airport. You want one with massages, first class dining, a gold course, maybe even an indoor forest. The Globe and Mail gives us the low-down on the airports you just have to fly to before you die, and these range from Heathrow in London to ET Joshua Airport, Mustique.
Of course, those private jets have to be able to hold all of your luggage, so you may have to scale back. Or not. P Diddy recently decided he needed one jet for himself and one for his luggage when he flew from Paris to Rome. Nice way to bypass overweight baggage hassles.
Rocky Balboa Blog - Yes, Sly is going to bring back Rocky on December 22nd for one last shot at glory in a movie entitled, simply, Rocky Balboa. Preposterous you say? Crazy that 60 year old Sly Stallone is going to give this a shot? The Rocky Balboa name is very recognizable, and the fact that Stallone is ending the hugely successful franchise with a movie not entitled Rocky 6 (yes, there have been five instalments) but instead, simply, Rocky Balboa, is a stroke of genius.
The Rocky Balboa name is a recognizable brand name that never seems to go out of style: the original movie came out in 1976 and since then the video game industry has kept it alive - the first Rocky game was on Colecovision (remember that?) and the most recent extension of the brand was in 2004 for Playstation 2 and Xbox. This movie will keep the Rocky name alive for at least another few years, to be enjoyed by movie fans and gamers alike.
The Nation's Best Grocery Stores - The top brands are Wegmans and Trader Joe's. I have been a Wegmans fan for years and heartily support this endorsement. But they should note that online grocery stores are up and comers, including Amazon.com (Jason Lee Miller writes: if you can buy books at a grocery store, why not groceries at a book store?)
Consumer Reports also suggests that we frequent one store for cheap staples and one store for our fresh produce and so forth, giving brand names like Costco and Wal-Mart a serious advantage. Alas, Consumer Reports asks people to "beware of store ads", which I have found are a great way to promote your product name.
Ricoh nails Quanta and Asustek for patent infringement - Japan-based Ricoh is taking on Quanta Storage and Asustek over four CD-RW and DVD+RW patents. Yet another case of a brand name having to protect itself from overseas pretenders. But this story has an interesting twist - Ricoh is partnered with Philips and Asustek with Pioneer, two brand names that are far better known in the USA. What this means to these top brand names remains to be seen.
September 4, 2006
Burning Man Festival Climaxes in Nevada - It’s fascinating to see how this small scale, cult art movement has picked up such massive popularity, pretty much all by itself. The name Burning Man stands for a certain kind of anti-establishment, cool chic...a sort of recurring Woodstock that gets bigger over time. This is the twentieth anniversary of the festival and it simply gets more and more unique and, like any good product name, is able to naturally change its offering over time. The Scobleizer has a short video posted that might illustrate just how cool Burning Man is. When it comes to authentic, grass roots driven cool, it’s hard to beat Burning Man.
SanDisk Intros Made for Sansa - I found the replies to this post indicative of the surprising support SanDisk is getting with its Made For Sansa initiative, which is obviously a direct counter to Made For iPod — but a more affordable one for consumers.
The kicker is that this is happening in conjunction with many of the companies that actually make Made for iPod accessories...and SanDisk presumably does not ask for a licensing fee to get access to the brand name. I have to wonder if this will be a test of the dominance of the iPod brand name in this sector and I also have to say that it’s a radically simple way of positioning the brand name directly against the brand leader.
This will be a big boon for Nintendo, I am sure, but I just have to ask how selling kids the idea of the Hummer and playing video games is going to make kids exercise more?
Is the suggestion here that kids should start jumping over barrels like Mario? Why not link the product name directly to sports development, like the Kellogg's Earn Your Stripes Campaign?
We, both our linguists and marketing strategist, have always been interested in the way this man has built up an entire brand around himself and has been able to single-handedly have such an effect, not only on how nature documentaries are made (edgy, host driven doccies rule the day now, thanks partly to his efforts), but on wildlife conservation in general. I wonder how many nature documentarians have a name that is so well known.
We will miss Steve Irwin as millions of others will, we are sure.
Pejorative names for well known products have always been with us, whether we are talking about the way some people call Taco Bell "Taco Hell" or Target "Tar-zhay". Everquest players (and probably their significant others) call the game Evercrack for its addictiveness as well.
One other brand the pejorative nickname of which has almost become mainstream is BlackBerry, which is constantly referred to as "CrackBerry" because people who own them, by their own admission, simply cannot kick the habit of checking them and using them. CNN recently did a profile on just how addictive a BlackBerry can be, discovering that while being in constant touch with the office can have detrimental effects on one’s personal life, it is probably ultimately a good thing.
BlackBerry users are proud of the CrackBerry moniker (see Mariah Carey image, right) …which is used gleefully by millions of “addicts” across the globe. By the same token, the Nintendo Wii, as I have written about before, has been the butt of constant jokes and even an Internet viral…and yet it seems to keep on ticking.
I do not think that branding companies name these devices hoping they will attract pejorative brand names. But I do think that the management of these pejoratives is quite an imaginative task for any name consultant, and one which can build equity into a company or product name if done correctly.
BlackBerry Cool proudly tells us how CrackBerry addicts "like being addicted" while people who are fond of Target and call it "Tar-zhay" have supported the resultant brand extension the nickname engendered among enthusiasts.
The customer is in charge, after all, and learning to love your pejorative could be one of the best business decisions you ever make.
September 3, 2006
Miller Sponsoring Protest March - Yes, the big beer brand name is linking itself to an immigration march in Chicago. It seems strange that a brand name like Miller would actually associate itself with this kind of activity, but as Adjab points out, it will give the company nationwide free coverage and will entrench itself within the ever growing Latino community, a target market I have written about before.
Jennifer Aniston + Eminem Rapping in Next Nike Ads? - Brad’s worried it will be a Janet Jackson-like debacle but I don’t think so. Jen is funny, Janet is not. And it will be a great way to lighten up the image around the Nike brand name.
Nielsen: Online Ad Spend Up 49 Percent in 1H06 - Online spending and spend on Spanish language TV has driven up overall ad spend. The big players are scaling back, it seems, but with the advent of YouTube and the explosion in community web sites, online ad spending has turned into a bonanza, and a crucial way to project your product name. At the same time, research has shown that simple, one or two word keywords rule the day on Internet queries. When it comes to making a searchable name, Keep It Simple, Sir.
September 2, 2006
The ads we get on the site are sort of random, from a very confused big guy telling us "My Son Is Always Looking at His Yahoo" to a perky woman saying "I Have The Most Popular Yahoo on Campus."
What, exactly, is being suggested here? I'm at a loss, but it gives me a creepy feeling every time I log in, and creeping out your customers just can't be good for the product name. I am thinking seriously of getting Gmail just to avoid these weird ads. Stop the madness, Yahoo!
Men. Who Are We? - The fact is, most of today's marketing is not reaching us. Darryl Ohrt at Brandflakes leads us to a very nice article on Businessweek that declares the demise of the metrosexual (RIP) and the irrelevance of the retrosexual male shopper.
Brand names like KB Home, Coke, and Adidas, as well as apartment brands and even vacuum brands are figuring out new ways to appeal to the 75% of male shoppers who are just not seeing themselves reflected in ads and brands.
What are we learning? Men are not being catered to in most advertising. I'd add that we shop differently and perceive stores differently. Crucial research for anyone who hopes to reach guys with their brand names.
Nice to see this kids' cereal brand name stepping up to the plate with the Earn Your Stripes Award.
Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs is helping built this product name into something more than just something that tastes Grrreat.
Posted by William Lozito at 10:03 AM
Posted to Apparel | Beverages | Brand Architecture | Brand Naming | Branding | Food | Marketing | Media and Entertainment | Naming | Product Naming | Retail | Slogans | Taglines
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September 1, 2006
Sony Ericsson announced this week that it would be sponsoring the Key Biscayne tournament, or the “5th Major” as it is sometimes called. The company already sponsors the WTA (women’s) Tour.
This is the fourth name change the Key Biscayne tournament has undergone since is started out in 1985 as the Lipton. Ironically, for a few years it was the Ericsson Open, before Ericsson merged with Sony, and then became the Nasdaq-100 open in 2002. Just as Andre Agassi outlasted Baghdatis last night, Sony Ericsson hopes to outlast its predecessors.
Associating a company name with an event is a proven means of building a brand in the minds of the target market. In this case, Sony Ericsson is hitting just the right consumer: women and the high income tennis fan demographic. I would guess that almost everyone watching the Key Biscayne is a potential Sony Ericsson customer.
It’s a four-year contract worth over $20 million that will give Sony Ericsson an on-court brand presence, global ad rights and promotion rights and will come with a new logo identity that promises to reflects the glamour factor of this move. This also allows the company to develop its brand name recognition in Latin American and North America.
It also means that tennis fans may see a merging of the ATP and WTA with an end of the year final in 2007 in Shanghai with the top eight men and women competing in the same venue. That, in turn, means that this sponsorship could be one of the best deals ever signed for a tennis sponsorship.
MySpace driving more retail traffic than MSN search - It's amazing that MySpace is now a better place to promote a brand name than MSN. Who would have thought that social networking sites would have become such an effective media to promote a brand name?
It also shows that youth orientated marketing is basically where the game is online. According to the Financial Times, there’s a shortage of expertise in utilizing MySpace in branding efforts. Interesting news for those of us in the naming business.
Toyota developing integrated "carphone" with KDDI - Engadget thinks this new phone has a cute product name: TiMO (which reminds me of Latino-friendly “Tio Networks"). Guy Kawasaki gives Toyota a big thumbs up for the way in which it is communicating complicated information about products to consumers - like the engineering behind its hybrid engine.
Toyota is a super brand name and its great products and excellent brand communication are a far cry from GM’s, Guy writes. To add insult to injury, GM just dropped its sponsorship of Survivor for pretty suspicious reasons.
The Iced Starbucks Coupon - Are coupons still an effective method of promoting your brand name at all anymore? Sure, and there are lots of different media for them. They are certainly a good way to create word of mouth among the right people. But here’s a lesson learned from Starbucks - watch those expiration dates!