December 29, 2006
Here are some brand naming New Year's resolutions:
- Avoid names with missing vowels
- Invest in rhyme – the results are sublime
- Exercise your right to extensive plosive exploitation
- Throw away names that can be pronounced 4 different ways (or not at all)
- Find a synonym for black
- Stop paying so much for tourism slogans
- Don't add to the Fusion confusion
- Remember that over half of "marriages" end in divorce
- If your product name offends, you must make amends
- Give Wii a chance
If you have a brand naming New Year's resolution to suggest, please leave a comment below. Have a happy New Year, and we'll see you on Monday, January 1st, 2007!
Posted by William Lozito at 4:21 PM
Posted to Brand Name Research | Brand Naming | Branding | Company Naming | Linguistics | Marketing | Naming | Product Naming | Slogans | Trademarking
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The recent news that has seen Steve Jobs embroiled in a stock options scandal is a potential disaster for the Apple brand name.
It could not come at a worst time: just before Macworld Expo and before the launch of Apple's seemingly inevitable and much anticipated mobile phone, which Paul Colligan claims will be named the iPod Phone.
Noah Brier has a very timely article up about "trust, brands and transparency" that addresses the problem. Super brands like Apple have a burden of trust placed on them that simply demands absolute transparency and honesty in all their dealings.
In Apple's case, the burden is doubled because Steve Jobs is a tremendous part of Apple's brand equity. Crudely put, Jobs is to Apple what Richard Branson is to Virgin. His name is indelibly associated with Apple and anything that brings that name into disrepute lessens the Apple brand.
Steve Jobs is the anti-hero to the arrogant greedy executive, the kind of CEO teenagers can relate to: casual, honest, hip and cool. He stands for everything the Enron and WorldCom execs did not. This is why the recent SEC investigation into the possibility that Jobs grabbed 7.5 million Apple shares from the company's coffers without board consent has raised an undercurrent of fury on the Internet.
But I am loyal to the brand because I'm a fan of Steve Jobs and believe he is "conducting" a brilliant team of engineers, as the Independent puts it. If Apple were the Grateful Dead, he's its Jerry Garcia and there ain't no tunes from Cupertino if Jobs ain't on the job.
But the day they prove that Jobs is a crook, well, that's the day Apple becomes just another grubby, overpriced tech shop fronted by a greedy ex-hippie with a slick shtick. That's the day I walk as a consumer. Note well, Mr. Jobs: Like Caesar's wife, brands that are personality cults to the CEO need that CEO to be above suspicion.
December 28, 2006
A brand name saga is unfolding for Disney that seems to be a continuation of my September post about The Princesses brand collection.
First, just before Christmas, feminist writer Peggy Orenstein wrote an article in the New York Times entitled "What's Wrong With Cinderella" bemoaning the rise of the Princesses brand name from $300 million in 2001 to a very pretty $3 billion today.
It's on its way to becoming "the largest girls' franchise on the planet", dwarfing Mattel's "world of girl" and Saks' purchase and expansion of Club Libby Lu, with its offering of things like "Princess Phones" and "Princess-Makeover Birthday Parties."
Princesses are in, leading Orenstein to ask some hard questions about what, exactly, being a princess swathed in layers of pink frill awaiting a handsome prince is teaching little girls in the age of "third wave feminism."
Paris Hilton has latched on to the idea of being a "princess," referring to herself as an American princess fantasy and even astrologers have gotten into the act, explaining via the stars why princesses rule popular culture.
There's a lot of debate with many parents saying that it's all no big deal, pointing out that girls seem to "choose" the frilly colors, as if being a princess is a natural desire for any four year old girl. No matter how we look at it, the Princesses brand name rules the day.
Enter the new Tinker Bell, who is poised to make the Princesses look babyish.
The Tinker Bell brand name is meant to be the logical next step to the Princesses: once the girl has outgrown Cinderella, she can move towards this newly revamped, much naughtier brand name.
Already Disney sells merchandise at its theme parks, like t-shirts that say "Spoiled to Perfection" and magnets and light switch plates reading "Dark Tink: the bad girl side of Miss Bell that Walt never saw."
Think of what an eleven year old girl will look like in a Tink t-shirt reading “Mood Subject to Change Without Notice" and you get the picture. Tinker Bell merchandise racks up a whopping $400 million in sales right now, and the new movie, where Tink speaks, is set to be the launch pad for the edgier Tinker Bell and Fairies brand names.
The Tinker Bell movie's fall 2007 release has been pushed back - it may not even see daylight until 2008 or even 2009. This must be bad news to Disney, who has already been building the Tinker Bell and Fairies names on the release of the movie.
A delay that long could see toy makers and clothing makers under serious pressure...especially those who have already begun merchandising Fairies products. We're talking $500 million of lost revenue. The problem? The movie as it is lacks appeal to older girls.
Another problem? American princess Paris Hilton's dog is named Tinker Bell, too.
It’s enough to make Captain Hook jump ship.
December 27, 2006
In the U.S. alone, there are over 1,000 company name changes per year. One caught my eye today.
Creative Enterprises International is changing its name to Skinny Nutritional Corporation. This name change represents three examples of rationale for a company name change.
- First, in effect, a product name, Skinny Water, has become the company name.
- Second, the company name is descriptive and I happen to think it's a good example of a descriptive name. It's cute and light-hearted, while effective.
- Third, the company clarifies to the investment community that its current and upcoming products compete in the weight loss management market.
And who wouldn't benefit from being a little skinnier, especially during this over-indulgent holiday season?
It's also interesting to note that Skinny Nutritional Corporation also possesses the exclusive right to bottle, distribute, and license the trademarks for "Skinny Products," including "Skinny Water," "Skinny Juice," "Skinny Shake," and "Skinny Tea." The latter of which reminds me of Enviga, another similar product.
December 26, 2006
It's the 26th today and there are two things on my mind: Boxing Day and re-gifting. Most Americans do not celebrate or observe Boxing Day, but Canadians do, as well as everyone in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many Southern African countries.
It's also known as "St. Stephen's Day" in Ireland named after the first saint to be martyred for his death. St. Stephen is the patron saint of horses, so there are often horse races and hunting trips planned for the day.
One blogger calls Boxing Day "the holiday for which nobody knows the origins." Another says the origins of Boxing Day are a bit vague, but stems from the fact that the alms boxes of the church were opened for the poor, or for servants. They were given gift boxes of dry goods or food from their employers.
In most countries that observe Boxing Day, yearly seasonal gifts to public service people like refuse collectors and postmen, and to domestic employees are called "Christmas Boxes." These gifts were traditionally received on the day after Christmas because they would be expected to work on Christmas day.
Boxing Day does not refer to "throwing out boxes" or fighting.
Across the pond, most Americans will be setting aside certain presents received from Santa for re-gifting. Yes, I said “most” of us will be doing this. The numbers don't lie: if you are an American you are probably a re-gifter, according to a recent poll, making Christmas one big swap meet.
Americans re-gift with such vehemence that I wonder if we shouldn't drop all pretense and name this day "Re-gifting Day." Re-gifting is giving an unwanted gift to somebody else for another occasion. It's like giving that yogurt maker you got as a birthday present from a family member to your co-worker as a housewarming gift. Re-gifting was a term made popular as Seinlanguage (words and phrases invented on the TV show Seinfeld that have become common language).
Beware, though. There are strict re-gifting rules for you to follow as you squirrel away that fondue set.
There's there's even a web site called Regiftable.com where you can get the low down on quick, easy, efficient re-gifting (first rule: do not re-gift to the original giver and, second, make sure all traces of the original gift wrap have been removed).
Even The Emily Post Institute has thoughts on re-gifting, and the bottom line is that it's OK if done properly and discreetly.
So, Happy Boxing Day and Re-gifting Day, world.
December 24, 2006
The Santa name is on my mind as ever today as he prepares for his yearly world tour, dominating Christmas advertising in traditional and completely new ways.
On the traditional (and crazy) side of things, AdPulp has some classic cigarette ads showing Santa taking a much needed break.
Nowadays, the Santa Brand has been revamped by Pentagram via iPilot with the creation of the x.mas domain: .mas sites would be all about philanthropy.
Twenty Steps notes that Santa is "secretly an internet marketer", using an "affiliate sales force" of parents and enjoying massive global distribution networks.
Forbes has run a great article entitled For a Better Brand, Think Like Santa, which is summarized and built upon by CB Whittemore on Flooring the Consumer, where she also leads us to John Winsor’s post “Have a Viral Christmas.”
From all of us here at Strategic Name Development, have a great holiday tomorrow and we’ll see you on the 26th!
December 23, 2006
There is a great deal of commentary out there in support of the recent move by Target to pull Che Guevara CD cases after an outcry from conservative and Cuban American groups who see no romance in the image and name of the violent Latin American revolutionary. Most blogs appear to have come out in support of an article on Investors.com that asks "What next? Hitler backpacks? Pol Pot cookware? Pinochet pantyhose?" Well, no. Most people shopping in Target (indeed, most people) have no idea who Pinochet was and would not be able to recognize an image of Pol Pot even if they were offered a free set of cookware. And while we have not had Hitler backpacks, we have all loved Hitler's cars — the VW Beetle, a vehicle produced under the Fuhrer’s order’s for Die Volk, is not only the best selling car of all time but also still part of pop culture.
Target's move offers insights into an interesting dilemma that occurs when a name or image become iconized beyond its real political origins. On the one hand, those in support of Target's move have a point: "Che chic" could, in one light, be considered the glorification of a killer.
Joseph Farah argues that "Most of the kids who buy the T-shirts and the CD cases probably have no idea who Che is — or what he was. They probably don't know he ordered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocents to the firing squads of Fidel Castro's Cuba." I would support this statement. I would add that a good number of the people shopping at Target have no idea who the picture on that CD case is of at all. The striking photo of Che has an enduring appeal that makes it an icon almost 40 years after his death. Jay Nordinger, in an essay outlining his atrocities, adds that Che, "famous as he is, is little known".
The picture of Che that was taken in 1960 by a Cuban photographer named Alberto Diaz, better known as Korda, has become emblematic, used to sell t-shirts, wristwatches, vodka, underwear, and lighters. Yet Korda and his descendants have never received any monies from the widely reproduced image. And the likelihood of them getting anything from the non-photographic reproduction of this iconic twentieth century image is pretty much nil, despite their recent legal efforts to ban its non-copyrighted use.
To millions of kids. wearing that image just looks cool. For all they know, it’s a picture of Kurt Cobain.
More than that, certain images transcend their object. Think of, for instance, the famous picture of the burning Hindenburg that graced the cover of Led Zeppelin's first album, or the anarchy symbol, or the skull and crossbones that has graced everything from pirate flags to lingerie, leading to what has come to be called "Pirate Couture" despite the fact that pirates were, well, murdering criminals. And surely we have seen millions of t-shirts of Chairman Mao, whose own atrocities make Che’s look tame.
It would first seem to me the ultimate irony that Che and Mao (and for that matter Lenin and Trotsky) have their images so readily reproduced by capitalistic society. Second, these images are in the popular domain and are highly recognizable cultural icons that transcend their subjects. Not just any picture of Che Guevara is being sold, the one from Korda is the one we recognize. Not just any pirate symbol works — only the skull and crossbones will do. Had Target been selling posters or CD covers showing almost any other image of Che Guevara, possibly those decrying his atrocities would have a stronger point, but this particular image has been reproduced millions upon millions of times since the Paris riots of 1968. For better or for worse, it’s a cultural touchstone.
One cannot condone Che Guevara and his nefarious place in history, but those people who buy things at Target are frankly buying something else: an image that means more to fashion history than political history. And what better way to neuter the effect of the image than to show Che wearing earbuds? I'm sure he'd be appalled.
December 22, 2006
I have been thinking about The Donald lately, mainly since he has been in the news so much.
First there has been the Miss USA Debacle that he has handled with his usual panache. YourFashionNews.Com said that "the man is an artist - and Tuesday, quite frankly, he made his masterpiece," when he publicly pardoned Miss USA for being a naughty girl. Nobody is quite sure what Tara Connor has done wrong other than get very drunk in a bar while being underage.
Trump has stamped his indelible brand name on the Miss USA pageant, essentially making it an extension of The Apprentice except with real life drama and better looking players. His public exoneration of Tara Connor at the base of the Trump Tower, the very gilded domain she had been publicly turned out of for her sins against the crown, had a sense of showmanship about it that would make both PT Barnum and Louis XIV proud.
Trump is also at war with another big name in show business, Rosie O'Donnell, for the aspersions she has cast on the Trump name. Seems that the words "bankrupt" and "Trump" shall never be seen together if The Donald can help it.
The Trump Tower, the locus of the Trump Brand, will now be the site of a gargantuan Gucci store. Yes, the venerable store on 685 Fifth Ave will be closed down and a larger, more improved version will be built on 56th and 5th.
We're talking 45,000 square feet of Gucci - three floors of it. The cost? A fashionable $80 million. The Donald has said that "I consider Gucci to be the finest luxury brand and store in the world. And It is a great honor to have them in the Trump Tower". From here on in, the Trump and Gucci brand names shall forevermore be linked in New York.
Barry Hoggard at Bloggy says he does not think that "associating the Gucci name with Donald Trump is really a plus," but I disagree. Gucci is all about ostentatious, over-the-top luxury verging on the utterly tasteless and this will be its flagship store.
What better place to put it than in a Tower named after Mr. over-the-top himself? Gucci is going BIG nowadays, with its first store opening in LAX and nobody goes for Bigger and Better than Donald Trump.
By getting its name into LAX and the Trump Tower, Gucci is trading exclusivity for pure bling - it clearly wants to move from being the Jaguar E-Type of luxury clothing and jewelry brands to being the Cadillac Escalade. In other words, it possibly wants to stop being the brand of choice for your rich grandmother and start being the brand for the nouveaux riche hoi polloi - the very people who love The Donald.
December 21, 2006
New Scientist has posted a list of names for the strange addictions that have cropped up in recent years.
Blogstreaking (revealing personal information online) is a dangerous one, owning and using a "Crackberry" is another. "Egosurfing" (Googling your name repeatedly) and Google-Stalking (snooping on your friends and associates) are all on the list and the guilty habits of not a few of us. These are related to "Photolurking" - flipping through strangers' online photo albums.
There's also Wikipediholism: you can actually take a test to find out if you need help for your excessive use and/or editing of Wikipedia. How bad can it get? According to Etre, Bryan Derksen, a Canadian salesman, is thought to have personally edited 70,000 Wikipedia entries in his spare time, and there are supposedly around 2400 Wikipediaholics out there who have edited 4,000 pages each.
One of the Geek Sisters starts her own post by saying "My name is Renata and I am an egosurfer," while also quoting from the article that Google-Stalkers can quickly look up "an uncle's mysterious son from a previous marriage, for instance, or a friend's supposedly secret lover."
One blogger on Chiaro points out that Shakespeare invented thousand of words with 600 in Latin alone. But I was amused to see that the addiction we all have to Crackberry has led one airline to replace the flashing "no smoking" sign to "turn off electronic devices." That means you, you Cyberchondriac.
December 20, 2006
Every year the blogosphere is filled with vitriol over the spectre of Christmas marketing. There's anger over the fact that it seems to be starting ever earlier, with Lowe's starting the assault a week before Halloween, for example.
Two naming issues have come to the fore this year: the first is the origin of Santa Claus. Is his current manifestation as a jolly, white bearded fellow dispensing gifts an invention of Coke's or not? Most marketers know the story of Haddon Sundbloom, who was hired by Coke to create a more jolly, "user friendly" St. Nick back in the 30s. Now the folks at Urban Legends claim that this is not true; that Coke only "co-opted" Santa's current identity.
The bigger problem seems to be not whether we should wish each other "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas," but whether we should be buying "Christmas Trees' or "Holiday Trees." Steve Nix at About Forestry reminds us that the Architect of the Capitol has displayed a "Christmas Tree" on the grounds since 1964. There is an open vote where you can vent your opinion on the matter.
I don't want to skew the vote, but right now the name "Christmas Tree" for the fir tree that Christians use to celebrate the beginning of the Winter solstice, is by far in the lead.
December 19, 2006
Joseph Barbera, the cartoon animation legend who, along with his partner William Hanna, created some of the best known names from cartoonland, died yesterday at 95.
I am sure almost everybody can remember his famous creations, from Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry to The Flintstones and The Jetsons. These are resounding names from all of our childhoods: what would Saturday morning have been without Barney Rubble?
Joel Keller at the TV Squad blog says Barbera and his partner "inspired many an animator in the last fifty-plus years." Funny enough, the name of their first effort was the clumsily named "Puss Gets The Boot," the precursor to "Tom and Jerry," while a forever lost cartoon named "Ruff and Ready" was the incubus for "The Huckleberry Hound Show."
The dynamic duo also brought us "The Smurfs." In 2000, when Barbera was 89, the Cartoon network launched "The Boomerang Network," which runs Hanna-Barbera cartoons 24/7.
In an excellent post on the Slice of Sci-Fi blog entitled "Joseph Barbera Remembered," Samuel Stone makes the point that "The Flintstones," an animated version of "The Honeymooners," was the first cartoon to bring adult themes into a cartoon, making it the precursor to "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." I would add "The Family Guy" too.
Stone says "their influence will continue to be felt for decades to come." No doubt about that.
December 18, 2006
Ryan Block at Engadget brings the bitter news to us: the iPhone brand name is now public, and on a phone not made by Apple.
It’s a Linksys branded VoIP device from Cisco and Block feels the brand name was probably launched only after a prolonged, unsuccessful attempt to sell the name to a reluctant Apple. Block was probably right in his thoughts about Cisco’s decision, saying, “the ‘iPhone’ is already a fairly ubiquitous brand without even being launched, hey, why not run with it?”
Ted Frank wrote about this news earlier this morning on his Overlawyered blog and pointed out that "the timing of this new product announcement makes more sense when one realizes that Apple was about to announce an iPod-compatible cell phone in January, a product that was widely called iPhone in the press, but that Linksys owned the iPhone trademark since 1996."
Linksys would have been forced to give up the naming rights if the company had not launched a product using this trademark. But this name comes with strong existing equity from Apple's iMac and iPod brand extensions, so I expect sales of the iPhone product line to instantly reflect that.
Gizmodo has a great blog post discussing the implications of Apple not owning the iPhone trademark, and questioning what Apple will call its cell phone.
My advice for Apple is to act fast. Because the next phone we all want may not be from you... it may be the GPhone. France's mobile phone unit, Orange, is talking to people at the Googleplex. Such a phone, it is rumored, could not only make handset surfing easier, it could offer you location based searches: the phone would figure out where you are and offer up restaurants, cinema and even images from Google Earth of your location.
Apple still might surprise us with an announcement, perhaps tomorrow, on the name for their iPhone or, should I say, Applephone.
December 17, 2006
The vodka.com domain name has sold for a cool $3 million, bought by the Russian Standard conglomerate, which controls two thirds of the sales of premium vodka in Russia.
The vodka.com buy will in all likelihood enable Russian Standard a greater presence in the US, where it hopes to gain significant market share for its Imperia brand.
According to a Reuters article on the sale, Imperia's recipe was supposedly first brewed by Dimitri Mendeleev, the man who also invented the periodic table of the elements. David Kesmodel reports that it seems to be Vladimir Putin's favorite tipple.
According to Kesmodel, the sale seems to be regarded as "a good indication of how large corporations are starting to see the value of domains as a crucial part of their international marketing campaigns." Kesmodel reminds us that this is not the biggest generic domain name sales ever: AOL bought games.com for $11 million. CNN notes that diamond.com sold for $7.5 million to jewelry retailer Ice.com, and Business.com sold for $7.56 million in 1999.
Earlier this year, of course, Sex.com sold for around $12-$14 million to Boston-based Escom LLC.
Some interesting alternative generic domain names are also available. Textmessages.com has not been sold yet, it seems. In the .mobi domain we have seen dozens of generic domains sell for what one blogger calls "insane prices." In fact, .mobi may be the "name for 2006" reports Domain Name Values Weekly, with companies getting a great deal of bang for their buck for generics like heat.mobi, which could be used to promote a basketball team or an air-conditioning service.
If you are contemplating buying a domain name for your brand or indeed getting a generic, Tammy Lenski has a great post up for you that will help you check your brand name's availability.
On a lighter note, LedRim.com is for sale. One seller points out in all seriousness that this would be a great place to sell wheel rims for your Navigator that show "real pictures" as they spin. You can acquire these right now; they are sold under the brand name "Pimpstar." The cost for this domain? A mere $2500. A bargain, these days.
December 16, 2006
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has its hands full these days. For starters, the nefarious practice of "domain tasting," where nogoodnicks buy up reams of sites with similar names to real trademarks (like, say, verizonpicture.com) and stuff them with ads, is causing endless headaches.
One of Verizon’s lawyers claims that "Domain tasting is destabilizing the entire domain name system...people are purposefully exploiting trademarks and misleading consumers." As if that wasn't enough, ICANN has been ordered by an Illinois court to suspend UK-based spamhaus.org, a ruling that one impassioned blogger feels is "one of the most dangerous things that could potentially happen to the Internet," as ICANN has never before been used as a vehicle for law enforcement between countries.
On a more positive note, ICANN and dotAsia have "joined hands." DotAsia will be a top level domain (TLD) and will not be associated with any particular country. Registry agreements for dot-org, dot-biz, and dot-info TLDs have also been put into place.
Out with the old and in with the new, so the saying goes, and just as dotAsia is becoming a reality, ICANN is planning to get rid of some old domain name extensions — mainly those names associated with countries that no longer exist. According to The Web Hosting Show, the Soviet Union’s .su and the Yugoslav Republic’s .yu are going away. Also slated for extinction are Great Britain’s obsolete .gb (replaced by .uk long ago) and Zaire’s .zr after the country became the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mitch at Web Hosting Show adds that .Mobi should go as well, because "if you want to make a domain name extension that is easy to type in via a mobile device, why make it four characters long?"
Merged Kirkpatrick Opens Gates on New Name - The law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis has decided to brand itself as K&L Gates, leveraging "the iconic name of the 21st century." The firm is Bill Gates' father’s former employer.
Doctor Strangeplayer (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Zune) - When great techies like Mike Kobrin from the CrunchGear blog talk about naming, it's exciting. Kobrin discusses the Zune brand name and the names of the companies it is competing with: iRiver, Sandisk, Apple, and Creative. Kobrin thinks Zune will be ranked with "Microsoft Bob and Clippy" as one of the company's "funniest attempts at a friendlier and less business-like image." Time will tell.
December 15, 2006
TNT Logistics, the world’s largest “pure play” contract logistics company, has changed its name to CEVA Logistics. The name change and new corporate brand identity signals its rebirth as a stand-alone logistics company.
David Drickhamer is asking readers of his Logistics Today Forum what, exactly, CEVA means. I think it's an interesting question because changing the name of this $4.6 billion company was a big deal:
- Adopting new signage in 567 facilities in 26 countries on five continents
- Doing some serious trademark analysis (which nixed one proposed name because of “negative connotations” overseas)
- Creating a brand name with four letters rather than three (CEVA wants to stand apart from TNT, UPS and DHL)
- Like its global competitors, the company has also instituted a strong color-based brand identity: the logo developed, and other visual communications, is a deep burgundy that sets it apart from TNT’s orange, FedEx’s purple, DHL's yellow, and UPS’s brown
Ceva is a town in Italy, a famous geometric theorem, a computer company and the name of a veterinary medicine company.
But CEVA, in this case, is purely a created name. Jeff Hurley, CEO of the company’s North American Business Unit, says "it's a unique brand that stands for passion, innovation and operating excellence.”
I think it can mean just about anything with the right budget.
Windows Live Isn’t Dead - A writer at JCXP thinks that recent reports of the death of the Windows Live brand name have been greatly exaggerated. What do you think?
BMW officially acquires the John Cooper Works brand - MINI enthusiasts will rejoice to learn that John Cooper Works has been acquired by BMW, enabling the company to create, if it wants to, an equivalent of the M series for the MINI.
WIPO Seeking to Protect Products Made from Traditional Resources - Fascinating post here about just how tricky it is for the WIPO to strike a fair balance between the needs of traditional communities who harbor valuable knowledge about indigenous medicines and modern companies who would like to trademark and sell this knowledge. Brand name pharmaceuticals we all recognize like penicillin and the anti-cancer drug Taxol both come from natural sources, for instance. Meanwhile, one healer claims that the Masai in Kenya have become a brand name unto themselves.
A Fjucked Up Name - The Swedish town of Fjuckby has a problem. So does Hell, Norway, Assmannhausen, Germany and Phuket, Thailand. At last Fjuckby is doing something about it. Great post.
Worst Company Name Ever? - From PC Mag - "Revoltec. They make-well, to tell you the truth, we have no idea what they make. We can't get past the name. Revoltec? It's like calling your company SmellyUnderware."
December 14, 2006
As we reported in yesterday's Links du Jour, the company that developed the BlackBerry, Research In Motion (RIM), is suing Samsung over the similar-sounding BlackJack brand name.
There's actually a lot of depth to TechNewsWorld story about the lawsuit that relates to name development and trademark analysis. RIM is taking issue at the product naming of Samsung’s BlackJack and Black Carbon lines of phones.
RIM claims that Samsung is guilty of “false designation of origin” by using these names to trick people into believing the phones are related to the Blackberry, the undisputed champion of push email enabled smart phones that are so addictively popular that people call them “CrackBerries.” In fact, “CrackBerry” is the word of the year according to the staff at Webster’s New College Dictionary.
This is not the first time competitors have tried to build brand equity for sound-alike naming: China has a Redberry, amazingly. And, as the article points out, Windows has had several similar problems: its settlement to get Linux-based “Lindows” changed to “Linspire” being a case in point, given the confusion with "Windows."
Companies like RIM are so keen on protecting the integrity of their very popular brand names because the spectre of genericization clearly hangs over Blackberry: the trademark could become the generic term for push email phones, much like Kleenex is for tissues and Xerox is for copies. But is RIM taking things too far?
Many bloggers are saying that RIM simply cannot trademark the word “Black." The MiniMage blogger asks, “So what's next? Should expert martial artists start wearing grey belts? Should we eliminate blackjack at casino tables to prevent misdirected tech support calls? Perhaps RIM will want BlackICE software to change their name to InvisibleICE!”
Remember when blackberries were just sweet little things you picked off a bush?
December 13, 2006
In an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, "How to Keep Your School From Being Brand X," Ronald Alsop discussed how Business Schools are learning to use brand management to distinguish themselves, since many have failed to develop a resonant brand image of their own.
As the Dean of Indiana's Kelley School of Business points out, "When you have an experience product like an M.B.A. program, the customer's risk is high because you can't test drive multiple schools and you can't change your mind once you make your purchasing decision." The Kelley School of Business has branded itself as the best MBA program for career switchers.
The Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley, on the other hand, is launching a major strategic branding project with the theme "Leading Through Innovation." This is despite the fact that the word "innovation" has already been used by many schools, including the University of Pennsylvania, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University.
Johns Hopkins announced a new free standing business school, the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. It is interesting to note that most business schools are named after their biggest donors - the only ones that are not are the University of Chicago, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and Yale.
It can mean, sometimes, that schools have to change names a few times to keep up with funders, like the University of Hawaii's Business School, which did just that after a $25 million donation by real estate investor and alumnus Jay Shidler. The motivation: push the school into the upper ranks.
B-schools have to think creatively about promoting their brand names. Sometimes that means engaging in some non-traditional advertising, such as the National University of Singapore Business School's ads that you can see here and here. The ads aim to position the NUS B-School as part of the upper ranks.
Those who pursue their MBAs at lesser-known schools take heart - a recent documentary shows that it might be that half of the Harvard MBA classes will be "utter failures" and lesser known schools seem to produce grads that are just as successful as their Ivy League peers.
RIM (Blackberry) Sues Samsung Over the Word 'Black' in BlackJack - PDAStreet reports on this interesting brand naming news. James Alan Miller reports on the filing: According to RIM, BlackJack "constitutes false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution". RIM's filing adds that "Samsung is misleading the public into falsely believing that Samsung's goods and services are connected with RIM's business."
Spanish talk-show host lends name to Kohl's for new line - A Spanish talk show host, Cristina Saralegui, who is something of a homemaking guru in her own country has licensed her names to Kohl’s. Look for the Casa Cristina collection in December. Excellent way to continue capturing the growing Hispanic market.
Trademark Violations and PPC Advertising - Art Micklewraith writes about how fraudsters exploit the rules around pay per click advertising by using a registered brand name (not their own) as the basis of their online advertising or simply using a rival company's web address as a paid search item. Great post here, Art.
December 12, 2006
John Dobbs has a pretty frank blog post on “Make Marketing History” about the slow death of the Front Page brand name. Dobbs is writing in response to a post by the Scobleizer, who notes that the ghost of the brand name everyone loves to hate lives on in the code for The Microsoft Expression Web. This new product is a totally revamped version of Front Page, a program that seems to have been so problematic in the past that marketing even a vastly improved version was an impossibility.
Dodds points out that in the case of Front Page, “killing a brand” does not necessarily mean killing the product. It means repackaging it, possibly. And that’s not a good thing, because people are looking for a whole new experience. We sometimes seem to lose sight of the fact that when we create new brand names for new products, those products have to be radically different from their predecessors for the name to have resonance.
The brand has to actually be a brand.
Which brings me to an interesting tidbit: Doug Caverly, insightfully notes on the WebProNews blog, that ads for Firefox have recently appeared on Google’s home page stating that the popular alt browser is “optimized for Google.” An “optimized for Google” tagline has also been tacked to a version of IE7 as well, which appears on a few Google searches.
This is not just a little fishy, especially since both Google and Yahoo have “optimized” versions of IE7 that look pretty similar, leading one writer at Cybernet to note that “What's pretty funny is that the Google and Yahoo IE pages are obviously some sort of generic presentation that Microsoft gives to these partners. That goes to show how much effort the two companies really put into promoting their own 'specialized' versions of Internet Explorer 7."
So, has anything really been optimized...at all?
Mariah Asks Mary Carey for Name Back - The Hollywood Gossip blog has a good post about Mariah Carrey having trouble with a porn actress named Mary Carey. I recent wrote about the dangers of porn and brand dilution, but in this case the porn star is not backing down, stating “I’m ready to battle Mariah over this because I’ve been Mary Carey for a long time.”
What's in a name? A lot - Should The Dallas Cowboy’s Drop “Dallas” from their name once they move to Arlington? Paul Bourgeois at the Star-Telegram thinks not.
Palm Treo and Helio Follow Same Road - Palm has launched its Treo smartphone campaign under the tagline ”Not just a cell phone. A Treo.” I've noted that Helio is running a similar campaign under the mantra “Don’t call us a phone company.” Seems that being a cell phone is no longer the right positioning for these companies. As I've said before, the term “cell phone” is probably on the way out altogether.
December 11, 2006
An interesting post entitled “Montgomery Ward is Back. Or is it?” on AdPulp got me thinking. Five years after going out of business, the famous holiday catalog name has reappeared as an online brand name.
Direct Marketing Services Inc., the catalog marketer that purchased the name in 2004 after Ward’s bankruptcy, is trying to seamlessly carry on the business that stretches back to 1872 and has been responsible for lots of good memories among millions of people. The person who wrote the post asked his readers a question that branding gurus don’t address all that often. He asked if readers have run across any products that are branded with names they thought were long out of business.
Well, of course! Lots of product names that you know and love have been reincarnated after going belly up. We have written about some of them, including some of the electronics brand names you're probably familiar with (Westing House and Zenith) that were brought back by Asian companies. The Commodore computer name was resurrected last year by Dutch Yeahronimo Media Ventures as well. The list goes on and on.
Joel Warady directs us to a Chicago Tribune article entitled Reviving the Past that talks about this in some detail, outlining brand name coups like Wal-Mart’s revamp of the White Cloud Brand name and companies like Prestige Brands that specialize in bringing what we call brand name “orphans” back to market after their original owners have folded.
Earlier this year Rich Ottum at Marketing Blurb wrote a hilarious post entitled “Burping an Orphan Brand” profiling the comeback of Bromo Seltzer, a classic antacid brand that dates back to 1888 and is fondly remembered by the World War II generation. It’s being advertised on TV via the “Bromo burp” which its new owners think will act as a mnemonic device for customers.
Beware that whenever you bring a brand name back from the great beyond, there are financial risks. Just before Thanksgiving, one blogger wrote on the Inelegant Investor blog about his “biggest turkey.” It wasn’t a 50-pound gobbler, instead it was an ill fated investment in Aurora Foods, a consortium of famous orphan brands that included Duncan Hines, Lenders Bagels, Van De Kamp, Mrs. Paul’s, Celeste Pizza, Aunt Jemima Frozen Breakfasts and others.
Big companies rarely sell brands that can easily be “fixed." If Procter & Gamble’s marketing whizzes and ample capital can’t fix it, Joe’s Overleveraged House Of Dead Brands probably can’t either.
Samsung Under Legal Fire for “Blackjack” Brand Name? - Research in Motion, the makers of Blackberry, are taking exception to the naming of Samsung's new Blackjack phone, which originally had been named “Hero.”
Swivel.com: A Great Idea Executed Poorly? - A data analyst named Stephen Few is a little worried about what the programmers are doing over at Swivel.com. Seems that they have taken the huge popularity of NameVoyager, a web app that lets you look up the history of names and their relationship to other names, and kicked it up a notch. Swivel.com lets users do all this and more because it’s an online warehouse of quantitative data...but the sheer glut of information you get may be a bit overwhelming.
December 10, 2006
When CBS announced last week that it gave a pilot commitment to a show called Fugly, I can’t say I was a bit surprised. Because the sitcom is currently “dying,” networks are desperate to increase viewership, and coming up with controversial (read: trashy) titles is one way to do so.
Does this strategy guarantee success? No.
Just look at the recent failure of Fox’s Stacked, a Pamela Anderson vehicle that played off her enormous...ego. Or consider the 2001 dead-on-arrival That’s My Bush from Comedy Central.
Fugly, which is a compressed name for “f*cking ugly,” comes from the creators of My Name Is Earl, a brand name that thrives on making a statement (literally) by using an eponym. The humor and charm of its name, in many ways, reflects the humor and charm of the show. Expectations set, brand promise delivered.
Can we, therefore, apply that same principle to Fugly? If so, what kind of humor should we expect after a 6- or 13- or 22-episode commitment? Can it be sustained, or is it a one-joke wonder? Or, is it a name conceived solely to shock and, therefore, entice new viewers?
It’s dangerous to name a show with borderline obscenity. Not only does a network risk polarizing potential viewers, but it may eventually turn away the ones they initially attracted.
Especially if the show cannot deliver on the expectations of ribaldry and offensiveness that its brand name conveys.
December 9, 2006
Doppelganger has a great post linking to Sunday’s New York Times article by Henry Alford entitled “Name That Book” that has some truly wacky (and apparently authentic) proposed alternate titles to famous bestselling books.
Valley of the Dolls, for instance, was originally to be titled “They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen.” As Alford points out, “when it comes to naming a book, the only constant is change.” This seems to resonate with some “unusual author names,” including Urban Grosskipper von Wipper, Ole Worm, Bishop Frediricus Nausea, Homer Hasenpflug Dubs, and O. Heck and O. Hell.
But do titles, or weird author names, really matter? Book expert Donna Bennett has the inside lowdown on what sells a book. Book cover designs do affect the buy decision, it seems, but only for 7% of buyers. The majority of people surveyed make the choice based on “a friend’s recommendations."
As far as non-fiction titles go, Don Nicholas and Kim Mateus point us to a “simple formula for writing compelling book titles, PR headlines or email subjects”: combine your customer's greatest need with your product's greatest benefit. I think John Jantsch took that advice in naming his new book.
That advice works well for brand name development, too.
December 8, 2006
I think duct tape is one of the best inventions ever. It's also a beautiful metaphor for great brand names: strong, sticky, reliable, flexible, practical, extendible, and versatile.
In other words, duct tape fixes problems.
It's no surprise to me, then, that it was just a matter of time before a book on marketing would be called "Duct Tape Marketing." John Jantsch is doing just that. The book, Duct Tape Marketing, is billed as "The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide."
Duct Tape Marketing is a sound name for the book. It suggests that what you'll learn from reading the book is how to make sure your marketing efforts solve your business problems and that your marketing messages "stick" with your customers.
The tagline, "the world's most practical small business marketing guide," supports the title well. There's nothing more practical in the world that duct tape.
If you're a small business owner, I would recommend checking out the book. I would also suggest reading Jantsch's blog. It is very well-written and resourceful.
Back when I was in elementary school, my teacher taught me that the letter “Q” was inseparable from the letter “u.” The first time I saw a “Q” without a “u” next to it (in the airline brand name “Qantas”), I was baffled.
But “Q” stands on its own quite nicely in brand names. Its rarity makes it more popular with marketers. It stands out. The Q in “Q-Tips” stands for “quality,” but “Quality Tips” lacks the distinctiveness of the Q on its own.
“Q” has mystique and modernism. In the James Bond films and novels, the secret service department responsible for creating all the fancy gadgets is “Q Section,” and its head usually just referred to as “Q.” This consonant association inspired Motorola to call its new more-than-a-phone device “Q.”
In fact, there are 603 US trademarks either pending or already registered for products and services named “Q,” without any embellishment.
And in the past few years, “Q” has actually become a popular substitute for “K.” This is partly to make names seem more hip and partly to make them easier to trademark. There are even two search engines with U-less "Q" brands names: FinQoo and Seeq. Americans are just getting much more comfortable with the U-less “Q” than they were in my elementary school days.
And that's not only because it appears in the name “Iraq.”
The Message In Advertising Is Irrelevant - Dr. Robert Heath at the University of Bath’s School of Management has discovered that what counts is the sheer amount of emotionalism you attach to your brand name, and not exactly what your message is. Ads low on emotional content had “no effect on how favorable the public were towards brands, even if the ad was high on news and information.”
French Fries Are From Paris - Here’s a famous piece of naming history from Barry Popik: The Paris, Texas legislature seems to be under the impression that french fried potatoes originated in their town. It’s a myth that goes back to 1904 when Fletcher Davis, the inventor of the hamburger, was asked about the fried potatoes that people ate with his hamburgers, and Davis replied that he’d learned the method back in Paris (Texas). The reporter thought Davis meant Paris, France, and the name “french fried potatoes” stuck, forever named after the wrong locality.
December 7, 2006
Strong CPG Company Names as Masterbrands - This is a great article which discusses CPG brand names that are deemed masterbrands, which means it has to be available across at least three different categories and marketed with the same name, or name derivative, in all three categories. The article also points out how company names are often used as masterbrand endorsements:
- Nestlé has extended its 'Nes' derivative, or prefix, into various different areas such as Nestea, Nesquick and Nestum
- The Sunlight brand name exists across five personal and home care categories, with the Sun derivative being present in another five
- Brands such as Garnier or Elvive are very rarely seen without the company brand name, L'Oreal, appearing before them
Widgets and Protecting Your Brand - Great post. Widgets and brand names are heading on a collision course, writes Dare Obasanjo. The problem? Widgets open up a security risk on people who have personal data protected by a username and password. When things get phishy, who’s at fault: the widget designer or the protected site?
Gwen Stefani Takes L.A.M.B. To Loftier Pasture - Gwen's lending her name to a new perfume like so many other stars have. It might actually be interesting. Stefani seems to be a fashion maven, her L.A.M.B brand is attaching her name to bags, sneakers and watches. By the way, L.A.M.B. is an acronym for “Love Angel Music Baby.”
A Name to Remember: the Wii, by Nintendo - Dave Magliano analyzes the Nintendo brand name, and the Nintendo Wii. Read this post. It's extremely insightful. Magliano says the Nintendo name was synonymous with gaming itself. Playing Nintendo was what you did, even if you owned a Sega Genesis. Today, PlayStation is video gaming, just like Nintendo was long ago.
While so much has been made of Nintendo's interesting choice of names with the Wii, what has been lost is the Nintendo brand. But, Dave says, by leaving the Nintendo name behind - Wii is just Wii, not Nintendo Wii. Nintendo's Wii advertising does not even mention Nintendo at all, not even a Nintendo logo. Hmmm...doesn't that marketing strategy remind you of a new little gadget called the Zune (by Microsoft?)
It’s Saint Nikolaus day today, which is hugely meaningful to Northern and Eastern European kindergartners (although I am sure it would be an easy sell to our kids.) This day is devoted to sweets, feasting (in some cases) and legends of the shy Saint.
Saint Nikolaus (we spell it Nicholas) is the precursor to Santa Claus, whose name is derived from the Dutch word “sinterklaas”. You can read about the day on Traditio in Radice, where one family gives us the history of St. Nick as well as the custom of putting out their shoes (or boots, depending on greed levels) on the Eve of the Feast which is also something of a celebration.
You may know of St. Nick but he has an alter ego in Europe - an evil troll named Krampus who threatens to take naughty kids away in a wooden backpack unless St. Nikolaus saves the day. This year there has been great concern in Austria over just how frightening both figures are: Krampus, for his part, is terrifying and St. Nick is also a little menacing to the average seven year old.
Now only adults who the children know will be allowed to appear in schools dressed as St. Nikolaus. Krampus, usually played by drunk and boisterous teenagers, has to chill out.
Happy St. Nicholas Day, readers.
December 6, 2006
It’s starting to feel mandatory to write about how brand names we know and love are faring in China.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt, in his Free Access blog, refers to China as “a land of endless factories” which, he tells us, manages to get brand name knock offs out to local consumers so quickly that by the time the real products arrive in stores, they are perceived as fake.
Case in point was the LG Chocolate phone, which came out far too late to be perceived as authentic. A Chinese manufacturer made his own PSP with an embedded cell phone off a rumor that Sony was doing the same. His didn't look exactly like the real thing, which arrived a few months later but nobody seemed to mind - it seems like the Chinese are developing a taste for “fake tech”.
Nowadays, young, rich Chinese shoppers prefer European brands over homegrowns. This has led to a drop in market share of Chinese brand name phones to below 30% for the first time.
That's good news for Nokia and Motorola and bad news for Chinese brands Ningbo Bird and Lenovo. And because overseas brand names are so popular, counterfeiting is likely to continue.
A hair raising blog post on Techdirt points out that we can forget fake Rolexes. There are 3,000 fake companies in Silicon Valley all set up to steal technology and send it to China, as well as counterfeit versions of Japanese electronics giant NEC in China itself.
Many of us are getting ripped off by these people over the Internet, leading Dan Harris on the China Law Blog to remind us that if you find a deal that’s too good to be true online this Christmas (like a $50 iPod or a $100 Wii), you’re probably looking at a scam and your legal recourses are pretty much nothing.
The Chinese authorities are making moves to combat the image the country now has of the land of the fake brand name. They just jailed a man called “The Chinese Sex Pill King” for 8 years for making 60 tons of fake Viagra. The Chinese name was “America Number One, Male Exclusive, Great Big Brother".
The Chinese government also gave somebody a life sentence for pirating 30 million movie disks. Most amusingly, a Chinese province has asked its residents not to wear or use counterfeit brands overseas as “infringement of intellectual property rights in importing and exporting seriously damages the government’s image.”
Is Gap Selling Happiness Again? - The Gap brand name seems to be running into some hard times thanks to some pretty dreary commercials and a desire on the part of a new generation of rich college age consumers for high end brands (one Gucci exec claims that “having a Gucci scarf is part of being a kid today.”) Franki Durbin says Gap should respond by selling “joy.”
Fringe Domains, Blurry Brands - A really great post here by Jake Matthews about building your domain name - advice none other than Wal-Mart seems to have missed, to its detriment. If you mess up your domain naming strategy, it might have a negative effect on your brand name. Great post, Jake.
December 5, 2006
The diesel engine brand name “BLUETEC” will now be officially registered and shared between German automakers Audi, DaimlerChrysler and VW. Read about it here. This news has got me thinking about the name “diesel.”
In an article on the Diesel Technology Forum entitled Has Diesel Grown in the United States, it is reported that in Europe, 50% of car sales are diesels. In the U.S., sales are small but will be growing thanks to recent EPA legislation.
New calls for cleaner diesel technology and a rising concern over gas prices have breathed new life into diesel, but as a US Mercedes Benz engineer points out on the post “the diesel name is damaged” thanks to the smoky, non starting, slow diesel cars of the Reagan era.
Enter the new generation of names for a new generation of diesel vehicles: BLUETEC.
BLUETEC is a brand name that completely distances itself from the d-word. Another hybrid, greener name is Biodiesel, a biodegradable diesel alternative that Julia Roberts was promoting on Oprah. PetroSun has a BioFuels division that makes biodiesel out of algae, and Georgia has a means of using soy.
At least one trucking company, Blue Sky, has added equity to its brand name by being the first to offer biodiesel trucks - shippers who choose them are choosing the green option. And because Blue Sky brews its own fuel, they get it for 70 cents per gallon. Of course, the fuel is not called biodiesel. It's called B100, which stands for “100% biodiesel.”
I suppose any name with the word “diesel” in it is going to be phased out as technology progresses. But it should be noted that even a much abused name like diesel is better than what biodiesel fuel usually is: used vegetable grease.
By the way, it seems BMW might have something up their sleeve. According to Leftlane News, BMW is opposed to using the BLUETEC brand name that Chrysler/Mercedes and Volkswagen/Audi are using, and has not yet given a timeframe for an entry into the diesel vehicle market.
What Every Business Needs to Know About Trademark Investigations - Here’s a very good piece about Trademark infringement that I found while checking out Tyson Knapke's Private Investigators blog. According to the Knapke, since “trademark infringement can undermine entire marketing campaigns and can even drive customers away, trademark and intellectual property infringement investigations are the best way for companies to protect themselves.” And a great way to keep your brand’s name and company name intact.
New Paradigm of Marketing? - Brands as Destinations; Advertising as Content. Great post on the ever more blurry relationship between advertising and web content. If you are involved in brand management and increasing the reach of your branding efforts, this post if for you. Very resourceful blog.
December 4, 2006
GM Chairman Rick Wagoner just announced at the LA auto show that his company plans on getting serious about hybrid vehicles. They plan on producing traditional cars with better fuel efficiency as well as working on partial fuel substitutes, like biofuels and synthetics. They are also pushing forward on electrically driven vehicles. He introduced GM’s first hybrid car, the Saturn Aura Green Line. They also emphasized the VUE brand name further with the introduction of the new Saturn 2008 VUE.
As GM makes these breathless announcements, I cannot help but be reminded of a great documentary called “Who Killed the Electric Car” that describes the mysterious demise of the ill fated GM EV1, a brand name that must be turning in its grave.
This must also be interesting news for Toyota, who is busy building up the mighty Prius brand name with a focus on creating a full line of vehicles - Relly Brennan wonders if the Prius name is actually a stronger brand name than Toyota when it comes to hybrid cars.
The IRS has made things easier for people considering making the switch from guzzler to green by offering tax credit eligibility for hybrid and natural gas vehicles including the Honda Civic GX and its very well named home refueling appliance called, charmingly, “Phil”.
I have been thinking a great deal about hybrids lately and the various automotive names and acronyms attached to them. It seems that stand alone brand names, rather than appended alphanumeric monikers, are more appropriate for signaling a different kind of vehicle. Toyota Prius is far easier to remember than the Lexus RX 400h or for that matter the Honda Civic GX. These cars are very popular, true, but I really believe a new brand name sweeps clean.
I think the Saturn brand name is fun and edgy enough to be the means through which GM breaks into this Asian dominated market (Prius accounts for 70%+ of hybrid car sales) and the name “VUE” is a good one, as it works well to connote visibility and a view into the future.
Taking a funky niche brand and making it the hybrid brand may be the way forward and I agree with the blogger at Oh Futura! that the VW Beetle brand name could easily be the means through which the German carmaker gets into the game.
Seriously, how cool would the tagline, "Fueled by Flower Power" be?
The Power of the Flat Panel TV Brand - According to James Hibberd at Television Week, LCD flat panels now rule the day in the TV world, having captured more than 50% of TVs sold in the USA. There is now a virtual war on between plasma TV makers and flat panel brands with LG Philips and recently crowned TV champion of the world Samsung going for ever bigger LCD units. Thanks to efforts like these, it seems that brand name plasma sets are going to get cheaper for the Christmas season, with prices marked down from “even a couple of months ago.”
Study: Churches with short names 44% more likely to grow - Professor of Statistical Theology Dr. Larry Hines has made an interesting connection between sports names, car names and the growth rate of churches with short names. Bottom line? Churches with short or shortened names get bigger flocks. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church is in trouble, while First Church is doing just fine.
December 3, 2006
The Autumn issue (volume 88) of the newsletter from Marques, the association of European Trademark owners, features an excellent article by Eric Fingerhut entitled "Morality Aside, Brand Owners Scorn Porn," on how the porn industry poses a threat to brand owners.
This story is especially timely on two fronts:
- The recently passed Trademark Dilution Revision Act, the main effect of which was to overturn a 2003 Supreme Court decision in favor of an adult novelty store’s right to be named "Victor’s Little Secrets." The new law asks plaintiffs to prove a "likelihood of dilution," something Victoria's Secret could do with ease in this case. Professor Barton Beebe at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City has called this a "sensible and progressive reform of American antidilution protection."
- Coupled with that (excuse the pun) is the fact that brand names from adult films are clearly becoming more and more mainstream. Porn stars like Jenna Jameson, whose book How To Make Love Like a Porn Star is a best seller and is quoted in Fingerhut’s article, are attracting the interest of Madison Avenue. Jameson has starred in an Adidas commercial, for instance, and has been a guest host on E! She has lent her name to apparel, barware, fragrances, hand bags, lingerie and footwear offered at Saks Fifth Avenue and Colette Boutiques, and not your local Victor’s Little Secret outlet.
As these stars become more mainstream they will bring their stage names with them, and that means we are likely to see even more clear cut cases of brand name dilution. Fingerhut suggests that trademark owners visit Namedroppers.com as well as the Adult Video News Network to search for their trademarks. If you do discover your mark is being used in an unsavory manner, then Fingerhut suggests a simple cease and desist letter usually does the trick — porn people are very litigation shy.
Possibly none other than Santa Claus himself should read this article.
The Maine Bureau of Liquor Licensing and Compliance has just put the kibosh on a new brew called "Santa’s Butt Winter Porter." They also denied efforts to market "Very Bad Elf Special Reserve" ale as well as "Les Sans Culottes," a French ale that shows (horrors) a bare breasted rendition of Eugene Delacroix's 1830 painting "Liberty Leading the People," which hangs in the Louvre and is, um, the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.
The Brookston Beer Bulletin has a great post on this featuring the "outrageous" labels in question and a reminder that "butts" are actually beer barrels in England. I doubt the importer in question, Shelton Brothers, is going to be getting letters from lawyers at the North Pole — or from the Delacroix estate.
December 2, 2006
A "budget" premium airline has been introduced this week luxuriously linking New York with Paris for professional commuters between the two cities whom the industry has named "Paryorkers." The company changed its name from Elysair to "L’Avion" after marketers discovered both French and American travelers preferred the simply French word for "airplane."
Shel Israel at Naked Conversations greets the news with a resounding "viva L’Avion." For a cool $2118 you can slip between the two cities in executive class comfort while sipping French Champagne and nibbling French food.
This new airline comes on the heels of the failure of the ill-fated and badly named "Fairlines," a French airline with premium services that focused, to its detriment, on shorter routes in Europe.
Low cost premium service airlines seem to be proliferating as we head into 2007, with MaxJet and Eos competing for customers as well as newcomer Silverjet which, for its part, offers environmentally friendly "carbon neutral" executive travel between the two destinations.
I have to say that it is interesting to see the naming strategies of these airlines. Eos, Silverjet, L’Avion and MaxJet all sound like a new, high end model of naming. All these one word brand names give off a sense of exclusivity.
There will be yet another new carrier on the way offering business and economy class operating between Gatwick and Hong Kong branded Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, referred to in the press as "Oasis." It is not quite as posh as these others but passages are offered slightly larger seats than normal and can buy cosmetic bags and better meals for a nominal sum.
Except for the MaxJet name, the other ariline brand names convey a sense of refinement. MaxJet, on the other hand, sounds pretty brash. But then again, lots of business class travelers might prefer flying MaxJet over Silverjet. It’s sort of the difference between driving a Jag and Hummer.
December 1, 2006
I have been following the furor over two new stadium names for some time. The first is the exasperation over the new CitiField name for Mets stadium, which one irate blogger has dubbed “Sh*tty Field” and has left another blogger to get nostalgic about the Good Ole Days at Shea’s when naming was “pure”.
These guys have company: bloggers in Salt Lake City are up in arms this week over the new name for Delta Center: Energy Solutions Arena, named after a company that deals in nuclear waste disposal. A formal protest was held and one activist has called for a total boycott of the Energy Solutions’ CEO’s various holdings. Bloggers have been calling it the “Radium Stadium”, with one TV station inviting alternate names that included "Tox Box", "The Fallout Shelter", "Radiation Station,” and "HazMat Center".
My feeling on the matter is that things could be far worse.
For starters, people in Colorado were a little worried about the new stadium that Dick’s Sporting Goods has won naming rights to being developed as the home of Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids which is slated to be the largest soccer complex in the world and will be called “Dicks Sporting Goods Park.” That’s actually not nearly as bad as what it could have been. In fact, that’s fine.
There is worry that a new stadium in Southeast Washington could be named after Marion Barry. At least these people stand a sporting chance. A great post on Who Ate All The Bratwurst lists “Ten Funny Football Stadium Names” that are to be found around the world. These include:
- Wankdorf Stadium - Young Boys (Switzerland)
- Kuntz Stadium - Indiana Blast (USA)
- Bargain Booze Stadium - Witton Albion (England)
And at one point, Louisville was going to get “The Bucket” when YUM Foods (who own KFC) were thinking about buying naming rights to the pro basketball arena.
So, Mets Fans and the good people of Salt Lake City, it seems to me, have very little to complain about. I’m actually a little surprised that a company with the word “Energy” in it can’t pull this off with more panache. I have to wonder if there would have been such an outcry if the name had been, simply, "The Energy Arena”.
I'm sure many of you are aware that today is World AIDS Day.
On February 2nd, I wrote about marrying identifiable brands with social initiatives and the (RED) brand name launched by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, led by Bono from U2. Corporate partners involved in the co-branding initiative include Gap, Apple, Motorola, American Express, and others.
The (RED) brand campaign got a huge boost today by being featured on Google's homepage.
Please visit The (RED) Campaign's website or the Join Red Blog to find out about this unique branding initiative to raise awareness and help stop the 5,500 lives lost daily and unnecessarily to AIDS in Africa.
Model Transformation - Debbie Millman at Speak Up wrote an excellent post about the rehabilitation of the Kate Moss brand name, and why fallen celebrities seem to be able to pick up where they left off. Millman says, "The complete and utter transformation of a brand is often the only remedy in keeping a fading or dying brand alive." Great article.
Paris Hilton and Britney Spears Create "Sparis” Brand - Britney is taking a page out of Paris’s raunchy book to stage her own comeback. But this is the match made in hell. Dawn Olsen at Blog Critics begs them to “spare us”. Please.