April 30, 2007
Did you know...
- There are 73 million dog owners in the U.S.
- 25% own two dogs
- There are 90 million cat owners in the U.S.
- On average, cat owners have 2 cats: 2.4 to be exact
Those of you that ever had or have a dog or cat as a pet know how devastated you'd feel if your pet were lost.
Bayer HealthCare to the rescue.
In the United States, competing companies hold separate registries and require different scanners to detect pet microchips, causing confusion and reducing the chips’ overall effectiveness.
The company has introduced the new resQ™ Pet Tracking System, whose scanners can read all brands of chips tested*, a true no-cost pet registration database and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliant microchips for companion animals.
Our company dogs, Chomsky and Pushkin, will be among the first to have the resQ™ microchips, the size of a grain of rice, injected under their skin.
We had fun creating the resQ™ product name, but also realize the importance of feeling secure about one's pet. Most importantly, both Chomsky, Canine Linguist, and Pushkin, Chomsky's Associate, fully endorsed the new resQ™ Pet Tracking System.
To learn more about the resQ™, visit resQ @ PetParents.com.
*Third-party test results confirmed that the resQ™ reader successfully read 200 out of 200 encrypted AVID® microchips, 50 out of 50 unencrypted AVID microchips and 100 out of 100 HomeAgain™ microchips.
If you’re among those who think Web 2.0 is overhyped, you’ll appreciate Jim Louderback’s snide take on the terms he heard tossed around and the things he saw people doing at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Here are a few of my favorites.
Twitter - Transmit your every thought to, well, everyone at the touch of a button! This new micro-blogging platform allows you to annoy your friends with all the mundane things you do every day. So, instead of writing a blog post every few hours that details all of the deep thoughts you’ve had, you can spew them out to e-mail, IM, and cell phones as soon as you think them! And, with only 140 characters, the more shallow or vacuous, the better! […] It’s a great tool for finding your friends on a Saturday night. It’s a lousy way to build a business.
Well, ah…yes. Even though its fans are finding ways to use it that go beyond the vapid and obvious, Twitter deserves its name because it’s a constantly chirping source of distraction.
Headcasting - But Twitter is so, like, two weeks ago. Now there’s headcasting. Instead of twittering on and on every few minutes, you simply staple a camera to your head and stream your life to the world. Now that audience you’ve built can watch all the mundane, boring, and occasionally exciting things you do all day, every day. Want to headcast yourself? The new site ustream.tv makes it all possible.
Eeek! I can just imagine what our clients would say if we trained video cameras on the confidential work we do for them. But maybe you’d like to watch Chomsky and Pushkin at work, instead.
“Headcasting” as a term, has yet to make it into Wikipedia, but it’s already in use to describe 3D modeling techniques for creating moving facial meshes. Nevertheless, as the Mashable blog says, Ustream.tv feeds the world’s narcissism, starting by putting “you” in its name. Peter Cashmore encapsulates it nicely:
I am currently filming myself leaving this comment and streaming it to Ustream, while preparing to upload the clip to YouTube, posting a “writing comment on Mashable” message to Twitter and taking a photograph of myself leaving the comment to post to Flickr.
Whoever dies with the most metadata wins.
So what’s a Mashable when it’s at home? It’s a blog all about social networks and a collection of tools for mixing up your media, so you can connect LinkedIn to Plaxo and PhotoBucket to MySpace. A mash up (or mashup, or mash-up) is something put together out of bits of other things, whether it’s a combination of Google Maps with Twitter or a Virtual PR Murder Mystery made up of snippets of other people’s podcasts.
Jim Louderback thinks it sounds like 1999 all over again. Nonsense. We’ve got much better names this time around.
April 29, 2007
Thank you to our readers for voting on this question and leaving your comments.
It appears to be a toss up, with 50% indicating that we should continue to post Sunday and 50% not to post Sunday.
With the warmer weather upon us (don’t get many of these in Minneapolis) and longer days, we are leaning away from posting Sundays, but may post on Sunday every now and then when there is something topical and timely to write about.
Before we make a final decision, please leave your comments to this post. Thank you.
Veterinarians have been prescribing Prozac and other anti-depressants to dogs for several years.
Now Prozac manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co. has launched a new anti-anxiety medication especially for dogs. The chewable, beef-flavored Reconcile tablets are designed to help dogs cope with being left alone all day while their owners are at work.
Reconcile is a perfect product name for a product aimed at helping an animal accept its situation. It’s certainly a more evocative name than Prozac, when you come down to it, though Prozac has to be one of the more famous drug names in history (if not quite in competition with Viagra.) The active ingredient of Reconcile is in fact fluoxetine, the same as that in Prozac.
- Slentrol, an obvious portmanteau of "slender" and "control," treats obesity and
- Cerenia prevents vomiting. It’s certainly true that serenity and vomiting are mutually exclusive — whether you’re the dog, or the owner who has to clean up after his or her beloved pet, or should I say best friend.
Nothing about the product names of these drugs would tell you that they’re for canine rather than human patients. But then, it’s not the dogs who are doing the buying, though I’m sure they’ll like beef-flavored Reconcile better than plain capsules of Prozac.
Fortunately, our company dogs and staff members, Chomsky (the one with a blue eye) and Pushkin do not need any of these canine drugs. Helping with the naming and branding of new products is therapy enough:) To get to know Chomsky and Pushkin better, see their video click here.
PS: Tomorrow, Monday we’ll post on a new pet product we named with the help of Chomsky and Pushkin.
April 28, 2007
In what I’d say is a great example of creating a brand space, the Can Sleep features a lockable door, a can-shaped refrigerator and an 11.5’ high roof that can be partially opened to let in light and air. A ladder leads to the lofted mattress, which cozily sleeps two.
Reservations for the 121 Can Sleeps at the Smukkeste Festival sold out online in just 40 seconds, so it seems the new product is getting some attention.
And although Royal Unibrew holds exclusive rights to the item for the next five years in Denmark, Can Sleeps can be purchased elsewhere in orders of 54, or 9 six-packs. Each accommodation costs about $4,000, excluding delivery charges.
I can’t help but think that this idea is so clever it is going to attract other beer marketers that are keen on the idea of their target market getting cozy with their brand name like this.
The Springwise blog reports that "Can Sleep is a great example of how meeting just the right customer need with a little creativity can pay big dividends in brand recognition." That is right on the money.
April 27, 2007
Walt Disney is set to change the Buena Vista brand name to Disney in an effort to “simplify the company's marketing and reduce costs.”
Disney wants to focus on their core brands: Disney, ESPN and ABC. Two months ago, Disney CEO Robert Iger changed Touchstone Television production company to ABC Television Studio and Buena Vista Games to Disney Interactive Studios.
The Buena Vista name has plenty of brand equity: it dates from 1953 and is taken from the street name in Burbank, CA where the Disney brothers created a studio and corporate headquarters for film distribution.
Interestingly, the Pixar, Touchstone and Mirimax studio names, which are also owned by Disney, will stay, possibly because there is strong brand equity and differentiation among these: the Pixar name is synonymous with animation, Touchstone with big budget, mainstream films, and Mirimax with art house.
Iger believes that the Disney brand is a “durable brand” and can easily be stretched over even more of its businesses to create a strong brand architecture.
I support this move by Disney: today’s consumers are aware that Disney is more than Mickey Mouse and Orlando. And as one analyst pointed out, most people are not even aware that Buena Vista is owned by Disney, I agree with that as well. It seems crazy for the average moviegoer to watch a Disney film under the impression that it has been distributed by another company.
April 26, 2007
Among its other functions, like publishing the Journal of Onomastics (I know, that sounds like it might be Latin for something risqué, but it actually means the study of names), the American Name Society holds a contest for the Name of the Year.
Only one of the entrants for 2006 was the name of a company: Flickr. The rationale for nominating Flickr is the trend it started (quite unintentionally) of dropping a vowel out of words.
The Flickr name, by the way, has a filing date of May 10, 2005 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This was shortly followed by a filing for the RAZR name by Motorola on November 9, 2005.
Due to Motorola's sheer marketing muscle and massive spending, most people assume that Motorola was the first to create a brand name by dropping a vowel. I would bet that even Flickr wasn't the first, but I'm not sure who might legitimately make that claim.
The winning Name of the Year was “Pluto,” because of the newly developed slang term meaning “to demote or downgrade” and because “The great emotional reaction that many had to the demotion, often expressed as feeling angry or sorry for Pluto, also shows how naming an inanimate object or a place with a personal name, even of an ancient Roman god, helps human beings to become personally attached to them.”
Given our own coverage of Pluto’s fate, we think it’s a good choice.
We’re definitely looking forward to the American Name Society's upcoming special collection of papers on Ethnicity and Naming. Individuals have changed their names both to emphasize their ethnicity:
- Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Johnson
- Yakov Smirnoff was born Yakov Pokhis
And to minimize it:
- Woody Allen was born Allan Konigsberg
- Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch
- Pee-Wee Herman was born Paul Rubenfeld
In addition, where else could we find out about new books on the subject of naming? They rarely make it to the New York Times Best-Seller List.
April 25, 2007
It seems to me that the concept of authenticity is the branding idea du jour these days. Sometimes it makes sense to me and sometimes it sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo.
Much has been written on brand authenticity, including a very thoughtful and resourceful article by Bill Breen in the May issues of Fast Company entitled Who Do You Love, about the appeal and risks of brand authenticity.
An authentic brand, with an authentic brand name, of course, is becoming a magic chalice for marketers. A recent article on NJ.Com frets that “Starbucks’ Growth May Threaten Brands’ Authenticity,” while another pundit posits that Anna Nicole was a brand name that we loved “because she lived her life with authenticity.”
Breen reminds us that the word authentic comes from the Greek authentikós, which means "original." And unfortunately, there's no recipe for originality.” He quotes Seth Godin, who quips in his Permission Marketing, "If you can fake authenticity, the rest will take care of itself."
When it comes to developing of an authentic-sounding product or company name, however, I think Breen’s assertion that “A brand doesn't feel real when it overtly tries to make itself real” is right on the money.
What does that mean to a naming company who wants their client to wind up with a truly authentic-sounding name? Does it really mean that you might contemplate creating a brand that looks so unlikely that consumers will believe in its authenticity?
I think Bathys watches is an illustration of this concept. I love these watches but using the word “Bathys” as a watch name, even if it is Greek for “deep,” is a risky: it sounds like “bath.” Yet it works, perhaps because consumers feel it’s so wrong that it must be right.
Another new company name seems authentic because it seems so unlikely: Pointer, a small shoe company that is highly influenced by skateboarder fashion, perhaps one of the fields that simply demands authenticity.
Another brand name that was just profiled in Adweek really piqued my interest: Dickel, as in, The Dickel Tennessee Whisky Distillery. Although it’s a bit difficult to pronounce, and sounds kind of weird, brand fanatics are loyal to it. A brand name like Dickel or Bathys or Pointer is easy to remember and sounds so off the beaten track that customers will seek it out.
And what could be a more authentic brand name than Orville Redenbacher?
April 24, 2007
Conrad Hotels is changing its company name to Conrad Hotels and Resorts to better reflect “the fast-evolving portfolio of Conrad’s hotels and resorts globally.”
Conrad is hoping to underline the importance of luxurious leisure travel in its brand name and will “tweak its brand and hotel logos” accordingly.
This comes a few months after the hotel chain was ranked the “World’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand” for the second consecutive year. I would guess that this name change serves to bring all this luxury to travelers’ attention: the Conrad brand is the high end of the Hilton chain and it seems logical for Hilton to promote luxury and relaxation with the Conrad name, which, for many people, is steeped in tradition rather than bling.
The Trip Advisor just ranked the Hilton Maldives the best luxury hotel in the world for 2007, but by the end of the year it will be renamed the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort.
I think that adding the word “resorts” to their company name is a great idea. It brings new meaning to the word “Conrad,” which is, of course, the first name of the Hilton Hotel chain’s founder: Conrad Hilton, who is to hotels what Henry Ford is to automobiles. As of today, the name “Conrad” mean “resorts” as well as “hotels” and that means luxury and fun.
I simply cannot help but wonder, however, if the antics of a certain pampered Hilton heiress might be tempting the Hilton Hotel chain to pamper its own guests under the Conrad, rather than the Hilton, brand name.
April 23, 2007
An article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about Boca Raton-based Born Free LLC, which sells baby bottles that do not contain bisphenol A (BPA), caught my attention this morning.
Bisphenol A is found in most plastic baby bottles and has been found to cause abnormalities in lab animals. And while most brand name baby bottle manufacturers have assured customers that their bottles are safe, there has been a sudden spike in Born Free bottle sales, which are made in Israel of a form of nylon rather than plastic.
According to this useful blog post about BPA by Omar Shahine, brands that contain polypropylene are getting a shot in the arm as well, including Snappies and Madela. It has also, interestingly, created a resurgence in glass baby bottles. Evenflo is a brand that is taking advantage of the shift in preferences.
About a month ago, my barber was lamenting the fact that his wife could not find any glass baby bottles for their newborn. I went home that Saturday morning, did an Internet search, and found that Evenflo glass bottles were available on Amazon.com. Needless to say, my barber's wife ordered two dozen.
In fact, glass baby bottle use has surged, with the San Francisco Chronicle citing Environment California's “Toxic Baby Bottles” report. Yesterday’s Times Argus in Vermont reports that this sudden fear of BPA might be partly a marketing ploy: over 95% of us have it in our urine, it seems. BPA is found in almost anything made of plastic, and most items children come into contact with - plates, utensils, feeding chairs and toys - are made of it.
It seems to me that now would be a great time for some new product names to appear on the horizon and for glass and polypropylene baby bottle makers to feature “BPA Free” stickers to their packaging.
I have a feeling that “BPA Free” will be the next phrase all parents are looking for when they buy most anything for their children.
Are you listening, wooden toymakers?
April 22, 2007
The NameWire® team has discussed, on and off, the question of posting on Sundays.
As you can imagine, Sunday readership is the lowest. On the other hand, we don’t want to disappoint our Sunday readers.
Therefore, we have decided to let our Sunday readers decide.
There’s an interesting article today in the New York Times magazine describing the "Tattoo Aesthetic," or how tattoo art and imagery is slowly but surely being co-opted by everyone from well known NBA stars to big names in rock and fashion.
Today, it seems just as easy to find, for example, the Colonel on somebody's arm in the form of a brand name tattoo as on a billboard.
This is not tattoo branding, where you gauge the value of a brand name by how many people are willing to have it indelibly printed on their bodies (think bikers and Harley Davidson or William H Macy and his hilarious Apple tattoo in Wild Hogs).
No, this is the transformation of tattoo art into advertising.
Now, tattoos have become so ubiquitous in our culture that advertisers are literally hiring real tattoo artists to represent their company name or brand name — tattoo-fashion — in their ads and promotional material. There is still an authenticity and romance to the tattoo and its artistry that lends a mystique to brands, especially iconic brands.
It’s interesting to see how in the age of hi-tech art and computer graphics, marketers seem to want to promote their brand names using an art form that has been around for centuries.
Personally, I have never nor will I ever consider a tattoo. But many others will and do. How do you feel about tattooing in advertising and marketing?
April 21, 2007
I was interested to read about fellow Minnesota resident Pat Dibble’s efforts to name and create a seasoning business, an idea that was urged upon her by her husband, who loved her Bloody Mary mix.
Pat is marketing it under the brand name Howling Helga’s Mixes and Dressings. I note that some people refer to it as Howling Helga’s Robust Mixes and Dressings, and they sure do seem to be robust.
I love the name, Ms. Dibble!
I also think that the startup seasoning and mix companies do quite well with offbeat names. The Howling Helga’s brand naming reminds me of another company name I wrote about last year: Dippy Chick, which offers some pretty revolutionary-sounding product names for an assortment of dips, including Gettin' Piggy Widdit, Crabby ol' Beach Seafood Mix, Kamikaze Wasabi, and Parmesan Pesto Manifesto, to name a few.
Maybe Howling Helga and Dippy Chick should co-brand on a cocktail package? You do the Bloody Marys and she’ll bring chips n’ dip.
April 20, 2007
Jack Trout, in a Forbes.com article yesterday, wrote that the fundamentals of branding boil down to hitting on the right brand name and establishing how your brand is different from others in the marketplace. Trout says, "There is a hard part about branding. It's called staying focused."
Although very true, that priority can prove difficult when your brand name is embroiled in trademark conflicts.
Yesterday’s news that a European trademarks authority rejected a request by Anheuser-Busch Cos to register the Budweiser brand name across Europe is a victory for Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar NP in its 100+ year battle with the U.S. beer giant.
The Prague Daily Monitor was very pleased with the ruling, which was a response to a 1999 application on the part of A-B. The Monitor notes that Budvar already has the trademark registered in Germany, Austria and Portugal, while A-B has had the trademark in Denmark since 1948.
There are now 17 trademark disputes to be sorted out between the two companies—in the past six years they have faced off 86 times over brand name trademarks, the score is now 69 Budvar vs. 12 A-B with 5 “ties.”
This dispute resumes the feud between the two legendary companies that seemed to have found a peaceful resolution with Bud’s permission earlier this year for Budvar to import (via A-B) its Budejovicky Budvar beer into the U.S. under the name “Czechvar,” signifying what some beer industry watchers felt was a “kinder, gentler A-B.”
The Brookston Beer Bulletin even published an article that read “Bud & Bud: Now They’re Buds? It describes the battle between the two brewers that really goes back deep into the nineteenth century and beyond. The history of the Budweiser name is very rich.
Surely this must be the oldest trademark dispute in the world that is still actively being fought in the courts—does anyone know of an older one?
April 19, 2007
Yesterday’s CNET report on the rebranding of shopping search engine “Froogle” has the whole blogosphere talking.
The article points out that Google has apparently decided it is “better to be clear than clever” and has changed the brand name as of last night to the much more descriptive “Google Product Search.”
Google disclosed that introducing a new brand name was more difficult than they thought. Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search product and user experience, said, “the pun (to ‘frugal’) isn’t obvious” [for online shoppers]. Aside from that issue, a myriad of copyright and trademark issues cropped up. Froogle also had issues with internationalization.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land wonders if another “cutesy” name, Gmail, is next to go, or possibly the meaningless Orkut, which is named after its creator Orkut Büyükkökten. Maybe brand names that are puns are just too childish for today’s more mature Internet: John Battelle at Searchblog sums up his sentiments in his post, Goodbye Froogle: It's Time to Grow Up.
Mayer also says, on the Google Blog, that the “name caused confusion because it doesn’t clearly describe what it does.” I agree. I've always thought Froogle sounded like a shopping search engine that found “frugal” people the best deals on the Internet; sort of a search engine for cheapskates.
Rex Hammock wisely notes on his blog today that Google never dropped the “Beta” designation from the Froogle name, until now, perhaps illustrating their discomfort from the outset with the brand name.
It seems Google is maturing as a company and embracing a clearer, less "punny", naming strategy, and I think the more descriptive approach will attract more online shoppers to Google.
April 18, 2007
Broin Companies, the nation’s second largest ethanol producer, and a significant bio fuel researcher, has changed its name to Poet.
Chuck Offenburger worte an insightful blog post about it, and loves the company name change. He even asked a few poets what they thought of the name change. Robert Dana, a Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at Cornell College, stated “It strikes me quickly as both preposterous on one hand, and possibly marvelous on the other hand.”
You can watch a short video on the company's web site that explains the name change. The company’s CEO Jeff Broin was quoted on the Domestic Fuel Blog: “We wanted a name that would represent, rather than describe, who we are and what we do.”
I think Broin's comments are spot on.
It’s no secret that ethanol is the “green” fuel alternative and Broin has positioned its brand and its name perfectly to stand for more than just fuels. Bringing poetry to their brand is just the first step. It also brings resonance and meaning to products that some may find rather uninspiring.
There may be a few critics of the bold name change, but I think that by changing its name to “Poet,” Broin has transcended the category of selling fuel to creativity, ingenuity and a better world. Those are things that poets have hoped for through the ages.
April 17, 2007
Starbucks is well known (if not universally loved) for its refusal to describe its coffee sizes the way everyone else does. Instead of “small, medium, and large,” at Starbucks it’s “Tall, Grande and Venti.”
This decision to differentiate by choosing unusual names for different sizes or packages isn’t unique to Starbucks. Many web hosting companies, particularly the smaller ones, adopt a similar strategy.
While big names stick to straightforward terms like “Economy, Deluxe, and Premium,” or have only a single one size fits all plan, indie shops lean toward the outlandish.
Simple, descriptive names like “Economy, Deluxe, and Premium” are easy to understand and unlikely to offend anyone. But, like “small, medium, and large,” they suffer from blandness.
- A small company going up against giants can’t afford to be bland. Remember, Starbucks wasn’t always a massive multinational chain.
- Small companies also can’t afford to compete on price. If you’re the cheapest, then a lot of people won’t care what you call your products.
Creative names like “Hatchling, Baby, and Swamp” demonstrate personality and a sense of humor.
- They show prospective customers that HostGator isn’t a faceless corporation but a group of individuals.
- They also suggest that the company wants customers who share that sense of creativity and humor.
April 16, 2007
Microsoft has just launched Silverlight, the new brand name for its cross-platform, cross-browser web client runtime. It was previously codenamed “WPF/E,” says Tim Sneath, and it seems to be designed to take on Adobe’s Flash, giving Microsoft an “easy web-video solution” for both Macs and PCs.
Adobe, for its part, is set to respond with the launch of the Adobe Media Player, which was code-named Philo.
Microsoft's partners in the Silverlight project are Akamai Technologies Inc., Brightcove Inc., Eyeblaster Inc., Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball and Netflix Inc.
I would have guessed that Brightcove and Limelight were the inspiration for the product naming, but Computer Business online reports that the name was simply “a lot easier to remember” than its cumbersome code name.
Michael Coates says the new name arrived just in time, because the old code name, which stood for Windows Presentation Foundation "everywhere" was the “second worst” in Microsoft’s history.
Anyone want to suggest which Microsoft product name is the worst?
April 15, 2007
The recent news that China has surpassed the US as the world’s second largest exporter — now making more cars than Detroit — has got me thinking about what "Made in China" means to US consumers.
Nowadays, "Made in China" on a brand name product no longer means cheap and cheerful, according to the Washington Times. Even Nokia Phones are being made in China. When it comes to fashion brands, however, "Made in Spain" and "Made in Italy" have a certain cachet, but this may be waning.
An Asian Times Online article "China’s Global Luxury Brand Workshop" notes that high end luxury brand names like Prada, Armani and Burberry are outsourcing to China.
By 2009, 60% of the world’s luxury brand names will have their products made there.
Don’t believe me? French fashion brand Louis Vuitton is putting up a factory in China this year. Prada, for its part, outsources its products to so many countries that they are considering putting "Made by Prada" on their labels.
April 14, 2007
SanLuisObispo.com has a great article up about a subject I have written about before: how staid, established brand names like GE and Westinghouse are being licensed to consumer electronics manufacturers overseas, mostly in Asia, and come back home to dominate a segment they did many years ago.
Doug Woo, president of the company that uses the Westinghouse brand name to sell flat screen TVs, points out that "It's difficult enough to merchandise a brand-new technology, and introducing it under a brand new name is a double difficulty. So we took away half of the problem."
Smart move, Mr. Woo. I would certainly agree that launching a new brand name is harder than using an existing one, albeit in another segment. And I’d add that price points are so close that even recognized, iconic brand names get a good run for their money from no-names.
It is interesting to note that Woo claims he can "create new models in weeks" to tap into consumer preferences, and, moreover, that Westinghouse is now one of the top five LCD flat screen brands in the USA. Who would have guessed?
Plus the GE brand is now getting some serious attention from Asian manufacturers, not least because it is such an admired brand name. The article claims that licensors are very careful to audit the product quality of the licensee, so this does seem like a win-win situation for all.
I can’t help but think, however, that many consumers, when the buy products by Westinghouse, Honeywell, GE or Sylvania, must be under the impression they are "buying American." I suppose in a world where close to 40% of a Ford is made overseas, "buying American" is harder and harder to do.
Perhaps buying an American brand name is close enough!
April 13, 2007
This gives ITC a serious global footprint.
It seems that ITC has long believed that its Sheraton properties were always a cut above what was offered customers overseas. After 18 months of negotiations, ITC can now associate "The Luxury Collection” brand name with seven of its hotels and continue to use the Sheraton name on four other hotels under its wing.
Starwood’s Sheraton and ITC have had a close relationship since 1979, but this promotion to Luxury Collection status is an important one, allowing serious investment in these hotels and in the branding efforts that go with them.
Because ITC is now playing in the Luxury League, it seems natural to think that higher paying customers will follow, and this clears the way for the entry of Starwood’s super premium St. Regis brand name into India as well as its niche aloft brand.
India is the fastest growing Asia Pacific market for the international visitor and sealing this franchise agreement allows ITC star hotel brands to grow, expand, and become more opulent.
April 12, 2007
For those who are unfamiliar with Twitter, the latest offering from the creators of Odeo, Obvious Corp., it exists to allow people to answer the question “What are you doing now?” in 40 characters or less, by SMS (short message service), IM (instant messaging), or through a web interface.
Twitter enjoys remarkable popularity among Web 2.0 early adopters, but recently suffered a blow when Leo Laporte, the most-followed member, decided to switch from Twitter to Finnish rival Jaiku.
Why the switch? Because of the name. Leo Laporte hosts a popular podcast called This Week in Tech, commonly abbreviated “TWiT” and pronounced, you guessed it, “twit.” And that means any name with “twit” in it causes problems for Laporte:
"The problem is the name. I wish to heck he'd named it Tweeter, or Tooter, or anything but Twitter. Twitter is so close to TWiT that I'm afraid it's really confusing. And it hasn't helped the confusion that I've been such a fan of Twitter. I'm sure half the people there think we have some sort of relationship. But we don't. And the proliferation of programs like Twitbox and sites like Twit This are not helping things much."
But while there’s no chance of confusion with “TWiT,” the name “Jaiku” has problems of its own. Jaiku co-founder Jyri Engeström said this about the product name in an interview with Kristen Nicole on April 7th:
"We came up with the name Jaiku because the posts on Jaiku resemble Japanese haikus. A haiku is a short poem about the moment that a person is living through even as they are writing it down. In Finland too the nomadic Lapp people share stories by singing Joikus. We liked the name Jaiku mainly because it had a fun sound to it."
It’s a clever name. The only problem is, nowhere on the Jaiku website or the Jaikido blog does anyone explain just what that “fun pronunciation” is.
Which language’s rules should we be applying to that initial “J”?
- Spanish would give us an “H” sound, which brings out the relationship to “haiku.”
- But Jaiku’s creators aren’t Spanish, they’re Finnish, and in Finnish that “J” is pronounced like the “Y” in “yes.”
- English-speakers who don’t live near the Mexican border will automatically pronounce the “J” as a consonant.
- And I won’t even get into the different possible pronunciations of the diphthong “ai.”
Come on, guys, give us some help. If we’re going to help spread the word about Jaiku, we need to be able to say the name of the product we’re raving about.
April 11, 2007
An excellent article by Mike Levin in Online Media Daily describes the frustration some users feel with Google’s new Website Optimizer tool which might not actually be a Website Optimizer at all. Instead, says Levine, “What Google's doing is called multivariate testing, or A/B switching.”
Levine’s carefully written article points out that Google is either naive or ignorant of the fact that by naming this new, important tool a Website Optimizer, admittedly a much more attractive sounding product name than, say, a "Multivariate Tester”, they are suggesting that this is a marketing tool. Instead, it is essentially a means through which Google ensures that users use AdWords to drive traffic to their site.
Site optimization, argues Levine, should actually give marketers far more flexibility.
This means Google is giving a new meaning to common terminology, and rewriting it in its own image and that of AdWords. Because Google’s products are becoming ubiquitous, it does seem that the entire definition of the name “Website Optimizer” is likely to change into the one that fits into Google’s “walled garden.”
It is distressing to see Google not resisting temptation here. Andrew Girdwood at e-Consultancy called it a stormy teacup yesterday, leading Ben Robison to declare that the product actually “conflicts at a very basic level with the things you should be doing for your long-term SEO.”
Google’s alliance with AdWords and AdBot leads to some embarrassing mistakes on another side of the Internet, notes Violet Blue at SF Blue. Essentially, some fairly tame words cannot be named on the conservative AdWords, inadvertently marginalizing transgender and fetish sites and searchers. There’s also concern over display ad placement of concurrent advertising campaigns that use similar names.
Google has numerous reasons to stick close to AdWords, many of them designed to protect the company from fraudsters. But introducing misnamed software that pushes Google customers into the same relationship is a different matter, and harder to support.
Google knows better.
April 10, 2007
News broke early this morning that Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, is suing Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures and “several entities” over their “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize" the Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider names and concepts.
The picture has already taken in close to a quarter billion dollars worldwide. Friedrich says the Ghost Rider copyright reverted to him in 2001 after Marvel Entertainment failed to register the trademarks with the copyright office after holding them since 1971.
He has chosen this time to make clear his dissatisfaction with Marvel’s use of the Ghost Rider character and brand, alleging that he has not received compensation for various endeavors such as games, toys and novels.
This news comes just as Sony announces the forthcoming June 12th release of a new Ghost Rider Blu-ray DVD with an impressive array of extra features.
Friedrich accuses Marvel of copyright infringement and also accuses the company of “waste” for failing "to properly utilize and capitalize” on the Ghost Rider name and its related copyrights, which he feels damages the value of his work. He also thinks that Hasbro and video game maker Take-Two Interactive improperly created merchandise for the characters.
Apparently Friedrich is not thrilled with what these companies are offering and feels Marvel took “inadequate” royalties from them.
It’s an interesting legal battle because it seems as if Friedrich waited too long to give notice that his rights were being infringed (it's been known the Ghost Rider was on the way for months now). What seems to shine through is that his real problem is that he, along with many critics, doesn’t like the movie or its related products, and thus feels, somehow, that the Ghost Rider brand name is being lessened.
The proof is in the pudding, however: the Ghost Rider movie seems to be a genuine success and Sony’s handling of the brand, therefore, seems to be in order. Friedrich’s claim of “tortuous interference with prospective business expectancy” seems to be pretty wild.
But whether Marvel has infringed on his copyrights, well, that’s a whole different story. According to Wikipedia, Friedrich claimed in 2001 that he would sue Marvel if they made a movie out of Ghost Rider, and now he’s following through, and it is indeed worthy to note that Marvel only sporadically offered Ghost Rider comics since 2001.
Lisa Cornwell of the Associated Press wrote an interesting article about Federated Department Stores Inc. changing its corporate name to Macy's, Inc.
Terry Lundgren, Federated's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in announcing the proposed change that it would increase the company's visibility to customers, leverage the Macy's brand name, and help the company get more credit for its accomplishments in the marketplace.
Cornwell asked me to comment on the company name change, and I suggested that I believe the Federated change is mostly aimed at investors and the financial community; that the effect on the consumer will be zilch.
April 9, 2007
Sometimes there's a company that simply gets naming right. Such is the case with Bathys Hawaii Watch Co.
This small “company that could” is going to be exhibiting its watches alongside the biggest watch brand names at Baselworld in Switzerland this week, which is the watch industry's biggest trade show.
The name (pronounced BATH-is) is from the Greek word meaning “deep,” and the owner of the company, John Patterson, claims that the watches are water resistant to 660 feet. The flagship brand name is the “Bathys Hawaii 100 Fathom.”
What is also interesting is how “Hawaii” has been so seamlessly incorporated into the brand name. The website says, “We’re not really into slogans,” but of course that “Hawaii” in bold letters under the company name acts as one. Or at least works like one. “Hawaii” is simply an intrinsic part of this watch's name and its brand story, even more so than, say “Switzerland” or “Swiss” is to Rolex.
I cannot think of another watch where a U.S. state name is part of the company name; they even have a map of the Hawaiian Islands engraved on the back of the watch casebacks. The tiny words “Swiss Made” are at their usual position under the 6, possibly because watch lovers, including surfers and divers, clearly the target market, would like a watch that's designed in Hawaii, but not actually made there. Go figure.
They will also be introducing the “AquaCulture,” a term that means, essentially, "fish farming." I suppose the use of the capital "C" helps make the watch also stand for the “culture around water.”
There will also be “The Benthic.” The benthic zone refers to the lowest level of a body of water, so it's a very nice naming approach. Another Bethys brand name on the horizon, “The Pelagic,” means “the open sea” in Greek.
All of these will feature the “Hawaii” name in bold letters above the product name, promising water lovers from around the world a taste of rugged island life. Here’s hoping Switzerland gives Patterson a big “aloha.”
April 7, 2007
Ad Age reported earlier this week that an independent marketing company in Vermont called Fuse LLC is suing Omnicom’s new Fuse Sports & Entertainment for trademark infringement. The Vermont Fuse worked on the Mountain Dew campaign as well as the winter X-Games and is naturally concerned that a newly merged division of the $11 billion Omnicom behemoth has decided to use the same company name.
David Burn at AdPulp has been following this story as Omnicom announced the ignition of its own Fuse at the end of March, and answers Ad Age’s observation that Fuse LLC has not initiated litigation against two similarly named companies in St. Louis and California because the former has signed a licensing agreement with Fuse and the latter is not a competitor in the marketplace.
Mediaweek points out that that may be true, but there is also a cable music channel that uses the Fuse name (not to be confused with hi def video site with the newly announced brand name, Vuze as well as "an Internet unit of Cincinnati Bell." Another marketing entity uses the Fuse name: the Fuse Brand Identity and Package Conference.
Customers are not about to confuse any of these brand names with Fuse LLC, however. On the other hand, any small marketer (Fuse LLC has 35 employees), has to take notice when a branding company the size of Omnicom decides to share the same name. Yes, the name "Fuse" may be rather common, but not as common as "Fusion", and even there the product names tend to stay out of each other's territories.
Bill Carter, a partner at Fuse LLC, says that "We will never allow Omnicom to use our name, no matter what the cost, and no matter how long this takes, we will defend ourselves from them as if our professional lives are at stake because, in fact, they are."
April 6, 2007
We won't be posting a blog this Sunday, April 8th.
Happy Easter, from Strategic Name Development.
The company behind the iconic Japanese jeans brand name, Evisu, is opening its first store in Soho, New York City. I think it’s interesting to see a foreign fashion brand come back to the original source of its inspiration, Levi's.
3Yen, the Japanese Fashion blog, notes that these are often called the “Rolls Royce of Jeans,” and the company was founded in 1988 in Osaka by Hidehiko Yamane. The brand name was originally “Evis” but was changed to the much more Japanese-sounding and much less Elvis sounding “Evisu” in 1991, “though the pronunciation and phonetic representation in Japanese has never changed.”
The logo is a stylized gull but looking at the pictures of the jeans on 3Yen I have to wonder if some less than fashion-conscious Americans might see a tipped over McDonald’s logo? I suppose one person’s gull is another’s golden arches.
I thought it was interesting that the Deluxe and Heritage offerings are made on “old shuttle looms” from the 1950s. (I wonder if Levi’s sold them to the company?)
It seems that personalizing the jeans means letting an artist in the store hand paint the logo, either a small one on the back pocket or an immense one that covers the entire garment. I think this is a great example of a company engaging the consumer with their brand.
April 5, 2007
A recent statement from the Food Marketing Institute on country of origin labeling (COOL) has food marketers curious to find ways to communicate where food is produced in an imaginative way.
Compare “USA Fish” with “Wild Alaskan Salmon," or “American Peaches” with “Georgia Peaches" or “North American Onions” with "Vidalia Onions," and you get the idea. Country of Origin laws, which are not yet mandatory, cost retailers thousands of dollars without, some argue, giving them a proportional increase in sales.
Nonetheless, next year they will come into effect and those in the product naming industry who can help supermarkets and producers turn this legislation into good brand names are likely to carve out a decent niche for themselves.
Designers, by the way, seem to hate COOL laws, routinely ignoring FTC recommendations in this regard. This might be because so much of our clothing is made in Asia.
Country of origin labels make a distinct branding statement, according to Jack Trout and Brad VanAuken: I’d rather buy a car from Germany than from Greece, or salmon from Alaska than Africa. But as a consumer, I am open to suggestions when it comes to other products, including food.
Why not think outside of the box? How about a campaign promoting California tomatoes, the way California grapes were promoted a decade or so ago? And while we all love Florida oranges, how about Coorg oranges or Shimla apples from overseas, getting the same kind of brand name differentiation as New Zealand kiwi fruit.
At least one catfish brand has taken things to the next level: Uncle Cat Marketing, owned by former catfish producer James E. Popejoy Sr., has decided to go so far as to ask the FDA to help him literally mark catfish filets with red white and blue lines. The press release reads: “hopefully the ink approved would be viewable to the consumer after cooking, much like a counterfeiting mark on US currency.”
Seafood producers are especially sensitive to the COOL laws, as they are the only food industry faced with the reality of country of origin labeling. Hey, I’m all for buying American fish - I just do not know if I want red, white and blue sushi.
April 4, 2007
A recent blog post about the Portland Art Museum entitled “The great disappearing logo mystery” gives a professional’s view on PAM’s old logo and its new image. Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives does not like it at all, stating that the design is “trying to be too clever for its own good.”
I thought it was interesting to note just how seriously museums need to be regarding logo and name development, given that the general public is their client. PAM's failed effort cost thousands and is apparently due to be scrapped, at what promises to be a significant additional cost. Dealing with these challenges is one of the chief responsibilities of Brian Ferriso, who was recently named director of the museum.
Toronto, which just announced plans for a new cultural history museum, should take careful note. That museum does not yet have a name but according to The Star, it might be called the “Global City Museum,” a name that might unfortunately remove the focus from Toronto's history.
In February, the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia said it plans on dropping the word “Confederacy” from its name, garnering some jokes about what the new name should be. One blogger suggested the new name be “The Museum of That Group of States That Seceded From The Union The Name of Which Escapes Me at the Moment.”
Today, a Washington Post article profiles the flagging museum and its competition with the much better named (and far more lucrative) American Civil War Center. The name “confederacy” is indeed too fraught with negative emotion, I suppose, and, even worse, a lost cause. This may indeed be one museum where the name is damaging its image.
A few days ago, Paul Schmelzer at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis took a lighter note on museum naming, suggesting that one man decided to pay “in the six figures” for naming rights to four bathrooms in the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Schmelzer noted that naming rights to the bathrooms at the Walker went for “three figures” to the former director, Kathy Halbreich, who choose to name them eponymously, after her son Henry. Much more reasonable, I'd say.
April 3, 2007
It seems that Hyundai is serious about building a new premium brand to sell alongside its own marquee, reports Noah Joseph at Autoblog. The recent introduction of the Genesis concept car seems to be a sign of things to come.
This, of course, is similar to Toyota creating the premium Lexus brand name expanding its brand architecture, just as Nissan accomplished with Infiniti and Honda with Acura.
I think what we're really seeing here is the beginning of a shift in consumers' perceived quality of the Hyundai brand. For some time, the Hyundai name has lived on the fringe and was associated with economy. Taking cues from the formula Toyota and Honda made successful, I think this is the right direction for Hyundai. The difference? They're doing it much faster.
Hyundai is well aware that there are incredible challenges in its way. First of all, it seems as if Hyundai has to give its dealers lessons in how to sell luxury cars as opposed to “value” cars. And an article in the Washington Post points out that Hyundai has a long way to go in the U.S., where its cars are still considered “cheap."
It also does not help that Chung Mong Koo, the company’s chairman, was caught embezzling the equivalent of $73.8 million from the company.
Nevertheless, Hyundai has pitted its Veracruz vs. the Lexus RX350 and their overall product line keeps getting kudus for its quality, not least from JD power and Associates, who ranked the brand third in the U.S. for overall quality. On the other hand, the same company put Hyundai among the 7 car brand names (Jaguar, Jeep, Hyundai, Kia, Land Rover, Saab and Suzuki) with the worst reputations in the business among consumers last year.
Hyundai is the official vehicle of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa and I can say with confidence that the advertisers there have been told to expect a new high-end premium brand name from Hyundai. This will be a huge platform on which to launch a super-premium brand for Hyundai.
Joining TI’s current line of market-leading graphing calculators, the new TI-Nspire family of educational technology includes learning handhelds and computer software that enables high school math and science students to see concepts in a different way, helping to deepen understanding and broaden critical thinking skills.
Built on graphing calculator technology that’s been shown to increase student achievement in math, the TI-Nspire handhelds and software go further by adding familiar computer features and supporting research-based instructional practices for improved learning – including the exploration of math concepts across multiple representations of a problem.
Randy Smith, director of marketing communications for Texas Instruments Education Technology group said, “The unique process Strategic Name Development led us through was a positive experience, and their skills helped us arrive at a very different product naming direction for us – one that has been very well received both internally and with educators and students."
The challenge was to move away from TI’s long-standing use of number names for its graphing calculators to a name that reflects the new technology’s innovative features and enhanced learning value, while being short, easy to say and memorable.
“It was an honor working with the Texas Instruments Education Technology team to help bring to market an innovative new tool that contributes to educational excellence, said William Lozito, President of Strategic Name Development.
Using TI-Nspire handhelds and software, students feel that they are interacting with mathematical objects directly – and not interacting with the operating system of a machine – emphasizing mathematical connections over technological steps. In addition, students can now save every step of their work, allowing them to easily review their work and allowing educators to see their thinking.
April 2, 2007
My first reaction is to think this must be an April Fools’ joke but the post came out on March 31st: maybe no one wanted to post on a Sunday. I have covered town naming before and quite frankly, Stinky Town would fit right in beside Silt, Colorado and Dish, Texas (a name change prompted by DISH Network’s offer of 10 years of free service). South Africa has a town called Hotazel because it’s hot as, well, you know.
There were plenty of other strange names introduced to the world yesterday, including a proposed name change for the State of New Hampshire to “Tax-Free New Hampshire.”
But this April Fools’ Day, as far as wacky product naming is concerned, was dominated by Google, who seems to have a soft spot for the holiday. The launch of two new products, “Google Paper” and “Google TiSP” (Toilet Internet Service Provider) was worth a giggle.
But others have also had their fun with faux Google product naming.
The ALA’s TechSource announced to America’s librarians that Google had bought the Online Computer Library Center and “all of its holdings” and had started rebranding immediately, with WorldCat now called “Google Library.”
The Register announced a joint Google/Apple phone with the brand name “ID” that could not make or receive telephone calls; the article quotes an Apple source as saying Apple users “don't like talking and most of them have no one to call anyway."
This pales in comparison with the announcement that the “struggling” Guggenheim Museum has also been bought by Google and renamed “The Googleheim”: you can see early sketches of the new museum on the Natural Search Blog. Very nicely done.
April 1, 2007
I have been following the VW Eos for a while and have noticed that VW has co-branded with fashion brand names Lutz & Patmos, Hable Construction and Sigerson Morrison to create a new line of "lifestyle accessories" around the Eos that include silk scarves, cashmere blankets and wraps as well as driving shoes and gloves.
I think naming a car Eos to appeal to woman (Karl Brauer is tempted to call it a "really cool secretary's car") is a wise move and I do not often see a car so single mindedly aimed at women.
Possibly VW’s offering to men — and that’s petty much all the rest of its cars — is being bolstered by the introduction of the iGolf overseas that has MacUser saying, "While the iGolf looks like a nice car, it’s still pretty amazing to see an iPod accessory that’s a car."
Wired's Gadget Lab is calling it the "ultimate iPod dock": in fact, the iPod fits into the armrest. It's pretty amazing that this warrants a name change.
I doubt that we will see the VW iGolf brand name in the US anytime soon, however there is already an iGolf here (of course): the iGolf GPS Caddie distance finder.