the product naming blog

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February 29, 2008

Ink Product Naming and Branding: Krink is the Street’s Quink

KrinkInk1.gifThe Razor Apple blog has a great commentary on a recent New York Times Magazine article discussing Krink, a new ink that comes right out of the world of tagging and graffiti.

The packaging is interesting, and the naming is going to work despite, or because of, the fact that we often get "krinks” in our necks or shoulders.

The name reminds me of Parker’s Quink, one of the best product names for fountain pen ink. The Quink name is well regarded by ink aficionados and the Krink naming looks like a street derivation of this popular brand.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:54 AM

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February 28, 2008

Sony Product Naming Getting Too Complicated For Blogosphere?

A recent exasperated post on Wired by Rob Beschizza has me smiling.

It seems that Sony has swamped the poor man with alphanumeric names like the ICF-C1iPMK2 for a clock radio.
We just recently got used to the new Sony Ericsson product naming nomenclature. The company still seems to struggle with differentiating its camera product names from Minolta's former efforts.

Yet some bloggers have been irritated by the Xperia, calling the name “cutesy.” Maybe so, but I think I agree with Joshua Weinberg, who points out that “Too many companies find that the product naming process is not fast or easy, so they resort to using model numbers in place of real names.”

I’ll take Xperia over ICF-C1iPMK2 any day.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:52 AM

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February 27, 2008

Asics Brand Naming to Break Out

asicsrunningshoes.gifBusinessweek has an article up about Asics, the preferred brand name for serious runners.

It seems that the company wants to branch out into more fashionable realms to break out of its niche, but most people see the Asics name standing for serious running wear, not leisurewear, even when it is already emblazoned on things like backpacks.

The name Asics is an acronym for “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” (ASICS) which means “Sound mind in a sound body."

I think the Asics name, while quite erudite and meaningful, sounds a little technical for the fashion crowd, although, I suppose, it is no stranger than Adidas.
I did think that its retro sub brand, Onitsuka Tiger, had quite an interesting story behind it and might even have a better chance of gaining naming traction.

After all, people are already wearing that name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:37 AM

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February 26, 2008

Energy Drink Naming Gets a Canadian Guru and a Buffalo Shark

guru.gifI read a story copied on the Marketing Muse and News blog about the travails of Guru energy drink, a Canadian elixir that found its brand name after one of the company founders read an article about Bill Gates.

The world of energy drink brand naming is a strange one to say the least. I have written before about the badly named and banned Cocaine energy drink, which has found new life on consumer shelves this month alongside a copycat named Blow. But really, a quick rundown of recent trends in energy drink naming leads me to think that these are actually the tamer end of a weird spectrum.

Take Grapple Sauce, for instance. That’s about as eye catching as Guru, but pretty reserved compared to Crazy Horse. If you really want to get wired, take a sip of Donkey Kong Energy Juice or Power Up Energy Drink, two cross brands from the famous video games.
How about Who's Your Daddy, the ultra sexist “King of Energy” drink you might not offer to somebody on a first date.

The name I do like is Shark, which manages to be aggressive and interesting without being ridiculous. I have to wonder if the Shark from Buffalo will eat the Guru from Canada?

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:34 AM

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February 25, 2008

What Paris Hilton and The Naked Cowboy Know About Brand Naming

There are two naming related trademark cases out there that have people smiling this morning. The first is a list on CNN of trademarked phrases from the recent past like “19-OOPS” and "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" that are now off limits to anyone who wants to inject a little modern phraseology into their product naming because they have been trademarked.

paristhat'shot.gifMatt Sanchez points out that even the wordsmith Paris Hilton can “lay claim and monetize parts of the English language” for her phrase “that’s hot.”

The Traverse Legal blog thinks that trademarking your unique phrase “illustrates how some forethought can become profit down the road.” I have to agree.

I also think that New York street musician Robert Burck, a.k.a “the Naked Cowboy” might have a good case when he defends his mark against Mars for using his likeness in their advertising, not least because he seems to have actually taken out two registered trademarks on himself.


Dan Slater on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog asks what he needs to make this case, the answer actually being pretty simple. He needs to prove there is a likelihood of confusion between himself and his (trademarked and profitable) brand name and likeness, and the images in the advertisement. As Sunny Hostin points out on the CNN site, the Naked Cowboy may soon be able to afford “some very nice duds.”

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:36 AM

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February 22, 2008

El Porto No Mas: Legendary Beach Gets Posh Naming

El-Porto-Beach.gifThe news story that the scraggly, but hip, LA Beach El Porto, is getting a naming change to North Manhattan Beach in a bid to shed its seedy, but soulful past and adopt a more posh image, which has led to some consternation among residents.

One surf shop has changed its name to El Porto Surfboards in protest. El Porto, once the favorite destination of those who wanted to let it all hang out, has cleaned up its image, possibly at some cost to its own spirit.

Bloggers at Manhattan Beach Confidential would have preferred El Norte. Not bad, guys.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:26 AM

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February 21, 2008

Hummer and Camel Reposition Their Brand Identity

If your brand name starts to look unfashionable, the thing to do is relaunch it with some subtle differences.

The Camel cigarette brand has recently gotten its first makeover in a century, with revamped packaging that includes the words "Since 1913" and the tagline "Our best smoke ever" on direct marketing materials. At least they have kept Joe Camel in the crypt.
GM, on the other hand, has decided to focus attention away from the Hummer’s brand name by not only shrinking the car, but focusing on each vehicle’s alphanumeric code (H2, H3, H4). GM has also directed consumer’s attention to the utility of the vehicle with its new tagline "Purpose Built."SCOOTER+HUMMER.gif

In order to further distance itself from consumers who believe that it is a gas guzzling behemoth, GM has been shrinking the SUV as well, leading Oberdan Bezzi to design a Hummer Scooter, or the H2 450.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:30 AM

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February 20, 2008

Kirstie Alley: Diet Brand Naming For The Rest of Us

The news that Kirstie Alley is going to start her own weight loss brand makes sense because so many people identify with her very public struggles with her weight.

She seems to be ready to leave Jenny Craig, where she has been the spokesperson for three years, with few regrets and best wishes to all.
Now, she has announced that she is the accidental role model for people who are struggling with the fatty roller coaster ride. Alley has a bevy of detractors, but many people support the idea of her striking out on her own, including the Diets in Review Blog. Her only problem might be that so many people liked her show Fat Actress, that her overweight persona might hurt her support for branding a weight loss product.

The actual brand name has not been announced, but I would suggest that she use her own name or a derivative of it. Kirstie Alley is somebody whose imperfections mirror our own, and she might just snag a niche market of people who are turned off by the saccharine perfection of other diet brands.

Kirstie’s would sort of be the diet brand for the rest of us.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:33 AM

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February 19, 2008

Audio Spotlight Will Change Naming and Branding

Imagine you can put consumers in a situation where your product speaks to them, literally.

A&E-Billboard.gifA great article on tells us about a billboard for the A&E show Paranormal State, that has a woman’s voice eerily whispering "Who's there? Who's there?" and "It's not your imagination" to isolated spots beneath it, leading passersby to scratch their heads as they walk past.

This new Audio Spotlight technology obviously has fantastic marketing applications as well as being too intrusive for consumers if not used appropriately.

It could be an interesting tool to introduce a new brand name along with other elements of the marketing mix.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:34 AM

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February 18, 2008

Ford Offers a Global Brand Naming Fiesta

The news that Ford is bringing back the Fiesta at the Geneva Motor Show in March, has been greeted with much joy. The Fiesta is one of Ford’s better brand naming choices.
Introduced in 1976 (pictured left), it has stood the test of time in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and the Americas but died a quick death in the US in the mid eighties, replaced by the Festiva.

This move by Ford also illustrates an example of truly global product naming strategy as well as forward thinking engineering. The Fiesta is actually a reincarnation of the Verve concept car, making it the most sophisticated Fiesta ever.
The idea here is obviously to create an equivalent brand name to the Toyota Corolla (pictured right), or the VW Golf, both of which are known worldwide.

While some grumble that the Verve name had a certain appeal, Ford seems to be betting on the fact that its US target market will not remember the Fiesta name from twenty years ago while those across the pond will appreciate a revamp of a trusted brand.
This is a great move by Ford. The Fiesta (the 2009 model pictured left) has sold over 12 million units worldwide and the brand spanking new car will offer plenty of competition to established brands. One important strategic element for Ford to survive is to embrace global brand naming, following the lead of its Japanese and European competitors.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:14 AM

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February 15, 2008

Presidential Naming and Branding

How the naming of presidential candidates affects voters is something I have written about before, but the subject seems to have caught on.
A recent Reuters article in the press compares the merits of the name Hillary with the name Barack, with one professor quoted as saying “names are brands.” I couldn't agree more, as does Patrick Ruffini, who claims that “we are living through the first Presidential campaign that is being marketed like a high-end consumer brand.”

This sentiment was echoed by one of my respondents on the blog, who led me to a wonderful article about how fonts and typography are communicating to the electorate.

Hillary is indeed not a common name and thus it sticks with you and it is clear that she is not frequently using her maiden name Rodham and separating herself from Bill by de-emphasizing the name Clinton.

Search Marketing Guru points out that Hillary has essentially taken over the name on the Internet altogether.
Obama, however, is getting star power play for his stand alone last name and he certainly does not like reminding voters that his middle name is Hussein.

Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani focused voter's attention on their first names while John McCain prefers running on his last name.

One blogger claims that Fred Thompson dropped out because voters could not stand the idea of a president named Fred just like they felt the name Bob Dole was, well, dull. Dennis Miller, for his part tells us that there is no way a man named Huckabee can take the White House: “It’s like having a President with the name QuickDraw McGraw.”

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Posted by Diane Prange at 7:57 AM

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February 14, 2008

Anti-Valentine’s Day: Brand Naming For Lonely Hearts

anti-valentine.gifI have been watching with some amusement the rise of anti-Valentine’s day brand naming. Today as you snuggle up with your loved one, please spare a thought to those of us who have had enough of this faux holiday and are striking back with some very interesting products that inadvertently have become anti-Valentine’s day icons.

If you just can’t bear the thought of another Valentine’s day, why not treat yourself to an anti-Valentine's day movie. Matt Atchly has a big list of classic movies that seem to feature Glen Close quite a few times.

Before you sit down to enjoy the likes of “Fatal Attraction” or “Dangerous Liaisons,” don't forget to send yourself an anti-Valentine’s day gift (I like the concept of bittersweet hearts that say Table for 1 or Peaked at 17) as well as an anti-VD day card.

Stuck in the 80's has a wonderful list of anti-Valentine’s day Ham has a recipe for the ultimate anti-Valentine's day meal: white bean and artichoke heart dip, which you might have before a serving of jerk chicken with bitter melon.
If you just can’t bear the thought of cooking on this, the loneliest of all the holidays, why not treat yourself to the Second Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Ball at the New York Helmsley or the Broken Heart Ball at Otto’s in New York City, where the Saints of Pain will be playing.

Now that's great lonely heart’s club band naming.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:01 AM

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February 13, 2008

Does TuitionTree Brand Naming Make Sense?

Yesterday, on Trademork, I read something troubling about online loan service LendingTree.

Already facing a class action suit for “unfair business practices and false advertising," it has decided to offer a similar student loan service called TuitionTree.

I do think that TuitionTree is an improvement over the LendingTree brand name but worry that this kind of bad publicity could hurt any venture that ends in Tree. Moneytree.gifRumory suggests that the entire LendingTree model is doomed anyway.

The next generation of real estate loan engines will be more personalized and will feature Web 2.0 naming like Zillow and Trulia.

Expect to see the same in the realm of tuition searching.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:05 AM

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February 12, 2008

When are Brands Refreshed and Revived?

I am always interested in the nuances of revamping a company’s brand naming or product naming. Fact is, a lot of the big branding news this year has come from brands that have updated their images, or changed them altogether.
The fashion world is busy bringing back names from yesteryear. I have already written about Halston making its USA comeback, now it seems in London, Ossie Clark (actress Sienna Miller pictured right in an Ossie Clark dress) and Nutters, from the sixties, are back on the catwalk.

The New York Times suggests that even the mafia could use some rebranding. And often age or changing tastes do create room for a brand refresh.
But the biggest reason that brand names we love get changed is acquisition. Honest Tea is soon to fall under Coke's control and that will affect how customers perceive it, which will, whether the company likes it or not, change the perception of Honest Tea from alternative to mainstream.

The one brand that is begging to be rebranded is Ford Mercury, or “the love that dare not speak its name” according to Robert Farago. It has to either be totally rebranded or else simply killed.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:31 AM

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February 11, 2008

American Living Brand Naming Brings Ralph Lauren to The Rest of Us

ralph-lauren.gifRalph Lauren's American Living will be launched at J.C. Penney’s today.

Launching interesting, unique in-house brand names is part of J.C. Penney’s strategy to gather a larger and more upscale customer and it seems to be working.
Some may think Lauren is slumming by going to J.C. Penney’s, but ultimately the strategy will work not least because it emulates what Martha Stewart and other big name brands have done, using high-end brands to elevate the J.C. Penney brand.

Lauren seems incapable of putting a wrong foot forward since the Ralph Lauren look is something that has permeated American culture.
This is clever, under the radar product naming. The internet has been full of the news that Lauren is behind this move, and the American Living products are Ralph Lauren in everything but name.

For those of us who want the look of Ralph Lauren without the price tag will probably head to J.C. Penney’s this week searching for a deal.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:30 AM

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February 8, 2008

Return of Detroit Electric Car Turns Company Naming Back a Century

DetroitElectric1915.gifI think that it is great news that the Detroit Electric Car brand name will see light again after a hundred year absence, even if the first offices will actually be in California.

The reintroduction of a car carrying the brand name favored by the likes of Thomas Edison and John D Rockerfeller Jr. is a joint venture between US electric car company ZAP and China Youngman Automotive Group.

The Zap Alias model will carry the Detroit Electric Car brand naming. The company’s base in California will help solidify that state as the heart of alternative energy cars, especially electric cars. I do have to wonder if anyone finds it funny that the Detroit name will be appended to a company that really has nothing to do with Motown, but I am always pleased to see a classic name make a comeback.ZAP-Alias-Electric-Car.gif

I’ve said it before: you just can’t kill a good brand.

Possibly the name of the new company will remind car buyers that electric cars were once very popular in the US and not seen as alternatives at all.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:31 AM

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February 7, 2008

Rome and Yahoo! Brand Naming Not Built in a Day

microsoft_logo.gifJack Trout has a great post up about the brand naming duality of Google and Yahoo! if Microsoft’s plan to buy the company goes ahead.

One thing is pretty certain, the Yahoo! brand will stay and allow Microsoft an instant, huge piece of the search market and possibly leave MSN as the odd man out.

Trout suggests that Yahoo! and Google will become the Coke and Pepsi of the world of search. Or the McDonald’s and Burger King. Or the GM and Toyota. He feels that for most industries, sooner or later it comes down to two huge brand names and everyone else is left on the outside looking in.
Trout’s view seems overly simplistic to me. I think the broader the penetration of a product category, the more likely it is that there will be multiple competitors.

This make sense to you?

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:30 AM

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February 6, 2008

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Brand Naming Goes The Distance

The Chicago Marathon has a new name and logo design that features its new sponsor, the Bank of America.

The prominence of the Bank of America name has Logo Design Works wondering, cynically, if it will ever be called The Bank of America Marathon. Right now the official name is Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

I think that there will always be an uncomfortable reality that the naming of huge sports events will always have the sponsor’s name close by, if not included. John Hancock is not shy about advertising its sponsorship of the Boston Marathon, although its name has not been officially attached to the event itself (nor has that of Huckabee, who is running it this year).

Not so with the ING New York Marathon.

The Tokyo Marathon tokyomarathon.jpeghas its own impressive logo but almost every image you see of the marathon includes the light blue Tokyo Metro name and logo as well. And on every site you see the other sponsor’s logos featured prominently.

What do you do if you are the Marathon Bank in Wausau? You sponsor the Ice Tee Classic, of course!

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Posted by William Lozito at 2:56 PM

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February 5, 2008

Woolworth’s Lolita Brand Naming a Cynical “Mistake”

The news that Woolworth's in the UK had to pull a bed with Lolita brand naming for pre-school girls has been met with hoots of laughter across the blogosphere after the company claimed to not be aware of the literary allusion to the sexually predatory pre-pubescent girl in Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel, which was not only made into (at least) two movies but also referred to in the song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police.

Sorry, but it is difficult to believe that this was an inadvertent mistake, or that the brand naming was introduced without somebody raising an eyebrow.

Maybe, just maybe, the people who created the Filipino cookie in the Netherlands were unaware that there is an entire group of people out there who would be offended by a tagline like ‘Are you as Tasty as a Filipino?'

Fact is, brand naming for pre-teen girls has become a virtual porno playground. Bratz dolls (pictured below) are now flagrantly sexualized (and encourage the kids to be bratty) and Playboy is now making its way into school wear.
Blue Milk has a great blog talking about the corporate pedophilia that we are subjected to daily and the “billions of dollars of marketing aimed at kids whose childhoods are being cynically abbreviated, stolen for profit.”

But who really cares, right?

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:28 AM

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February 4, 2008

Go Daddy Builds Danica Patrick’s Beaver into Its Brand Naming

John Moore’s Brand Autopsy blog has some wonderful Monday morning quarterbacking on the ads that ran on Superbowl Sunday, and I had to weigh in on Go Daddy’s efforts... just like many of Moore’s furious responders do.

Some backstory: Go Daddy had a very racy commercial rejected by Fox because it centered around a stripping Danica Patrick and the word “beaver,” which has a misogynistic sexual innuendo. They got free exposure by having nine others rejected as well.

So instead of unveiling their actual commercial on the air, the company’s Superbowl spot leads viewers to their website to watch the controversial ad.

They have also been airing a slightly less offensive advertisement that equated to registering domains on Go Daddy with a variety of sexual milestones.

The web version, which many believe was purposely made to get railroaded by Fox’s censors, has gotten fairly high rankings today: Alexander Wolfe at Information Week gives it a B+. And while Go Daddy swears the censor’s rejection was not planned, they have managed to drive lots of traffic to their web site — their objective, considering that’s where they do business.
What is bad is that they have forever associated the word “beaver” with their brand name and raised the ire of fifty percent of the online population, many of whom will spend this week convincing their employers to drop Go Daddy. Go Daddy’s CEO, Bob Parsons doesn’t really seem to care and is loving the attention, claiming that those who are offended are in the minority.

Maybe. Maybe not. But that's a pretty vocal group, as they should be.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:38 AM

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February 1, 2008

Sounding Out on Presidential Candidate Names

When it comes to product naming, we all know that what a product is called can influence the perception of the product.

I have a theory that the same thing applies to presidential candidates and it may help differentiate the candidates in this years election that William J. Kole suggests is a global issue.
For example, I think Americans like presidents with long surnames.

With the exception of Lincoln, all of the greatest U.S. Presidents have surnames that are three syllables in length. Kennedy, Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Roosevelt all share this pleasant polysyllabic cadence.
Historically, 64% of our presidential races have gone to the candidate with the longer name.

Now, while this is really good news for two of the current five remaining candidates –Huck-a-bee and O-bam-a, it has its downside too.

We, as a nation, have never elected a president whose surname ends in a voiced vowel –and it is precisely this final voiced phoneme that gives both candidates their lucky third syllable.
Also notable, is our electoral preference for candidates whose surnames end in ‘n.’

It’s no coincidence that 1/3 of all US presidents share this final fricative phoneme sound. So score one for Hillary Clinton and John McCain who are currently considered their respective party's frontrunners.

Finally, we should also give consideration to first names. After all, these are a greater reflection on the candidate’s immediate family than their surname counterparts.

Not surprisingly, tried and true names like James, William, George and John have met with repeat presidential success –more good news for John McCain.

But on the other hand, many a candidate has squeaked past the electoral college with an exotic given name (Rutherford, Ulysses, Grover and Millard) so for Mitt and Barack, the picture isn’t entirely bleak even after finishing behind Clinton and McCain in Florida's primary earlier this week.
From a phonetic perspective (and in my book, phonetics trumps semantics every time) John McCain has the edge. But so did Bill (William) Rich-ard-son - perhaps we should have sent him this blog before he dropped out.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:27 AM

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NY Leatherstocking Region Looks For Less Literary Brand Naming

The Chenango-Delaware-Otsego region of New York state has been referred to as the Central Leatherstocking Region since the famous I Love NY marketing blitz was launched 31 years ago.

The name is in honor of the James Fennimore Cooper novels that are set in the region (The Leatherstocking Tales that include "Last of the Mohicans" and "The Deerslayer").
Now, the entire I Love NY campaign is getting a shot in the arm and the somewhat obscure naming for this region is looking at a revamp.

I am familiar with this area but the fact is that the average traveler is unlikely to understand the highly literary allusion.

This is an exceptionally beautiful and historic part of New York that boasts the Baseball Hall of Fame BASEBALLhalloffame.gifand the fabulous Glimmerglass Opera (both in Cooperstown).

It also has the best tagline I have ever heard for apple pie and cheddar cheese, a favorite dessert combo for upstate New Yorkers: "An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.”

I will be watching how events develop in this region with great interest.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:32 AM

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