January 31, 2008
Finnair, on the other hand, chose to embarrass a fictional character rather than a real one with “Early Jack,” an advergame (video game used to advertise) to introduce new flights between Europe and Asia.
As Adverblog suggests, this is an advantageous name for the fare as well as the game. “Early Jack” tells you right away what Finnair has that its competitors don’t: fares that get you to your destination first.
The buzz in the blogosphere is that Sony is being sued by US based Buzztime Entertainment over the buzz naming in its Buzz! trivia game.
Buzztime does not (and probably cannot) trademark the word buzz but it is interesting to note that we are talking about two electronic games. Buzztime claims that Sony is capitalizing on its brand name and calls the trespass “"malicious, fraudulent, knowing, willful, and deliberate."
Joystiq.com wonders if the smart move would be for Sony to buy Buzztime outright to avoid a legal wrangle that it probably will lose: the two competing brand names are in a similar market and easily confused.
That said, the argument in Sony’s favor would be that buzzers and buzzing and indeed the word buzz is clearly associated with trivia games and its fair game for anyone, but I would imagine that Sony is in trouble here. They want to trademark Buzz! as well as two other versions of the word for use in the electronic trivia game field and that puts them head to head with Buzztime.
In addition, Buzztime has been around since 1985 and is pretty popular. I find it hard to believe that Sony isn’t aware that the word buzz has a certain automatic, built in association.
Posted by William Lozito at 7:29 AM
Posted to Brand Naming | Branding | Consumer Electronics | Licensing | Media and Entertainment | Naming | Naming Rights | Product Naming | Technology | Trademarking
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January 30, 2008
It’s official, contrary to a recent article in the NY Post, Ian Schrager will not be naming his new line of boutique hotels after himself.
Instead, the new name for the upscale chain he is creating with Bill Marriott will be Edition and is set to offer serious competition for Starwood’s W brand, currently the lead in boutique hotel space.
Andrew Calvo calls the new name genius. Each hotel will have a Town Edition, so travelers will see them as LA Edition, Costa Rica Edition and so forth.
New York seems to be in the cards and the chain should grow to 100 Editions worldwide. I think this is interesting brand naming and melds the idea of upscale hotels with the boutique concept, which until now has targeted the business traveler looking for something special.
No word yet on the logo or tagline, but from what I see so far, you can already book me a room!
January 29, 2008
The old adage “Know Thyself” is certainly true when it comes to popular brands.
Two news stories today put this into bold relief: the first is the return of glamour fashion brand names Halston and Ossie Clark, both of which died when they tried to move into popular, low brow fashion, but which have experienced a revival in recent years thanks to the likes of Kate Moss and Jennifer Aniston (pictured right, wearing a Halston dress). Maybe this time they will have learned something about sticking to their target markets.
The second was addressed by Jack Trout on Forbes.com yesterday when he wrote about the various brand names that helped build Sears: Kenmore, Craftsman, Die-Hard and Weatherbeater.
These are legendary brand names in American culture and are synonymous with the Sears brand name.
Trout suggests that allowing them to be sold by other retailers could spell disaster for Sears, adding that he feels that Sears should take over the Kmart brand naming altogether and present a united, unique front to Wal-Mart and Target.
It would be very interesting to see Kmart suddenly turn into Sears, which would immediately increase the brand name’s presence nationally. More importantly, it would be an over promise and is inconsistent with the merchandise offered in the current Kmart stores. In other words, this would be a band-aid fix.
Sometimes a brand name has to return to its origins to move forward, and remember the values customers have traditionally associated with their brand.
January 28, 2008
Given the list of pejorative terms including the morpheme "dis" you might be forgiven for trepidations about what a "Disaboom" might prove to be. In reality, it’s a new social network designed to “connect the millions affected by disability,” and it’s attracting attention in the blogosphere with its “disabled people are sexy” ads.
Like Colours in Motion, the makers of the "Spazz" wheelchair, Disaboom aims to overturn preconceptions about disability and disabled people. But “Disaboom” avoids the cringe factor of “Spazz.” While the site doesn’t provide an explanation of the name, I can think of several possible reasons for incorporating the word “boom” into the name:
- Exploding myths about what it means to be disabled: boom!
- The effect spinal cord injuries and diseases like MS have on your reality: boom!
- The fun you can have on the site with like-minded people: boom!
- The increase in visitors and site membership as a result of their ads and videos: boom!
January 25, 2008
In what Agenda Inc. refers to as a “highly ironic move,” notorious brand naming counterfeit hotspot Silk Street Market in Beijing has applied for a trademark to its own SilkStreet clothing label and warned counterfeiters not to copy it.
In what must be the most lenient criterion for reselling a high end brand in the world, the company solemnly assures us that only traders with ““no record of selling fake or shoddy products within six months and no [customer] complaints.” can sell SilkStreet brands.
This will surely raise a few eyebrows over at Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, who won a symbolic $1,387.00 in a joint lawsuit against Silk Street and five of its tenants, “the first case in China to end in such a settlement.”
I’m thinking that it will be really hard to convince people that you are wearing a real SilkStreet shirt.
January 24, 2008
I have written before about the move that car companies have made towards alphanumeric naming, but had to smile while reading an article by Ken Bensinger that quoted a Ford exec mixing up the name for the new Lincoln MKS—he referred to it at the LA Auto Shows as the “MKX,” another model altogether.
Some of us are just as confused, with Robert Farago asking us irately “Is there a MKT for the Lincoln MKT” (referring to the new Lincoln concept car). James Poulous speaks for an entire generation of automobiles when he says “I'm a car, not a number," while another blogger laments “give me alphabet soup, I’ll give you new car names."
Sorry, people. Alphanumeric naming is easier to trademark, gives a car a European cache and does away with the risk of being mistranslated when it moves overseas. Consumers are also pretty finicky: VW, who has brought us some classic car names (Bettle, Golf, Jetta) just gave us the new Routan, an update on its classic hippy “bus”, and it was duly dubbed “The worst car name in history” in the Businessweek Autoblog.
Now that’s gratitude for ya.
January 23, 2008
Hilton Holloway thinks the solution is to simply make the MINI brand name the eco-brand, while Lascelles Linton at AutoblogGreen argues that BMW’s hydrogen car project, alongside its fuel-efficient Mini and gas sipping Smart brand, should be enough for the Bavarians. No new brand naming required.
If the MINI can be brought back in new livery, why can’t the Triumph be a “triumph” in green engineering? I’d say that the first model should come out in British racing green and use BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Technology. That would be a sweet ride indeed.
January 22, 2008
I have been mulling over Apple’s new MacBook Air brand name, which was announced last week at Macworld.
And here are a number of points that come to mind:
- Mac lovers knew the name was coming (and Apple may have helped them figure it out with their “There’s something in the air posters)
- David Pogue of the the New York Times writes that “the name ‘Air’ is particularly apt. It describes not only the laptop’s aerodynamic shape, but also its nearly complete inability to connect to cables.” I agree.
- Some people wonder if the folks over at Nike aren't going to think this is some kind of move on their turf, with one wag asking “So when the MacBook Jordans coming out?."
Or maybe that’s not a joke: in the very same week that Jobs announced the brand naming of his new computer, Nike let it slip that their 23rd Air Jordan was set for release.
Yes, “Air” is Nike territory, but I’d add that Apple and Nike are selling to an overlapping target market. By the way, I wonder if Apple minds the recently introduced Tata Nano auto, manufactured by Tata Motors in India.
Posted by William Lozito at 7:33 AM
Posted to Apparel | Brand Naming | Branding | Consumer Electronics | Media and Entertainment | Naming | Product Naming | Slogans | Taglines | Technology
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January 21, 2008
A lawyer’s attempt to trademark the term “CyberLaw” has been met with incessant laughter across the Internet with Eric Goldman suggesting that this is “the latest would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-so-sad attempt to assert trademark rights on a common Internet term.”
A word in common usage cannot be trademarked unless it can be proven that customers associate the word with only your company, and the word “cyberlaw” has been around for well, over a decade, and associated with, well, “cyberlaw,” for far too long for that to happen.
Eric Menhart, a “recognized leader” in the field of intellectual property and the mastermind behind this application has gone on the defensive, proclaiming to the world that he has only applied to trademark the term for one class of protection: “services rendered by lawyers to individuals, groups of individuals, organizations and enterprises.”
He would have had a better chance trademarking the term for a video game. We all use the word in this sense (as in “hiring a lawyer who practices cyberlaw can be quite expensive.”)
It does not seem likely that he will be granted the trademark, not least because he will be unable to prove that this commonly used word already has a deep association with his company naming.
January 18, 2008
The announcement in the New York Times that The United Negro College Fund is revising its name to simply “UNCF” but keeping its famous slogan or tagline “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” should come as no surprise.
They have revamped their torch logo and the typography of their name to create a more inclusive image.
The main problem is the word “Negro,” it is simply not appropriate anymore and has been contentious in American culture for over a hundred years. Nowadays, Norman Mailer’s famous “White Negro” declaration is achingly dated and irreverent.
Back in 1999 the American Association of Retired Persons made a similar move, changing its name to the acronym AARP, partly because the word “retired” rankled a group of people who were anything but.
I think the UNCF acronym makes good strategic sense. The new logo is modern and contemporary while still familiar and reinforces the move to the UNCF acronym brand name.
January 17, 2008
EV autos, or electric vehicles, are being taken more seriously by global auto manufacturers.
Yesterday, I thought I had blogged about the strangest names at the Detroit Auto show. I was wrong.
A Chinese auto-designer has offered us three EV concept cars that look like they have been torn from the pages of a children’s book. Their names:
- Tang Hua Book of Songs
- Piece of Cloud
- Detroit Fish
Automotoportal indicates these are “The oddest-looking, and most bizarrely named cars at the show.” I have to agree. Although I would like to ride around on a “Piece of Cloud.”
VehicleVoice is having a good chuckle, wondering why anyone would drive the high voltage, amphibious Detroit Fish, which comes with fins and a propeller. Maybe we'll see the Detroit Fish in Lake Michigan someday.
They also direct us to a mysterious logo located on the steering wheel of each car of a man who could be “Colonel Sanders’ long lost half-brother.”
All jokes aside, designer Li Guangming points out that “If China and India burned gas at the same rate as the US, they would consume four times the fuel reserves of the entire planet. The future must point to the EV field...”
OK, I’m sold.
January 16, 2008
Concern for the environment has occupied a great share of our attention recently.
This focus has not been lost on auto manufacturers. At the recent Detroit Auto Show, several environmentally friendly autos were introduced:
- Dodge Zeo - This brand name is a clipping of the word zero to signify that this Dodge vehicle generates zero emissions.
- Chrysler ecoVoyager - This name simply precedes the current Voyager brand with "eco" which suggests it's an environmentally friendly, battery powered vehicle.
- Cadillac Provoq - A hydrogen powered Cadillac with a stylized name suggesting either provoke or more likely provacative since the source of power is very unusual, provoking great admiration or interest.
Most of the rest of the new auto naming comes from taking an established brand name and adding “concept” to it (e.g. Jeep Renegade Concept).
Toyota’s Prius has set the bar in my opinion. It’s a good name from a well known company, and a great car. If Japanese car makers grab all the good names, consumers are going to start thinking that green cars are an Asian thing, which would be a pity.
One great name for an American green car would be “Sequoia”-- now there’s a name that doesn’t simply have “eco” tacked in front of it and doesn’t sound like a Star Wars droid—plus the word is utterly green and American. Oops, Toyota has that, too.
January 15, 2008
It seems to me that the name “Super Glue” is so good that it has made competitors desperate for names that are even more suggestive of incredible stickiness.
Thus we have “Gorilla Glue” which has decided to top its already fearsome sounding brand naming with the more clunky sounding “Gorilla Super Glue Impact-Tough Formula”—they just cannot seem to avoid using that term “super” when it comes to really good glue.
Today, we have news of something that is supposed to be just as strong: "Sticky Ass Glue" which is “stubbornly strong” and has a jackass for a logo. Toologics got a sneak peak last year and at least one commenter claimed it was better than Gorilla Glue...but is it better than the “Gorilla Super Glue Impact-Tough Formula”?
I can’t help but be reminded of the Big Ass trademark hassles of 2006 that erupted in California. Here’s a great glue that all of the brewers and wine makers who like to put “ass” in their brand naming can use on the premises.
January 14, 2008
The news that Panasonic is dropping “Matsushita” from its brand naming has been applauded across the blogosphere. As Thomas Ricker at Engadget points out, it might be hard to lose the founder’s name, but the “dual-naming scheme hurt both brands and created confusion in the global marketplace.” Lee Distad, however, notes that Panasonic’s well regarded Technics brand name is still going strong.
An article in The Daily Yomiuri Online takes a good look at the naming strategy that Panasonic is embracing, and the belief that a single, congruent brand name is the means through which Panasonic will re-energize its brand and initiate a “second phase in the company’s history.”
More than that, there is a definite trend towards English-sounding names and abbreviations happening in Japanese company naming. Two notable examples are:
- until 2002 Pentax was officially Asahi Kogaku Kogyo
- until 1983 popular tape brand TDK was officially Tokyo Denki Kagaku Kogyo.
This move towards English sounding names will only accelerate since the Justice Minister, in 2002, ruled that Japanese companies can use Roman characters in their name.
January 10, 2008
Xerox has refreshed its brand identity in order to get a little distance from simply being perceived as a copier company.
Gone are the imposing high capital letters, replaced by a friendlier rounded lowercase font treatment with a globe icon beside it.
Let’s hope the new logo will help to “disrupt the mental model of Xerox as just a copier company.”
Some have observed, however, that the X on the globe of Xerox logo is surprisingly similar to Microsoft's Xbox logo.
January 9, 2008
The Provoq naming has already gotten Mork at the Trademork blog thinking about changing his name to “Morq” and prompting the Green Car advisor to say “if these guys don’t learn to spell they are going to provoke me to violence.” Hydro Kevin quips that the “Provoq is no Joke” and I must say that the very comfortable and speedy vehicle is certainly thought “provoqing.”
One name that will certainly have to go is the nickname “People’s Car” that Tata seems to have adopted for its yet to be unveiled 30 horsepower car. “People’s Car” is a direct reference to the Volkswagen, of course, and the title traditionally held by the Volkswagen Beetle, so that name is really only on loan unless Tata wants to get sued.
January 8, 2008
To the uninitiated, “FohBoh” might look like yet another silly Web 2.0 name, continuing one of 2007’s top naming trends. But FOH (front of house) and BOH (back of house) are familiar terms to anyone in the restaurant industry. Do a Google search on “foh boh” and you’ll find yourself up to the eyeballs in restaurant job listings.
So when you want to start a social network for people in the restaurant business, of course you call it FohBoh. The name might lack euphony, but it’s perfect for appealing to a niche. If you know what the name means, you’re probably a good candidate for membership in the network. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter, because the site isn’t for you.
January 7, 2008
The new Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch has Theresa Gubbins asking “who started the ‘N [brand naming] thing anyway” and positing that it might have started with Kellogg’s Nut ‘n Honey Cereal back in the ‘80s.
I wouldn't be surprised, however, if brand names with " 'N " in them don't go back 50 years or more. I do know that Shake 'n Bake was introduced in 1965.
Can you think of any brand name with " 'N " in them that precede the Shake 'n Bake name?
She also notes that its creator, Mars, has changed its name back to Mars Snackfood from Masterfoods, a great move since the Mars name is so well known. The big candy makers have become much more “nimble” than in years past, creating many new limited edition items with a new sub-brand.
I think limited edition candy bar brand naming seems to be getting edgier and edgier, although sometimes even top brand names drop the ball.
Does the combo of nuts and butter appeal to you?
Sounds too rich to me, but the way has been paved by Nutter Butters and even Hershey’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Take a look at the colors Snickers uses on the packaging for the Nut ‘n Butter Crunch and see if they don't come to mind.
January 4, 2008
No doubt the “Go” in “eGo” is meant to emphasize the drive’s portability, but plays on the name are appropriate as well as inevitable. (You can fit your whole ego into something that small? Really?) Our identities are closely bound up with our data these days, and ego is merely Latin for “I.”
Nevertheless, the eGo drive seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Mike at the My Tech Talk blog claims that the drive looks like a hip flask, which in fact it does, but that’s not the real issue. If you type “ego drive” into Technorati, what do you find? The Raytel EGO Drive GPS system on display at CES right now.
What’s more, “eGo” is already trademarked for digital media kiosks. In fact, a trademark search brings up 63 entries for “ego” in the electronics class alone.
Talk about egomania in naming!
January 3, 2008
You may have seen the special edition of Men's Health Tech Guide 2008.
There are a lot of cool gadgets covered in this issue:
- Sierra Designs Echo Sleeping Bag
- Yamaha 2008 FXSHO Personal Watercraft
- Saeco Primea Cappuccino Touch Plus
Men's Health invited me to write an article on technology brand naming.
Posted by William Lozito at 8:01 AM
Posted to Automotive | Brand Naming | Consumer Electronics | Health and Beauty | Marketing | Naming | Pharmaceutical | Product Naming | Retail | Technology
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January 2, 2008
On Monday, while Bill was musing on Google’s newly-announced Knol, I came across another alternative to Wikipedia — this one with a far better name.
“Knol(l),” in my mind, is tied inevitablly with the word “grassy;” not the mental association Google wants me to have, I’m sure.
Contrast that with Citizendium, a portmanteau of “citizen” and “compendium.” Even though the term “citizen journalism” may not be flavor of the month any more among web trend-setters, the name does a great job of conveying what the project is about — as does “Wikipedia” itself.
The name “Citizendium” also has a “by the people, for the people” feel to it, even though Citizendium, like Knol, emphasizes the credibility and identity of its authors. They’re using a service called BeenVerified to establish author credentials. “BeenVerified” is itself name and tagline in one: “You can believe what I say: I’ve BeenVerified.”
Google has the fame and money that Citizendium lacks, but I’m still hoping the best name wins. And I suspect that people will start referring to Knol as “Googlepedia.”
Hat tip to John C. Havens and Media 2.Open.