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October 31, 2006

Links du Jour 10-31-06

Pink FlamingoPlastic Flamingos' Swan Song - The ubiquitous plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament is on its way to extinction. The original plastic Pink Flamingo is the emblematic bird of kitsch and one of Florida’s most notable cultural icons. It's been used as part of the brand identity for companies in the hospitality, retail, and entertainment industry. Thanks to rising electric and resin costs though, the ornament is soon to be no more. There is a great story here and some background information about the Pink Flamingo at the Prairie Bluestem blog. Also check out this declaration by Rob at File It Under v2.0.

Sheryl CrowCelebs Wanna Be the Brand - Sheryl Crow has announced that she is looking to attach her name to “new business ventures that are complementary to her artistry, lifestyle and commitment to social responsibility.” Marketing Shift finds this pretty funny, and I see this as a logical strategy.

GoogleDashboard.com: The Truth Behind the Speculation - A Google domain name squatter has outed himself. This link offers a glimpse into the minds of domain name hijackers. His advice is: “don’t buy any trademarked domains, no really I mean it don’t!”

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Naming: When Should Creativity Be Scary?

Where art and commerce meet there is a tendency to quantify creative ideas. It seems imagination isn’t justifiable so it isn’t enough. Nearly any name choice can be tucked into a logical reasoning when presented to the public. But do they really care?

CobraMy favorite car name is the Cobra. Cobra snakes aren’t fast, they’re deadly. Deadly is the last thing I want in a car. But the name is cool. It just is.

Names that hit you in the heart – our unquantifiable place for emotions – these are the names that speak to us. Being reasonable in our naming efforts has its place. But giving in to the magic of names, the impossible-to-utter reasons why names work, is more powerful than we can imagine.

Branding bookThe proliferation of branding books (a cursory search on Amazon.com provided nearly 2,000 titles) perpetuate the concept that there’s a formula, a proven route to powerful brand identities.

What is missing is poetry.

Many poets are of the thought that a poem is really a distilled play. Perhaps a great brand name is a distilled poem - one word that evokes a thousand pictures. This is evident in great coined names.

Language rests only on the icy tip of emotion and creating new words to express the experience of a product, company or service can make us all feel alive. Shakespeare would have said it hits me in my “heart of heart.” It’s widely believed that Shakespeare is responsible for giving the English language over 1700 new words – words that we use everyday. Words that stick.

Some of my favorite coined words attributed to Shakespeare are: "lonely,” ”courtship,” “moonbeam,” “eyeball,” "madcap,” “tranquil,” and "arouse.” Where did these words come from? They have lasted so long because they’re felt by us all – we understand them with or without the logic behind them.

Certainly putting together Mad and Cap doesn’t logically mean “a person acting without caring or stopping to think about possible consequences.” Yet this is the definition of the word – derived from it’s meaning in a play. If these words didn’t exist as they do now, what products could we name with them? Madcap could be a vodka, clothing line or the newest toy. Moonbeam could be anything from a telecom company to a line of candles or make-up.

MoonbeamWhat a beautiful compound word. Moonbeam.

In the crowded landscape of the Internet, with 50 million .com domain names registered, all of the two and three letter possible sequences are gone. Poetry is back in big way for branding.

Studying branding, advertising and business theory is important to successful branding efforts. On top of all of that savvy, we are creating. We are imagining new uses for language, new meaning, and even new language. So a re-mystification of the creative process of developing brand identity can be our strongest play.

After all, since Shakespeare coined the word “advertising,” and “marketable,” it’s safe to say he saw the poetry in it.

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October 30, 2006

Halloween Marketing Gets Scary Again

Chris Thilk's recent blog post got me thinking about marketing around Halloween. Thilk points out an excellent New York Times article that claims Madison Avenue is “Putting the Horror back in Halloween” after years of post-9/11 squeamishness.

XM Halloween programmingThe ABC Cable Network has a special named “13 Nights of Halloween” and XM Satellite Radio has devoted an entire website to its Halloween programming, for example.

Corpse brides, slashers, vampires and witches are back in vogue, as is high goth fashion at Bergdorf Goodman. The key is that Halloween celebrates our “irrational fears” - fears of enclosed spaces, darkness, clowns, bugs and monsters.

Chipotle burritoCertain brands are also getting into the act. If blood and gore isn’t your thing this year, why not dress up like a giant burrito and drop into any Chipotle restaurant for a free burrito? Or how about dressing up like the Hamburger Helper Hand?

The buzz for this year, according to the New York Times, is “season treason” - when marketers move up the Christmas assault to the day after Halloween rather than the day after Thanksgiving.

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Links du Jour 10-30-06

Spangled FerretSpangled Ferret - Earth Conscious Fashion from New Zealand - It's an ethical clothing and jewellery brand name that gets the prize on Treehugger.com for "most brilliantly random brand name". I think the name communicates the brand personality well. The Spangled Ferret name echoes nature, of course, but adds a funky twist to it: it says "we're ethical, and a little off beat." Follow the link to read more about this unique "ethical clothing and jewelry brand" and why I think it's on strategy.


Hell.comWhat's in a (Domain) Name? - Hell.Com is for sale but there do not seem to be many takers, even though it's almost Halloween and infernal names ought to be getting a little attention. Greg Sterling leads us to the Wall Street Journal article profiling the struggles of Hell.com's owner to get somebody to pony up $2.3 million for the domain. As CNN reports, Hell "hath no takers" thus far, but Sterling's blog on building a brand around a domain name is worth the read.

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Trademarking: Wake Up And Smell the Coffee, Starbucks

There was a fabulous, heartfelt blog posted Friday by Ethan Zuckerman about trademark rights in developing nations.

Starbucks YergacheffeStarbucks, of course, is taking it on the chin for trademarking names of Ethiopian coffee beans “Sidaro”, “Harar” and “Yergacheffe.” The Ethiopians are out in the cold as far as the US Trademark Office is concerned. Starbucks, for its part, makes a half-convincing argument that Ethiopia should be taking another tact in this matter and instead work with Starbucks to create a “coffee certification program.”

Starbucks would probably get a better response from customers if they worked with the Ethiopians and not against them. And it must also be said that the complexities of US Trademark Law is also partly at fault in this instance.

un-StarbucksStarbucks currently does not have a franchise in Ethiopia, so a local woman, who was first turned down by the company, has started a pretender called Kaldi’s, much to the irritation of the Seattle original.

Zuckerman also mentions the trademark case around the word “tumeric”, where Indian scientists had to produce ancient Sanskrit texts to overturn a U.S. patent on the word as it applied to medicine. Turns out Indians had been using it to treat wounds for centuries.

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Brand Naming: Crayon Is Available, Just Not Its Smell

CrayonI was most surprised to learn that the word “crayon” has not been trademarked by Crayola, allowing Joseph Jaffe to use it for his very interesting-looking new venture which just launched in Second Life - the first company to do so. Crayola will always have rights to the smell, though!

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October 29, 2006

Nestlé Repeats a Branding Blunder of Another Iconic Brand

Cailler has recently learned the risk involved with changing a marketing element of an iconic brand name after changing its chocolate line.

European sales of the candy fell dramatically from mid-August to mid-September this year after Nestlé hired French architect Jean Nouvel to redesign Cailler’s packaging, and a famous Spanish chef to offer some new pizzazz to the taste.

Unfortunately, Nouvel chose to use packaging containing a high content of non-recyclyable PET plastics and Nestlé raised prices, prompting some retailers to boycott the product outright.

Coca Cola ClassicI’m reminded of Coke's famous blunder of changing its own iconic brand with the ill-starred introduction of , one of the biggest branding disasters in modern history. Coke also has learned recently that it can't control what people do with its top selling product — consumers have been causing mini-Mentos explosions with it and, more recently, it. But they can control what they offer the public — a public that knows that it does not like its iconic brands messed with.

Nestlé seems to be learning the hard way, the lesson that Coke taught us years ago: do not tinker with well-loved iconic brands.

KitKat Stawberries and CreamAdditionally, the Wall Street Journal, this past summer, had a fascinating story on another Nestlé misstep of another of its iconic brands — the failed attempt at line extensions for its seventy-five year old KitKat candy bar brand — offering consumers everything from "strawberries and cream" to "passion fruit" flavored versions of the well-loved original.

KitKat sales in the UK came to a grinding halt: in April Nestlé came to its senses, scrapped the KitKat flavor extensions that cost the company a whopping 18% of sales ($252 mil), and got back to basics.

Lessons learned? Brands of iconic status that consumers love, and are emotionally attached to, are often brands that consumers do not want marketers to change.

Do so at your own peril and loss of market share.

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October 28, 2006

Branding: Sabena to Be Reborn

SabenaIt seems pretty clear that the Belgian airline name is about to be reborn following its 2001 collapse.

Its current reincarnation is (formerly and briefly Delta Air Transport) , which is now working hand in hand with to resurrect the famous airline company name. Both companies are being coy about this but we can expect an announcement next month.

Sabena’s collapse marked Belgium’s biggest bankruptcy ever, and when SN Brussels emerged from the dust it profitably merged with Virgin Express in October 2004.

"Sabena" is an acronym for "Société Anonyme Belge d'Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne" or "Belgian company for exploiting aerial navigation," and started operations in 1923 with a focus on providing flights to the then Belgian Congo colony.

The new name’s announcement by SN Brussels and Virgin Express is timed to "minimize customer confusion."

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October 26, 2006

Cobain is the New King But Warhol Makes the Most Bling

Andy Warhol Professor Mark Sample on The Society of the Spectacle points out that the names of rich, dead celebrities do not seem to have lost their appeal. According to Forbes, the top 13 dead celebrities earned a total of $247 mil last year. Of special interest is the fact that this year Kurt Cobain out earned Elvis Presley, $50 mil to $42 mil.

Einstein’s name ($20 mil) has a great deal of brand equity, as evidenced by Disney’s Baby Einstein range of books and videos. And of course Marilyn Monroe’s name still has a cachet. These names are really cultural icons, names that became top brand names.

Prof Sample also leads us to a New York Times article that profiles the Andy Warhol brand name. Warhol was an artist who really wanted to be known as a brand, as a commodity, and he seems to have been very successful at being just that even after death.

has 40 licenses for products that earn it $2.5 mil per year; retail sales of Warhol products are somewhere between $40 mil and $50 mil. Now, you can make your own Warhol art and unabashed fakes of Warhol paintings featuring Kate Moss are being bought for staggering sums.

There is an exhibition of his late art on in NY right now, in fact. Not bad for an artist who has been dead for almost 20 years. The Art Law blog quotes the Times article thus: “…he would have been amazed to see what has developed.”

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Links du Jour 10-26-06

NEC and PanasonicNEC and Panasonic create ESTEEMO for joint mobile phone development - It will be a new company that will produce basic handsets for both brand names. Panasonic and NEC will each  take these handsets and add “original design, software and other values.” The ESTEEMO company name is a combination of the words “esteem” and “mobile” that expresses the mutual goodwill between the two companies. All About Mobile Life blog thinks this is a very good idea.


NorskVodka brand upsets Norway - George at The Webtender reports that Smirnoff has angered Norwegian liquor producer Arcus by attempting to present its new Norsk brand name as Norwegian (Norsk in Norwegian actually means “Norwegian”.) Smirnoff says that the brand name is actually “Nørsk”, which is meaningless.

I have to say that the word certainly makes me think it is Norwegian and Smirnoff concedes that it does want the product name and packaging to convey “Nordic” features (Note they are careful not to say "Norwegian features”.) Also note that when you Google the word “Nørsk” nothing comes up but the word “Norsk” certainly does bring up the brand name, and every page I look at sells the Vodka as “Norsk”.

What do you think?

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October 25, 2006

Brand Naming: Want a Honda? Google “Chocolate”

Honda CraveA recent article in Adweek caught my attention as it discussed the way in which Internet advertisers are buying up search terms that are not necessarily directly associated with their brand names to direct traffic to their site. So, you could do a search for “chocolate”, for the hot new LG mobile phone, and end up at the new Honda SUV site and its “crave” tagline.

The article points out that the challenge lies in reconfiguring the site to offer some kind of relevance to these users who have unexpectedly stumbled across it. I may indeed crave chocolate, or the LG Chocolate mobile phone, in this instance, and see a logical link to “craving” a very sweet SUV. And there is a logic to it: Nike would be crazy not to link to words like “athletics” or “tennis” or “basketball” or even “air,” just as it has failed to nail down the keywords to its own “I feel pretty” tagline.

For those who are interested, there is an excellent post entitled “The Long Tail of Natural Search” that goes into much more depth on the topic. It seems very clear that “branded” keywords are simply the thin edge of the wedge. If you only buy the keywords to your brand name or product name, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Non-branded keywords account for 5 times more searches than branded keywords - meaning that if you are Nike, you are five times more likely to get buyers who have clicked in “sneakers” or “running shoes” or “sweat” than the word “Nike.”

But there is much more to this game than simply buying up keywords and hoping they will randomly help build your brand name. You must have a dynamically changing web page that also attracts search engines.

And for those of you who are running e-commerce sites, things get yet trickier - just intercepting customers and gaining engagement is not enough; you need people who want to buy. In fact, randomly buying keywords could have the exact opposite effect, as the Farhad points out on Links Collector. He also suggests you buy “negative keywords” to actually discourage irrelevant searches.

Go figure.

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Links du Jour 10-25-06

Denmark(R)Oh Yeah, Scandinavia - Vika Zafrin writes about several things in this post, but it was interesting to note that Denmark has put a great deal of effort into building its brand name worldwide, whereas Norway has not (and as a result is much less popular and admired.) I also did not know just how many Swedes commute to Denmark daily for work. Check out the link to the Danish article.


Rong WeiMG Rover went the Rong Wei - An interesting post on the origins of the Rong Wei automobile brand name, which was introduced yesterday and is Rover’s Chinese incarnation.


MicrosoftBe One of the First to Beta "Centro" - If you work for a business that uses less than 250 PCs, here is your chance to beta test the new Centro “infrastructure solution” from Microsoft. Centro is the code name for a product that corals Windows Server “Longhorn,” Exchange Server 2007 and a variety of security technologies. There is no word as of yet what “Centro” will be called when it reaches the market. Damir links to the Centro blog, which covers more if you're interested.

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October 24, 2006

How Do You Spell Branding?

Yahoo!Including numerals and symbols in your brand or product name makes it easier to trademark and helps differentiate your company, but it also contains some built-in pitfalls and some potential for confusion.

Some people even question whether the word “spelling” is appropriate to describe names like this. And is it misspelling if you write “Wal-Mart” instead of “Wal*Mart?”

One obvious point of confusion is that people who hear the name might assume a different spelling, requiring you to spell the name when using it in an audio-only medium. “That’s ‘Blubrry’ with no Es,” podcasters say when recommending the network on their shows (www.blubrry.com).

Prince symbolAnother problem is that while the Trademark Office is happy to include any number of symbols as part of a “Word Mark,” computers aren’t at all fond of non-ASCII characters. How would you put the squiggle by which performing artist Prince was known between 1993 and 2000 into an e-mail message?

AndpersandMany of the characters used in business names (including Yahoo!'s exclamation point) aren't permitted in domain names, even though they are valid ASCII characters. That means the new magazine “&.” has andpersand.com for a URL. And at least they used a symbol which has a name, which the ubiquitous “@” does not.

And let’s not forget what a hassle Slashdot’s name turned out to be for its would-be clever creator.

Don’t pursue trends or trademarks so far that your customers can’t find you or tell each other about you.

Posted by Diane Prange at 10:45 AM

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Links du Jour 10-24-06

Toyota AurisToyota Auris springs into action - The bloggers at Auto Park say the new name is an amalgamation of “Aygo” (the name of their smallest offering) and “Yaris” (slightly bigger model). The Japanese Cars Watch blog, on the other hand, claims the word is Latin for “good taste”. In fact, the name comes from the Latin word for gold which is “Aurum”.

Toyota has changed this to Auris to keep it consistent with the brand architecture led by the Avensis and Yaris brands. It is also the successor to the Corolla brand name, which seems to be on the way out after 40 years and 30 million sales.


Jenna Jameson for AdidasMad Ave Goes Soft - The Mog Beta blog has an in-depth discussion about a recent Forbes article that outlines the ways in which pornography has infiltrated modern advertising and brand name building. Names and promotional efforts that were once considered sleazy have gone mainstream.

"Stars" like Jenna Jameson are now being associated with clean cut brand names like Adidas. Mainstream clothing brands are creating yet sleazier sites and names to attract an ever edgier customer base.


Tower Records storeThe record store that wouldn't die - On August 22nd, I wrote about the longevity of certain brands like London Fog and Tower Records and it looks as if reports regarding Tower’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

It seems like an unnamed consortium of investors is intent on keeping the legendary 80s brand name alive in a smaller version. Grant Robinson is sceptical, however, about the brand name’s chances for success. I’m hoping for the best. Are you?

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October 23, 2006

Branding the Tabbed Browser: IE7 Versus Firefox 2.0

IE7The recent launch of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows, which Microsoft briefly considered naming Internet Explorer 7+ in its Vista version, has brought the word “tab”, as in “tabbed browsing”, into the lexicon of computer users worldwide.

Of course, Mozilla Firefox has offered its loyal users that for awhile now, and they are indeed familiar with the name and the utility it provides.

So, it seems clear that the release of IE7 an attempt to get the attention of these very loyal users who will be officially enjoying the new Firefox 2.0 upgrade tomorrow (you can have a first look here.)

FirefoxIEObviously, “tabbed browsing” is the way of the future for computer users and I have found it amusing to see all the questions popping up from confused Internet Explorer users who seem to be struggling to understand it.

Mozilla has taken great care to differentiate its product from Microsoft’s, but I am sure that the new release must have them on the edge of their seats this week as they watch how IE 7 users react to “tabbed browsing”. One thing is for sure: if enough people who upgrade (or are upgraded) to IE 7 get angry with the product, the Firefox brand is likely to take a big leap forward.

GoogleFoxI also have to wonder, just like the writers at Blogs for Firefox, what role the Google brand name plays in the new release. Google is “close to the Mozilla team” and their marketing muscle will indeed help Mozilla promote its new product. How close will the corporate names be linked?

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Links du Jour 10-23-06

iLampAn iLamp to make Luxo Jr. proud - It’s here, the iLamp, which looks to me like a product worthy of the “i” the Apple puts in front of so many of its product names. Another example of cashing in on iPodmania, or the instant equity of the letter "i".


HP adHP promo a little too personal - HP’s “Personality Profiles” promotion is probably awkwardly named. Catherine Taylor thinks it should be changed, given HP’s recent track record with personal information. A great example of what happens when current events are not in alignment with branding efforts.


W logosSpringfield Wildcats v. Shelbyville Wildcats - Martin Schwimmer has an excellent post up about a trademark dispute over the letter “W” between the University of Wisconsin and Waukee High School and how the Internet and other factors have upset the “delicate balance” between high school and college sports naming.

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Slogans: Branding Seattle as a Metronatural Takes the Cake

I was hoping, really hoping, that I would have something exciting and positive to say about a new tourism slogan or tagline.

MetronaturalI'm very disappointed in Seattle's new slogan, Metronatural (see image of the top of Seattle's Space Needle.)

Does the Seattle Convention and Visitor's Bureau and creators of this slogan really expect someone who hasn't visited Seattle to be motivated by this slogan to spend time in Seattle?

MetronaturalI would venture to say that 99.9% of prospective tourists do not get the intended meaning of Metronatural. By the way, it does remind one of metrosexual.

First of all, I don't think Metronatural conjures up anything but puzzlement. I thought the state's new slogan, SayWA, "took the cake," but metrosexual, I mean, Metronatural, has it beat.

Metronatural deserves the same fate as SayWA. A quick and sudden death.

For more insight and analysis of Seattle's new branding effort with the "Metronatural" tourism slogan, check out what these bloggers have to say:

  • Zee Grega at Metroblogging Seattle asks "Do you even know what a 'Metronatural' is?"
  • Dave Simmer at Blogography asks "What the heck does 'Metronatural' say about Seattle?" Simmer also reports that Seattle spent a hefty $200,000 and 16 months to come up with the slogan.
  • Elaine Shein at Blogriculture says "unfortunately, you’ll experience more metro than natural," "Metronatural rolls off the tongue like … molasses, doesn’t it?"

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October 22, 2006

Branding: This Bud’s For Jay-Z

Jay-ZFollowing yesterday's post on Jay-Z, it seems that he is also helping lend some cool to the Budweiser Select brand name.

On October 18th he released two versions of his video "Show Me What You Got". One version helps promote the as well as his upcoming CD "Kingdom Come," while the other promotes and includes NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Indy driver Danica Patrick. It is an example of Jay-Z’s almost chameleon-like way of being all things to everyone.

Budweiser Select logoNow the co-brand director for the Budweiser Select beer name, Jay-Z should be able to bring an "urban" hipness to the brand that already is King in Middle America.

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is simply unstoppable: overseeing , his own record label (), and promoting Bud Select all seems a tall order for a man who is supposed to be in "retirement."

His association with the beer brand name is sure to appeal to young urban adults. In the words of Marlene Coulis, Anheuser-Busch's VP of Brand Management, Jay-Z ought to be able to "reach people in groundbreaking ways."

This Bud’s for you, Jay-Z.

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October 21, 2006

Jay-Z Draws an Ace of Spades Brand; Cristal Pulls a Deuce Brand Name

Jay-ZDecanter.com reports that Jay-Z has officially dissed champagne and has unofficially endorsed "The Ace of Spades," after Cristal boss Frédéric Rouzaud made some ill considered disparaging, racist comments about the musician's fondness for his high-end brand name champagne.

In response, Jay-Z seems to have gone out of his way to make clear to his fans that Cristal is no longer his tipple of choice: in his new music video, "Show Me What You Got," Jay-Z sends back a bottle of Cristal and is presented instead with a silver briefcase containing a bottle of Armand de Brignac.

Some bloggers are predicitng that this will start an exodus away from Cristal, something that Armand CEO Brett Berish clearly is thrilled about. Berish welcomed his wine’s (seemingly unexpected) inclusion in the new video with a gushing press statement expressing praise for Jay-Z’s "highest standards and finest taste."

Armand de Brignac bottleThe Armand de Brignac brand name may not be well known, but it is indeed high end and with its swanky gold bottle and luxury price positioning, it is sure to experience a windfall from Jay-Z fans who look set to bring some bling to this established champagne brand name name.

I find it inconceivable that Cristal would go out of its way to insult one of its highest profile drinkers, a celebrity whose association with its brand name gives it instant credibility among a very hard to please target market.

Cristal's poor judgment and shortsightedness will be Armand de Brignac's gain, and well it should be. To get such high profile product placement with such a well known celebrity — for free — is simply a brand naming dream come true.

Pop the corks, Ace of Spades brand, you’ve got it made.

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October 20, 2006

Brand Hawaii: Earthquakes Unlikely to Quell Tourist Enthusiasm

Yesterday Chris Thilk advised to "Ignore the Earthquakes and visit Hawaii”. The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau board seems aware that ignoring earthquakes can, however, be rather difficult for someone considering a family trip. It therefore announced on Wednesday a press blitz meant to counter the bad press Hawaii has been getting after the recent earthquakes that rocked the Island paradise.

HawaiiTheir web site urges visitors to “Come See Hawaii Through Our Eyes” and features beautiful local pictures that overshadow the much smaller link to news about the recent earthquake. At the same time as this news was posted, at least one new online Travel Guide to Hawaii was launched.

Despite a few angry bloggers out there, the chances are that Hawaii will continue to be an attractive destination for tourists. Tourism is Hawaii’s number one industry and brings in $12 billion annually. It has yet to see any fall off of visitor numbers and West Coast Americans are arriving in record numbers.

New OrleansIn the face of all sorts of disasters, world tourism seems to be an ever growing phenomena - even New Orleans is experiencing a resurgence, with the French Quarter set to roll.

Do not expect people to stay away for long, or at all: the Hawaiian brand name is set to remain strong for years to come.

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Links du Jour 10-19-06

DotAsiaAsia-Pacific region gets its own domain .asia - A company known as “DotAsia Organization Ltd” has had its application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved to distinguish domain names in an Asian language under the top-level domain “.asia”.


GamerDadMicrosoft Steals Name, Popping Children's Balloons Next - A funny blog post on how a small column name was lifted by Microsoft for its own use on Xbox.com. The new column is pretty good, too and supports the idea of families playing video games together.


IPod NanoApple's iPod virus excuses simply not good enough - Apple's poor handling of the recent virus outbreak caused by a few defective iPods has Digital World wondering if they've the Apple brand was damaged.


Scooter WardCOLD Frontman's Solo Project Changes Name - COLD's former lead singer, Scooter Ward, has changed the name of his solo project from "The Witch" to "When November Falls." The fan comments illustrate how important album names can be.

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October 19, 2006

Is China Brand-Blind?

Yes, China is growing rapidly. Yes, China is a low-cost producer. Yes, China is growing rapidly.

But can Chinese companies brand? A very interesting article by Gordon Fairclough in today’s Wall Street Journal seems to suggest that businesses in China place a low value on brand-building and prefer to emulate (or steal) international brand names.

What's In A Name?I have written frequently about Starbucks' effort to protect its mark in China:

However, the Wall Street Journal has identified 7 other instances of Chinese companies emulating international brand names and logos (see image to right.)

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What Are Brand Name Celebrities Worth?

Paul McCartneyCould a celebrity be worth a billion dollars in licensing royalties?

As you may know, Paul McCartney recently trademarked his name in the UK for virually every category, including hay. I could see a great tie-in with co-branding Paul McCartney's hay and the Hey Jude Beatles song. :)

On a more serious note, I think the value of Paul McCartney's name, an international cultural icon as a Beatle, could be worth a billion dollars.

Maria SharapovaWhy do I say that?

  • Did you know that Catherine Zeta-Jones was paid $20 million by T-Mobile?
  • Did you know that LeBron James, the 21-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star makes $20+ million per year in endorsements?
  • How much can an 18-year-old athlete earn in endorsements? If you're Maria Sharapova, you'd be making $18 million in endorsements. That's a cool million for each year she's been alive.
  • And, did you know that George Lucas, due to Star Wars royalties, earns $235 million a year?
  • Finally, how about that other Paul. Paul Newman, that is, whose "Newman's Own" brand has donated over $200 million.

So, does the celebrity brand of Paul McCartney being worth a billion dollars still seam far-fetched to you?

For more on this subject, you can listen to Diantha Parker's Marketplace Morning Report segment, a portion of which I participated in, by downloading it .

And if you're wondering how Paul McCartney's brand would resonate among 50+ year-olds, ask the expert, Dick Stroud, at the .

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Company Naming: Verizon Launches Idearc

VerizonVerizon just announced a spin-off of its U.S. print and Internet yellow pages directories that is to be named Idearc, Inc. (pronounced EYE-dee-ark).

The Internet element is named SuperPages.com and includes Verizon Information Services. One of the employees at the new company, Chris Smith, posted an interesting blog in support of the new corporate name, which is clearly a combination of the words “idea” and “arc.”

Idearc logoThe palettes of the three natural colored arcs around the word have been chosen with care. According to the Verizon press release, the gray arc links with Verizon’s “print product design”, the green arc to SuperPages.com, and the blue arc symbolizes the “future."

Smith thinks the name is “a lot friendlier” than “Verizon” and I agree that the name’s presentation, typography and colors are much softer and more natural-looking than the techie feel of Verizon’s. However, I must confess that when I first saw the name and logo scheme, I thought I was seeing a word pronounced “EYE-deerk.”

SuperPages.comI think Idearc’s spelling and its tricky pronunciation might confuse people at first when they try to Google it after hearing about it in passing. The company’s marks will be “Idearc” and “Idearc Media”, which, if you say them aloud, are tongue twisters, but not quite as difficult as Idearc, Inc.

I would be very interested to know if others share my difficulty in pronouncing and spelling this new name.

For more info regarding the financial implications of the spin off, check out Jon Ogg' resourceful post at his 24/7 Wall St. blog.

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Links du Jour 10-19-06

Oldest Remaining - A Copywriting Tip - Today Seth Godin suggests against using “weasel words”. Very relevant to developing taglines or slogans.


NIKENike runs with LCD Soundsystem - Nike’s three way partnership with iPod and iTunes has prompted them not only to associate their brand with Apple best known product names, but to actually create a workout length (45-minute) song that you can download for just under ten bucks off iTunes.

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October 18, 2006

Branding: Cisco Hits a Triple Play

Cisco Systems is spending $100 million to move from being the brand name of choice for "Internet systems building equipment" into the brand name people think of for “voice, video, data, wireless products”.

This very admired but not well known $28 billion company seems to be meeting the challenge admirably by changing and repositioning its brand name on the back of a super-provocative ad campaign. It’s also introducing some interesting new products and, significantly, trademarking the name “Triple Play.”

On top of all that, it has a great new tagline, Welcome to the Human Network, that leverages its history as a networking company and looks forward to the inclusion of “humans."

Cisco’s revamp of its brand identity is a case study in how a big behind-the-scenes brand name brings itself to consumer’s attention. The Speak Up blog has an excellent succession of graphics that shows the evolution of the Cisco Systems logo and the evolution of the name itself to the more user friendly (and logo friendly) Cisco.

Cisco LogosThe new logo, a revamped bridge that in many ways “bridges” Cisco’s old and new identities, has been redesigned to be both attractive, modern, and, importantly, more visible on small devices.

Cisco’s Triple Play is also a major move into what many feel is the holy grail of multimedia: a “triple play” of mobile phone, video and Internet service.

Cisco’s claiming the term is a huge step forward for this brand and, if what they actually offer is on the target, probably the product name that will help bring this brand to the forefront of consumer awareness.

Well played, Cisco.

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Links du Jour 10-18-06

Perrier AdPerrier Plays With Its Venerable Brand to Draw Younger Fans - Consumerlab feels Perrier is trapped in the 80's. They are “channeling” words that end in –ier, like Sassier, Prettier, and Riskier, allowing drinkers to “update” the product name. Does anyone want to suggest some other “-ier” product names that would fit well on the label? Here’s your chance.


RATPParis Metro Launches "Respect" Campaign - The Paris RATP has launched an aggressive online/offline initiative that includes a video game prompting subway riders in the city to show “respect” for one another.

The aptly named “Respect” campaign suggests that modern humans have “evolved” far enough so that they do not need to slash seats or leave fast food detritus on the floor. The stat of the day? Paris could buy 30 new trains per year with the money they lose from fare dodgers. Pas bon.


IntegrysEnergy company attempts to adjust to post-Enron world, but “WeLoveGrandma” name already taken. - Thought-provoking post about the new company name resulting from the merger between Peoples Energy and WPS Resources: "Integrys". Tate Linden also discusses the principles of "aspirational naming" and "reactionary naming".

Also check out the interesting discussion of the new company name, Integrys, at the laysciencebuff blog.

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October 17, 2006

Brand Naming: Protecting Starbuck’s Brand in Asia is a Venti Order

Many of you are probably aware by now of Starbucks’ recent trademark loss to its South Korean look-alike “Starpreya.” I think this helps energize the debate around the difficulties regarding protecting trademarks in Asia.

Starbucks and Starpreya logosA quick look at Starpreya’s logo and typography scheme shows striking similarities to Starbuck's. The South Korean court has chosen to overlook this, much to the dismay, I am sure, of the 177 Starbucks stores operating on Korea.

XingbakeAt almost the same time as Starbuck’s trademark loss in South Korea, it won a similar case in China, where, I am sure you will agree, the logo and typography have not been quite as blatantly copied (see image on right), but possibly better protected. This all happens while Starbucks firms up its plans to increase its number of outlets worldwide to 20,000, with plans tabled for Brazil, Egypt, India and Russia.

The market for high-end coffee in Asia has hardly been tapped, and thus it seems clear that trademark squabbles like this are likely to persist - even to the rather absurd level. Starbucks’ experience in China has led to a wonderful post on the China Law blog and the advice therein seems to be applicable to all of Asia.

Starbuck’s loss in South Korea (ostensibly because the South Korean brand features a Norse Goddess called Freja) is especially bothersome. The problem is that the brand name “Starpreya” is a sound-alike name (actually a version of Starbucks that Koreans would find easier to pronounce). Starbucks, for all its efforts to protect its company name and logo in Asia, seems to have not thought about protecting its name against a soundalike that manifests itself in different dialects.

Starbucks, like other companies attempting to protect their brand names in Asia, should be aware of possible connotations, alternate pronunciations and alternate/sound-alike representations of their name in both English and Asian writing.

But I have to say this is a very tall (venti) order indeed.

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Links du Jour 10-17-06

iPod PhoneApple seeks rights to iPhone trademark - The Apple Insider blog reports that Apple has filed for a trademark on the name iPhone, "suggesting the company plans to use the moniker." This makes sense from both a strategic and nomenclature perspective.

This post, and its many comments, also illustrates how popular it has become for consumers to have an interest in discussing product naming strategies. Some of the commenters are discussing what Apple should name their next device, and which naming techniques are "getting old" (like the letter "i".)


Digital MillenialsMillennials Emerge as Co-Purchasers - Kelly Mooney has some valuable thoughts on the buying habits of today’s teens, which marketers have given the name “Millennials”. The branding and naming implications? Know that they value authenticity, instant gratification, and use their cell phones as their “lifelines”. They also use their online and offline peer networks to making purchase decisions...and these are significant.


Sony VaioSony itself joins the battery recall brigade - More bad news for the beleaguered technology and electronics brand name. The battery fiasco might damage a brand name that was once considered synonymous with quality - and as The Money Times points out, the high price of the upcoming Playstation 3 will not help matters.


QuarkXPress Server 7Quark debuts QuarkXPress Server 7 - The product name has been changed from Quark Dynamic Document Server for the sake of accuracy. An excellent move.

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October 16, 2006

Links du Jour 10-16-06

ZuneWhy the Zune wasn't called Xpod - An interesting post about why Microsoft did not call it the Xpod - to prevent people thinking it was a portable gaming device (obviously). I do think that there must have been a temptation, however, as the Xbox name is probably the coolest Microsoft has at the moment, but building the name off a gaming device would have been a no-no.


iPod RedRed iPod supports AIDS charity - Some people are turned off with the red iPod’s reminding them that it comes from China while others have definitely made the choice because of its association with a good cause, fighting aids in Africa.

I’d be curious to know if there are more people who have decided to buy an iPod - or any product - because of the (Product) Red campaign? And it’s great to see a celebrity using their reputation for the good of society.

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October 15, 2006

Links du Jour 10-15-06

Paul McCartneyTrademarks: Paul McCartney Registers His Name as a Trademark - He’s trying to get permission to put his name on meat, fish, poultry and game, as well as clothing, footwear, headgear and a variety of other goods.

book cover: The Newman's Own Organics Guide to a Good LifeI am reminded of the wild success of the and brand names: semi-retired super celebs can sometimes become bigger food brands than entertainment brands. In Sir Paul’s case, an icon of the 1960s and 1970s, he could earn royalties in excess of Paul Newman’s $200 million to perhaps $500 million and yes, even $1 billon (although McCartney will not be around to enjoy or donate it).

Nerdlaw points out that it is unlikely that we will see many of these products. The big list is instead probably indicative of the European practice of covering many items in one application.

How about Paul McCartney headgear with an mp3 player loaded with all the Beatles’ songs?


Rover logoThe Highs and Roewes of SAIC - The (SAIC) has lost out on its bid to name its new car Rover and is for the moment considering calling it the "Roewe". Jack Yan has some thoughts on this, but I have to wonder if this coined British-sounding brand name, or neologism, would fool anybody.

Are there precedents from India or Asia?

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October 14, 2006

Links du Jour 10-14-06

Starbucks inhaler A Shot of Coffee - Yes, this idea just might fly: the handy coffee inhaler. For when you need an extra hit of caffeine at 10,000 ft. Gives you fresh breath, too. The guys at Adfreak ask, “What’s not to like?” How about it, SND readers?

 


Tower RecordsTalk back: Do you still care about record stores? - With closing its stores, it looks like most record store brand names are going to die off and Whitney Matheson wants them to stay, wondering "Once they're gone, how am I going to judge a city — by the size of its Apple store?" I have written about the demise of Tower before and believe that it probably will stay as an online brand name but I feel Whitney’s pain. I have to ask how many of my readers still buy their music in actual stores...much less record stores?

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October 13, 2006

Legendary Brands: Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons and Roger Daltry

Gene SimmonsToday’s blog post on Adfreak entitled, “Gene Simmons, Advertising Conventioneer” just rocked me. It seems that, of all things, Gene Simmons is in the ad business, with his own marketing company named Simmons Abramson Marketing. He’s promoting the Indy 500 and is behind the creation of the “I am Indy” work and even penned the campaign’s song.

He seems to be a regular guy after all, and if you are curious about him, why not tune into the Gene Simmons Family jewels show which is obviously a mirror of The Osbournes, where we get to see the legendary rock god (who once declared himself “evil incarnate”) take out the trash.

Famous rock stars lending their names to advertising, of course, is nothing new. But we’re talking about some of the most forbidden names of the seventies, and their family lives are just too downright normal for my blood. It’s bad enough that Led Zeppelin penned the theme song for Cadillac (and then were dumped because their image was not “lusty” enough).

Now I see that Roger Daltry is going to guest star on CSI, a show which already uses the song “Who Are You?” as its opening, and whose spin-offs ("CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY”) use, respectively, “Baba O’Reilly” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

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Product Naming: The (Palm)Source of All Confusion

PalmACCESS’s recent unveiling of a new corporate logo and the fact that the PalmSource company name will be changed to ACCESS means that things are even more confusing in the world of Palm.

PalmSource software powers more than 40 million mobile phones and PDAs, including “some” of those made by Palm. This will all change as ACCESS attempts to be the leading company name in the industry, with over 279 million “deployments” of its NetFront browser to date. PDA Street calls this announcement the end of an era.

It got me thinking about just how confusing the Palm brand name has become, not to mention its tenuous (and now finished) association with PalmSource, and Palm’s sometimes secret flirtation with other brand names, like Slingbox.

The new Palm Treo 750v, for instance, is really a cascade of product names, brand names and corporate names. To begin with, the Treo product name seems to supercede the Palm brand name, and at the same time the unit is a Windows Smartphone, although (in Europe) it uses Vodafone’s content control filter and also uses a Samsung processor. Future models will also use an OS from ACCESS, which has owned PalmSource for years. And Palm’s role in all this is what, exactly?

I managed to find an excellent post that “clarifies” what’s going on here. It links to an unbelievably complex timeline on the evolution of Palm from one of the coolest brand names in the handheld organizer industry to a sort of cyber-generation Platonic form.

Where did the rot set in? It’s hard to say, but it might have all begun when Palm sold off PalmSource, thus outsourcing its own software.

And this leads me to an interesting supposition: is Apple doing the same thing with Intel? I hope not.

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October 12, 2006

Links du Jour 10-12-06

McCafeSorry Mac, MacCoffee Too Close to McCafe - Interesting link here to a court decision that takes into consideration the similarity of both the prefix and the suffix of the two trademarks. This illustrates a valuable lesson in name research and trademark analysis. It's also a warning that if there is a likelihood of confusion between two marks selling the same product, the court is likely to rule against you.


Blowfish Ad"Station 51, Squad 51, man eats blowfish." - This is an interesting lesson for copywriters on which animal names are funny and which are not. It points out the implications of certain words, even letters, having certain immediate associations in people's minds.


Suzuki AdAmerican Suzuki Launches New Brand Campaign - Suzuki's “Way of Life” campaign makes a nice link between its motorcycles and automobiles under the tagline "It's gonna be a great ride," which they refer to as a “themed mnemonic.” Nice solution to how one brand name can leverage its motorcycle and automobile associations in a seamless manner.

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Product Naming Update: MyChingo Changes Name To MobaTalk

A little over a month ago, I reported that Mobasoft, LLC had introduced a new product called MyChingo. It's an application that collects audio comments in mp3 format from visitors to your website. Visitors can post audio comments just like blog comments.

MobatalkThe founder, Michael Bailey, has decided to change the name of his application to MobaTalk, which combines the company name (“Moba”) with the function of leaving audio comments on a blog (“talk”.) Bailey states on his blog that “there was a possible issue with a derived meaning of the word Chingo in Spanish.” ("Chinga" means the f-word in Spanish, and see what the Urban Dictionary says "chingo" refers to.

NameAlthough MyChingo is a pretty unique product name (Bailey says it stands for my “chat lingo”), it seems Bailey is playing it safe by changing the name to MobaTalk.

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October 11, 2006

Product Naming: Anything to Avoid "Office"

When it comes to the product names of the applications we use to word process and organize data, nothing is more ubiquitous than Microsoft's "Office".

Many of Microsoft's competitors are avoiding any association with the "O" word in their naming efforts.

Google Docs & SpreadsheetsFor example, Google just launched an online collaborative tool with the name "Google Docs and Spreadsheets". This integrated product replaces Google's "Writely" (think Microsoft Office Word) and Google Spreadsheets (Microsoft Office Excel.)

Virtual OfficeA company called Zoho has an application with the product name "Virtual Office", but is naming its new online version "ZohoX". That's pretty unimaginative, actually, compared to the names of their other productivity applications: Show (think PowerPoint), Sheet (Excel) and Writer (Word). Zoli Erdos writes extensively about Zoho's product naming in his October 10th blog post.

Google wants to avoid using the "O" word altogether, given its association with Microsoft, but still needs a professional-sounding product name - after all, it needs to appeal to office workers. So they've settled on a conservative name, which probably won't have a long shelf life, unless they just keep tacking on words, like "Google Docs & Spreadsheets & Presentations & Databases".

Check out Richard MacManus' Read/WriteWeb yesterday for some great insight into Google's new application, and what the change means.

Also check out Gordon Mohr's comments on "Google Docs and Spreadsheets". Mohr says it's a product name that is as generic and uninspired as Google Video. He also writes about the genericization of Google and the potential smothering of sub-brands, especially those under Google.

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Links du Jour 10-11-06

NameWhy Blinkx Didn't Get the YouTube Deal - Robert Scoble comments on why the YouTube brand name works, while Blinkx doesn't work. He talks about not being able to pronounce the name, about the importance of being able to spell it right, and about an easily recognizable logo. By the way, Google's not the only company investing in Internet video. Microsoft just announced a partnership with Blinkx to provide video search for Live.com.


NameApple Buys U2 for $1.8B - This is a funny post that anyone with an interest in Apple's various branding and naming initiatives would enjoy. You have to read this for yourself. Well written, Chris.


NameWorkspace Product Name Already Used - Paul Wilkinsin has some interesting comments on Asite's announcement of a new product name. Asite has seemingly inadvertently relaunched a two-year-old product name (Workspace). Wilkinsin wonders whether a competitor in the same software market, Union Square, will take kindly to Asite using the same product name as them. By the way, the same name has also been used by Groove and IBM.


NameSymantec and the Big Security 2.0 Lie - Symantec is offering a new product called Security 2.0 to compete with Microsoft's new security products embedded in Vista. They have launched some new product names that Alessandro Perilli feels are quite simply redundant, including Norton Confidential Online Edition, Symantec Database Security, and Symantec Mail Security 8300 Series.

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October 10, 2006

Google and YouTube: Two Brand Names That Go Well Together

GoogTubeAs I predicted, Google has ignored the possible legal problems attached with its acquisition of YouTube yesterday afternoon.

Google acquired the biggest name in socialized Internet video for $1.65 billion, the largest purchase Google has made to date. Some don't see the advantages for Google in this deal, wondering whether Google’s servers really need the extra strain and why they didn’t stick with their own video sharing site. And some are just tired of reading about the proposed acquisition.

I think the deal was inevitable and brings Google users a better video experience. On top of that, Google and YouTube share a similar corporate culture and the acquisition of the brand name means that Google now owns the largest share of the expanding world of Internet video.

Some see the purchase as the beginning of the end of the YouTube brand name. I disagree: Google has been, relatively, unsuccessful at leveraging its brand to build its own video service, named Google Video. So, it seems throwing away the existing loyalty people have with the YouTube brand would be a huge mistake.

After all, YouTubers view videos over 100 million times every day.

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Links du Jour 10-10-06

YouTube.jpegYouTube in Universal Music, CBS Video and Ad Deals - YouTube seems to be linking its brand name with just about everyone, firstly ending its disagreement with Universal studios and signing a distribution deal, and then signing a strategic content and advertising partnership with CBS. YouTube is set to become the name of choice when it comes to socialized Internet video.


bnusa-globe.jpgBrandName Clothing Company Attempts to Revive Brand USA - The company is going to try and remind customers that “You Are What You Wear” and turn back the tide of foreign imports. The USA as a brand name could certainly use a boost, given that most “local” clothing new product naming is driven by overseas production.

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October 9, 2006

Brand Naming: Last Call for Foster's?

Foster's LagerFollowing my Friday link on the subject, it seems more likely that Foster’s Lager will be renamed. The new name would still have to respect Foster’s heritage but fit in well with the other brand names in the Scottish & Newcastle line of wine and beer products. These include Wolf Blass, Penfolds and Lindemans as well as Carlton Draught and VB beer.

The Foster’s brand name has been around since 1888, and if they are going to develop a product name after a 118-year hiatus, they should remember that there are some really strange names out there for beers as well as names for whisky and wine, including Budweiser’s Natty Up beer that takes ownership of the college slang word for Bud Natural Light.

Worldwide, there seems to be an assortment of odd product names meant to catch the beer drinker’s attention: names like Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. in Scotland, Blithering Idiot beer from Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Pennsylvania, and La Fin du Monde (The End of the World) beer from Unibroue in Quebec, Canada. Not to mention Dead Frog Beer, which is also in Canada.

But right now it is unclear what Foster’s will be called, although Foster’s CEO Trevor O’hoy recently told a journalist (cryptically) that he’d consider Diageo backwards and told another that the Foster’s brand name was just not very important anymore.

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Links du Jour 10-09-06

Debretts Etiquette for GirlsEulogy to a brand: Debrett's - Interesting post here on how a 300-year-old brand is risking losing the intergrity of its name among its target market - women of class and taste - by publishing the distasteful Etiquette for Girls. As Elana Centor says in this post, brands are built on reputation, and this doesn't reflect its values.


GoogleTubeWill GoogleTube Be Announced This Week? - I have been following this story with some interest and must say that I think this acquisition might come about soon. The linking of Google and YouTube would be incredibly lucrative for both companies.


playsforsureMichael Robertson calls out Zune as biggest flop of 2007 - The demise of the PlaysForSure brand name (which, as many have said before, was one of the worst product names Microsoft has developed) and Microsoft’s heavy handed use of DRM as well as Zune’s worthless Wi-Fi has led techie guru Michael Robertson to say that the name people will use for losing music to DRM is “to be zuned”.

Zune is brutal: anyone who gets music from places like Rhapsody, Napster, Buy.com, Wal-mart, BuyMusic, and so forth will find themselves Zuned. The replacement brand name for PlaysForSure technology, Robertson argues, should be Screwed For Sure.

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October 8, 2006

Links du Jour 10-08-06

soup.pngCause Marketing — Campbell's Soup - I’m a little late with this news but it is worth noting that the initiative to turn their cans pink through the month of October has garnered some serious press. Holly Buchanan at Marketing to Women Online has an interesting post up that reflects how many women must feel about this CSR initiative that sees one of the country’s best known brand names literally going pink.


wozbizcard.jpgPlugged, Woz and Seven Minutes of Flock - The Scobleizer has an interesting post up about his interview with The Woz and his thoughts on receiving 's business card, a picture of which is posted on the Unofficial Apple Weblog. Scoble reckons Woz's card (which has been found on ebay for $500) is the coolest he has ever seen, and he should know. Probably any card from such a luminary would be interesting, but this does remind me that in the corporate naming game, stationery and business cards have their very important part to play.


spa-conditioner.pngHotel Toiletries as Brand Extensions - Daryl Ohrt seems to be reading my mind about the importance of toiletries in building a hotel brand name. Using interesting packaging and names, in-house toiletries add a personalized touch to a hotel that is hard to underestimate... and these days, making sure your guests have toiletries after an airline flight is a brand name building exercise in and of itself, as I have said before.

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October 7, 2006

Brand Naming: NHL vs. Versus: Good Naming Teamwork

NHL logoThe NHL is experiencing some interesting shifts in its own brand and a TV brand associated with it: Versus (formally OLN). First of all, they have a new tagline (“Game On!”) that is set to appeal to loyal fans as well as the occasional viewer.

It’s a good tagline indeed and the supporting, funny commercials are meant to literally bring the NHL where it has not been before. Of equal interest is the fact that this launch occurs just when fans and non-fans will have to get used to the idea that lots of the games are shown on Versus, which used to be known as OLN, which, before that, was the Outdoor Life Network.

Versus logoThis alone is confusing and just might be one of the reasons the NHL ratings last year were so low. And while the name change to Versus is old news in the industry (it happened officially on September 25) it seems to have caught some hockey fans off guard and some were not to get full functionality.

But there’s a chance to score here: both the NHL and Versus are making a big effort to appeal to viewers and spread their brand names widely. This may be a double benefit for both names. Both the NHL and Versus are less popular than many other sports and sports networks, and both are coming off a stagnant year. Maybe times are a changing.

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October 6, 2006

Links du Jour 10-06-06

Marketing a Non-Profit Brand - Laura Ries has some interesting thoughts on how to market a non-profit brand, starting with how to choose a name, how to position your brand name and how to choose a color and logo. Creating a name for a non-profit should consider the same principles as building a corporate name.


New name brews for Foster's - Foster’s might be the best known Australian beer to people outside of Australia but ironically it’s not very popular among Australians themselves. The brand name has undergone some serious changes recently, including its recent sale to Scottish & Newcastle in Europe for $750 million.

Foster’s is now, thanks to the acquisition, the world’s second-largest wine company and the beer will be marketed alongside Wolf Blass, Penfolds and Lindemans as well as Carlton Draught and VB beer. If the Foster’s name is changed, it will be to create “something more representative of all our brands”, according to a spokesperson. I don't know if I could forget the tagline, "Fosters. Australian for Beer".


Completely Unsubstantiated Google/YouTube Rumor - There are some pretty serious rumours flying about that say Google is about to acquire YouTube for $1.6 billion despite some recent grim forecasts about the YouTube being sued by angry entertainment copyright holders. If competitors like FaceBook are aligning with Yahoo and Microsoft, it might soon be a reality for YouTube.

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October 5, 2006

Product Naming: "Reduced Functionality" Can Kill or Cripple

NameMicrosoft’s recent announcement that they plan to install the Software Protection Platform (only a few offerings from Microsoft have longer names) into the new version of Vista and has the Internet in an uproar. On one hand, it is obvious that with counterfeit copies accounting for 35% of all software, Microsoft needs to do something to stop the flood of copies cheapening its brand name and missing a revenue stream.

On the other hand, there seems to be a chorus of anger levelled at the company. The complaints are many, ranging from worries over a disabled computer spitting out spam to simple deployment headaches.

NameWhat is most irritating is what Carl Howe refers to as the “Orwellian language” regarding how the software works. Computers that are found to be running what Microsoft perceives to be copies will suffer “Reduced functionality.” Not so fast.

The Between the Lines blog renames the software what it is: a kill switch, and that small piece of renaming actually reframes the argument: I don’t want anyone to have a kill switch to my computer, nor do I want anything in my system that can cripple it. It comes down to this: one person’s protection from pirates is another’s self destruct button.

Linux-based competitor Ubunto is loving this.

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Links du Jour 10-05-06

SearchmashGoogle’s secret new search engine - Its name is Searchmash and apparently it's a very interesting Google alternative that allows Google to find out what users need without customer’s perceptions of the very strong Google brand name getting in the way. This is getting a good deal of buzz and the name itself is spreading quickly - the Google connection is unlikely to stay a secret for long.


aloftaloft Sees Green - The Starwood aloft brand is now going “green” in a big way, with its aptly named “see green” program. This includes a green “backyard” for hotel guests, ecofriendly car wash facilities called, appropriately, “rinse” and eco-friendly toiletries by “bliss” - a great example of aligning the brand with a social cause.


BP and Shell logosManaging brands in the oil industry - the case for demerger - An interesting post by one of the ex-brand managers at Shell about the pros and cons of splitting a well-known oil company name (BP) into two distinct units, and what it does to the overall brand name. A great piece of brand name research from an expert in the field.

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October 4, 2006

Apple Faces Trademark Issues, Wireless Podcasts, Microsoft Zune and Taxes

ZuneApple seems to be very much in the news this week. Wired declared that Microsoft's Zune media player, for all its good qualities, will not kill the iPod despite its specifications, simply because Apple’s hold on the cool factor is so strong and the Zune's product design is just not as attractive.

There is even a pretty good movement building that supports the idea that the new video iPod will kill the Zune.

Apple PodcastsWired also predicts the removal of the iPod and even the computer from the podcast equation.…and if that happens, can we even name these things “podcasts”? Seems that new cell phones are able to download podcasts direct and bypass the middle man..so Apple’s efforts to protect the podcast name might be for nothing.

iPod and iTunesAnd to make things worse for the iPod brand name, New Jersey has added a tax on iTunes. Nevertheless, I think the iPod brand name will remain memorable and distinctive for a long time. Stay tuned.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:37 AM

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Links du Jour 10-04-06

WolverineX Marks the Spot - The name of everybody’s favorite member of the X-Men is Wolverine. He’s the most searched-for X-Men name on the Internet, with searches up 19% recently. The new DVD is being prepared for release and a fourth movie is in the making.

Wolverine has never been stronger, it seems. A company called Wolverine Data has just launched the new Wolverine ESP media player. It looks like a serious contender against the Video iPod and it's getting some very admirable reviews.


YouTube and NapsterAnalysts don't like YouTube's chances - Copyrighted material will probably be removed from YouTube once the hugely popular web service gets sued…and loses, argues CNET. Two analysts at Forrester Research have painted a dim view of the future of the YouTube brand, as did research firm IDC and HDNet founder Mark Cuban. It would only take one unhappy company, like Disney, Sony, CBS or News Corp, to sink YouTube because so many users share material under copyright. The YouTube brand might go the way of the original Napster brand.


Checkout imagesCan Multivariate Tests Reduce Your Shopping Cart Abandons? - Marketing Sherpa has posted a report on how you should name the shopping cart on your ecommerce page as well as terms you should use to prevent customers from abandoning their electronic shopping carts.

  • Terms like “Easy Checkout” and “Checkout in 60 seconds” are good
  • "BuildDirect Discounted Price" beat out “Grand Total”
  • Blue “click here to order” buttons can increase online sales over 10%

Just a few name changes can make all the difference it seems.

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Posted by William Lozito at 6:42 AM

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October 3, 2006

Product Naming: Firefox to be Renamed Iceweasel?

Debian logoLast week Firefox and Debian GNU/Linux developers reenergized a long-time spat that centers around the Mozilla-owned Firefox trademark.

Debian does not want to use the trademarked Firefox logo in its open source software because, essentially, the use of a copyrighted trademark on the part of an open-code company is a violation of their “social contract”. Initially, Debian simply threw in their own Firefox logo and carried on distributing this “free” software as usual.

Firefox logoMozilla, however, lodged a serious protest that goes right to the heart of what it means to be “free” vs. “open source”. As most of us know, “free” is never really “free” in the computer world and Mozilla’s Firefox logo has enough brand equity to make it worth protecting. Debian, on the other hand, is sticking to its guns and now renaming Firefox in its distributions, starting with Etch.

Surprisingly enough, Debian is allowed to distribute the product under another name if it chooses and for a time has been flirting with calling the app “Iceweasel” in an effort that was surely just to enrage the people at Mozilla. And while the Iceweasel name seems unlikely, many users have reacted in disgust by what are seen as Mozilla’s heavy handed tactics and switched to Epiphany, which, ironically, uses Mozilla’s Gecko engine.

Mozilla logoThe only other option would be for Debian to keep the product name but agree to report every single change back to Mozilla, an unwieldy choice to say the least. Now, the question is, will Ubunto follow Debian’s lead and boycott the Firefox name as well? Most users say that they should simply accede to Mozilla’s requests, but 13% say they should dump Firefox altogether.

Time will tell.

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Links du Jour 10-03-06

ReadyBoostWindows Vista: ReadyBoost - William Computer Blog has an interesting post up about the new ReadyBoost feature offered on the platform that allows you to plug in your removable flash memory device to boost your system performance. This enables iPod users to add more memory to Windows, and that could advance the symbiosis between the two product names.


NXPPhilips Completes Sale of Chip Unit Stake - Philips has now completed the sale of its chips unit to a group of private investors and the entity has now had its name changed to NXP Semiconductors. Cost? About $8 billion. This is an interesting sell-off of this well-known corporate name and follows a slew of other chip maker brand names who have sold out: names like Freescale and Intel have cashed in their chips.

The name of the URL that NXP secured to launch the company is what-if-you-could.com, which helps support their brand positioning.


SongbirdA Look at Songbird - Songbird is the name of a new media player on Firefox and it’s pretty nifty. I’m intrigued by some of the product names that come bundled with it: the default music search engines are “Elbows” and “Singing Fish”, and you don’t change “skins” you change “feathers.” They don’t offer a beta version, either: they call it an “Almost 0.2 Test Flight”. Great product naming here that adds differentiation and character to the brand.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:23 AM

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October 2, 2006

Links du Jour 10-02-06

Harvard University02138 > 90210 - Adpulp informs us that spends between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year defending its name against people who want to use the word “Harvard” for dubious purposes. Interesting downside to being the most recognized university name in the world.


T-Mobile My-FavesT-Mobile Launches "myFaves" Service, New Branding - is going through some big changes, not least its brand name and a new slogan, “stick together”. They also seem to be using different fonts and typography on the products like myFaves, sold under the umbrella brand name.


BusinessWeek OnlineHola Bank! Me Llamo Steve - Here is a really simple way to personalize your bank’s brand name offering: program your bank machines to remember if your customers speak Spanish or English. How easy would that be? It seems to me that this speaks to every aspect of name development — starting with the language of your target market.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:53 AM

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October 1, 2006

Links du Jour 10-01-06

Judy's BookWhen Local Gets Social - A very interesting post on Duct Tape Marketing about local/social websites. Only 3% of all commerce is off the Internet but buying decisions are made all the time off the web. Social networking sites are the big drivers for this: Jon Jantsch points out that people turn to places like and for everything from piano tuners to plumbers. He points out that promoting your company name should take place within this medium, and coupons and offers are a great way to get noticed.


LiveJournalLiveJournal Pushes Ad-Sponsored Communities, Features - On the other hand, Marshall Kirkpatrick at TechCrunch wonders whether ’s ad-sponsored Internet communities aren't guilty of a basic violation of the social website concept that has proven so successful on . Coupons and giveaways are very common all over the Internet, he argues. Rather, companies should sponsor features on the networking site itself to get promoted (like SMS integration services). As social networking sites become part of every brand name strategy, this debate is likely to become more and more intense.

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