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September 28, 2007

World Cup 2010 Trademark Violations Already a Brand Naming Nightmare

WorldCup_South_Africa_2010.gifIt's three years before the World Cup in South Africa but people are already illegally making money from the 2010 World Cup logo.

FIFA has just set guidelines to help prevent fraudulent use of the logo, which some people have likened to a "frog jumping over a pork chop" and at least one blogger has been castigated for featuring a "bicycle kick," a move that is actually "whistled for a foul."

It looks like the date "2010" is set to be claimed by FIFA, much to the irritation of some South Africans. But it should be noted that the FIFA restrictions only apply to usage of words "in combination with football imagery or if it is an attempt to create an association with the 2010 World Cup, FIFA or the 2010 World Cup Organizing Committee South Africa."

To that end, there are a range of logos and marks that are protected:

  • World Cup
  • South Africa World Cup
  • 2010
  • Twenty Ten
  • World Cup South Africa
  • The names of virtually every South African city followed by 2010

It is a logical move on FIFA's part but it will be very hard indeed to enforce: what if a clothing maker creates a t-shirt with the words Cape Town with the World Cup colors?

This is an excellent example of how difficult it is to protect a brand name. If the rip off products are appearing already, one wonders what will be happening two years from now.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:58 AM

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September 27, 2007

Congruent Brand Naming and the Business Card

I recently was given a business card from a representative of a very well-known company. I was surprised to see that it was different from one of his co-workers business cards. This seems to be a common problem, where business cards (and stationery) are not consistent in providing a unified image to the marketplace.

Facebook.jpgNeatly designed marketing materials are indeed not the brand, but they are the means through which customers actually interact with your brand name. This week Allen Stern asked the simple question: what goes on a business card aside from your own name? How does your company name attach itself to Facebook, for instance, or does it find life in SecondLife?

Flickr.gifEdith Yeung has a great blog entitled "12 Reasons Why People Want to Keep Your Business Card." There's even a Flickr group devoted to interesting business cards.

A company called InBrand, which is based in the UK but is on its way to the USA, actually helps clients manage all the representations of their brand name in house, ensuring that every piece of marketing material matches.

Sounds like a good idea: a naming consultant can create the best product naming and brand naming nomenclature, but if it isn't represented properly to the marketplace, what's the point?

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:32 AM

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September 26, 2007

Nike's Air Native N7 Brand Naming for Native Americans

NikeN7Shoes.gifNike's new Air Native N7 is the new sneaker brand name designed especially for Native Americans. This is the first time Nike has designed a shoe for a specific race or ethnicity. With a "culturally specific look" and a wider, higher design, it is meant to cater to the specific foot needs of Native Americans. The design sounds pretty cool: there are feathers inside and stars on the sole to represent the night sky. These are referred to as "heritage callouts," and are accompanied by "sunrise to sunset to sunrise patterns on the tongue and heel of the shoe."

The N7 name is a direct reference to the "seventh generation theory" which some tribes ascribe to, looking three generations behind them for wisdom and three generations ahead of them for legacy.

wrigley_five.gifWhile alphanumeric naming is nothing new, particularly in the auto industry, this product reminds me of Wrigley's "5" gum brand, which depends heavily on the associations derived from the number itself (in this case the 5 senses), unlike the Milky Way 2 to Go bar.

MilkyWay2.gif I also must say that Nike has made a good move by addressing the needs of a small, niche market like that presented by Native Americans. It shows a kinder, gentler side of the company and underlines the interesting "core" of the brand name: "If you have a body you are an athlete."

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Posted by William Lozito at 2:10 PM

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QVC’s New Branding Scheme is Deja Q All Over Again

QVC's first marketing campaign in 21 years aims at owning the letter Q, at least in the minds of the public.

As our "Brought to You by the Letter Q" post last December shows, they're a bit late off the mark. "Q" might be a rare letter in the English language (and even rarer in most Germanic languages), but its unusual nature makes it popular with marketers.

EpsonThe US trademark database reveals 1971 records with the letter "Q" on its own, in every conceivable category, from clothing and consumer goods to piezoelectric crystals to food products. Browsing through the list reveals an impressive array of different ways to represent the letter "Q," from the swirling yin-yang of Quick Sports to the tilted square registered by Epson.

QuickSportsMembers of the QVC online community seem underwhelmed by the move to incorporate "Q" into everything the company does (from iQdoU to "merci beau Q"): If we enable their ownership of the 17th letter of the alphabet, like if we let them call this the online Qmunity, and we call the gift cards Qpons, and we think everything they do with rebranding is Qute, do you think they'll restore the boards Quickly and Quell the Qmplaints?

Actually, the popular Broadway show "Avenue Q" already has a Q-mmunity on their website. Is this the Q for the lawyers to step in?

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:55 AM

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September 25, 2007

Product Naming: Would You Buy a Himmer?

Alphabet SoupStrategic Name Development conducted proprietary consonant research that found certain consonants have meaningful association in consumers' minds.

For example, B and C were seen as less complex (think Bounty and Cheerios), while X was considered innovative and L and V were rated more feminine.

Similarly, researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio recently found that vowel sounds are linked to certain adjectives, and can influence the way people see a product based on its name.

For instance, front vowel sounds (like the "i" in mill) are associated with ideas like small, fast, sharp, light, hard and angular. Back vowel sounds (think "a" in mall) connote adjectives such as large, slow, dull, heavy, soft and round.

In this study, 70% of respondents chose a name with a back vowel for the SUV product name, while 66% selected a sharper sounding front vowel name for the knife product name.

I had the opportunity to weigh in on the ability of a product name's sound to make or break the product.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 2:36 PM

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French Laundry Soon To Be Frozen Food Brand Name: C'est Bon

The French Laundry in Yountville, California (Napa Valley to the rest of us) is arguably the best restaurant in the United States, and what a catchy name.

ChefThomasKellerChef Thomas Keller has become a brand name unto himself... the only restaurateur who has a three star Michelin rating for two restaurants.

RatatouilleHe even lent his name (and expertise) to the new Disney film "Ratatouille." Now, according to Bloomberg, "He wants to open an inn, butcher shop and burger joint. His frozen-food line should soon hit retail shelves."

Is this the beginning of the end? When chefs spread their name too thin, it usually means they are cashing in and on the way out. Or, as Michael Bauer, executive food and wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, puts it, "Once you get into frozen food and pizzas, your fine dining brand gets a little fuzzed out."

Well, the French Laundry name is currently being used by other restaurants not affiliated with Keller. And already it seems that his name draws people to his affiliated eateries, such as Ad Hoc.

My feeling is that Keller's brand name and that of and the French Laundry name will continue to go forth and multiply so long as that flagship restaurant in Yountville keeps getting rave reviews. One massively popular restaurant and cookbook can make a brand name out of a chef.

I frankly expect this kind of success to become the template for other food brand names. Seems to me that the name Nobu has driven incredible extension using the brand name. Why not the name of America's greatest chef?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:44 AM

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September 24, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins of Company Naming Changes

We at Strategic Name Development introduce to you the Seven Deadly Sins of Company Naming Changes, inspired by our proprietary Company Naming Changes research. We've covered major trends and pulled out the Greatest Hits, and we'd like to wrap up this undertaking with a few words of advice for what not to do.

Pride is excessive belief in one's ideas about what the company should be named to the exclusion of all common sense and all commoners. The 2002 British Postal Service's prideful name change to Consignia was met with a considerable amount of prejudice.

Envy is the desire for the status, popularity, or profitability that other brand names currently command. The most obvious manifestation of envy is name copying.

ApricotAppleThink Apricot Computers, who apparently couldn't resist eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (which is ironically often represented by an apple tree).

Gluttony is the desire for the name to consume more than that which it requires. This often happens when a company changes its name to reflect a broader offering, but then goes too far and swallows more than it can possibly chew.

Take Cingular Wireless gulping down AT&T Wireless in October 2004, bringing the company under the Cingular name. Then in March 2006 AT&T (owned 60% of Cingular at the time) wanted a piece and ate BellSouth (owned 40% of Cingular at the time) for full control of Cingular. In May 2006 the new AT&T made plans to ditch the Cingular Wireless name in place of the original AT&T Wireless name by 2007. For a visual of this brand digestion cycle, check out Steven Colbert's spoof.

Lust is an inordinate craving for the love of a name at all costs. Lust is being seduced by and falling in love with a new company name before knowing if it's legally available. Lust often leads to brand adultery - or in the case of Phillip Morris, brand "Adultria."

Anger is manifested in the company name who spurns the positive and opts instead for violence, fear and fury.

French Connection rebranded their fashion clothing to "fcuk" in 1997 to capitalize on this concept, plucking the shorthand from faxes between French Connection Hong Kong (FCHK) and French Connection United Kingdom (FCUK). The new name, bearing striking resemblance to "the F-word," resulted in an 81% increase in profits in 1997... Not to mention a flourish of complaints and press coverage.

Greed is the excessive desire for material wealth or power that goes along with a name. Greed means he who has the most money gets his name on the bottle. In the case of GlaxoSmithKline, Wellcome was no longer welcome.

Sloth is the disinclination to do your linguistic homework before introducing a name. One company decided on its new moniker, Enteron, before bothering to check the meaning in Webster's dictionary: intestine or alimentary canal.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:44 AM

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September 21, 2007

Intel Struggles in Naming New Products, Nixes New Product Naming Strategy

I have followed Intel's increasingly confusing brand naming strategy for some time and was distressed to see that their new product naming strategy has been put on hold because it "did not achieve its goal to simplify brand names and even worsened the situation in the CPU realm."

intel-logo.gifThere seem to have been market protests over their naming convention changes although a few name changes will occur, not least the Intel Viiv products will be called Core 2 Viiv and Intel vPro will become Core vPro.

This news comes on the heels of news that Intel's naming woes have helped cause confusion in the Mac market... the latest Macs have been called Santa Rosa by many misguided experts who use the name to differentiate these new, sleeker Macs from their immediate predecessors.

Application of the name Santa Rosa to these machines, which "are not part of the platform" according to TidBITS, is a symptom of how Intel's nomenclature has grown so complex that even computer followers are confused.

Simon Leeman also accuses Apple of being a little negligent in the naming field: after all, the new Mac really doesn't have a new name... Apple calls it, clunkily, Mid 2007.

Intel is one of the few chipmakers that enjoys brand name recognition among the average computer user and I sympathize with their struggles.

They have a daunting challenge... differentiating an increasingly complex and many branched product line while at the same time retaining brand equity and partnering with the iconic Apple brand.

I will be watching how things develop with interest.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:34 AM

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September 20, 2007

Courtney Love and SoupMan Learn Some Brand Naming Basics the Hard Way

There are a few mistakes that you really do not want to make in the world of brand naming.

beaners-coffee.gif The first is not to insult anyone, like say, how Beaner's Coffee was inadvertently doing with Hispanics until it changed its name to Biggby Coffee earlier this week.

The second is, if your name is Courtney Love, you might want to avoid naming a perfume after yourself simply because we do not want to smell like somebody whose band is called Hole. The only person who we're even less likely to buy perfume from is Marilyn Manson, whose perfume brand naming strategy, Smells Like Children, might be the worst ever.

You also might discover that any association with Nazis is bad, even if Jerry Seinfeld himself creates it as a joke, as is the case with the man who inspired the Seinfeld character dubbed the Soup Nazi. His SoupMan stores seem to have fallen on hard times, despite the fact that he has forbidden his staff to mention Nazis or Seinfeld or "no soup for you" on the job.

People just don't want to buy perfume from washed up rockers who don't bathe, they don't want to buy coffee that is offensive to any group, and they do not want to buy anything from Nazis of any description.

No matter how retro or funny or off-beat the associations are, a bad association is a bad association.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:58 AM

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September 19, 2007

Company Naming Changes in India

If China is the world's factory, then India is the world's back room.

But both countries are developing their own brands. Companies in both India and China are gaining in prominence and stature and someday, in the not too distant future, China will be the world's second largest economy, closely followed by India, or the other way around.

In India, there's Tata Steel, who might be buying Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar and Land Rover units for auto parts, and the famous high tech companies such as Infosys and Wipro Technologies.

As a demonstration of India's evolving economy, more and more companies are implementing company naming changes.

busstandard.gifArati Menon Carroll has written a very interesting article on the subject in a recent edition of the Business Standard, India's leading newspaper.

Our proprietary Company Naming Changes research reveal that there are 1,409 company naming changes in the US in 2006. Again, this phenomenon is becoming more common in India as its economy continues to develop.

I had the privilege of being interviewed for the Business Standard article.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:30 AM

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September 18, 2007

Reventon Brand Name a Blowout

lamborghini-logo.gif Lamborghini has just introduced a $1.6 million car, and named it after a bull.

While bulls are symbols of power, speed, and virility, and the bull Reventón was particularly aggressive, the name Reventón doesn't have anywhere near enough sex appeal to match the car itself.

Reventón is Spanish for burst, which is fine if you think of a burst of power, but the word is also used to mean a blowout, as in a flat tire. It also means outburst, as in an emotional display.

Those connotations would have been lost on non-Spanish-speaking auto-fanciers before the Internet.

Now bloggers have the power to spread naming gaffes around the world in mere minutes, and the Reventón is likely to go down in history as second only to the Nova in awkward auto naming experiments. And, indeed, if you have a reventón, your car will no va.

reventon.gif Even without that problem, however, the name just sounds too clumsy. It doesn't have the smooth, rolling power of, say, Lamborghini. Even removing the n from the end of the word would give it a better sound, though for a car like this, a one-syllable name that whips past you at high speed might be more appropriate.

Too often, we buy products that don't live up to their names. In Lamborghini's case, the name doesn't live up to the product.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 9:40 AM

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September 17, 2007

Update: The Influence of China on Brand Perception

red-china.gif As I mentioned in my blog post last Friday, I am sharing more findings from our proprietary Influence of China on Brand Perceptions research.

As a quick reminder, the sample size is 503 consumers that were balanced by gender, age, household income and census region. (See charts below.)

We gave consumers a choice of buying a product made in India or made in China for 25 product categories.

  • Generally speaking, for those product categories that a consumer would wear, consume, or use on their body, consumers were most likely to prefer a product made in India versus China.
  • When consumers were given the choice of purchasing a product that was made in India or made in China, in 21 of 25 product categories the consumer selected India.
    What makes this finding all the more interesting is that in India, one of their major fears is that one day they will wake up and realize that most of the products they purchase in India are made in China.
  • Interestingly, in only one product category, Flat Panel TVs, there was a preference for products made in China.
chart thumbnail image chart thumbnail image

Click thumbnails for larger images.

Look for more research findings on brands made in China in the next couple of days.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:34 AM

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September 14, 2007

The Influence of China on Brand Perceptions

chinabrandweek.gif It's no surprise to anyone reading this post that China has been in the news the last few months regarding numerous product recalls for pet food, prescription drugs and toys.

This prompted us to conduct primary research among 503 consumers in the US. The sample was balanced by gender, age, household income and census region.

brandweek.gif This week, some of the findings of our study were the subject of a cover story of Brandweek.

Next week, we plan to publish more of our proprietary research findings on the influence of China on brand perceptions.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:34 PM

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September 13, 2007

Netscape Has a Propelling New Brand Name

A few days ago I wrote about the danger that the Netscape brand name seemed to be in, not least because its identity as a social news portal has been dropped and will be moved to a new site which has yet to be named.

Netscape logo Well, the name is out and its a good one: Propeller.

As one Netscape blogger points out, "to propel means to motivate, actuate, move, prompt, incite, impel, or to give incentive for action and cause to move forward with force."

propeller.gifOK, I'll accept that, not least because they will be "propelling" news to us.

Of course, we would expect Netscape to spin the Propeller (a blog title that has been used many times in relation to the new brand naming) but the future of the brand is still in doubt, according to Tim Faulkner.

This news comes right on the heels of Motorola's announcement to launch a content portal with the name Comprehensive Solutions Catalog which James Quintana Pearce hopes "is a working title and not the planned brand name."

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:43 AM

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September 12, 2007

The Biko Brand Name Alive and Well in South Africa

South Africa marked the 30th anniversary of freedom fighter Steve Biko's death yesterday, who was killed during interrogation at the hands of the apartheid police.

SteveBiko.gifSteve Biko is one of the great "might have beens" of history, and because he died in such a tragic manner and wrote so eloquently against the apartheid system, he is somewhat of a political martyr in South Africa... and now a fashion icon and indeed a brand name.

Wearing his image is now something between a fashion statement and a political statement. The commercialization of the Biko name, however, has caused much soul searching on the part of his admirers.

This reminds me of the same kind of agonizing over the use of the image and name of Che Guevara, another resistance fighter who died an untimely death and leaves a difficult legacy behind him.

It seems to me that people who buy images of Che or Biko are often not wholly aware of either figure's politics.

Their images might have become disassociated with historical reality and taken lives of their own, much as the glamorous preppy life of Ralph Lauren has done.

Ralph-Lauren.gif Indeed, Ralph Lauren, ironically, is another person who will be remembered more for the myth he created about the inspirational polo playing lifestyle than the reality of Ralph Lifschitz (Lauren's real name) from the Bronx.

The Lauren brand name, now 40 years old, is the window through which we remember the man. Perhaps he prefers it that way.

But I do think that it is worth noting that the romance of fashion may do a better job at preserving the memories of these men than the nuances of history.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:22 AM

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September 11, 2007

New Indiana Jones Movie Has a Name, Finally

Shia LaBeouf's announcement at the MTV Music Video Awards that the name of the new Indiana Jones movie will be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull immediately made me think of artist Damien Hirst's diamond skull that sold for $100 million two weeks ago.

The title of that piece is For the Love of God, named after his mother's exclamation, "For the love of God, what are you going to do next?"

Some movie fans were less than impressed with the new movie name but I think it sounds pretty interesting.

IndianaJones.gifSlashfilm has the logo up and had already posted the six possible names, with the original working title of the project being Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods.

Chris Thilk likes the title but is afraid that it's "going to take up a lot of poster space and will be hard to fit easily on toy packaging."

He also amusingly notes that "If there were still such a thing as movie theater marquees it would get chopped to hell."

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:09 AM

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September 10, 2007

Fashion Brand Name Collaborations Match the Boutique with the Big Box

target.gif Yesterday The New York Times published an excellent article by Eric Wilson entitled The Big Brand Theory, that talked about the new alliances between high-end fashion names and major retailers like Target and Gap.

  • Lutz & Patmos very recently teamed up with Japanese giant Uniqlo
  • The same boutique fashion brand name has also teamed with car giant Volkswagen to create a line of accessories for the new Eos
  • Isaac Mizrahi has lent his name to Target in a line of cheap and very fashionable clothes that are designed to make middle America more fashionable
  • More collaborations are to come with Gap teaming up with fashion trio Thaoon, Rodarte and Doo to bring a hint of elegance to its everyman clothing line

kohls.gif In August, Vera Wang announced she will create an exclusive brand for Kohl's called Simply Vera, Vera Wang by Vera Wang. The line will include sportswear, intimate apparel, handbags, leather accessories, jewelry, footwear, linens and towels.

I think this is the way forward for high-end fashion brand names, not least because nowadays knock-offs of runway styles are getting into low-end stores faster than the originals thanks to Internet technology and a new, very savvy breed of fashion entrepreneur.

Carefully matching big names with boutique names is the way, I think, to beat the copycats at their own game, and to lift the general quality of fashion in the malls.

It seems that up and coming brand names meld better with the big chain stores' needs than already well-established fashion names like Halston... although we might see Karl Lagerfeld join the trend as well.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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September 8, 2007

Hallmark Gets Paris Hot... Around the Collar

Paris HiltonParis Hilton is taking Hallmark to court for creating a card that uses her likeness and her trademarked phrase "that's hot." It's a good card but one must wonder if Paris's suit is to be successful. Or if this is yet another Paris Hilton publicity stunt?

is using an image and a phrase that is very much in the public domain and is in the business of selling cards, not promoting its own blonde it-girl. Just because Paris has trademarked the phrase does not mean it cannot be used in other contexts, even when we are having fun at her expense. She has made a tremendous effort to get her face in the public domain and to have us associate the phrase with her, this is a logical outgrowth of those efforts.

Hallmark logoTherefore, I have to disagree with Lisa Timmons: "that's hot" is certainly a phrase that is in common usage and if the lawyers want to push it, Hallmark can claim that they are using the phrase to talk about the hot food Paris is serving in the picture. Paris might have made the expression "that's hot" famous but we have been using it for years and she can't simply claim it as her own in every medium.

Anyway, that's my instant reaction, although you can read more yourself at TMZ.com. Also note that many of the responders on the WSJ Law blog support Paris.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:58 PM

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Is the Netscape Brand Name In Trouble?

Netscape is going through some changes and at least one Netscape blogger is unhappy with the way they have been misrepresented in the blogosphere. I think that the basic problem here is that Netscape is changing the identity of its brand name at least one time too many.

Netscape logoWhen I think of Netscape, I think of its classic web browser, which is still around. But the actual site was a Digg-like social news portal that is soon to return to being a regular news feed. But it seems that the social news site is not dead. It is going to be moved to a new site with a new name.

It will be interesting to see what the new name will be, or nature of the site content.

Confused yet?

Duncan Riley at TechCrunch simply says "Netscape Digg Clone is Kaput," much to the irritation of the Chris Finke, another Netscape blogger. The fact is, things obviously are not looking good for Netscape and its parent AOL.

This kind of confusion over what the brand name actually means is the first sign of disaster. I have a bad feeling that we may be saying good-bye to the Netscape brand name pretty soon, which would be sad because it has such a wonderful Internet pedigree.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:38 PM

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September 7, 2007

Milky Way 2 To Go Product Name Should Have Gone

A fascinating article by Monica Hesse in The Washington Post and reprinted by "A Dietitian's View" almost slipped under my radar screen this week.

Hesse points out that according to Datamonitor the number of foods with "go" in the product name (as in "on the go") has tripled since 2001.

This makes sense, because we live such a mobile, hectic lifestyle. She posits that people who eat food meant to be consumed "on the go" don't count the calories as much... as if snacks eaten on the subway or in your car don't really count.

But the term "on the go" is becoming grievously overused, and The Milky Way 2 To Go bar is an ideal example. In fact, if you think about it, "to go" or "on the go" are not product names but are category terms that are generic.

MilkyWay2.gifThe Milky Way 2 To Go bar is just a regular issue King Size Milky Way cut in half that in fact replaces the King Size branding space.

The So Good blog starts out by saying "Mars, Inc. Makes Me Want to Jab My Eye Out" because the name is so ridiculous. "Since when is a candy bar not 2 Go?"

Apples and oranges are "to go," too! But unlike an apple, this candy bar is actually harder to eat while driving than it was before, when it was just a King Size, or so claims Holstein Grove.

Bookofjoe trashes the name as well, although one of his responders notes that it might save somebody's marriage, as "uneven distribution of the Milky Way is in the top ten reasons why people get divorced."

The name is deceptive. The "2," I think, refers to the two candy bars... or two halves of one candy bar, depending on how you look at it. But Milky Way 2 To Go looks like Mars couldn't decide what to call it.

What is wrong with Milky Way 2 Go? I suppose they were worried people might somehow not understand that you get these two bars to go. They also have a "6 to Go" product, which is a little more logical... kind of.

What was wrong with the term King Size, I have to ask? Surely, king sized items are just as ubiquitous? Was the target market becoming predominately female? Did the McDonald's Supersize debacle scare off customers who wanted big food?

If it did, you only have to look at my blog posts on the subject to see that Big is Back when it comes to convenience foods.

It probably doesn't matter: I have a feeling that this name is not going to go anywhere, especially since Milky Way says that the 2 To Go candy bar is "perfect for sharing or saving some for later."

Well, if you are meant to eat them on the go, how can you... oh, never mind.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:09 AM

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September 6, 2007

iPod Gets a Classic Product Name

The big news this week is that Apple has revamped the iPod line and in doing so has tweaked their product naming.

iPodTouch.gifWe now have the iPod Touch, which is essentially an iPhone without the phone. One user points out that it's the first one-syllable product name in the iPod line. Lots of people would have liked to call it the iPod Feely, which is probably not a great name, and neither is iPod Smudgy.

iPodNano.gifThe new Nano, which has been leaked as Fat Nano or Fatty is now to be referred to, officially, as the 3G Nano.

The news that has really raised a few eyebrows is the fact that the current Video iPod is getting a facelift and more capacity and will be released as the iPod Classic.

iPodClassic.gif Now just hang on a darn second. A classic item is, well, one that's been around. One we know. Like Coke Classic. This is a newly revamped item that gets the classic brand name. In other words, nobody out there owns this classic item yet.

Blogger Chris Turner is starting to think that maybe there are just a few too many iPod names floating around out there. He suggests that when Apple puts the name classic on something, it's probably getting a spruce up before heading to the pasture the way Mac Classic was the last of its breed.

It's also a little crazy, notes another blogger, that a product that was the must-have item in 2005 is already relegated to classic status. Steve Jobs points out, "It's just called the iPod because it was the first one, and we thought: it's time to give it a name. We're going to call it the iPod Classic."

It's funny, but when we call something a classic, it's a good thing. A Porsche 911 is a classic design, for instance. The Parker 75 ballpoint is a classic pen.

But when a company actually uses the word classic in a product name that may not be such a good thing. The name Coke Classic, after all, was born out of the biggest debacle in the company's history.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:32 AM

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September 5, 2007

Failed Foleo Product Name is Ugly, Oily Damaged Goods

foleo.gif Palm's recent cancellation of its Foleo mini-notebook is yet another dead end in the twisting and winding route of brand naming that the company has embraced.

One of the reasons the Foleo failed was that the gadget blogs hated it, of course.

But the name has also been an albatross. Foleo is a play on the word Folio and is designed to help the gadget fit into the Treo brand naming nomenclature.

Back in June, The Inquirer ran a great article by Fernando Cassia entitled "How to Make Palm's Foleo a Winner, In Ten Easy Steps."

Step one was to change the name, which has been lampooned as Folio Folly. Spanish speaking people may, just may, be turned off by a word that looks like a combination of feo (ugly) and oleo (oil). Plus, it's difficult to think of any successful gadget that starts with an F.

The blogosphere seems to like Palm Book or Palm Agenda but Palm is stubbornly going ahead and calling the next generation the Foleo II, despite the fact that we never had a chance to buy the original Foleo.

Why, oh why, do companies stick to a product naming scheme that has been cursed by failure and disappointment?

As tech guru Monte Carlo Corpuz says, "the name's damaged goods." I agree.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:55 AM

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September 4, 2007

Choose One Name from Column A...

beijing-2008.gifThe Chinese government is concerned about the effect mistranslated menus could have on foreign visitors during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. And small wonder, if the English-language versions of restaurant menus in China resemble those found in other parts of the world.

Of the 2,753 items on the list, the BBC News cites "burnt lion's head" and "virgin chicken," but those are fairly minor offenders by comparison with some of the examples available on the Internet.

John Rahoi's posting has been widely recognized as the "worst menu translation ever," with good reason, as scarcely a single item on it can be identified as something that would be safe to eat.

Would you want to order one of these?

  • Cowboy leg
  • Rurality salad
  • Good to eat mountain
  • Slippery meat in king's vegetable pillar
  • Fragrant bone in garlic in strange flavor

The Karazen Forum has a few gems, as well, of which my favorites are "government abuse chicken" and "husband and wife's lungs."

Authentic Chinese food can be intimidating enough to Westerners without toxic-sounding mistranslations.

Our expert in the Chinese language will be providing input into this translation exercise.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:30 AM

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