November 30, 2006
In light of the recent debacle involving comedian Michael Richards and his offensive outbursts at an LA nightclub, I watched a few Seinfeld episodes last weekend to see if I could identify anything that was overtly or even tangentially racist about Richards’ "Kramer" character.
In so doing, I uncovered nothing that was inappropriate, and if something seemed risqué, it surely resided in the realms of satire and good taste. However, as a byproduct of this exercise, something significant popped up.
Though its title was a less-than-inspiring eponym, Seinfeld became a highly memorable brand name due largely to its cultural impact on the American language. More specifically, it penetrated America’s cultural DNA and embedded within it numerous coined words and terms often used today.
Case in point: “shrinkage”; “regifting”; “double dipping”; “master of my domain”; “yadda yadda yadda”; “no soup for you!”; “Serenity now”; et al.
These words, phrases and ideas, also known as memes, have infiltrated the public consciousness so effectively that DVD sales of the show continue to do well. This remains to be true despite the fact that Seinfeld is played in syndication ad nauseum nearly 8 years after it went off the air!
Why is this so? Although no extensive market research has been done on this, one can conclude that the show’s memes have been so heavily adopted by American culture that, in many ways, to live without the show is to deprive oneself of the cultural validation that those memes provide.
In other words, because the show had such an imprint on American culture, fans of the TV series want to show their sense of ownership over it by adopting its memes as their own. This is why DVD sales of the series and the Seinfeld brand name will remain strong, even despite the Michael Richards setback.
The blogosphere is heated this week over a couple of great posts on NeuroscienceMarketing.com that picked up a press release from the Radiological Society of North America confirming what we in the product naming business have always suspected: brand names we know and recognize activate different areas of our brains than those that we do not.
Google was awash with related posts including a good one entitled Brain Branding - Coke Is It that mentions that Coke and Pepsi are both equally recognized but the Coke brand name has stronger “functional magnetic resonance imaging results.” IndianPad breaks down the findings, quoting from the report that “a benchmark test for strong vs. weaker brands is possible,” but, frustratingly, finding how to scientifically increase that resonance of brands upon our brains is still elusive.
Kyle Flaherty linked to the results on his Engage in PR Blog, pointing out that now PR people are building “brands” rather than simply promoting companies (something they have been doing for years anyway), and that the entire PR industry will be “shifting from customer satisfaction to customer advocacy.”
I would add that branding is deeply rooted in the way we use language, which is why we at SND place a strong emphasis on our linguistic expertise. Branding shows its face in the literary study of structuralism and in the myths we create about ourselves, as delineated in the writings of Claude Levi Strauss.
There's an excellent post on the subject that references Google’s struggles to “deverb” its name, and points out that “Brands are about what consumers think - their perception is what counts, not what the company wants”.
Now we have proof.
Jimmy Buffett Protects Integrity of Margaritaville Brand Name - Madison, at the Glitter and Gold blog, reports that Jimmy Buffett has prevailed against Robert Akard for illegally selling Buffett’s trademarked items over the Internet. Akard has been illegally merchandising Margaritaville brand name merchandise for some time.
Martha Stewart: The Brand - Ted Mininni at Marketing Profs has a great post up analyzing the current state of the Martha Stewart brand name. His verdict? She’s baaaack - with a new TV show, numerous licensing deals, and an agreement with KB Home to build Martha Stewart themed houses in planned communities. Her “aura transcends the woman,” states the CEO of Macy’s who just signed her for a line of home store products, further assuring us that her “brand will prosper in any situation.” Seems like it.
November 29, 2006
Today, we will put to rest three outdated technology device names that have to finally be considered outdated: "television," "cell phone," and "car phone."
Take a look at this blog on Funny Business that will bring you back to 1988, when Radio Shack could charge $1,499 for a cellular phone (I can’t remember when I used that name) and watch an ad for a car phone from the same year. If you must refer to a mobile phone that is especially for use in a car, the term to use, in my opinion, is “in-car phone” such as the Motorola M710 or a “handsfree” set - although you really cannot ask somebody to call you on your "handsfree.”
Textually.org has a nice post linking to a recent Business Week article, Time To Rename the Cell Phone?, reminding us that Nokia already refers to their units as “multimedia computers” and Samsung calls them “mobile information terminals.” The name cellphone or cell phone or, most egregiously, cell-phone, is just plain outdated, like the term “icebox.”
At one point, the fridge was a box with ice in it, hence the term icebox. At one point, analog mobile phones used “cells” of coverage in cities, hence the term “cellular phone”, which was shortened to “cell phone.” Those cells are no longer really used in the digital age.
With the advent of WiFi and WiMax and broadband phones, Time magazine has come out and asked its European readers what to do about the “New Wireless Tangle” - you need a glossary just to keep up with what is available. MocoNews points out that Motorola CEO Ed Zander refers to them as “the device formerly known as the cell phone.” And are people out there asking others to call them on their “broadband phone”?
This leaves us with the term “television” and even the term “radio,” both which the BBC thinks are obsolete. The BBC (Britain’s largest TV network) now refers to its video content as “Vision” and the name “radio” has been dropped in favor of “Audio and Music.” This, thinks David Deans, is the beginning of the end for these old, achingly analog terms.
I have to agree. While we in the U.S., the ones who came up with the term “cell phone” in the first place, while the Brits skipped happily to “mobiles”, will probably still stubbornly use the terms “television”, and “radio” for some years to come, their days are now officially numbered.
My prediction is that “television” will go first, and the term “TV” will linger on (think HDTV and 2DTV). “Radio” will also stay just long enough to go out when the last TV is switched off. And you read here first.
What do you think?
Jaguar XF: S-Type replacement gets new name - Leftlane News reports that Jag is dropping the “S-Type” series in favor of “XF”. The new name creates a more consistent brand architecture, as Jag already offers the XJ and XK. Jag chief Bibiana Boerio says the new XF name will "challenge people to think again about Jaguar as daring and different." What do you think? Leftlane News reader Piablo says this: "I think they should really lay off challenging others and challenge themselves to come out with a car worthy of carrying the Jaguar name."
Intelligence Amplification - Great blog up by Brad Feld on the name “Web 3.0." In short, he prefers the phrase “Intelligence Amplification” which echoes the older name “Artificial Intelligence.” Some names that fit into this theme: Me.dium, Lijit, Collective Intellect, and HiveLive. Great read, and nice looking new site, Brad.
November 28, 2006
Richard Lederer of the KPBS show A Way with Words describes “–ex” as “The killer advertising suffix.”
The US Patent and Trademark Office agrees with him: a search for terms ending in “-ex” yields 46,779 results. Even allowing for a company trademarking the same name in several different classes, and subtracting words that end in “–plex,” "–flex,” and the like, that’s a shed-load of brand names.
And unlike such endings as “–ium” and “–ion,” which are associated primarily with product names in the high tech and science industries, or "-one," "-ol," and "-in(e)," which are usually used for pharmaceuticals and chemical compounds, names for products in any category at all can end in “–ex.” Here are just a few examples:
Even the popular abbreviations “AmEx” and “FedEx” may have come about in part because of the power of this suffix.
What other examples of brand names ending in "ex" can you think of?
An excellent article in Drinks Business Review Online alerted us to some truly interesting drinks that ought to help us all survive the usual overindulgence that comes with the season.
Content Stampede’s new beer, “Stampede Light” is one of the first beer brands to actually mention hangovers in its marketing – Stampede claims that added vitamin B helps combat the effects of overindulgence.
The article also profiles Carling’s C2, which offers only 2% alcohol, something certain beer drinkers think is disgusting, but I must say makes for a fine lunchtime beer to order when you want the lift alcohol gives the brew without the corresponding effect.
The article also profiles a healthier anti-oxidant filled instant coffee called Nescafé Protect: “one cup of the coffee is said to contain three times more antioxidants than a cup of green tea.” This is good news for those of us considering supposedly healthier alternatives. At the launch in Manila, a Nescafé executive noted that coffee helps “increase alertness and improve memory.”
You can drink this with Hint Water (a product name that speaks to a “hint” of flavoring in each bottle), a zero calorie drink that has been strategically integrated into the programmig of Grey’s Anatomy. Brian at Popgadget recently pointed out that the packaging on Hint Water is pretty interesting: nice graphics intertwined with interesting facts.
Speaking of packaging, Russkij Avangard’s packager has won an award for its vodka’s “fairy-tale packaging”, which gives the customer "an experience of the brand that is full of surprise and fun, while using the properties of the carton board to convey luxury and gift appeal."
Cheers to that.
Dippy Chick - Here's a link to Marie's WAHM Spotlight blog, which profiles the Dippy Chick Company, which has come up with equally irreverant product names: Gettin' Piggy Widdit, Crabby ol' Beach Seafood Mix, Kamikaze Wasabi, and Parmesan Pesto Manifesto, to name a few. The Dippy Chick's original business name was SerenDIPity Gourmet Specialties.
DC Aims at Teenage Girls - Johanna Draper Carlson writes about DC Comics creating a graphic novel for teenage girls with the name "Minx". Tim Leong at Comic Foundry points out that DC had to take legal action to protect the brand name Minx. What do you think of the name Minx other comics aimed at girls: Paradox, WildStorm, CMX, Helix?
The Value of a Brand Name - Would you go to the theater to see "James Bond 21"? How about "Casino Royale"? Interesting post by Frank Cimatu on the naming strategies studios employ in marketing sequels.
The 69-word Name Change - A James Bond fan changed his name to all the Bond movie titles. You have to read this blog post by Adam Ash to believe it.
November 27, 2006
Just two months into the new television season and already networks are announcing their cancellations, for example, Jerry Bruckheimer's show, Justice. Given Bruckheimer’s track record of creating such well-known TV brand names as CSI and Without a Trace, Justice seemed that it was bound for success.
Perhaps the reason that Justice was cancelled had something to do with its name. Is the word “justice” enticing enough to motivate a viewer to actually tune in?
American Crime might have been better. That was the show's original name, but due to the impending release of the 2007 film An American Crime, a name change had to be made. The word “crime” would have instantly infused suspense and mayhem into the show’s brand.
The only other freshman legal drama that had a chance of making it was CBS’s Shark, starring James Woods.
Shark is a success, even though it suffers from seen-before storylines and a remarkably boring cast, with the exception of Woods, who already has a high level of brand recognition and identity. That’s the main reason why the show got better ratings and ultimately survived longer than Justice.
However, if you were to level the playing ground by eliminating Woods from the equation and just pitted the two shows Shark and Justice against one another on paper (say, in TV Guide, where the name of the show really matters), Shark would still prevail.
Why? Because it has a much more interesting and powerful brand name:
- A shark is a predator, devouring its prey with reckless abandon, and therefore evokes images associated with conflict, danger, perhaps even survival
- When used as a metaphor, the word “shark” describes highly competitive, ethically challenged business people, attorneys, politicians, agents, and other positions of power (Woods is a hotshot defense attorney who defects to the other side)
- ”Shark” helps deliver on the brand promise of providing excitement in a dangerous world (in this case, the world of criminal law)
Although Justice reached a more satisfying result per episode, it undermined itself from the outset with a title that was too vague and exhausted to deliver an accessible brand promise.
And that’s why it’s not surprising that Shark, as simple and as concrete as it sounds, devoured its freshmen competition.
November 26, 2006
One of the interesting elements of being in the naming business is how educational institutions work out naming rights to buildings on campus. We all know that serious donors get the first chance, but there can often be more to simply putting down money for a building and getting your name over the door.
Recently, a blog posted on the Commonwealth Times, the online portal for Virginia Commonwealth University, looked at the issue of corporate naming rights at institutions of higher learning. The new Business School building there is selling name rights starting from $5,000 and going all the way to $2.5 million.
Once a donor has given money to the University, they are presented with a correspondingly long list of naming opportunities - $5,000 can give you the right to name a faculty office, $200,000 gets your name over a 200 seat classroom. Once you get up to the $2+ million level, you start to be able to name entire facilities.
The Un-Zone blog has discussed this trend, pointing out that smaller elements of buildings have been overlooked: what about clocks? Floor tiles? HVAC Systems? Bathrooms?
But this is not quite as crazy as one would think. Penn State’s new Lorenzo Wrestling Complex offered donors the right (at $5,000 a pop) to put their names above lockers. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism (named after a big donor) has recently named a new building after James L Knight, the founder of Knight Ridder.
Bill Gates gave $25 million to a computer center at Harvard that he did not visit for ten years, while another Harvard dropout, Edwin Land, gave funds for the science center to be shaped like a giant Polaroid camera, something that the university has tried to forget.
Yale University, for its part, has owned up to the slave holding past of John C. Calhoun, whose name is on one of their residential colleges.
Shaping buildings after the inventions of large donors is nothing new, however. The Library Pariah points out that Bayside University has agreed to install a massive Chutes and Ladders style slide from the top of the library to the quad to recognize the gift of a “distant heir to the Bradley side of the famous Milton Bradley gaming empire.” The slide will also serve as an emergency exit.
Well, not really...
November 25, 2006
I am absolutely thrilled to link to Custom Motorcycle Talk today, where Jason hart has posted an article written by Eugenia Lawson at Fortune magazine about the revival of two classic brand names: Indian Motorcycles and Chris-Craft boats.
Two Harvard B-School classmates, Stephen Julius and Steve Heese already brought back the classic boat brand after years of neglect, and they have now turned their considerable expertise towards bringing back Indian Motorcycles, which once upon a time was just as big and popular as Harley.
Featured in the classic Anthony Hopkins movie The Worlds Fastest Indian, the Indian brand name is legendary among motorcycle enthusiasts and has exactly the kind of cachet among the rest of us to work.
Since the bikes will be made in America, they will have the same resonance as Harley. Chris-Craft is just as admired in the smaller, more rarified boating community: people lovingly restore old Chris Craft boats and keep them afloat for generations.
My feeling is that some brand names, like Chris-Craft and Indian, seem to have a mystique and allure that never dies.
If Chris-Craft can be revived, than Indian Motorcycles certainly can be. The new plant is certainly ambitious, and moreover the management has carefully studied rival Harley’s success and has committed itself to “remaining true to the rich heritage of this incredible brand” by creating heavy cruiser bikes along the same line as those we remember from decades ago.
Welcome back, Indian.
November 24, 2006
Following rumors earlier this week that Air France and KLM are getting ready to launch a new brand name low budget airline comes news that Air France KLM and Alitalia are seriously considering at a merger, prompting Air France shares to drop and Alitalia’s to rise.
The question is, what would ultimately happen to the Alitalia brand?
Mark Pilling at Flight International points out that a kind of merger mania is sweeping the airline industry, pointing at the potential takeover of Quantas by a partnership of Macquarie Bank and the Texas Pacific Group equity firm.
Pilling notes that investors are very weary of mergers within an industry that seems to be hardly flying high nowadays, but Air France’s acquisition of Alitalia really would make a lot of sense.
Alitalia is an unprofitable, state-run airline that has huge brand name recognition, but very few happy customers. Earlier this week, the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, pointed out that “aside from Greece, only Italy still has an airline that hasn’t been privatized” and was highly critical of the Italian government's involvement with the ailing airline. David Williams noted last month that things have gotten so bad at Alitalia that they are starting to sell ad space on barf bags.
In a very in-depth article, Andrea Rothman notes that the CEO of Air France, Jean Cyril Spinetta, wants to see a “common vision” shared by the two airlines as well as “financial strength” - a good thing since Alitalia has not posted a profit since 2002.
Ms. Spinetta also profiles other recent takeover bids, including US Airways move on Delta, which I wrote about last week. A post yesterday on Ireland.com quotes the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as wondering whether such a merger would “create a big European air transport group in which Italy has also its place, or simply grab the Italian air transport market, which is big and very rich?"
My view is that the acquisition of Alitalia by Air France will make it no less Italian in spirit - I have flown KLM many times and find it to be quintessentially Dutch, just as Air France is suitably refined and French, especially the First Class, which, with its down comforters and Christian Lacroix pajamas, is magnifique.
I would expect the Alitalia brand name would retain its Italian flair and values, should the takeover happen.
November 22, 2006
Here’s wishing all of our readers a happy and prosperous Thanksgiving.
Ever wonder about the name, Thanksgiving? Manhattan Chowder has an excellent post up that tells us who, exactly, we can thank for the modern Thanksgiving holiday: a woman named Sarah Joseph Hale, who created the official name of the holiday, on and off, in different guises, ever since 1541.
That's when Coronado’s expedition held a friendly meal with Teya Indians in West Texas...almost a hundred years before the Pilgrims enjoyed their harvest feast in Plymouth.
Before you sit down to your traditional turkey dinner, you might also enjoy reading about the origins of Thanksgiving, on Susie’s wonderful blog. You'll find some surprising facts revealed: Ben Franklin’s wish that the Turkey, and not the Bald Eagle, be the national symbol of America; and the difference between a “fryer” and a “roaster.” Great blog, Susie.
And if you're interested in finding out where, precisely, your meal comes from, why not visit the Geography Matters blog. You can track each and every element of your meal - you may know where the potatoes in your meal were grown (Idaho), but what about the pecans? And the celery?
Lastly, have fun with Google's Thanksgiving holiday logo change, which will combine an image of, probably a turkey, into Google's logo. Like for many other holidays celebrated in the U.S. and around the world, Google's homepage will again temporarily change to reflect a unique Google visual identity.
The fun part is seeing how the holiday image is weaved into the Google name. Last year's logo on Thanksgiving replaced the o's with popular Thanksgiving dishes.
Technorati Tags: Thanksgiving Name
November 21, 2006
7-Up won by being the un-cola. Nintendo Wii hopes to be the un-gaming system. And it seems Helio just might win by being an un-phone.
Helio aims to catch the public’s attention by an un-positioning campaign. The company’s billboards show pictures of devices that look like cell phones, with captions like “Friendar” and “Conversation Starter” and the tagline “Don’t call us a phone company.”
The tactic is working, at least in terms of getting attention. The obvious question is “Well, if it’s not a phone, what is it?” That provokes people to find out more. On the other hand, hiding its own name in small print left me looking “Friendar” up on Google.
It’s unlikely that Helio will succeed in getting people to refer to their devices as “devices” rather than phones. Even Helio owners posting pictures on Flickr use the tag “cellphone” as well as “helio.”
What really matters to the wireless company, however, is not eliminating the word “phone” from the vocabulary of its users, but rather getting people to switch from other services to theirs. By rejecting the term “phone” and emphasizing features like MySpace Mobile and the Buddy Beacon, Helio turns its position as a newcomer into an advantage.
Thomas Sherman writes about Helio's "This is not your father's Oldsmobile" approach on his blog, The Sherman Foundation. Check it out for further insights into the campaign's approach, and for a couple links to the Helio TV spots which cleverly deliver the tagline as a punchline.
November 20, 2006
The disagreement that I have written about before between Starbucks and Ethiopia over the coffee giant’s trademarking of the country’s Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harar bean names is about to boil over.
Starbucks wants Ethiopian sellers of these beans to abandon efforts to trademark the names (after prompting the USPTO to call the names “generic”) and instead use a geographic certification model (think Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Florida Orange Juice, Napa Valley Wines) to protect their names.
There is also a fight over who wanted to trademark the names first. The green LA girl blog has started a nifty little timeline to help track Ethiopia’s effort to trademark some of its coffee names.
The risks here are enormous and go right to the heart of brand naming. If Ethiopia gets its trademark, it risks pricing itself out of the market; if it goes for regional certification, it risks losing brand name equity and an important card in negotiations with coffee sellers. But in this case, Ethiopia cannot risk losing Starbucks, its biggest buyer, and is offering a licensing agreement to the Seattle-based coffee company free of charge.
At the same time, it should be noted that Ethiopia is becoming a steamy matter for Starbucks - bloggers are frustrated over what they see as a clear case of corporate exploitation.
It is within Starbucks' best interest to come to a public, amicable agreement with the growers before the Starbucks brand name suffers serious harm. Already radical Starbucks baristas have declared November 24-25 the “Global Day of Action Against Starbucks”. This is exactly the kind of brand name nightmare that Nike and Apple have both managed to put behind them.
The fact is that the National Coffee Association is on Starbucks' side, stating that a trademark move on the part of Ethiopia is a scheme that “is going to hurt the Ethiopian coffee farmers economically”. It seems to me that Starbucks could put its weight behind a regional certification program, which would protect the interests of Ethiopian farmers as well as the company name.
Starbucks should also go on the offensive and take the extra effort to prove to suspicious activists that they are not engaging in exploitative behavior with Ethiopian growers or any other growers. Nobody likes to buy coffee from a rapacious corporate monolith, even one that is in the right, at least not the kind of people who frequent Starbucks.
Ethiopia, for its part, should tread carefully. The fact is, very few people have heard of these brand names (unlike, say, Blue Mountain or Kona) and if Starbucks is forced to stop selling them, you can bet that nobody will hear much about them in the future.
By the way, I hope my apostrophe use with the name Starbucks was correct.
Until today I had believed the Motorola D&G RAZR v31 cell phone was pretty much the most luxurious looking cell phone out there. As I've written about before, cell phones are becoming fashion statements and the D&G RAZR is the phone you’d most expect to see on a catwalk.
Now, a new phone is on the block: the Russian made Gresso Luxury Phone, which Cell Phones Etc. says is the perfect phone to give your favorite mafia friend. I think this phone is even more pretentious than the D&G RAZR.
Even if Motorola brings out a hot pink version of the D&G RAZR, I think Gresso’s phone, every unit of which is unique and which features an eternal, patented keypad and is crafted of African Blackwood, earns Gresso the award for most over-the-top handset out there. And I must say I am impressed that the company has kept such a low profile, adding a mystique to its brand name that other fashion phone makers would like to earn.
What do you think? Which mobile phone will stand for the Gucci of mobile phones, the Gresso or the D&G RAZR?
Michael Parekh's wrote a great post on his blog Saturday, giving some very insightful observations on Yahoo!'s multiple overlapping services, and other "Yahoo 2.0" considerations. It's a great read... and might make you start craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The news is all about the The Wall Street Journal story on Yahoo!’s amusingly named “Peanut Butter Manifesto”, penned by a senior executive which is an insight into the strife that has beset that Internet giant. Brad Garlinghouse, the writer of manifesto memo, claims that Yahoo! is trying be all things to everybody, and thus has spread itself too thin over a variety of business ventures.
Jim Benson suggests that when “life gives you peanut butter, make peanut butter cookies", and that Yahoo! has "open sourced their business strategy." Matt Asay at AC/OS has an excellent post up entitled “Yahoo! High in Fat”. Maybe so, but analysts remain bullish on Yahoo!, even if things are a little sticky over there.
November 19, 2006
The Holy Grail of television is not HDTV, it’s 3DTV, which is just what it sounds like: three dimensional TV that brings a great white shark or the winning Super Bowl touchdown right into your living room.
People have been eagerly awaiting this new technology. Digital Media Wire wondered back in September is it was reality or fiction and predicted it coming in ten to twenty years. The Research Information Centre is more optimistic — at the end of October they predicted it would be here in a few years and ran an excellent blog post predicting that "stereoscopy-based 3DTV and 3D Cinema are expected to be a common form of mass communication in a few years" in an excellent profile of the aggressive EU Research Team named The 3DTV Project, while Coolest-Gadgets predicts that Philips will have 3D sets out by 2008, followed closely by Toshiba and Sharp.
But nobody has predicted that the breakthrough would come from a product named "The Vortex Home Entertainment System," which reportedly already has a library of 500 current PC games with the ability to convert normal "2DTV" (that's what you and I watch) to 3D. Zaharov-Reutt says that when you use the Vortex System (right now it looks like you need to wear 3D glasses) to watch a football game it "emulates the feeling of being there more than anything I've ever experienced." The system comes from visionary 27 year-old Tony Welch who runs Fountain Consulting.
We weren't able to find anything about the Vortex System on Fountain Consulting's site, but we did notice a mention of "the emerging market of 3D Auto-Stereoscopic Displays (ASDs)."
What do you think? Does today’s post bring us a hoax or holograms?
November 18, 2006
I have been thrilled with the excellent press the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, is getting and also fascinated by the way this installment has handled product placement, going for quality, fidelity and exposure over sheer quantity of brand names.
An article from Forbes, "James Bond: Licensed to Sell," spells it out very nicely: brand placement allows studios to make bigger, brasher films, reach target spaces they normally cannot reach (supermarket shelves, computer stores) and is a DVR-proof way of "getting the message across and associating their name with an established franchise."
This is true in general of the $3.07 bil spent yearly on entertainment product placement but even more so in the case of Bond films. I agree with Jo Swift on Radical left who just published an excellent post entitled "My Name is Bond, James Bond, Brand Man" in which he reminds us that in the original novels of Ian Fleming he was just as brand conscious as his latest on-screen incarnation.
Part of Bond's appeal is that he is into some very cool brands, some we know (Smirnoff, Bollinger) and some we do not know but wish we did (Pinaud Elixir, Taittinger Blanc de Blancs Brut, Norwegian Honey from Fortum’s, coffee from De Bry of Oxford Street) and some brand names we know only through him (Walther PPK, Smirnoff martinis — shaken, not stirred).
Laura Blum at AdFreak points out that Bollinger has experienced a surge in sales every time a Bond movie has come out over the last 27 years, and this year some newer Bond brands are hoping to feel a little giddy, too. Not least will be Sony Ericssson — SMS Text News says the move is "ALLLLLL about the K800." Sony's phones have been nicely blended into the movie, and used by both Bond himself and his new love interest, who gets a unique M600i.
Ford will also be popping some bubby this year, as their Aston Martin brand name is getting some serious play — they even went so far as to invite some bloggers and journalists for a James Bond day recently. For the truly curious, there is a wonderful post up about James Bond’s beer (this year its Heineken) on Brookston Beer Bulletin that fills you in on every drop the agent ever drank and some he didn't, including an ill fated "James Bond’s 007 Special Blend" malt liquor that is now long gone but featured pictures of the famous Bond girls on each can.
And despite some grumblings from people in our own industry I must agree with The Grundle: James Bond is “a myth, a legend, a conglomerate of everything that's cool about guys." And what do guys like? That’s easy, 007: girls, good booze, guns, fast cars and top end brands.
Well done, James old boy.
November 17, 2006
Muara Teweh points out the following today on her Education Information blog:
“If US Airways succeeds in buying Delta Air Lines, the giant that would emerge would retain the Delta name and be the largest airline in the country, with annual revenues of about $28 billion and service to 350 cities on five continents.”
Her blog post elegantly points out that in the airline business, bigger is not always better for either passengers or staff. In fact, there is much glumness out there about the merger. The Airline Bulletin has an interesting post up today entitled The Messy Mechanics of the US Airways-Delta Merger.
In short, there is a fear that this will create an “East Coast powerhouse” that will force higher fares and employee lay-offs. US Airways and America West Airlines pilot groups picketed in Charlotte and Phoenix against the creation of a juggernaut company that some are saying will be the world’s “largest bankrupt airline.”
If the merger does go through, it is sure to be met with suspicion by travellers and workers alike, not to mention potential shareholders.
But mergers seem to be so popular today.
Motorola, for instance, has announced that it will snap up Good Technology, which produces software that allows companies to “push” email to mobile devices.
Neil Thompson at ITPro applauds this move, which “makes absolute sense to both parties” and is further proof that Motorola is shooting to be a major player in the mobile technology world. As Thompson points out, their recent buyout of Symbol Technologies was the precursor to this yet bolder transaction.
But a few people have noted that the Motorola-Symbol Technologies merger has led to some interesting naming dilemmas - specifically, how to rename executive bonuses so they do not rankle so much with beleaguered shareholders. They are now to be referred to as “separation payments” or else “transaction bonuses.”
Wal-Mart adds more states to $4 generic drug program - Brian White, at bloggingstocks, reports that starting yesterday, Wal-Mart is pushing its pharmacies towards generics via its $4 generic prescription program, which may or may not be good news for larger brand name pharmaceutical companies...and the Wal-Mart brand itself.
Clear Channel sells for $27 Billion - A consortium of private investors have bought Clear Channel, according to Sam Churchill's Daily Wireless blog, which is a great read, by the way. There's an interesting post up today about the way Clear Channel works and some of the technology names attached to it, including "Prophet" (get it") voice tracking technology.
It is interesting to note, as Daily Wireless does, that "San Antonio-based Clear Channel, AT&T and Cingular are now the largest radio conglomerate, telephone company and cellular operator (respectively) in the country."
November 16, 2006
Technology names, in general, are some of the more interesting, unusual, and cool recently minted brand names.
Jan Freeman, of the Boston Globe recently wrote an interesting article on some unusual technology brand names.
Prior to this article, one name in particular, Casio's G'zOne, caught our attention, as it did Ms. Freeman's. We conducted independent research of this technology name and nine others among males and females 25-44 years old.
Among both genders, not surprisingly, it left consumers scratching their heads. Or, as Ms. Freeman put it, "G'zOne is cleverly designed for maximum bafflement." I was also quoted in the Boston Globe article, "Tongue-twisting Technology", which is posted on our In the News page, if you'd like to read it.
By the way, what do you think is the correct way to pronounce G'zOne? Vote below...
Chili's Aggressive Integration Campaign - Great post by Sam Ford (MIT's Comparative Media Studies Department) about Chili’s product placement/integration efforts. Chili’s wants to reach college-age viewers of teen dramas like Veronica Mars and The OC. Ford's post poses some serious questions to think about: Is this all-out product integration blitz a great idea? Is it going too far when a cast member on the TV show proclaims "I love Chili's" in a scene that was obviously set up for that purpose?
Skype 3.0 for Windows - The Business version (with MSI) comes out today. Malaysian blogger Jan Geirnaert has released the download details to the world. The product is almost identical to the regular Skype 3.0 beta, except for the name: 18.104.22.168 versus the 22.214.171.124. Looks like IP addresses to me.
November 15, 2006
Two recent blog posts related to food caught my attention and made me think about new trends in food naming.
The first was the post about hexagonal tortilla chips being launched by a company named “Food Should Taste Good, LLC”, which is based in Hartford, CT. The new chips will be marketed under the same name and are sold with the idea that food can be wholesome and taste good - they offer multigrain and jalapeño varieties.
Information Arbitrage has a fascinating post about Whole Foods and the “melding of capitalist objectives (read: making money) with social objectives” and the ins and outs of trying to be socially responsible and making money at the same time.
The Whole Foods brand, one respondent to the blog points out, is sort of like Starbucks brand name: premium and customer focused. It really does make me wonder how the brand names behind health foods should position themselves. Possibly Whole Foods has answered the question: normally, “healthier” means “more expensive” and that means “premium.” I am curious to hear what other have to say about this.
On the other hand, I am seeing another interesting trend. Popular snack foods are investing heavily in the concept of the personalized brand experience. Case in point is the new release of Penny Brown Smackers, a product that you both create and name yourself.
Gizmag alerts us to outdoor grills where you can customize the grills themselves and thus quite literally brand your food with your brand name or logo. At the same time, Omaha Steaks allows us to customize our cuts of meat when ordering.
Do you see the synergies here?
Intel Ignites Quad-Core Era - The Geeks are Sexy blog announces that Intel launched the Quad-Core brand name processors yesterday. They look pretty powerful, and are becoming the flagship of the new Intel Core brand architecture. Sure, the specs on these are incredible, but I hope "quad", "duo", and "solo" gain the proper recognition. It's a unique nomenclature to own.
Trademark Infringement Lawsuit filed by Singer Jimmy Buffett - Online “businessman” Robert Akard has been accused, once again, of violating the famous singer’s trademarks via his web site www.underonehot.com, which flogs unauthorized Jimmy Buffett trademarked items. It falsely tells browsers that it is “Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Online Store for Merchandise” while marking up these items exorbitantly. A federal judge has already shut down Akard’s last web site, named www.parrotsofthecaribbean.com.
November 14, 2006
Paris Hilton just launched a new fragrance named “Heiress” and the blogosphere has been very vocal about it. Check out the comments on Haute Gossip's blog for some creative names people are suggesting the new fragrance should really be called.
After the launch of two frangrances in March, Paris has again seized the opportunity her very well-known name has given her, despite the fact that she is hardly a model of virtue. The new book that profiles Paris and her family, entitled “House of Hilton”, attempts to cast light on how Paris became a bigger brand than the hotel chain started by her forebears.
Love her or hate her, she has an immense effect on fashion and style today. She even has made it into the realm of political debate and has her own brand channel on YouTube.
According to the book, Paris is not quite as rich as she makes out to be, and if she wants to live the lifestyle we all associate with her, she has to work. Sometimes even hire lookalikes to do her work for her. And work she has, by tirelessly branding herself.
What's your opinion on the name of Paris Hilton's new fragrance? Vote below:
Carrera too common? Rename your Porsche - If you are getting tired of your Porsche’s name, why not rename it? You can give yourself “Targa” status or even put Porsche lettering on your old jalopy. If you can’t afford to own a Porsche, you can at least have the brand name.
Allentown franchise unveils new name: IronPigs - The Philadelphia Phillies’ AAA franchise has a new name, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, after fans submitted 3,500 entries in a naming contest. The winner was “the weirdest one out there”, according to its creator, Ron Steele. It refers to the area’s steel-making history (immortalized in the Billy Joel song of the same name) with its primary ingredient being pig iron.
November 13, 2006
And What is a Burrito? - Sandwich chain Panera Bread and a Mexican restaurant called The Qdoba Mexican Grill recently went to court in Massachusetts over whether or not a burrito is legally a sandwich. If the judge were to discover that burritos were sandwiches, Qdoba would have been barred from opening a restaurant in the same Worcester mall as Panera. Luckily for Qdoba, the judge consulted culinary historians and ruled against Panera, confirming what we all know: burritos are not sandwiches. They should have asked Chef Kevin, who has declared the case closed.
Arizona Company Unveils Revolutionary Approach to Internet Domain Speculation - An interesting post here about domain name investing and how “investors and businesses alike are probably passing on the best and most undervalued domain names”, or what are called “sleepers”. It comes down to buying a domain name that has branding vs. “natural” search engine marketing potential.
Biofuel watchers, get ready to learn a new name: Provista - Biofuels have interesting names, like “Panda Ethanol” and now “Provista Renewable Fuels Marketing”, a joint venture between CHS Inc and US BioEnergy which is set to make 400 million gallons of ethanol/petroleum. John Litterio, director of Renewable Fuels Wholesale Marketing for Provista, says the name “captures our professional, proactive commitment to responding to change in the renewable fuels marketplace.” Sebastian Blanco at AutoblogGreen points out there are in fact a few other Provistas already out there.
The Human Genome Organization (HUGO) Gene Nomenclature Committee has found that there are ten genes that have been offensively named and are "inappropriate, demeaning and pejorative." These include "LFNG – lunatic fringe homolog (Drosophila)" and “MFNG – manic fringe homolog (Drosophila)," as well as "IHH – Indian Hedgehog homolog (Drosophila)." They also include "headcase" and "one-eyed pinhead." Some gene names, I think, are drawing unnecessary flak: what's wrong with "tribbles" (the furry creatures from Star Trek) or "smurf" and "groucho"? As Dr. Chris Doe at University of Oregon points out, we are talking about names linked to human development — I suppose nobody wants to be known as a genetic "tribble." The Neurophilosopher has a list of very funky gene names that will probably be changed sooner or later, and you can read an interesting article on the subject from JAMA Medical News (PDF file).
Scientists in other fields have been known to be a little careless when naming, leading to some interesting dilemmas. For instance, who can forget the outcry over the terms "master" and "slave" in reference to computer hardware? Los Angeles officials found last month that such terms are "unacceptable and offensive."
And certain other names are being phased out, according to Barbara Tillett, the chief of the the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office. The office is getting rid of the following terms and replacing them with more acceptable alternatives in their searches:
- Australian aborigines to Aboriginal Australians (in 2003)
- Cripples to Handicapped to People with disabilities (with the latter change in 2002)
- Gypsies to Romanies (in 2001)
- Negroes to Afro-Americans to African Americans (the latter change in 2000)
- Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 to Vietnam War, 1961-1975 (2006)
Perhaps most troubling of all is the careless naming practices of some renegade insect researchers, who tried to name several new beetles after George Bush’s cabinet.
November 12, 2006
On Monday the Mets will unveil the new name, and Citigroup hopes this move will raise the bank's profile on the consumer side. Brent Nycz at The Stat Boy of the Empire calls this an example of the "cancer of corporate naming" and bemoans the loss of the legendary Shea Stadium name (also known as the "Purple Monster") and looks with some trepidation at what will happen to the Yankee Stadium name in an excellent and heartfelt post.
You can listen to a good podcast on the subject on the Mets’ podcast site, but it seems that the reaction across the blogposphere is almost uniformly gloomy. Saturday’s blogpost title at Can’t Stop The Bleeding says it all: "Wilpons Sell Out — New Mets Megamall Naming Rights Successfully Peddled." The post notes that the public's desire to see the new stadium named after local icon Doug Sisk were ignored in favor of a deal that doubles the $10 mil Reliant Energy pays to post its name on the NFL’s Houston Texans stadium.
But this record is set to be broken when the Jets get the Meadowlands renamed. Citigroup apparently considered other names: Citigroup Ballpark, Citi Ballpark, Citibank Ballpark, Citibank Yard, Citibank Coliseum, Citibank Diamond and Citibank Field before settling on CitiField.
Joe McDonald is not quite as gloomy, stating in NY Sports Day that at least "Citgroup is taking a name that represents New York" rather than that of a company headquartered outside the city. Another blogger points out that there are only two or three teams whose home grounds can gain brand equity through sharing their name with that of a sponsor (e.g. If the Yankees choose to go for "Yankee Stadium on FedEx Grounds" much as the Orioles have gone for "Oriole Park on Camden Yards," meaning that corporates will probably continue to lend their names to stadiums in the future.
Twins fan Andrew Berg at Minnesota Baseball Central puts on his name development hat and gives us the total lowdown on stadium naming: the good, the bad, and the ugly in a very in-depth post that makes interesting reading for sports fans and naming consultants alike.
But baseball, like every other professional sport, would not be as high profile or as enjoyable if it did not have the support of corporate sponsors. Certainly, players would not be paid as much. Sponsorship and stadium naming are a logical match. And Citigroup is at least as genuine a New York a name as the Mets. I think it's a good double play. See you at the ball game.
November 11, 2006
No other significant changes are planned for the hotel, but this name change brings into relief the pros and cons of renaming a legendary brand that has deep associations with one place. Chuck Dennis at Customer View thinks renaming the legendary hotel is a bad idea, saying that it "makes about as much sense as poking yourself in the eye with a pointed stick."
On the other hand, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces have a tremendous reputation as one of Asia’s largest hotel groups and is owned by the Tata Group, India’s largest industrial conglomerate. Most Americans do not know much about the Tata Group, but everyone in India, China and Europe does. The company, which was founded in 1868 and employs over 200,000 people worldwide, wants to ride the crest of the "third wave of globalization."
Under the Tata wing, the Ritz-Carlton has, in one sense, been kicked into the stratosphere of brand names after being owned by the New York based Millennium Group for the past seven years.
The ChaiTeaLatte blog suggests that there will be lots of jokes out now about "Boston Brahmins," but this acquisition does show us, once again, that when it comes to naming global brands, nostalgia just doesn’t factor in.
The Ritz-Carlton has a grand name and history but neither of these pay the bills. The Taj name is known worldwide and brings the grand olde hotel into the twenty-first century with flash and style. I’m checking in.
November 10, 2006
Apple is nixing Justin Long, better known as "The Mac Guy” in the “I’m a Mac” television advertising campaign. Why? Because people seem to like the nerdy PC Guy more that the smug, unshaven, hoodie wearing Mac Guy.
Tech filter finds this “hilarious”. Darryl Ohrt feels that this might be because the PC Guy, played by humorist John Hodgman is the “likable underdog” and Long’s Mac Guy was just a little too arrogant. Jeff Bercovici takes this a step further in Radar, stating that Mac Guy makes you want to push him under a bus.
I’m sure Microsoft would agree with Lance Mannion that its nice to try and be cool and smooth but “in our hearts” we’re all PC Guys.
Gizmodo is actually running a poll to find the new Mac Guy, who they earlier agreed was a “smug little twit.” Nobody is sure what the new Mac ads will be like, they are only sure that Hodgeman will be back. Bob Sassone thinks that maybe PC Guy should morph into the new Mac Guy, to show that a “PC Guy can become a Mac Guy.”
I wonder if Microsoft has grasped just what an incredible breakthrough this is for their brand name - Apple has had to register the fact that very few Apple people want to talk about, and it’s this: Apple users are irritating to the rest of us and even to other Mac users.
Microsoft, are you listening? Here’s a chance to reframe your name. Just don’t get smug about it. Be cool. For once.
November 9, 2006
There is a lot of discussion about how Microsoft seems to be trying to distance the brand name Zune from its own corporate name.
Why? Microsoft knows that it has to appeal to the 18-24 hipster market with these devices and (possibly correctly) feels that its own name is too nerdy to promote effectively to the cool kids.
Meanwhile, the Zune player is also being shoved aside at point of sale, where Apple and its myriad of accessories reign supreme. Apple lovers are having a field day tearing apart Zune, but maybe, just maybe, they should hold their fire.
The introduction of Zune.net and its fairly earthy, interesting promotion of indie art could, in the long run, make the Zune an alternative name in entertainment — and in this world, alternative culture often gets to be the mainstream leaders. Just ask Apple. And maybe it's a good strategy.
For the time being, however, I will go out on a limb and say that nobody can out-Apple Apple.
Apple simply owns the cool and funky mp3 player space and pretending to be like Apple is an uphill battle. It is also self defeating: the Mac Daily News (with some smugness) notes that it seems illogical for Microsoft to build so much into the Vista name, which is obviously music-friendly.
So maybe Microsoft should embrace the fact that everyone knows their name.
Maybe they should embrace their inner geek and the hundreds of millions of geeks who use their products daily.
Yes, Microsoft does tend to silo its projects and they are probably right when they say that each brand name should have its own personality. But they seem to be trying to pigeon hole the Zune name alongside the "cool factor" of Xbox 360.
Meanwhile, they have a juggernaut brand name that is being ignored. The 800 pound gorilla in this room is Windows. There are many, many Windows lovers out there and the Zune could add value to that.
If Microsoft can create a synergy between Windows, Vista, Soapbox, X-Box 360 and Zune, then the ball will be in Apple's court. If they can bring the same cool factor that I'm seeing on Zune.net and make an all in one computing/communication/entertainment package out of it under a name we all know, well, then I’d be interested.
Until they do it, though, I think many will remain loyal to their iPods.
If you pick up your November issue of Car & Driver or Autoweek, you'll see that Mitsubishi plans to “Out Everything” the competition with a new ad campaign based on the word "out". The campaign underscores how the new Outlander Compact SUV outclasses and outperforms its competition, according to Mike Nash, director of advertising, Mitsubishi Motors North America.
The company has launched a website, www.outeverything.com, to further communicate its branding message. The emphasis of the campaign is on the performance heritage of the company and the superiority of the Outlander model, and I think "outeverything" communicates that well.
The true test will be whether the 2007 Outlander Compact SUV will indeed "OutFast," "OutBlast," and "OutMusic" its competition in consumers' minds.
November 8, 2006
The big loser in this year’s electoral races looks set to be the Diebold Elections Systems, a brand name that is the focus of an excellent Fortune article entitled, “Rage Against the Machine”. After a series of mishaps on election day - which included one deranged voter literally smashing a Diebold machine, it seems likely that Diebold will try to get out of the election business altogether and save its brand's reputation.
It seems a shame because the problems that these machines cause are more often than not caused by human beings and, as the Fortune article points out, other forms of casting the ballot are not any more dependable. The Association for Computing Machinery is keeping careful track of the various complaints and glitches that seem to be popping up and casting the Diebold and Sequoia brand names in a negative light.
Diebold recently fought to have an HBO documentary cancelled that cast its machines in a bad light while others claim they can either hack the machines or open them up using mini-bar keys. It’s enough to make a brand manager considering throwing in the towel.
I cannot think of any brand that is under such intense and bitter scrutiny. If being the brand name of choice for voting machines turns out to be too risky for the companies that take up the challenge, we might find it very hard indeed to modernize the way we carry out democracy in the USA.
Turkish Cosmetics Company Changes French Name in Protest - The company changed their 24 year-old name from” François Patrick” to “MW” in protest of a French bill that makes it a punishable crime to deny the Armenian genocide.
Karmaloop Kazbah: What's Next in Streetwear - The interestingly named Karmaloop Kazbah is aggressively promoting little known brand names in an attempt to become a “"global underground marketplace”. Edgy company names like Greedy Genius and Buff Monster will be getting some play here and it has issued a call from brand submissions.
More Funky Brand Names - Los Folsom had an entertaining post on his blog yesterday. He mentions a clothing brand called “Big Yanks” for men and defunct sneaker brand names like “Copa 83” and “Nado Super Primo”. These pale in comparison, he says, to kids’ pants with product names such as “Smacks” and “Uncle Charlie’s”.
November 7, 2006
Once upon a time, those who wished to engage in professional development and share their discoveries with their colleagues went to conferences, seminars, and workshops. Today you’re just as likely to find them headed to “boot camp” or “bar camp.”
Boot camps are crash courses offered by experts in a field such as copywriting or computer programming. The emphasis is on hands-on hard work, and those who complete the course may come away with a certificate. The name, of course, comes from the age-old nickname of military basic training.
A bar camp is a different animal. Lest you be imagining a group of professionals roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around the fireplace in a pub, however, you should know that the term “BarCamp” was created on the basis of “Foo Camp.” Foo Camp was a one-off, invitation-only un-conference (The term "un-conference" dates all the way back to 1998.) Both “foo” and “bar” are metasyntactic variables in computer programming, placeholders like “thingamajig” and “whatsit,” so a “bar camp” is semantically equivalent to a “foo camp”.
Whereas boot camps are highly structured and presented by one or two authorities, the participants decide on and present the contents of BarCamps. If you want to give a presentation, just sign up on the wiki. While bars of the alcoholic kind are an important part of all conferences, they had nothing to do with this name.
Somehow these informal, collectively-organized un-conferences have been so successful that they not only developed into an international phenomenon, but have generated linguistic spin-offs of their own, the latest of which is “PodCamp”, a portmanteau of “podcasting” (itself a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcasting”) and “BarCamp.”
Another year or two, and unpacking the names of events like this will be even harder than finding a schedule ahead of time.
The "Australian brand" beat the United States and Italy, in the second annual Country Brand Index 2006 (CBI). The recent announcement was made at the London World Travel Market, which is being closely watched by Darren Cronian of the Travel Rants Blog.
Probably no one is going to be more surprised today than the Australians themselves - the Talk of Town blog has one Adelaide resident wondering if countries should be brand names at all. Well, of course they can and are. Some point out that this ranking means that the controversial Bloody Hell campaign seems to have worked after all.
Well, not so fast.
Because the CBI ranks countries according to travel trends, Australia has cashed in - it wasn’t just the slogan. Tourism Australia has also been tirelessly touting the virtues of the country to Europeans, and one representative stated yesterday that “The Aussie character, matched by such a unique natural environment, ensures Australia is one of the most desired countries to visit in the world.”
Countries to watch are China, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates as future contenders for the title. The aggressive promotion of the Australian brand name coupled with the country’s natural appeal probably swung the day for the Australians. It is also third place in the category of “country easiest to do business with” and second to New Zealand for “best country for outdoor sports/activities”.
Imelda Marcos - brand name for new fashion line - This link is to Steve Portigal's blog, who reported yesterday that Imelda has given her name to a new line of jewelry designed by her kids called “The Imelda Collection”. You would have thought that she’d give her name for a shoe brand name. But, Portigal has an insightful thought on the new brand name: that Imelda Marcos was viewed as an icon of class and grace, but also a high-couture scavenger who spent nights designing fashion.
So that created a fashion-meets-function image association with Imelda. And this new brand, tied to Imelda's name, will indeed conjure that same association in the minds of her potential jewelry customers. And you need only visit your local Target to know the enormous potential of fashion-meets-function attitude.
The Delicious Generation - Rogue Amoeba, the company that brought us the highly memorable and effective product name, Audio Hijack Pro, has a pretty interesting blog. It's named “Under The Microscope.” Yesterday Paul Kafasis, Rogue Amoeba CEO, wrote about what he's calling “The Delicious Generation”, a term he coined to describe the new crew of Mac OSX designers. Why are they “delicious”? Read the post. The comments that follow are insightful.
November 6, 2006
Seth Godin has me thinking about trademarks. Moreover, I have noticed that for some reason a number of bloggers are posting about the difficulties and ambiguities around registering trademarks and what they actually are. Seth's post refers to generic trademarks, a subject I have written about before.
He also has an interesting concept: to register a trademark, you have to follow a few "superstitions." You have to first let everyone know that the name you have chosen is a trademark, through a variety of means that may or my not work. He also clarifies what "(tm)" means after a word — you can do that to almost any mark you deem to be your trademark (once per page) — and when you get around to registering it, you add a ® after the name instead of a ™.
You never really need to use a (c) — Godin says that’s "just dumb".
Enter Bill Binnig at Jaduka, who has discovered that registering a trademark is pretty easy to do yourself — and I agree to some extent.
You just go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and follow the instructions. The USPTO offers a wealth of information indeed and if things go seamlessly you can get your ® with little stress. It is when there are competing trademarks, or the trademarks are under contention, or you are not even sure if you need to trademark a name that it helps to get a specialist involved.
You also have to think about other things, of course, such as registering a domain name, which can be just as or even more difficult. The Private Intellectual also has a wonderful post up today about "Trademark Foolishness" that I urge do-it-yourselfers to read before registering.
For instance, you may think you have a perfect right to trademark your name, just as when T-Mobile thought they could trademark "T-", and discover, as T-Mobile did, that letters and dashes are in the public domain, thank you very much. Some common words, like "pod", are also hard to trademark — right, Apple?
Sometimes trademarking products can be a step backward for the person seeking the trademark, as is possibly the case with Ethiopia's efforts to trademark the names of certain coffee beans.
Samantha Thavasa To Open 1st U.S. Store in The Big Apple - Samantha Thavasa is a brand name named after "no one in particular." Nicky Hilton, the Hilton name that is not as recognized as her sister Paris, designs bags for the company that makes them for the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Victoria Beckham, Maria Sharapova, Penélope Cruz and Tinsley Mortimer. The brand name is almost unknown is the USA but founder Kazumasa Terada wants to change all that. He chose the name because he "loved the way the two words fit and sounded together."
Branding: When a Picture Really Does Say a Thousand Words - Lee Hopkins believes that images should not drive the text of an advertisement — but sometimes the images are so unique and eye catching that they say it all. He has posted some great pictures that show how imaginative, sometimes startling imagery can build a product name in a humorous fashion.
The Return of Vex - When Radio Shack got rid of the VEX robotic system, it seemed to be the end of a very interesting toy indeed — think Meccano on steroids. Not to worry. The inventor of the very cool robotics kits, Innovation First, purchased the trademark registration and brand name from Radio Shack and has recently partnered with modelling giant Revell to reintroduce the brand name. This is great news for those of you who are hobbyists — and I dare you to look at the pictures of the toys and not wish you were a kid again making out your Christmas list. Frankly, VEX is so advanced that it offers a challenge to anyone.
November 5, 2006
Sean "Diddy" Combs, the hip-hop star who changes his name more often than a secret agent, has declared that he would like to be the first black 007. The part is now played by Daniel Craig, but Combs has positioned himself already for the role not only by dressing like 007 in public, but also in a series of pictures shot to promote the launch of his new fragrance "Unforgivable" in Monaco.
Unforgivable has been a great success for Combs.
There have been many negative posts about Combs' desire to be 007 but Cinefille supports the idea and has posted an interesting montage of photos showing Combs fitting in well with the other actors who have played the part.
Yahoo has an open forum on the topic that shows people leaning both ways.
He may indeed get the role but Glamour asks if he might be better as Q, 007's head of gadgetry. What do you think?
November 4, 2006
The news this week is that Tom Cruise plans to put the "artist" back in to the largely defunct United Artists company name by taking it over with his producing partner Paula Wagner. Wagner says this move, which essentially puts the two of them in charge of the movie name, allows them an opportunity to "take a legendary brand name and bring it back to the present."
There have been some mighty critical posts out there about this move that comes fairly soon after Cruise’s dismissal from Paramount for his couch jumping antics during the build up to the release of Mission Impossible III .
- Michael at Popsurfing points out that because they only will be doing four movies a year and have the ability to green light films of $50 mil or less (not much these days), this is simply a "glorified shingle."
- Scott Kirsner at CinemaTech wonders if Cruise and Wagner will be loyal to the new company and not wind up making movies for other studios the way Spielberg has abandoned Dreamworks.
Nevertheless, this is a wonderful time to bring back to our screens a name that has been missing for too long. TomCruiseFan.com notes that United Artists was founded in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks. It has given us some great movies, including Chaplin’s The Gold Rush and City Lights, Fairbanks' Three Musketeers and, more recently, Rocky, James Bond, the Pink Panther films and Hotel Rwanda. Cinematical notes that it also is responsible for Heaven’s Gate, a name that is to show biz what The Titanic is to the cruise biz.
But Cruise has never won an Oscar and he must be itching to show his old boss Sumner Redstone at Viacom (Paramount’s parent company) that he has let go (and publicly humiliated) one of the hottest properties in showbiz history.
If that’s not enough motivation to fund a truly great film, I don't know what is.
Brand naming is not as easy as it may look.
A real tube company the website of which is located at UTube.com has been flooded by people looking for Google’s YouTube service and is taking the much better known site to court. The Wall Street Journal reports that Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Company has had to upgrade their servers and change their domain name several times due to the high traffic created by people mistakenly typing in utube.com when they were looking for youtube.com.
Nathan Weinberg on Inside Google points out that the same thing happened with a company named "AdSense" which is also now in Google’s hands. Google is an old pro at this kind of thing and they usually win.
November 2, 2006
Everyone from Springwise to The Economist (PDF file) is talking about Wifitti, the latest opportunity for cellphone carriers to make a killing. It makes sense to use a portmanteau name to describe a portmanteau product, so the choice of "Wiffiti" for a technology that lets you write on the wall (well, a wall-mounted TFT display) with SMS text messages is logical.
The difficulty with this name is one of pronunciation. Once you break it down and recognize that it's a combination of "wireless" and "graffiti" it's easy enough, but English pronunciation rules, such as they are, pull the mind and the tongue toward a short "i" before the double-f.
"Graffiti," after all, has a short "a" as well as a noble history on the walls of Pompeii.
A simple hyphen would help solve this problem. Thanks to the spread of the term "wi-fi" (and its predecessor, hi-fi), "Wi-ffiti" or "Wi-fiti" would make both origin and pronunciation of the name much clearer. The only problem with that is that digital graffiti systems don't use wi-fi technology.
The bomb-proof brand name and the Holy Grail do have a few things in common.
Bengalooru is India’s tech centre, home to 1500 computer-related firms and traditionally the favorite summer spot for Colonial British rulers who enjoyed its temperate weather. Now, this ultra-hip city is returning to its 14th century namesake in an effort to promote the local Kannada language. City name changes are nothing new in India — this one was preceded by Bombay when it became Mumbai and when Madras became Chennai.
The name is part of a larger effort to reclaim numerous Indian place names from their colonial origins. Bangalore's original, precolonial name was Bendakalooru, and today's updated version is a nod to the Kannada language and to the city's history, it seems.
More cities are slated to have their names changed as well to the Kannada origins: Mysooru (Mysore), Mangalooru (Mangalore), Chikmagalooru (Chikmagalur), Shivamogga (Shimoga), Belagaavi (Belgaum), Kalburgi (Gulbarga), Hubballi (Hubli), Hosapete (Hospet) and Tumakooru (Tumkur).
But Bangalore is India’s IT face and many Indians are worried that the strange sounding name — and its odd meaning — may hurt the city’s valuable techie brand name overseas. In fact, some Indians are very much against these name changes, calling them a "home-grown folly."
At least one Bengaloorian blogger predicts the city will lose millions of dollars by adopting this unpronounceable name.
The debate seems to be raging over whether this will affect the image of the city overseas, or if it will make any difference at all.
What do you think?
Piggyback Power: How Big Brands Can Help Your Brand - I enjoyed this post describing an interesting way to promote your brand name: by piggybacking it with an equally or better known brand name through promotional gifts. It creates a kind of symbiosis between the two brand names as well as a discreet “under the table” endorsement for your company name.
Prophetic: Oracle to Fork Linux Kernel, Ellison taking over from Darl McBride - This post from the Open ICT Hacks predicts that Oracle’s use and support of the Red Hat version of Linux might mean that Oracle chief, Larry Ellison, will rename his company’s recommended version of Linux, “Larrix,” and go after the popular open-source Linux. Interesting post.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has gone on record with the New York Times saying that he wants Starbucks to become a “third place” in people’s lives - a sort of link between home and work where you can read the paper, download some tunes, buy a book or two, and either prepare for the day or wind down from it.
Daniel Goldin looks into the “third place” and whether or not it holds water (or latte, as the case may be). Goldin points out that it will be a rather bland artistic hub - it just rejected the new Springsteen album, entitled Devils and Dust, because one song was too racy.
Others have tried to claim the “third place” title with less success, and I must say that if there really is room for a “third place” in our lives, Starbucks is it.
Because each Starbucks tries to reflect the neighborhood culture around it, the Coffee Klatch thinks entering into a new store for the first time “offers the hint of adventure”. Even The China Expat believes that the store has certainly become a “third place” in China thanks to the location of the stores, their accessibility, their service, design, good coffee and Wi-Fi. Starbucks’ coffee culture seems to fit in exactly with the way Chinese do business.
I have always been curious about the Starbucks name - the chain was christened after the first mate of Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, after the founders flirted with calling the store “Starbo” or “Pequod.” My question is why is there no possessive?
Would it not seem logical to call the place “Starbuck’s” if it is named after a character named “Starbuck”? I am reminded of another product name, Lands’ End stores, which really should be “Land’s End” after the geographical place, but the owners simply made a mistake when printing the name and Lands’ End it has stayed. It wouldn't be the first time people at Starbucks misused the apostrophe, according to the Apostrophe abuse blog.
Is Starbucks YOUR “third place”?
November 1, 2006
Intel Intros New Core 2 Duo T5200 Processor Silently - Looks like Intel has quietly introduced a new Core Duo processor named T5200. It’s cheaper than the previous T5500 owing to its reduced front side bus, reports Laptop Blog.
This also explains the lower numerical product name. I’m sure this introduction has occurred “under the radar” to avoid brand name dilution with the better known T5500 model - laptops being sold online already have the T5200 included.
Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday, Who Could Hang a Name on You? - Ruby Tuesday has lent its name to Iron Chef America on the Food Network, and Design Star on Home & Garden Television.
Mike at TVFoodFan.com says this seems to be a new trend: chain restaurants sponsoring food shows, even when the menus on each are a little off kilter.
Seems like a great way to build the Ruby Tuesday name among a target market of food lovers.
New Graphical Search From Amazon - It’s named “Flowser” because the results come back to you in the form of a flower. The Stalwart calls this “one small step for Amazon, one giant leap for graphical search.” I think it’s a pretty funky Web 2.0-ish product name for a pretty nifty browser.
We’ve written before about the frustration companies like Google experience with “genericide” and the losing battle to prevent the public from using their trademarked product names as verbs.
Having your product name turned into a verb is a sign of market penetration, a price paid for success - but “verbification” is not restricted to brand names. The fact is, English speakers like shortcuts. It just takes too long to say “Look that up on the Google™ search engine” or “photocopy this on the Xerox® machine.”
Everywhere you turn, people are converting previously self-respecting, law-abiding nouns, adjectives, and adverbs into verbs. Computer programmers use “obsolete” as a transitive verb. Gay rights activists “out” public figures who try to hide their homosexuality.
We hardly even notice anymore when we hear a businessperson talk about how a particular action will “impact” the bottom line. And then there’s the particularly cringeworthy use of “text” to mean “send an SMS text message.” It’s especially painful in the past tense: “Oh, yeah, he texted me about that yesterday.”
No matter how we feel about it, the phenomenon of verbification is here to stay. If there’s already a quick, easy way to describe using your product or service, then your brand name might be safe. But if your product does something new and not easily described, like TiVo or Skype, you can pretty much count on getting verbified.