April 30, 2008
One blogger has picked up on my curiosity about the brand naming planned for two new smoothie-like drinks coming from Starbucks. Donder and Blitzen have declared to the world that according to the Wall Street Journal there is a " Top Secret Baptism for New Starbucks' Drinks." in the offing.
This is big news not least because Starbucks is taking a beating lately. Starbucks' tepid performance has led to some gloating across the Internet, and some of it is pretty interesting.
ScLoHo's recent blog post says that the problem here is that Starbucks went too far down market, pinning the beginning of the end at Starbucks' decision to put carts in airports and malls, and to offer the frappuccino in supermarkets.
Could it be that Starbucks product naming has become too pedestrian in a world were we all know our ventis from our skinnys?
Even the employee blogs talk about customers becoming too familiar with the product naming and suggest what should be done about it (remeber that the customer is always
I was interested to see that some Starbucks' employees refer to their company as "Sbux," a neat piece of insider naming.
There is no doubt that these two new names for the smoothie-like drinks have to be something different than smoothie, which is not a Sbux name. Starbucks has a grand tradition of interesting naming. Only they can offer us chocolate espresso truffles with a straight face.
I hope that these new products get the kind of naming they deserve.
April 29, 2008
There are several big names here that are under fire: Miley Cryus (who just changed her name from Destiny Hope), Hannah Montana, Disney, and famed celeb photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Cyrus is the fifteen year old star behind Disney’s clean-cut Hannah Montana brand name. This photo shoot, which was carried out apparently under parental supervision, is really an example of Annie Leibovitz just doing what she does best: creating edgy photos of people in the public eye. In this case, however, the person was a minor and some feel Leibovitz pushed the envelope a bit to far.
Miley Cyrus is topless in these pictures (if you’re the type who believes that being wrapped in a sheet is topless), which is a problem since Miley is, after all, a minor and Disney’s Hannah Montana target audience is 6-14 years old. Even Annie Leibovitz is on the defensive, despite the fact that Miley picked out the photos for publication herself.
Disney has weighed in, accusing Vanity Fair of "manipulating” Cyrus to get the sordid shots, which come after the embarrassing (but still essentially g-rated) pictures appeared on the Internet of the clean cut star.
People magazine readers overwhelmingly think the pictures are inappropriate, although many think they are “artistic." They could be both, but for a minor, the former trumps the latter.
I just have to ask how many youngsters are really reading Vanity Fair? I also have to ask what kind of contracts is Disney giving out to these kids?
I would imagine that if Disney was really thoughtful about protecting its brand naming, it might make partially nude photo shoots for stars of its pre-teen entertainment lines off limits.
April 28, 2008
Hormel wants you to think of Chi Chi’s whenever you hear any word starting with “C,” so it’s only fitting that Chicago and Cincinnati are two of the first cities to benefit from this new C campaign.
According to BrandWeek “Consumers will see Chi Chi’s name associated with words like 'chicken,' 'cravings,' 'cooking' and 'celebration' in signage across grocery stores.” In total, they’ll have more than 2,000 words to choose from, but by no means will all of them be words Hormel wants associated with its product.
There are plenty of possibilites for wordplay on Chi Chi’s. More Words finds 430 English words starting with chi, including not just chicken but chips and chile.
And there are 1490 words containing chi, including achieve, achiote, and zucchini.
A mere 13 words end with chi, but one of them is mariachi.
Or you could look for rhymes, though perhaps peachy, screechy, and Nietzsche aren’t the best associations for fiesta food. (And the philosopher would never have recognized his name if you pronounced it to rhyme with Chi Chi’s, anyway.)
The real problem with the name Chi Chi’s, however, is the slang meaning of chichis. Though some people might associate them with fiestas, most of us don’t want to put salsa on them.
When you think Ketchup, what's the first brand that comes to mind? Heinz, of course.
However, I read with some amusement about the invention of Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup by some bright college students who appear to have found a gap in the market for high-end tomato sauce as part of what looks like a pretty ambitious marketing project.
The problem that Sir Kensington's would face if it was indeed being launched across the US is that Heinz has created a very, very flexible brand name for itself.
Although Laura Ries would be aghast, a quick flip through their web site shows that the company is already offering a low sugar ketchup, a light version, a low carb version, and an organic version, not to mention quite a few packaging options, including "Fridge Door Fit Ketchup."
I wish Sir Kensington's all the best, but Heinz has figured out pretty much all of the niche variations out there, one of the chief problems of trying to take market share from a brand that is now fast on its feet.
April 24, 2008
Here’s a riddle for you: what American company invented a nifty cutting edge consumer tech product that we all loved and then fell behind as faceless rivals offered cheaper, blander versions of its own invention, leading to a forced corporate shake up and the practical demise of the company before a cool new product made it a market leader and a super brand name a generation after it had been written off in the press?
I am talking about Apple, but I might be talking about Motorola.
It’s now almost official that the Motorola handset division will spin off from the business and keep its name in a quest to become a “cellphone icon” according to USA Today, which quotes one exec as saying “The Motorola brand is really important to devices [...] My feeling is that it really means a lot to the (handset) division."
As I indicated back in March, it is unusual for a company that has been raided to keep its brand naming but in this case its a great move. There is massive equity behind the Motorola name despite some recent missteps: Nerdyblog, for instance, claims that the z6M ROKR phone “doesn't deserve the Motorola name.”
The key is for Motorola to introduce cutting edge cellphones that use the newest technology they can get their hands on. Motorola made a simple mistake three years ago: it bet the house on the very popular RAZR line and then didn't embrace 3G technology, a move that hurt the company enough to let Icahn and his cronies in the back door.
It seems Motorola has some really interesting devices planned to roll out, but the key is to find a way to morph hi-tech with the kind of look and feel consumers want. The rise of the so-called “smart phone” offers Motorola a chance to repeat its success with the RAZR by giving us a phone with the features we like in a cool package and a cool brand name.
They did it once, why not do it again?
Motorola, lest we forget, were the people who brought us the original 28 ounce cell phone over twenty years ago.
It’s now facing the same kind of problems Apple faced in the early 1990s, but if they can come back with their own cellphone version of the iPod, watch this beleaguered brand name clean up.
April 23, 2008
The news that Barbie has seen her sales decline by 12% this year is worrying for Mattel, but surely surprising to any parent who has had to keep track of his daughter’s ever expanding collection of ubiquitous toys.
Barbie is still the number one brand name when it comes to girls toys, but girls seem to be pulled in many directions nowadays thanks to video games, iPods and Bratz dolls, to name a few.
Despite the slump, Barbie has experienced a rebirth in the last few years thanks to a whole slew of new movies that see her as empowered, strong and independent. But what does occur to me, as well as to the dads I know who are in the marketing biz and feverishly buy these DVDs for their daughters, is how the Barbie name has become something of a sub-brand when it comes to their naming and branding.
There’s Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper; Barbie: The Twelve Dancing Princesses; Barbie: The Island Princess as well as Barbie: Mermaidia and Barbie: Fairytopia. Not to mention Barbie: Mariposa (think butterflies).
Here’s where it gets tricky. In very few of these movies does Barbie actually get called, Barbie. In Island Princess she’s Rosella, and in Princess and the Pauper the two twin princesses are Annaliese and Erika. In 12 Dancing Princesses she is Gennevieve, and so on.
The idea here is for the viewer to assume that Barbie is playing different parts in the movies, but it’s a stretch. Especially for a five year old, who might feel she has a few Barbies as well as a Mariposa doll.
It looks to me like these are movies given the Barbie seal of approval, rather than movies that feature a character named Barbie (who does in fact speak to the kids when the DVD menu comes up with a cheery “Hi, it’s me, Barbie” but, like some kind of higher power bestowing blessings upon the tale, does not show her face).
Phew. A guy needs a cheat sheet just to keep abreast of all the different brand naming going on here.
With all of these new products being poured on the market, could Barbie be facing brand naming dilution?
Add the thousands of Barbie clones that are out there, and it seems to be that Mattel is contributing to its own problems by creating what look to me like Barbie knock-offs rather than real Barbies.
How about a few movies that star a young woman named Barbie?
April 22, 2008
Millward Brown's Top 100 Most Powerful Brandz report is a major undertaking, congratulations to MB.
However, you may call me a cynic, but I always question huge percentage changes in data over a one year period.
For instance, are we to believe that during 2007
- Apple's brand value increased by 123%?
- Blackberry's brand value increased by 390%?
What it tells me more than anything is that the Millward Brown Brandz methodology, at least in some instances, is overly sensitive to input.
Having said that, the broad findings of the most powerful brands are most likely valid, but I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the yearly percent change in brand value.
The study ranks Google #1 in brand value worldwide. Maybe that's true. Maybe it's not.
Could Google's ranking, be in part, because the name is ubiquitous as both a noun and a verb or is it vice-versa?
It would be interesting to see what a buyer would pay to acquire Google, which consists primarily of intellectual property or intangible assets versus the #2 brand, GE, which consists primarily of physical assets.
David Goldstein quoted a Millward Brown exec that stated that “strong brands continue to outperform weak ones in terms of market share and share price during recessions.”
Again, I don't think so.
I'm not aware of a recession in the U.S. or worldwide during 2007, the study period. My understanding of economics is that a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of declining GDP.
Again, am I being overly picky? You decide.
Finally, Millward Brown is to be congratulated on this major brand study, even with its perceived shortcomings by a sample of one.
April 18, 2008
The mobile giant isn’t big on giving its products real names; Symbian Freak speculates that the Tube is part of the S60 line. For the general public, however, Tube is easier to remember.
Engadget describes the Tube as “grossly codenamed," and I have to agree that tube is not an especially sexy word, and in one meaning, conveys entirely the wrong shape for a mobile phone.
But there is logic to the name. The dominant feature of the Nokia Tube, like the Apple iPhone, is its screen. It’s a phone for watching video on. Back in the day, everyone referred to the television as the tube.
These days, not even televisions have vacuum tubes in them any more, but language can be slow to catch up with technology. We still talk about rewinding digital audio and video files. Although it may be that a more typical alphanumeric Nokia designation will actually sound more modern.
Besides, the example of pace Microsoft, the real name is supposed to be cooler than the code name.
April 17, 2008
The FDA just announced approval for Alcon’s new nasal spray, Patanase (generic name, olopatadine hydrochloride), expected to be on the market next month.
This prescription drug for allergic conditions will join the "Allergy Arms Race" alongside blockbusters like Flonase and Veramyst (generic name, fluticasone).
The best thing about this name is that it leaves no doubt as to where the drug should be applied. Like Flonase, the nasal root (nasus in Latin) is almost universally understood as nose.
The PATA prefix, however, is harder to explain.
Obviously, Alcon’s brand architecture includes several other allergy drugs that begin with the PATA prefix, but all of these are for ocular allergies, and each is affixed to a semantically distinct suffix
And it’s anybody’s guess as to why Alcon connected with the PATA prefix to begin with. PATA has no intuitive meaning in the major European languages. If anything, it’s close to the Greek/Latin root for father (Pater) - yet it’s hard to believe that Father Nose, Father Day or Father Next is what Alcon had in mind.
Further, the root, PATA, in Sanskrit means a woven piece of cloth or even a tapestry/painting. But Painting Nose and Painting Next are semantically puzzling concepts for a drug as well.
In Zulu, the word PATA when repeated as PATA PATA is slang for sexual intercourse. This too is probably not Alcon’s intended meaning.
There is, however, a Sanskit word, PATTAN, which means port. So, potentially, Patanase means Nose Port.
Closer to home, there is a chance that PATA refers to the Anglo Norman word, Patch. As in Nose Repair. But this might be taking things too far, since in the early trials of Patanase, the incidence of epitaxis (bloody nose) was significantly high.
April 16, 2008
By now, everyone knows that nano means small. Though Apple’s iPod Nano is the most famous product to possess that name, there are 299 registered or trademarked Nano products in the same class, and more than 1200 overall.
In short, the Nano name is getting tired. If you want to name something small, you have to look elsewhere for inspiration.
While Engadget points out that at least five other companies have claimed to produce the world’s smallest USB flash drive, Pico is the most aptly named.
The other contenders are the Kingmax Super Stick, the iDisk II, the Pretec Bella, and Toshiba’s MK2001MTN hard drive, which doesn’t use flash memory.
In the International System of Units, pico denotes one trillionth, whereas nano is one billionth. So a pico-whatever is definitely smaller than a nano-whatever.
It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if Apple started using Pico drives to make its Nano even smaller.
April 15, 2008
I just read about Seal Shield's medical grade washable keyboard that uses exclusive waterproof technology and antimicrobial plastic. The alliterative Silver Seal name grabs your attention and promises a higher quality solution (in the silver) and protection (in the seal).
But there is more to name behind the product. Most consumers are not aware that silver has antimicrobial properties that kill germs and prevent the spread of disease.
Samsung introduced the idea of silver nano particles in household appliances back in 2003 (refrigerators, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners) and silver nano has been used to combat germs in socks, shampoo, and toothbrushes and it’s now being used to irradiate microbials on your keyboard, which by the way has “400 times more bacteria than your average toilet.”
The Silver Seal product name may be slightly ahead of its time, in terms of consumers fully appreciating the implications of silver, but it is poised to name a growing category of silver products developed to combat staph infections and other serious disease on your keyboard or in your washing machine.
The fact that it is dishwasher safe gets my vote too.
April 14, 2008
The New York Times reported last week on an interesting side effect of the now commonplace practice of ego surfing (looking yourself up in Google). People are making friends with their Googlegängers for the same reason women named Virginia move to Virginia: we have a natural affinity for people, places, and things that share our names.
Well, usually. If your namesake happens to be a porn star, you might not be so amused. And if your name is your brand, you might feel just as annoyed by the existence of Googlegängers as record company Apple Corps Ltd did when Apple Inc. (then Apple Computer Inc.) decided to go into the music-selling business.
A company can trademark its brand name and defend it against infringement and domain squatting, within reason, anyway. Apple Inc. challenges aspiring new brand name trademarks with impartial ruthlessness.
But you can’t trademark your own personal name, and you’re not likely to get very far if you accuse someone else who has as much right to the name as you do of domain squatting in order to cash in on your success, unless you are already far more famous than they are.
So if you’re not fortunate enough to be the only person with your personal name to show up in Google, or at the very least the first one to register that name as a domain, you might be better off giving your company a unique, memorable brand name. That gives you a chance to trademark it, grab the “.com” version, and establish your brand.
What’s more, creating a strong association between your name and your company’s helps distinguish you from your Googlegängers when friends and family are trying to find you online.
April 11, 2008
A new breath mint called Antipoleez (get it?) says it eliminates odors on your breath. Perfect for when you've had a few too many, right?
The CEO of this outfit claims its not meant to fool police, but as Marni Soupcoff observes, "Funny thing about the product’s name, then, don’t you think?"
There's some idle chatting on the blogosphere about whether the product naming is "sending out a dangerous message." Seems to me that any product that even suggests you can get out of a DWI with the right breath mint is really pushing the boundaries.
These folks even offer a "night out pack" and a "frat pack" and some really dopey claims on their site.
Antipoleez deserves the same fate as the Cocaine energy drink, pulled from the shelves.
April 10, 2008
Legal Satyricon has a point regarding the hoopla between Apple and New York over their GreenNYC campaign’s apple logo is probably not going to be a win for Apple.
There is hardly a chance that the two logos could be confused and let's face it, we are not likely to see brand name dilution here. New York was “The Big Apple” long before Apple, Inc. was the innovative leader in the technology space.
I think that Apple is well aware that they may not have a strong case here, but by challenging all apple logo treatments consistently, it will strengthen their long-term protection of the Apple logo. Likewise, Logo Design Works supports this argument when pointing out that although “the GREENYC logo is not competing in the consumer electronics category,” Apple may only be sending a warning to others who want to use a similar logo.
Logical Complex Infinitive considers this a case of Apple “bullying” New York, can anyone really bully New York?
It will be interesting to see how the courts courts view this situation if it ever gets that far. It won't, I predict.
April 9, 2008
Even though it seems that some bloggers were more interested in the Orange Ginger Wasabi chip, the real winner here is the Death Valley History Association, which gets Kettle’s support for its Death Valley ROCKS program via an imaginative online competition.
I think this is an excellent way to get around the word “death” in a name. It also leverages the legendary heat of Death Valley to sell chips.
I had no idea the temperature got up to 120 degrees in Death Valley! As Paris Hilton would say, “That’s hot!”
April 8, 2008
A whopping 29% of Dodge's promotional media mix will be interactive, their “biggest digital outlay ever in terms of total dollars and percentage of the media buy” according to Ad Age.
The word Journey will play a pivotal role in the “Dodge Journey of a Lifetime” promotion and a series of videos for the NHL Playoffs entitled “Journey to the Cup.”
It’s a strong, evocative name, but it’s also hard for some us not to think of the cheesy 80s rock band “Journey,” which just announced its presence on Second Life. Their hit single “”Dream After Dream” comes to mind when you hear “If you can dream it, do it.”
Don’t laugh, the car is aimed at young singles and couples with small children. Plenty of the latter were subjected to those songs at at least one school dance.
April 7, 2008
Proposed new labeling laws that do away with regional considerations are creating quite a problem for wine brand names.
For instance, one Swiss village is fighting for the right to use the name “Champagne” on its wines, despite the little known fact that the only real “Champagne” is made in the corresponding region in France, everything else is technically "sparkling wine."
Should the new laws go into effect, the significant equity behind regional names known even by the non-connoisseur, like “Champagne” or “Napa Valley” would be lost, as every brand of wine would have the right to label their "sparkling wine" as "Champagne." This would be catastrophic to the high end, traditional wines that we pay premium prices for.
Imagine trying to reposition a brand name like Moet or Dom Perignon versus a newer label by Lil Jon.”
April 4, 2008
Here is an example of a completely new brand name that can immediately grab huge market share from established competitors. The Steinway Lyngdorf brand for high end audio products is just irresistible.
Many of us who do not even play the piano know and revere the Steinway name. Extending it to an audio system means that non-pianists can grab some of that Steinway allure.
The secret here is that both brand names are leaders in their fields and they both have tremendous recognition in the marketplace.
The combination has acted as a “catapult,” sending the brand name to the top 5 of luxury
audio brand names according to the Luxury Institute Survey.
I’d add that the name Lyngdorf sounds German, just like Steinway does, and a German brand name connotes precision and high fidelity to most consumers in the audio field.
Nordic European naming seems to attract the audiophile with really deep pockets. Just ask Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Harman Kardon, or Klipsch.
April 2, 2008
Those of us who speak English prefer words or brand names that are perfectly balanced by vowel-consonant-vowel or consonant-vowel-consonant. We find these words and brand names easy to pronounce. Think Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Toyota.
Also think Isuzu. A great example of a brand name balanced by vowel-consonant-vowel.
Other Japanese auto brands are successful in the United States and are similar to Isuzu Brand.
- Subaru is pronounced similarly to Isuzu and the former has carved out a nice niche business in the U.S.
- And the Suzuki brand name is no easier or more difficult to pronounce than Isuzu and, as we know, Suzuki is successful in the U.S. with both motorcycles and autos.
Although I have the utmost respect for Mr. Ries, I have to respectfully disagree with him on this one.
If Isuzu failed in the U.S. it had as much to do with "terrible" marketing, or product mix, or timing.
How is the auto brand name Hyundai, which can be pronounced as either "Hun-day" or "Hun-die," (the former being the correct pronunciation) establishing itself as a brand to contend with in the U.S.?
It's not because of a "terrible" car brand name; it's because, I think, when Hyundai was introduced in the U.S. with its tagline, "Hyundai rhymes with Sunday," it educated U.S. consumers on how to pronounce the name.
Hyundai made a positive out of its brand name being pronounceable multiple ways, not unlike, Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) made a positive out of the unusual shape of the Volkswagen.
Sorry Al, Isuzu didn't fail in the U.S. because of its name, it failed for other reasons. Many other reasons.
April 1, 2008
Thought Leader in South Africa has a great post up suggesting that social
media, including blogs, email, and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, needs a new name that will encompass the true marketing nature of all of these social forums. Gino Cosme of Think Leader believes that its a given that public relation agencies should be the ones to bring social media to a new level. His suggestion, therefore, is "social-media relations."
Hmmm. Well, he does lead us to an interesting post about social media marketing strategies but at least one very convincing blogger says that social media leadership will not come from the world of Public Relations.
I think that the name will stay for the time being, but I do agree that advertisers are not likely to take over the medium any time soon.