March 31, 2008
There are some examples off product naming that immediately cause a reaction, and The Batter Blaster is one of them. No, sorry, the ORGANIC Batter Blaster. This is essentially pancake batter in a pressurized can.
But Fake Plastic Fish has a pretty good blog about why Organic Batter Blaster is “wrong on so many levels.” First of all, making whipped cream takes time (hence Reddi-wip), making melted cheese is messy and also time consuming (hence Easy Cheese), but making pancakes is quick and easy already and buying the stuff in a can to save yourself five minutes of mixing is just plain crazy.
More than that, trotting out the overused word organic to tack on the product name is really not in the spirit of organic living. Organic Picks argues that The Organic Batter Blaster and its resource wasting can has provided us with the moment where the “organic label has truly lost its meaning.”
March 28, 2008
Once upon a time, a programmer needed to do some network troubleshooting.
He wrote a little program to tell him whether a given network host was accessible and how long it took to get a signal there and back. He named this program after the sonar pulses used to determine how far away an object was in space.
And thus “ping” was born.
Five years ago, most of us only encountered the term if we had to call our ISP’s tech support because we couldn’t get online. Then the tech support technician would ask us to open a command line and ping Google or some other site they absolutely knew was working.
But now the word “ping” has entered our everyday language, particularly among the BlackBerry-toting business types who use “offline” when they mean “in private” or “after this discussion is over.” (Real geeks know that what they want to say is “use the back-channel.”)
“Ping me” does not mean “try to reach my network host to see if it’s working.” It means “contact me” or “remind me.” Keith Ferrazzi uses “pinging” to mean keeping in frequent touch with your contacts, to remind them who you are and how helpful you can be to them.
Despite the obligatory Web 2.0 spelling of the name, pingg shows us just how far this once-obscure term has penetrated into popular consciousness. It doesn’t take a geek to want to send out invitations online, and pingg provides every conceivable way to get your friends’ attention: e-mail, SMS text message, social networks, and even good old-fashioned snail mail.
March 27, 2008
In copyright law, parody counts as “fair use.” So too in trademark law, it would seem. Wal-Mart accused Georgia resident Charles Smith of infringing on its trademark by selling products emblazoned “Wal-ocaust” and “Wal-Qaeda.”
It’s no surprise that Wal-Mart doesn’t find these particular parodies amusing, but even if Smith’s sites didn’t feature prominent disclaimers, it’s unlikely anyone would find the names—or the logos, for that matter—“confusingly similar.” The average person is plenty smart enough to realize that none of the T-shirts, posters, or bumper stickers comes from Wal-Mart.
And that’s exactly what Judge Timothy Batten concluded, as WebProNews reported. Smith is free to go on using the names “Wal-ocaust” and “Wal-Qaeda” to sell products.
Of course, Smith’s aim is to make a political point, not establish a business. Any company that chooses its name as a parody of another company risks obsolescence once the subject of the parody is no longer a household name. Some brands might continue to flourish even if no one gets the joke anymore, but if Wal-Mart went out of business, there would be no market for Wal-ocaust T-shirts.
Which is probably just what Charles Smith would love to see happen.
Posted by William Lozito at 4:42 PM
Posted to Brand Naming | Branding | Company Naming | Durable Goods | Licensing | Naming | Naming Rights | Product Naming | Retail | Trademarking
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The Daily Herald has a good story up about the value of the Motorola name. The right move, they say, would be for one entity of the recently divided company to continue using the name, probably the Mobile Devices business.
That’s interesting, because as the Herald correctly points out, usually in similar cases the company name is scrapped altogether. That still could happen, not least because some people feel that offering investors the ailing handset business (the one most customers associate the Motorola name with) is, as Extra Tech so eloquently puts it, like “putting lipstick on a pig.”
The rot started in earnest, says GigaOm, when the RAZR (another well loved brand name in the Motorola stable) “stopped being the next new thing.” Ironically, the new MOTORZR truncates that name even further, while offering what looks like the same old thing.
Extra Tech says that “right now, Motorola is simply a brand,” but one that could be very attractive to Chinese manufacturers who have little, to no brand name recognition in the United States.
It's interesting to see the fortunes of a company (or senior executive for that matter) change so quickly. A year or two ago Ed Zander, Chairman of the Board for Motorola, was poking fun at Samsung's naming, calling them "Same Sung."
I agree. The Motorola name has simply too much equity to be tossed.
March 25, 2008
The History Channel has shortened its name to simply History and has literally thought outside the box with its logo by taking it out of its box altogether. This follows the industry’s tendency to refer to a channel in a shortened version of its original name. In this case History.
TV Jab finds this move “slightly disturbing,” not because they have a problem with the name, but because of the perception that History (formerly the History Channel) is trying to become more “hip.”
At the same time, TV Squad notes that the channel is known in some quarters as “The Hitler Channel” because of the number of World War II documentaries you can see there and worries that the name will alienate its core audience. I don't think so. The channel's programming and its audience is much broader than its original focus on World War II.
At least one civil war historian feels the same way, bemoaning the channel’s move towards “immersive” adventure documentaries about truckers and loggers.
The fact is, dropping the word channel from the name allows History to get into other forms of media. It’s a logical move on the part of the channel that many did not believe could be profitable in the first place.
The same thing was said about the Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel and the original Financial News Channel. Oh, people thought Ted Turner "was crazy" when he established CNN, who would want to watch news 24/7? Apparently many people around the world, including world leaders.
March 24, 2008
In the coming weeks you can expect to see "Now Grilling" signs at select KFC stores. And storefront signs
will be changed to feature "Kentucky Grilled Chicken." The London Free
Press says that "Even the brand's ubiquitous chicken buckets will get a
Doug Hasselo, KFC's chief food innovation officer, says: "This is transformational for our brand."
All kinds of things have to happen to make this naming work.
First of all, customers have to accept that KFC can grill chicken and that the product is indeed healthier than its fried alternative. Will they really believe that a piece of grilled chicken from KFC is better for them than a piece of extra crispy chicken?
More than that, many loyal customers are not going to like this kind of
brand name dilution. Circle of Food wonders if the sides will also get a makeover. Some executives have pointed out that if you want to eat healthy, you can't "just chow down on biscuits."
I think this is either going to be major coup for KFC or an unmitigated New Coke-like disaster. The name itself, Kentucky Grilled Chicken, will refocus consumers on what KFC actually stands for, a case of one step
forward and one step back.
The other thing that must worry some executives at Yum foods, KFC's parent company, is that Kentucky is not really the grilling center of the United States. When I think about grilled chicken, I think possibly of Subway.
I wonder what Colonel Sanders would think? I'd hate to be the one to tell him!
Maybe they should run an add showing that the Colonel left behind a top secret grilled chicken recipe.
March 21, 2008
There seems to be some unhappiness in Seattle about the possible name of that city's major league soccer team.
The names that the soccer fans of Seattle have to choose from are: Seattle Alliance, Seattle Republic and Seattle FC, leading Seattle PI to report that sports fans were asking "Is it a phrase from a "Star Trek" convention? The name of an Eastern bloc country? Did focus groups consisting of a bunch of youth soccer coaches come up with some new moniker?"
Apparently, there had been a chance the name would be Emerald City says the WV Hooligan, who favors Seattle FC.
It seems like the folks in the Pacific Northwest have a pension for unusual names.
- Seattle's tourist slogan is "metronatural." Need I say more. Of course it reminds one of metrosexual, perhaps not the most positive association.
- Wisely, the state of Washington had the wisdom to drop its most recent state slogan "SayWA!"
Don't worry, Seattle, you may not be crazy about your soccer team's new name, but at least your team will not be called the PA Stoners, the name that came about in Pennsylvania for its NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) team from "Pennsylvania’s nickname: the Keystone State." Ouch!
March 20, 2008
The news that Ukrainian firms are adopting Western images and naming to capture western market share falls in line with the trend worldwide to embrace English sounding names. A law firm that changed its name from Shevchenko Didovskiy & Partners to Asters is simply good business sense in a quickly globalizing world.
Taiwanese companies are also embracing English naming as are Chinese companies.
Brand names often do not translate well from country to country: according to the Branding Strategy Insider.
The Mitsubishi Pajero had to be renamed in Spain because the word pajero is slang for "one who masturbates." No German will drink a latte because it is a slang term for an erection in Germany.
March 19, 2008
The new Very Zino luxury line of pens, watches and luggage takes advantage of the immense equity around the Zino Davidoff name. All of these will feature the distinctive “brand symbol” of Zino Davidoff, whose name lives on as a brand that is synonymous with luxury. Davidoff believed that ““Pleasure in a thing of beauty is the essence of a happy life!”
Most people know the Davidoff name through his high end cigar brand, but he has also become a fashion and perfume brand via another company called Zino Davidoff Trading AG. The real feat here is that a brand name like Davidoff can straddle so many worlds.
His brand keeps growing and expanding. It is hard to think of another cigar brand that could be used to sell such an array of products, maybe Montecristo, but Davidoff was a shrewd marketer who learned to associate his name with his business.
Would I buy a Davidoff watch or briefcase? Yes indeed! And I’m not sure any other top cigar brand name would sway me. The name Davidoff, which sounds lavishly Eastern European (he was born in Kiev), just seems to fit better on a watch face or luggage tag than a name that sounds like its from Cuba.
The real question is why it looks just as good on a cigar band, but boy does it.
March 18, 2008
One of the things that has occurred to me as I read about the JP Morgan buyout of of Bear Sterns was how a company with the word “bear” in it managed to do so well on Wall Street in the first place? Patrick O’Callahan in the News Tribune wonders the same thing, asking “Why not Bull Stearns, Windfall Stearns or Rally Stearns?”
Names that might be avoided, according to Callahan, would be “Crash Stearns, Panic Stearns, Nosedive Stearns, Sell-Off Stearns, Lemming Stearns and Halloween Stearns.” The Daily Dopeness suggests that the new name might be JPBearBernankeMorganStearnsChase. Fact is, they are certainly living up to their name (the first part, anyway).
Then again, Callahan's naming might seem very apt to poor old Bear Stearns today.
March 17, 2008
The Small Business section of the Wall Street Journal has a very good article up entitled “Name That Firm,” that indicates that “selecting a name is one of the most important decisions a company will ever make.” A sentiment that I completely agree with.
The article looks at some common pitfalls that come from not putting enough thought into the naming of your company and your brand.
Funnily enough, the Chicago Tribune has a great piece up about rebranding, something many people wind up doing when their first effort at naming and branding starts to wilt. Of course, this is also a pursuit that occupies the time of many a name consultant.
The Small Business Blog has some good ideas on the subject and gives a good idea of the complexity around choosing a good name. You may go ahead and do it yourself, or you just may decide to engage a naming service.
Naming and Branding is indeed very complex and its best to get it right the first time. I find it interesting to note just how often companies almost get their naming right, and end up renaming their company.
March 14, 2008
There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of video-sharing sites, but none so famous as YouTube. Now the clever spotters over at Springwise have discovered a niche video whose name is a tribute to that popularity.
Shoetube caters exclusively to shoe-lovers. If you’re an Imelda Marcos wannabe (oh, I am dating myself here), this site is for you.
I love the name. It’s clever, funny, and tells you exactly what you’re going to find on the site. But I do wonder about the fate of the intent-to-use trademark application that the owner of Powderhouse Productions has filed. It’s possible that even if Google doesn’t choose to file a cease-and-desist on behalf of the name YouTube, the examining attorney at the US Patent and Trademark Office will still reject the application.
There are other registered trademarks that end in “–tube,” but the rhyme makes it tricky, and the USPTO doesn’t look favorably on attempts to cash in on a competitor’s more famous name.
Of course, Google may face its own challenges (its TM for “YouTube” hasn’t made it all the way through the registration process yet), thanks to an abandoned mark for “YouTube” in the same class filed by a Belgian manufacturer of scientific equipment.
Let’s hope Shoetube makes it, but also that “-tube” doesn’t become the “i-” of 2008, with dozens of copycat names to follow.
Limeduck has the second best response to all this: “with bagels, everything is nothing.” The best is from Grub Street: “are we really to believe that the world waited until 1977 for the invention of the everything bagel? Somebody's grandfather in Warsaw is going to be getting a phone call soon.”
I’m no fan of the everything bagel (too much of a good thing, I guess) and I might add that “being first with a brand name is nothing unless you trademark it.”
But I’m fully prepared to believe that Seth invented the name, the man can do anything, er . . . everything.
March 13, 2008
The problem was that Revlon disassociated its extremely valuable brand naming from the Vital Radiance line. It was a deadly mistake that ended a product that was actually very good. I can’t seem to find a word against it in the blogosphere. Some investors still have lots preferred stock faith in Revlon despite the recent debacle, which has cost the jobs of many of the senior management and created $70 million in losses, ouch!
Revlon’s new strategy will be to use the power of the Revlon name to launch new products, something they should have done with Vital Radiance.
Revlon strayed from this basic marketing mantra because of its perception that new products, rather than well known brand naming, rule the day in the make-up world. Well, Vital Radiance was a great product, but without the Revlon name and the names of one or two glamorous models behind it, it failed. Better luck next time, Revlon.
March 12, 2008
Yesterday's New York Times article on “A Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names” reviews a book entitled Bad Baby Names, which suggests that people with names like Please Cope or Major Slaughter should do okay in life.
If you meet a person named Mary Christmas, don’t feel too bad for her. Ms. Christmas probably likes her cheerful name, as does Rasp Berry. At least one blogger has picked a “best of the bunch." Here we are talking about names like Toilet Queen and Acne Fountain, which have surprisingly not proven to be a hardship to their holders.
I don't believe it.
Celebrities often get a roasting, but not enough for the Celebrity Baby Names Blog, which reminds us that our favorite movie stars have dubbed their kids “Pilot Inspektor, Moxie Crimefighter, Audio Science, Kal-El, Bluebell Madonna and Princess Tiaamii.”
Even a name like Ima Reck is not the worst, at least the New York Times article avoided the really politically incorrect names in order to appeal to the bridal shower contingent.
March 10, 2008
Phillip Davis from the Tungsten Branding Blog recently interviewed Seth Godin on his Name Game podcast. The proposed topic of discussion was whether a brand name can be a “meatball sundae.”
For those who haven’t read Godin’s latest book, a “meatball sundae” occurs when a company tries to use Web 2.0 marketing without changing its whole approach to doing business. I was a bit curious as to how a name could be a meatball sundae.
The interview didn’t really answer that question, but did include some memorable comments about product naming from the marketing guru who describes his job as “making a ruckus.”
First, Seth Godin makes the point during the interview that naming your company after a minor character in Moby-Dick is a move no branding expert would advise, but nevertheless Starbucks has been wildly successful.
“The name had nothing to do with their success. And words like Google and eBay are terrible, terrible names, and yet the products succeed despite the name. […] The future of every naming agency [is] not going to be coming up with clever window-dressing. […] Those are the most creative, most confident people in business. The clients need to let them in the door. They need to let them sit with the engineers, sit with the product designers, sit with the customer service people, and design experiences that people remember.”That scenario seems unlikely to me at the moment, yet it would certainly ensure that those charged with naming a product knew its features and benefits inside out, and also knew the company culture. That kind of collaboration would unquestionably make it easier to come up with an appropriate name, even if it wouldn’t eliminate constraints like the need to find a name that hasn’t been trademarked yet.
Although Seth's advice is helpful, I think it's overly simplistic:
“Pick a name where you’re the only one, where you don’t have to pay a million dollars for the domain name, where you have the ability to spread the word from person to person to person without worrying about getting it misspelled, without worrying about it getting confused.”
The interview concludes with the following statement about the part brand names play in a business:
“The great companies, the great organizations, non-profits, schools, everything—are the ones who challenge our perception of the way the world is, and your name should do the same thing.”
For more of Seth Godin’s thoughts about naming, read the following posts from his blog:
We might not agree with every statement in every post, but Seth Godin is always good, thought-provoking reading.
I think that its fair to say that there are some brand names that the average American consumer would never have heard of if it wasn’t for James Bond. Think about the Lotus Esprit S1, or possibly the Aston Martin, and almost certainly the Walther PPK or P99.
The recent news that Tom Ford will be getting the nod to make the tux in the new Bond film is likely to help bring the designer further out of the Gucci spotlight and onto his own stage. Getting your brand naming entwined with Bond’s just makes sense.
The actual name of the new movie, Quantum of Solace, is based upon a 1960 short story by Ian Fleming. The movie will bring back many old friends from Casino Royale and none other than Amy Winehouse will be singing the title track.
Paul McCartney, who sang the title for 1973’s Live and Let Die, says “I definitely wouldn’t do it again. I have been trying to think of something to rhyme with ‘Solace’ and all I can come up with is ‘Wallace’! I don’t envy whoever is going to write the song!”
March 7, 2008
Springwise listed “multi-sensory pop-up spaces” among its most promising new business ideas for the week of March 6th, 2008. Canadian manufactuer Eventscape markets these fascinating alternatives to cubicles and trade-show booths under the name Kapsel.
To an English speaker, this is a good choice of name. Kapsel is obviously an alternate spelling of capsule, and this product is a showroom in a capsule.
If you speak Dutch, it’s a different story. Kapsel means hairdo in Dutch, and in fact there’s a famous Google bomb in which the Dutch Prime Minister appears if you search for “raar kapsel” (weird hairdo).
So Eventscape might have a little trouble selling to the Dutch market, unless they offer their “adaptable environments” to hair stylists to use as portable salons.
That naming and branding paradise otherwise known as 7-Eleven has just debuted a Super Big Gulp of product names for us all to savor just after being named the #1 franchise in the country by USA Today.
First off is the Signature 7 line of products that include “31 snacks, including beef jerky, chips, cookies, nuts, trail mix and candy.” You can wash that stuff down with “Inked," the company’s new tattoo friendly energy drink.
Or grab an Asian roller or a 7-Eleven hotdog, 7-Eleven sells more of them than any other store in America, making them the “king of all hotdog vendors!"
On the other hand, you can just grab a cup of coffee. Last month they amped up their coffee branding with their “freshness guaranteed” blitz. But if you’re smart, you’ll go for the Slurpuccino, “the love child of a Slurpee and a cappuccino,” according to The Stew.
The Slurpuccino. I love it. That’s the name of the week, folks.
March 6, 2008
I am a big admirer of the Olsen Twins brand name (Mary-Kate and Ashley) and the way in which these two women have leveraged their brand naming into a number of fields.
They are writing a book entitled Influence that will feature numerous photos of the two girls who have become walking brand names and have carved out a serious niche for themselves in tween fashion branding as well as in more mainstream clothing, for example, The Row.
Possibly inspired by the Olsen Twins’ success, punk rocker Avril Lavigne is getting all “girly” and is set to offer the Olsen Twins some competition with the introduction of her Abbey Dawn collection. Abbey Dawn being her childhood nickname.
The Olsen Twins, however, are, well twins, leading some bloggers to wonder if sibling branding may be a powerful trend. Witness the rise of the Olsen Twin’s siblings’ line Elizabeth and James and Twenty8twelve, a clothing line from Sienna and Savannah Miller: “The name of the brand comes from Sienna Miller’s birth date (December 28th).”
The fact is, product naming for tween girls is is getting just as cut throat as high street fashion and using entertainment icons to do the job seems to be a great way forward.
March 5, 2008
The Wall Street Journal Health Blog has a great piece up today that tells us that placebos might work better with a brand name. It seems that people expect more expensive, brand name drugs to work better than generics, despite some recent research on the matter that claims generics are comparable to brand name drugs.
It does seem to me that drugs that come with a higher price tag and an attractive brand name are going to be received by consumers with more alacrity than their generic counterparts. That may be why we spend so much time picking the perfect name for them. On top of that, good pharmaceutical naming can also prevent confusion on the hospital floor.
March 4, 2008
A South African bike manufacturer is getting ready to conquer the world by using some savvy brand naming.
Silverback Technologies makes the hardy Silverback bike, which is ”a symbol of reliability, strength, a leader of the pack, with a cool edge." Naming bikes after animals seems to be a trend. Advanced Sports Inc has named their new Fuji sub-brand after the Kestrel.
As for me, I still remember the Mongoose.
I’m just amazed that a name like Silverback took so long to be incorporated into a brand name. I am glad to see that an African company has done the honors, even if there are no Silverback’s in South Africa.
March 3, 2008
Intel, long known for their confusing naming strategies, has selected the name Atom for its new chip line that could find itself in all kinds of new devices, including many that “haven’t had a serious processor before,” like, say, your refrigerator, toaster or even your bathroom mirror.
The Atom naming replaces the Silverthorne code name and also will be used in the Centrino Atom brand name for those products (mostly mobile Internet devices) that carry only Intel processors.
The name also does away with the Diamondville code name processors for desktops and notebooks.
Intel's sub branding nomenclature is doing a nice job of balancing the emphasis of its master brand and new sub brands.