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May 30, 2008

Porsche Panamera Product Naming is Hot

porsche-panamera-thumb.pngDetlev von Platen, the new president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America Inc., has a major challenge on his hands. Detlev is now in charge of getting us to buy the Porsche's first four door sedan, the Panamera.

There are those who balk at the very thought of such a car, but it is a pretty brutal looking beast. Purists who might scoff that the company that gave us the 911 and the 928 should not be entering into 4 door territory have obviously been in denial over the Cayenne, the very popular four wheel drive Porsche that seems like it is named after, well, pepper, but still has a knock off phone version.

The Panamera name derives from the Carrera Panamerican race and is the first 4 door sedan to make it off the drawing board (they even had a four door 911 planned), which is also the origin of the Carrera name.

Why not just call the thing the Panamerican and be done with it? Oh yeah, because Porsche wants people outside of the US to buy the car, too.

PorscheTarga-13_large.pngSo we have the Carrera, the Cayenne, Panamera and of course, the mighty Targa, named after the Italian Targa Florio road race in Italy. The Targa now refers to any protective piece of metal that arches over the roof.

For a German company, these names do not sound very Germanic. Fact is, they sound like surf sports in California, one of Porsche’s most lucrative sales areas. The Panamera especially seems designed to appeal to Americans while holding on to that conquistador product naming structure.

Porsche is slowly but surely doing away with the idea that high end sports cars should stick to alpha-numeric naming.
porsche 911 carrera.png
Fact is, Porsche’s naming in the last few years is absolutely iconic. Carrera and Targa, let us not forget, are names for models of certain makes of cars. Cayenne and Panamera are actual car names.

As for my personal opinion, I think that Porsche’s current naming is red hot.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:40 AM

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May 29, 2008

Burberry Warrior Kills the Hobo in Fashion Naming

The news that Burberry Group Plc had a 15% gain in its second quarter profit, probably because of the new price tag of $2195 for its Warrior Bag, had me wondering if consumers know there is an economic recession going on?

warrior purse.pngI had to find out more about the Warrior, which is not a bag carried by a JRR Tolkien fighter, even though it looks like one, but instead is a purse by Burberry that looks like it's made of medieval studded leather that asserts “Power. Strength. Dominance.”

The original Warrior Bag was introduced by Burberry at $22,000, meaning that most women would pretty much have to kill somebody off Gossip Girl if they wanted the “it bag of 2008."

Yes, there are a few versions of this bag, including the nova-check version, but the gold alligator version will still set you back a pretty penny. Elite Choice tells us that the far cheaper plebian version of the bag, which is still over $3K, “would make you feel the strength that lies hidden within you and would definitely make you assert your personality.” I guess so!

burberry_leather_hobo_bag.pngI also think that maybe this is the start of a far more aggressive trend in purse naming, not least because the first it bag was called The Baguette, and has an anniversary model out this year.

Last year we had the Chanel Diamond Forever Handbag, but we also had the far more popular Hobo bag.

Evidently, for the past few quarters, women have been told by the handbag industry to be either hobos or warriors. I have to wonder if this kind of product naming is telling us something about the state of the world economy.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:44 PM

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May 28, 2008

Should the Kazoo Name be America's National Instrument?

plaasticKazoo.pngI was interested to read a recent Associated Press article about the Original Kazoo Co. located outside Buffalo, New York, which came to be known as the Original Kazoo Co. after its former owner sold its original name, The Original American Kazoo Co, to its largest distributor.

The Original Kazoo Co. still makes the instruments the way it did back in 1916 when the company was founded; the patent for the kazoo not being granted until 1923.

The actual instrument traces its history into the mists of time. Before it was the kazoo, it was popularly referred to as the "Down Home Submarine." The kazoo is, interestingly, the only truly American instrument, leading some to believe it should be our national instrument.

There are many kazoo fans out there, including the fellow who runs The Kazoobie Kazoos Blog, but it was The Kazoo Guy who found the history of the kazoo name.

kazoo_darien.pngThe basic instrument does indeed have a long pedigree, categorized among the group of membrane based instruments called mirlitons that were used by traditional cultures in Africa, but came to Europe as an eunuk flute at the end of the 17th century.

I doubt the movement to make the kazoo our national instrument will go anywhere, because the word kazoo is simply too silly. But, on the other hand, its no different than a lot of Web 2.0 names.

Although, if one is to believe the Oxford English Dictionary, kazoo is simply an imitation of the sound the actual instrument makes.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:54 AM

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May 27, 2008

Can the Faberge Brand Name Recapture Its Exclusivity?

faberge_logo2.pngThe Faberge name has been purchase from Unilever by London-based private equity firm Pallinghurst Resources and is literally working with descendants of the Faberge family to bring the brand name back to its former glory.

The story behind exactly how Pallinghurst managed to acquire Faberge seems to be one of a full-on siege between Unilever and an aggressive fund that methodically brought up “vulnerable rights” of Unilever’s Faberge portfolio until the company was forced to sellout.

Unilever bought the name for $1.6 billion in 1989 and the final sale price to Pallinghurst is undisclosed but must be rather large since the company is investing $450 million into Faberge’s revitalization. That’s quite a sum for a brand name that we all know from the fabulous eggs, the last one was made in 1917, just before the fall of the Czars in Russia.

faberge-eggs1.pngTrendhunter asks if the brand can become cool again after years of languishing in the Unilever stable. Well, that depends on how you define cool.

The eggs themselves still cause controversy and stand as emblems of excess, but also examples of exquisite, old world craftsmanship. The new brand naming will be appended to “objects of art, fine jewelry and items such as ashtrays and pillboxes,” but not to clothing and perfumes. There do not seem to be any plans for a new egg to be made for some Russian billionaire.

The Faberge brand is probably the most luxurious brand name out there and its proper place is on really, really high end consumer goods. It is interesting to see how people from the Faberge family have been invited to help build the brand, giving it an authenticity that has been missing in recent years.

multicolored gems.pngBut make no mistake, the brand name has been acquired to also help promote Pallinghust’s new mining venture that will sell Faberge colored gemstones into the industry. These gems will be laser engraved with the Faberge name, allowing people to figure out where they came from which will also give them additional value.

"Imagine a Faberge gem versus a no-name gem,'' one investor said recently, "Then take them 50 years into the future and try to sell them at Sotheby's or Christie's. Which gem do you think will sell for more?''

This reminds me of the Forevermark on De Beers diamonds that assured customers of quality and its origin from a reputable mine, meaning that it’s not a blood diamond. That’s probably no coincidence, since this company wants to create a diamond brand as well. This means that Pallinghurst is going to have a brand name with the same recognizability as the one hundred year-old De Beers name.

It’s a savvy move. The high end luxury line will add luster to the colored gemstones and create an immediate buzz around the new venture.

More than likely the luxury line will be a means by which consumers can choose Faberge gems for their jewelry, giving the name an allure, and a use, that it has never had.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:59 AM

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May 22, 2008

Spam Celebrates Three Decades of Demeaning SPAM’s Brand Naming

computerspam.pngThis month we celebrate the 30th anniversary of spam. No, not SPAM the (SP) iced (h)AM in a can, I’m talking about the annoying emails that can crash your computer.

Spam mail takes up 80-95% of all email sent and what's even more surprising is that we know who the first spammer was and what his first spam message said: “DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T . . .” sent by Gary Thuerk in 1978 over the Arpanet, a government run ancestor of the Internet. Gary was a marketing guy (who else) that worked for the Digital Equipment Corporation, now part of HP. Thanks, Gary!

I have always wondered what the holders of the 71 year-old SPAM trademark, Hormel, think about its brand name being used to denote something we all hate. Turns out that they’re pretty darn civilized about it.

SPAM.pngOne Hormel spokesperson recently told Snugglenet that “it was best to be dignified and gracious about the entire issue . . . The company decided that instead of turning the lawyers loose we’d just assume that people can tell the difference between good canned meat and bad e-mail and that people wouldn’t confuse the two. All Hormel asks is that people not use uppercase letters when referring to spam e-mail. SPAM — all uppercase letters — is our product.”

The name spam, by the way, did not come from the Monty Python skit where a bunch of Vikings repeat the name over and over until told to shut up. According to Brad Templeton the predecessor to Thuerk’s first official spam was sent in 1971 via an ancient MIT network that read : THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE. PEACE IS THE WAY. A far better spam mail, in my opinion, than Thuerk’s.

But in 1993, Joel Furr was the first guy to call “a spam a spam,” for a mistaken mass newsgroup posting. The name stuck, even though it had been used by other computer geeks in the MUD community (Multi-User Dungeon or more simply, a multi-player computer game) for years before that, to essentially refer to any unsavory communication floods.

So there you have it. Spam, alas, is here to stay, as is SPAM, the SPiced hAM.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:06 AM

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May 21, 2008

Why Some Airline Naming Lives On Despite the Surveys

airline-passengers.pngThe news that passenger satisfaction with airlines has taken a dive back to 2001 levels is probably not a surprise. But there were a few elements that really surprised me from a naming point of view, and some that just had me wondering what the airlines are thinking.

To start off with, a University of Michigan business professor puts part of the blame on passengers because:

They buy primarily on price, and very little else . . . The result of that is very low service and a business model of cost-cutting that really leaves no one happy, certainly not the businesses, the shareholders or the flying public.

Now, hang on one minute. It seems to me that there are a lot of industries where price matters. Like, well, most of them. And Southwest, which came out tops, seems to be offering pretty good deals, but this might prove that the professor is right. The cheap prices may be factoring into our opinions of customer satisfaction. We certainly don’t look for airline brand names over ticket price tags when shopping for a ticket.

I was also interested to see that JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America were not included in the survey. JetBlue is having some serious image control issues right now, but their problems seem small compared to the challenge faced by US Airways and United Airlines.

These two companies are rumored to merge, similar to Northwest and Delta's recent merger. All four of these airlines are right down there at the bottom of the list of customer satisfaction, leading to some real naming difficulties, or so it would seem.
delta and northwest.png
Brandland USA thinks that both names, Northwest and Delta, should survive and simply be distributed across different routes. This seems like a long shot, but does lead me to wonder if two bad brands are better than one?

These brands are really in trouble, and passengers associate terrible service with both of them, why on earth should they both survive a merger? Moreover, our research has shown that usually one brand prevails in a merger. It’s simply easier and usually reflects the power plays within the deal itself.
unitedairlines logo.png
There has also been much written about the possible merger between United and US Airways, and it seems likely that the name will be United. They are the bigger name with larger international recognition.

Still, customers are not satisfied with any of these brands. Tripso simply suggests that our unhappiness really doesn’t matter and that could be the other reason why all of these brands will live on.

What airlines really look at are complaints from the Department of Transportation. This would explain why the names that make even hardened travelers shudder will live on and on.

In the world of airline branding, cheapness and recognition are better than loyalty and love.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:57 AM

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May 20, 2008

Zombie Brand Naming Back in the News

brimcoffee1.pngThis week there has been a great deal of talk about whether or not a dead brand can live again spurred by an article in the NY Times Magazine on Sunday by Rob Walker. He discusses how some well-known brands, like Brim coffee, stay in the consumer's memory and have equity long after they are no longer available.

Now, some bright sparks are out there collecting those names and bringing them back to life. Turns out that 9 out of 10 people over the age of 25 remember Brim and its tagline line: “Fill it to the rim, with Brim!”

Bringing back dead brand names may be an uphill battle, but it sure is interesting to watch.

What I love here is that Walker reminds us of the lingo around dead brand names; they get referred to as “ghost brands," “orphan brands,” or “zombie brands”. The company Walker profiles is interested in brand names that are dead, “not ailing.” At least one marketing blogger has an interesting take on this, telling us that the Yahoo brand is not dead, but is more comparable to the “walking dead," because Google owns the online search industry. This is a differentiation I have not thought of, most likely because I think that reports of Yahoo’s demise are a little premature.

Nancy Friedman calls bringing zombie brands back to the shelves “The New Old Thing,” while others refer to the phenomena as Dinosaur Brands or Graveyard Brands.

What we have here is a company prompting the “attack of the killer zombie brands.”

Coleco_Main.pngNames that have been exhumed include Underalls, Salon Selectives, Nuprin, Coleco and a list of others. These guys are engaging in what is referred to as “Retromarketing,” and it’s based on the theory that consumers will keep buying a certain brand name as long as it works or its “functional attributes” remain sound.

Walker asks us to witness the revival of White Cloud at Wal-Mart, a former P&G brand name that was eclipsed by Charmin, just like Maxwell House did for Brim.

The only problem is that consumer memory is faulty. We may all recall the Brim brand name, but few of us seem to also recall that it was decaf only. This could mean, argues one interviewee, that a caffeinated Brim might be possible.

Zombie brands also infest the electronics industry because Chinese no-name tech groups love to buy up well-known American zombie TV brands like Zenith and Polaroid to bring out new products. The average consumer, seeing a caffeinated Brim, wouldn't even blink, just like they’d be willing to buy a Zenith flat screen TV.

I have to say that many members of my staff are unashamedly retro in their tastes. We cheered when we saw the Indian motorcycle make a comeback and at least one guy on my payroll wants to chevynomad.pngget a Chevy Nomad.

Good brand names retain their equity over the years, the trick is to decide just how much. The Indian, the Nomad, and even the Beetle are all essentially niche brand names now, although they once were mainstream. Seems to me that so long as you are happy having your zombie brand occupying only a tiny percentage of the consumer landscape that it once held, you’re OK.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:02 AM

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May 19, 2008

Big Brown A Big Boon to UPS Brand Naming

ups-logo.pngUPS is celebrating because a horse named Big Brown looks set to take the Triple Crown after a fabulous win at the Preakness.

The sponsorship deal was signed after the horse won the Kentucky Derby.

Big Brown was named as a colt by Paul Pompa Jr. after he renewed a freight contact with UPS last year. Pompa, at that point, did not realize that his horse would attract the attention of UPS’s marketing department, whose linkage to the prize winning horse has gotten its brand name “mentioned on television and in hundreds of news articles, netting an estimated $1.4 million worth of total media exposure.”

bigbrown1.pngMore than that, the press is starting to pick up on the UPS tagline “Big Brown Delivers."

There certainly is a risk here, not least because a horse, unlike a race car or a yacht, is a living, breathing animal that can get hurt on the track.

For Instance, YUM Brands has already suffered from associating their name with the Kentucky Derby thanks to a TV mishap that saw its executives touting their brands right after the collapse of Eight Belles.

bigbrown.pngNonetheless, UPS is on to a great thing here. Big Brown’s win at the Kentucky Derby and at the Preakness has us all betting he’ll take the coveted Triple Crown, making him only the twelfth horse to do so.

All that remains is the Belmont Stakes and the Times Union already says its “Big Brown’s Crown to lose.”

I’m thinking this will be horse racing and brand naming history.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:56 AM

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May 16, 2008

Obama Hits the Sweet Spot?

080516people_obama2--121094201162400800.jpgThere are a lot worse things to be called than “sweetie,” and if you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard most of them. It is, after all, a term of endearment.

Sweet-tasting foods weren’t always easy to come by, making sweetness especially prized and no doubt accounting for the association of sweetness with affection.

The word “sweetie” dates back to 1721, when it meant “candy drop”; in the form “sweet,” the endearment seems to be as old as the use of the word to mean “sweet-tasting food." In other words, it’s positively Medieval.

Using endearments with strangers has always been inappropriate, even in a country as informal as America. And it can be especially inappropriate if the term is used by a man addressing a woman in a professional situation.

Reporters must be used to getting the brush-off, but if I were Peggy Agar, I’d have found being called “sweetie” by any man I was trying to interview irritating.

obama_leno.jpgOn the other hand, it seems pretty clear from the video that Obama wasn’t trying to be offensive. Agar herself was concentrating on getting her question answered. The media storm that erupted around the use of the word came as a complete surprise to her.

If she’s happy to accept his apology, then that should be good enough for the rest of us.

But perhaps next time he should say, "hold on one second, my friend."

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Posted by Diane Prange at 1:37 PM

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May 15, 2008

Trademark Infringement - A Naming and Branding Headache for The Bird and The Puck

larry-bird.pngTrademark infringement is an interesting and complex area.

For example, the business geniuses who bought Larry Bird’s old home in southern Indiana and used his (trademarked) name to start a Bed and Breakfast.

Get this, the mastermind behind this Larry Bird inspired getaway calls himself a lawyer. His brilliant defense for shamelessly making money from Bird’s name is: “All I know is they told us certain things when we were considering purchasing the property, and after we bought it they had a different story.” This is right up there with “I honestly didn’t know the speed limit wasn’t 90 MPH, officer.”

Ignorance of the law, is not the greatest strategy when it comes to naming and branding, especially when you are engaging in what is clearly a blatant trademark violation while naming your website “The Legend of French Lick, The Former Home of Larry Bird."

Bird was known as the “Legend of French Lick” as well as the “Hick From St. Lick” and there can be no doubt that this establishment is depending upon its association with the Larry Bird name, and his nickname, to make money. Any competent attorney knows that written permission was needed in this case, a casual verbal promise simply doesn't hold up.

Maybe Wolfgang Puck should call these folks and explain to them why he’s so angry at Wolfgang Zweiner, the chef who just opened up Wolfgang's Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener six and a half blocks from Wolfgang Puck’s own Cut, an incredible well-known LA steakhouse.

cut and puck.png
The Knife blog asks if Wolfgang Puck can really claim to be “basically the essence of Wolfgang-ness” but adds that this is really just an idiotic example of restaurant naming since Wolfgang Puck is such “a beloved Los Angeles landmark.”

But, isn't the real question, is the naming illegal?

The legal tabloid is not sure, not least because Wolfgang Zweiner is a pretty big name in the restaurant scene.

Let’s face it, it is highly unlikely that anyone craving an evening at Puck's famous Cut steakhouse would unknowing wonder into Wolfgang's Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener and ask to buy Wolfgang Puck a drink.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:06 AM

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May 13, 2008

Blackberry Embraces Some Bold New Brand Naming

BoldBlackberry.pngThe news that the new Blackeberry, which up until this weekend was called The Blackberry 9000, is now officially to be named Blackberry Bold, is sure to send CrackBerry.com addicts scurrying to get their new fix. The web mantra for this phone is “Be Bold."

Engadget Mobile is already buzzing, asking if the new gadget has a “Bold new design, bold new flavor?” and jokingly calling it the “Blackberry Clunk”, much to the irritation of some of the people posting on their blog.

The name bold is actually in reference to the display, but Newsblog can’t help mentioning “The bold and the beautiful,” which I suppose is a good thing.

A quick flip through the Blackberry website indicates that this is the Blackberry Bold 9000 (its full name, it seems) is pretty cool, and PC World reminds us that this is designed to take on the iPhone, based on the 3G platform and a higher-res, but smaller screen, though it "holds the same number of pixels as the current iPhone's."

blackberrycurve.pngSub-branding isn't new to Blackberry. The company previously introduced the Blackberry Pearl 8100 Series (marked by its small size, smartphone brains and elegant beauty), followed by the Blackberry Curve 8300 Series (designed with a slightly curved keyboard "For the Well-Rounded Life").

The Bold is a deviation from previous Blackberry naming by using an adjective rather than a a noun.

However, brand names that are adjectives or verbs are not something new to the category. Three notable examples are:

  • LG enV - of course, envy can be both a noun or a verb (pictured below left)
  • HTC Touch (pictured below middle)
  • Samsung Juke (pictured below right)
phones.png It also occurs to me that the word bold, unlike curve and pearl, is distinctly masculine. With a tagline like “Be Bold” on a black web splash site, one has to wonder if Blackberry is trying to appeal to men more than women with this one.

The language is also distinctly macho: RIM feels the Blackberry will “Power the passions you pursue.”

Could it be that RIM has decided to take huge inroads into iPhone’s potential male market and let Apple have its fair share of female buyers?

blackberrypearl.png One thing is for sure, it is hard to see some guy buying the Blackberry Bold for his girlfriend, while holding on to his Pearl.

Finally, expect to see more brand names in the cell phone and smartphone categories, as well as more broadly, that are verbs or adjectives. As a society we've pretty much run out of nouns that are available to trademark in many categories.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:49 AM

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The Clinton Brand Name Keeps Getting Stronger

hillaryflag.pngThere’s been some talk in the press about the Clinton brand name and how her recent struggles might negatively affect its equity.

I always find this type of discussion interesting, if not amusing.

One strategic marketing site has created a very interesting brand architecture outline that essentially has users comparing presidential candidates across a variety of consumer categories, including “Cereal, Beer, Coffee, Apparel, Technology,” a subject very similar to something we blogged about last year.

Whether your liking for Rice Krispies will negatively affect the Clinton brand name, I cannot say. What I will risk saying is that win or loose the nomination, election, or even today's West Virginia primary, the Clinton brand name is not going to be tarnished for two reasons.

The first reason comes right out of Brand Naming 101: you cannot tarnish a brand name for doing what it is supposed to do.

What tarnishes a politician’s brand name is when they betray their basic brand values by doing something scandalous, dishonest or otherwise misinformed. Something that tarnishes the basic integrity of the brand name and all it stands for.

Love her or hate her, Hillary has yet to do that. She has fought hard and bitterly against Obama, but this is how she operates, and her supporters admire her for it.

hillarybillsplit.pngThe second reason is something we have blogged about in the past: Hillary has separated her personal brand from the Clinton Masterbrand and she has done so quite successfully. The Hillary brand name has never been more visible, strong, or vivid in my mind. I think that it is spurious to lump her simply as a Clinton.

After this is all over, count on the name Hillary to become just as big as the name Clinton.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:38 AM

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May 9, 2008

High-Fididelity Naming for eBay Competitor

buy.pngA lot of people are unhappy with eBay right now, and throngs of alternative auction sites are stepping forward.

The most recent entrant isn’t precisely an auction site, it’s a place to haggle. (Cue excerpt from “The Life of Brian.”)

Fididel’s founder insists that the name doesn’t mean anything, or at least, fididel, pronounced fih-diddle, didn’t mean anything before the launch of this service.

Now it means “to haggle online,” and the site promises a whole family of related words. Fididelers, for instance, are people who do your haggling for you, for a cut.

sell.pngUnlike competitor Wigix, whose name stands for “Want It-Got It Exchange,” Fididel’s was named for a Mexican restaurant called Fidel’s.

The name Fidel contains several layers of significance. It’s root meaning is faithful, implying honesty and reliability—not a bad thing for a marketplace to have. On the other hand, the most famous Fidel of the modern era is the communist dictator Fidel Castro—not quite the icon you want for a flourishing free market.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 12:20 PM

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May 8, 2008

V8 Soup: More of a Good Thing

It seems like V8 vegetable juice has been around forever, but it’s actually only been since 1933.

The origin of the name is the 8 different vegetables used to make the drink. Obvious, and yet brilliant.

  • It’s descriptive: it tells consumers what this drink has that ordinary tomato juice doesn’t.
  • It’s suggestive: the V8 engine powers sportscars and aircraft, making V8 an energy drink long before the likes of Red Bull came along.
  • It’s short, simple, and easy to pronounce.

v8 juice.pngNow V8's parent company Campbell Soup is introducing 5 varieties of V8 soup. This seems like a logical step to me.

As a child, watching the “I coulda had a V8” commercials, I was always skeptical about the idea of drinking vegetable juice instead of fruit juice. Okay, I was skeptical about vegetables in general at that age. Vegetables in soup make sense, even to someone who tried to feed her peas and carrots to the dog under the table.

Admittedly, corn, peppers, squash, and broccoli are not among the ingredients of the original V8, which means “V9” might be a more accurate designation, but this is a solid branding choice for Campbell’s.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 2:28 PM

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Baskin-Robbins Loses Founder, But Great Product Naming Lives On

BaskinRobbins31.pngThe passing of Irvine Robbins of Baskin-Robbins fame has me paying tribute to a man who really knew the value of eye catching product naming.

The name Baskin-Robbins was an amalgamation of the names of its founders, Irvine Robbins and Burton Baskin. The two men flipped a coin to see whose name came first, leading later generations to wonder if an ice cream chain called Robbins-Baskin would have done nearly as well.

Robbins discovered as a teenager that he could sell three times the ice cream if he changed the offering from “three scoops of ice cream, a slice of banana, two kinds of toppings” to “Super Banana Treat.” This was the start of a cornucopia of ice cream naming.

There have been over a thousand great flavors over the years like Valley Forge Crunch, for the 1976 Bicentennial, Lunar Cheesecake, to mark the moon landings, and Beatle Nut for Beatlemania.

After his retirement, Robbins named his boat “The 32nd Flavor.” Nice.

The Baskin-Robbins brand name itself is very powerful. The famous 31 flavors (one for every day of the month) grew from the original 21 flavors . The company, owned by Dunkin Brands is gearing up for a major US expansion with a new logo, graphics, web site, store design and of course some new product naming.

baskin-robbins-1.pngBaskin-Robbins was there with some really funky naming before the founders of Ben and Jerry’s were born and before Häagen-Dazs hit the big time (that name means nothing, really, and it invented Nordic consonance)

Basskin-Robbins’s great names for their flavors have always intrigued us and made a trip to the brightly colored stores special. This company, one of the first true franchises in the US and one of the pioneers of the high end ice cream market, probably owes its existence not only to its great ice cream, but also to the foresight of its founders, who understood that great flavors need great names.

RIP, Mr. Robbins.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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May 7, 2008

Cold Spring Name Change Not a Hot Idea

coldspringpaleale.pngOn the State of the Brand 2008 blog this week, Jason Voiovich is lamenting the loss of the Gluek’s Brewery brand name, which was replaced by the more pedestrian Cold Spring earlier this year.

The copyright notice on the company’s website still says Gluek Brewing Company, but it appears not to have been changed since 2005.

Not that Cold Spring is meaningless. It’s the name of the city where the brewery is located. And the idea of brewing your beer from cold local spring water is attractive enough. But here in Minnesota, we’ve got Cold Spring This and Cold Spring That all over the place.

There’s nothing really wrong with it, but there’s nothing really right with it, either. Nothing distinctive. And if you brew craft beers, you need distinctive. Likewise if you’re trying to break into a new and already-competitive market. (Cold Spring now produces energy drinks.)

Admittedly, those not from Minnesota might be unsure how to pronounce Gluek (which is Old German for luck), and it’s usually a good idea for new product names to be easy for English-speakers to pronounce. But Gluek is not a new name.

cluek'srestaurant.pngThe 1902 Gluek House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Gluek’s Restaurant is the oldest in downtown Minneapolis.

Around here, at least, the Gluek’s name has equity. Abandoning the name, and potentially confusing existing loyal customers, seems like a far greater risk than keeping it.

Viel Gluck!

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:58 AM

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May 1, 2008

Why Did the FDA Object to Merck's Cordaptive Brand Name?

mercklogo.pngThe news that Merck's new Cordaptive drug was unexpectedly torpedoed by the FDA has raised eyebrows across the industry, not least because the FDA
rejected the name as well, leading Derek at In the Pipeline to wonder what Merck will do with "all their promotional freebies."

This seems to be the least of Merck's problems this week.

There are a number of scientific and political reasons that probably doomed Cordaptive, but the FDA has yet to give a specific reason.

I have some thoughts on why Cordaptive may have been given a not-approvable letter.

Cordaptive is a cholesterol reducing drug from Merck that combines niacin, which can cause the unfavorable side affects of flushing and hot flashes, with laropiprant, which mitigates niacin’s side affects.

But Merck also markets Zocor, which also is designed to reduce cholesterol.

Additionally, there is Vytorin, a combination of Zocor and Zetia, which has proven to be no more effective than Zocor alone at reducing heart attaches or strokes.

Perhaps the FDA felt the "cor" prefix in Cordaptive suggested that the new product was an adaptation of Zocor. Or perhaps there were other reasons.

Merck changed the Cordaptive name to Tredaptive, which was approved by EMEA or the European Medicines Agency.

It will be interesting to see what the FDA decides regarding the Tredaptive name and the drug itself.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:22 AM

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