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January 30, 2009

Facebook Linguistics: Changing the Definition of Friend / Unfriend

add-to-friends-1.gifFacebook may be responsible for redefining the word friend and may also be responsible for introducing two words to the world: unfriend and defriend - both verbs. It may also be responsible for turning the word "friend" itself into a verb, as in, when somebody likes you, they friend you on Facebook. You can now get friended by somebody else, and we all know what that means.

In our lives, we seem to have real friends and Facebook friends. A quick scan of your friend list on Facebook will bring up not a few questionable faces - random people from your middle school, people you met once at a party, customers, and a few people you've never even seen before, or at least can't remember - but now, via your status updates and postings, all your friends can get a glimpse of how you're feeling at any given moment while also perusing family snapshots.

Those of us who like Facebook can find that it offers an eerie alternative universe for real friendships. It's not uncommon to spend a few hours with a real friend, go home, and post a comment on the experience to the same friend (and, given the way Facebook works, everyone else you've friended over the years).

However, Facebook has a slightly darker side as well. The urban dictionary defines unfriending thus:

The opposite of befriending someone. When you unfriend someone you don't necessarily become their enemy per say, but you are just no longer their friend, sorta like just distancing yourself from them until you befriend them again.

Some people may unfriend you simply because they already have too many friends and can't handle more.

Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice urges you to unfriend (eg Sacrifice) ten friends on Facebook and get a Whopper in return, but be warned that those who have been unfriended take notice of it, which can be awkward, that is, if you ever happen to meet them in the real world.

One writer says that the word unfriend may actually be better as a noun than a verb - you can be an unfriend with most anybody, including former friends. Often, there's nothing personal in being an unfriend with somebody you've unfriended - you don't necessarily move from being friends to enemies.

That works for me. I care about my unfriends...but not that much.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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January 29, 2009

Say it with Bacon: The Mouthwatering Product Naming Craze

bacon.gif"Bacon makes it better." That's what the National Pork Board says, and American consumers appear to agree.

So powerful is the hold bacon has on America's imagination (and taste buds) that even vegetarians and those who avoid pork for religious reasons have their own versions: Smart Bacon™, turkey bacon, grass-fed beef bacon, and even vegetarian, kosher Bacon Salt.

baconnaise.gifThere are blogs about bacon and a 2000-member Flickr photo group called "Everything's Better with Bacon." A recipe called "Bacon Explosion" is making news, and probably increasing sales of anti-cholesterol drugs, too.

So it's no surprise that any product with bacon as an ingredient highlights that fact in its name, from Mo's Bacon Bar (that's right, a bacon-flavored chocolate bar) and Baconator.gifMaple Bacon Morning™ coffee to Baconnaise.

We might be a trifle biased, since we had a hand in its creation, but we tend to agree with Sara Ost at the HealthBolt blog that the Wendy's Baconator® is "the very best in baconation."

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Posted by Diane Prange at 3:46 PM

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RahmRod: The Ideal Obama Dog Name

D.O.T.U.S_highres.gifChoosing a name for the First Dog is an undertaking that could rival the appointment of a cabinet member.

Naming the Obama family dog is as much fun as our experience naming the Wendy's Baconator® or even Bayer Healthcare's resQ® Pet Tracking System.

Our ethos is that great names are achieved by a process where creativity, strategy and linguistics converge.

obamatripawd.gifIn developing name candidates for the Obama dog we thought it was important to think strategy first before applying our creative and linguistic expertise. To that end, we conducted a national online survey using Survey Sampling's online panel among 487 U.S. citizens who owned a pet and supported Barrack Obama in the recent presidential election.

We learned that this group is partial to naming their pets after well-known people - either real or fictional. Names ranged from Scooby and Linus to George Washington, Cleopatra, Garrison Keillor and even poet Edith Sitwell.

With this foundation of strategic knowledge we created the PETNAME checklist of First Family dog naming:

  • Politically optimistic - Gerald Ford's dog, 'Liberty,' Richard Nixon's, 'Vicky' (which means victory) and Jimmy Carter's 'Grits' are on the right scent. Conversely, Rutherford B. Hayes and Calvin Coolidge may have sent the wrong signals with names like 'Grim' and 'Calamity Jane.'
  • Easy to pronounce - and easy to spell. Lincoln's dog was named Jip, which was often spelled Gyp.
  • Tell a story -the name should say something about character, history or pedigree. Kennedy's dog, Shannon, was a gift from the president of Ireland.
  • No more than two syllables - the longer the name, the harder to train.
  • Atypical - avoid the obvious - Max, Sam, Lady, Bear, Buddy, Smokey, Shadow.
  • Made in America - Avoid foreign sounding names like Manchu (Theodore Roosevelt) Caruso (Taft) and Pushinka (Kennedy).
  • End with a vowel sound - Pet names ending in vowels like Fido (Lincoln) and Barney (Bush 43) are significantly easier for your pets to hear. This is good insurance for a president who wants to make sure that no matter what he does, there is still one living being who will listen to him.

RahmRod_highres.gifAlthough we developed many promising dog names for the Obama family, Diane Prange, our Chief Linguistics Officer, considers RahmRod the best choice.

RahmRod combines the names of two top dogs in the Obama administration, Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod.

Diane points out that RahmRod is consistent with what we learned in our proprietary research, that Obama supports prefer pet names - either fictional or real - that are named after a person.

If you would like to know more about Diane's insight for naming dogs and naming a product or service, please check out these audio clips:

15 Seconds - When it Comes to a Dog's Name, Sound Trumps Meaning.wav

30 Seconds - A Name is Like an Arranged Marriage.wav

What are your ideas for the First Family's dog name?

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:08 AM

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January 28, 2009

The Right Spirits Naming Move for a Thirsty Economy

bulldoggin.gifIn 2007 I noted that gin naming and branding was undergoing a shake up and it turns out that the shake up has continued at full speed. New gins are much more approachable than in the past, as is new gin naming, which is veering away from traditional.

The new Bulldog brand gin, for instance, has a faint British resonance and according to one source with the company, the new name "seemed to embody the brand," adding that "Our name is one of our best assets."

Tanqueray also has an edgy Rangpur brand name that competes with Whitney Neil gin, which is packaged like a premium bourbon and gained some time in the spotlight for running a competition to help benefit trees.

Hendrick's gin is even more offbeat, calling itself a "rather odd gin" in a recent "decadently retro" ad.

Gin appears to be making a move away from the high end, Absolut inspired branding, towards the kind of branding we usually see with micro-breweries. This is branding that appeals to the young and those with a little less cash to spend, which seems to be a lot more of us everyday.

Sometimes I guess you just make the right move at the right time.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:19 AM

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January 27, 2009

Home2 Suites by Hilton Offers Us Safe Naming in Tough Times

home2suites-logo.gifThe new Home2 Suites by Hilton are extended stay hotels geared to the young millennial business traveler. Designed to be edgy, funky, and maybe even a little bit grungy, these hotels are pretty simple.

The Home2 naming refers to these suites being your second home, with your real home, (or more likely apartment) serving as your first home, or Home1, I suppose. There is a distinct technological resonance here, with the sort of Home 2.0 brand name, but such a name would also suggest that the Hilton offering is better than your real home.

Each hotel will also feature an Oasis, which serves as a communal living zone with a community table, individual work zones and so forth (really sounds more like a dorm common room). Again, Hilton is focusing on the various conceptions of home and safety with strategic naming.

There will be 100 offerings by 2012 and each hotel will have 108 guest rooms: 80% of these will be studios and 20% will be one bedroom suites.

Launching a new brand name might be the right call for the traditionally upmarket Hilton, because in tough times we all want a home and an "oasis" to feel safe in. Hilton himself describes these suites as "hip and humble" - just the ticket for a new executive who wants to feel at home while on the road.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:26 AM

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January 26, 2009

Recent Naming and Branding Failures Remind Us To Use Good Brand Names Wisely

An essay on brand conformity got me thinking this morning about the mysterious process through which naming and branding works, and doesn't work.

I think that we all accept that customers have a deep belief that well-named and branded products work better than brands that do not resonate visually or aesthetically.

bk_boxers.gifThe problem occurs when we misuse the magic of a brand name. One instance where this tends to happen is with brand extensions, and the way in which incredibly well-positioned and regarded brand names can be, quite frankly, abused. I'm thinking about Burger King underwear, Playboy Energy Drinks and $1200 Sleeping Beauty fountain pens.

Add Pre4cious Moments coffins, Hooters airlines, Cheetos lip balm and Salvador Dali deodorant and you can see where I'm heading with this.

Harley_Cake.gifThe care and feeding of a good brand name includes being careful not to misuse the aura you have built around it like Bic's "disposable pantyhose" or the Harley-Davidson cake decorating kit have done.

There is no use building a solid brand when you are willing to introduce products that dilute the value and image that the brand conveys to the consumer. Extending a brand name beyond its rightful limits only has the power to diminish the quality of the brand itself.

My suggestion: Learn from the mistakes of others and build a brand name that lives up to its promise to the consumer.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:30 AM

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January 23, 2009

Need Some Quick Cash? Try a Baby Naming Auction

babynameauction.gifWe've talked about selling the naming rights to stadiums, university buildings, towns, and even frog species, but until the Freakonomics Blog pointed out an eBay auction that included the right to name a baby, we hadn't heard of this particular contagion spreading to humans.

The motivation for selling naming rights is obvious: a need for money. As for buying those rights, it's fairly easy to see why a company would want its brand name associated with a public building: marketing. And when a philanthropist gets her name on a lecture hall she helped fund, that inscription is both marketing and a form of immortality.

It's certainly hard to imagine that naming one child would be an effective exercise in branding for a company, unless the child had celebrities for parents. Given the names many celebrities give their children anyway, the child probably wouldn't be any more traumatized than its peers if called Citibank or AT&T.

Naming a celebrity baby would probably be a good branding tactic, but the $4050 this bidder spent on the right to name a stranger's unborn child isn't likely to be an effective use of a business' marketing money. Better to get a whole stack of bumper stickers or T-shirts printed.

Yet, clearly, the opportunity to bestow a name was worth quite a bit of money to someone. (For all the equity of the Nike name, Air Jordan baby booties just don't cost that much.) We can only speculate about the bidder's motives (at least until and unless more detail appears on the NameMyBaby blog), but it seems safe to conclude that the right to name something or someone has considerable value in our culture.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:58 AM

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January 22, 2009

MG Brand Naming Rides Again

mg_logo.gifThe MG name is back after a brief period as NAC MG UK - the "NAC" being a reference to its former Chinese parent, Nanjing Automobile Company.

The name was subsequently bought by another Chinese rival, SAIC, who has wisely decided to return the name to MG in an effort to reinforce the perception of it being a British Brand name.

Interestingly, this move came after one entrepreneur vowed to keep the name alive via a limited edition sports car called the MG X-Power car.

The new name will officially be MG Motor UK Ltd, but some bloggers think that no one "will be fooled."

Although, they still have their UK assembly plant and years of British heritage. Today's sophisticated car buyer is not going to be scared off because a beloved marquee is made elsewhere. Heck, half of a Ford is assembled outside of the United States. And the only truly British car company left is the one that builds the black taxis.

Some believe that this is proof that China does not have confidence in its car naming just yet, but the real problem may have something to do with the idea that cars just don't capture our hearts anymore. Either way, retaining this well-loved name is a great first step towards rehabilitating one of the great automotive brand names of the last century.

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:17 PM

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January 21, 2009

Does Heineken's New "Give Yourself a Good Name" Campaign Help its Naming and Branding?

heineken1.gifHeineken's new "Give Yourself a Good Name" campaign might be the first slogan I have seen that would not be too bad for a naming company. That said, I'm not sure if it's a great one for a beer company.

The chief marketing officer for Heineken in the USA explains:

Our consumers strive to give themselves a good name in a variety of ways including the opportunities they pursue, their responses to every day situations and through the brands they choose. Heineken is a brand with a 'good name' reinforced by 146 years of brewing excellence and a family-driven mentality to be the best. With our new campaign, we're taking steps to ensure that we continue to remain relevant and connected to our consumers.

There appears to be a double meaning at work here. It clearly communicates that consumers should reach for a brand with a good name, but it seems that by drinking Heineken they will also be building a good reputation for themselves. In addition, there's an admonition to drink responsibly, or not to throw your name away in drunken excess.

The campaign features three cryptic 30 second spots with actor John Turturro, one of which will be shown during the Super Bowl.

This comes as Heineken tries to push both its lager and light brands, both of which are facing declining sales in a tough economy.

As Craig McNarma points out, the campaign is a bit interesting but doesn't really explain to us why beer drinkers should pay more for Heineken. Turturro is funny but he essentially spouts nonsense at the viewer ("he who wanders with purpose has no purpose to wander") in a high-end setting, which does little to create any real incentive for the consumer.

My main concern here is that I just don't see a connection between drinking Heineken and giving somebody a good name, or even understand how Heineken itself has a good name.

Is drinking beer all about preserving one's good name?

Does this campaign further Heineken's good name in the mind of the consumer?

Having Turtorro say to us in a somewhat threatening voice to "Navigate wisely...or get lost" makes me feel like ditching the beer, and its name, altogether.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:15 AM

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January 20, 2009

Some Brand Naming Stays Fresh Through Reinvention

There are many things to be learned from brands that have the ability to expand and reinvigorate in today's market.

One prime example comes from Chattem, which owns Gold Bond, a hundred year-old cream that has been a staple in American medicine cabinets for so long that we've almost forgotten about it. They now have a lip balm and over two dozen other Gold Bond offerings, including Icy Hot pain reliever and Selsun Blue, along with Kaopectate and Balmex which they recently picked up.

selsun-blue-dandruff.gifAfter acquiring these well-known names, Chattem simply adds a catchy tagline or slightly repositions them. One example is Selsun's "Never Wear Black Without the Blue" ads, which doubled the shampoo's sales.

The key to the company's success is in selecting small, isolated, but nonetheless well-known brand names that seem to have the durability to stand the test of time.

There are two other great examples I would like to mention that seem to be getting a new lease on life by refreshing popular brands.

Ec_logo.gifThe Electric Company TV show is back and set to be just as hip as its 70's counterpart. And the luxury stalwart of the 1980s, the Sharper Image, has been reborn as a more downmarket and affordable licensor (the shops are gone for good).

These brand names seem to have the ability to hang on through even the toughest of times because they are well-known, well-positioned, and fondly remembered by customers despite lackluster performances in the past.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:08 AM

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January 19, 2009

Vulcan Naming Dominates Small Town Market

SpockVulcan.gifThe town of Vulcan in Calgary is appealing for the order to beam up the new Star Trek movie premier.

The town has already gone to some lengths to cash in on its trekkie friendly naming - one of the main characters in the Star Trek series is Spock, a Vulcan from the fictional planet Vulcan. Vulcan, Calgary currently has a Vulcan convention, its own Star Ship and a city welcoming plaque written in English, Vulcan, and Klingon.

Interestingly enough, there are sites out there that help people figure out their Vulcan name or if you Vulcanus_MBA_Ly.giftravel with a larger trekkie crowd, a Vulcan Starfleet name generator.

What is really intriguing is that the word Vulcan originated right here on earth.

In Roman mythology, Vulcanus (or Volcanus) was the god of fire and metal working. Vulcanus was later applied to the erupting Mt. Etna by the Romans who believed it to be the fiery forge of this blacksmith god.

The name Vulcan is an abbreviation of Vulcanus and our English word, volcano, shares the same Roman roots.

Vulcan is clearly a word that can carry a great deal of meaning for trekkies and non-trekkies alike and it is always fascinating to see how a word can evolve over time into new meanings and marketing ideas.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:17 PM

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Corporate Logos that Reflect How They Really Feel

In the midst of one of the worst economic downturns many of us have seen, Business Pundit cleverly tired to spread a little laughter by recreating several well-known logos to represent the true appearance of a few unfortunate companies at this moment in time.

The entire list can be viewed on Business Pundit's post, but just to give you a taste, here are a few of our favorites.






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Posted by William Lozito at 10:34 AM

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January 16, 2009

Bone Numbing Blasts of Product Names

freezingcold.gifSome winter weather product names are bone numbing, others are brain numbing and some actually make sense when you live in Minnesota in January and are looking for thermal therapy.

The chilly arctic air spilling in from Canada actually has an upside for brand names that promise to keep us safe and warm, even when overnight temperatures in the Twin Cities reach 33 below.

Although the sun is currently shining and it has warmed up to 21 below, it's still dangerously cold. In less than two minutes exposed skin teeters on the edge of frostbite. Just this week a sleepwalker in neighboring Wisconsin froze to death while wandering outside in his bare feet.

No wonder mother always told us to bundle up.

But in the Midwest, you can't bundle up with just any old clothing brand. You need to be fortified by brands that are specifically formulated to deal with bone chilling temps. And the short-cut to knowing which brands those are has a lot to do with how they are named.

wigwamsocks40below.gifSo when you walk into Dick's Sporting Goods and see the 40 Below Wigwam socks product name you know right away that these socks can take the chill.

Other Below brands like 20 Below Fleece outerwear, 35 Below Clothing, 50 Below lip balm, 15 Below Coats, 50 Below De-icers, and 42 Below Gin are among the many product name short-cuts leading to warmth and protection.

Bragging rights not withstanding, there are product names besides Below that reinforce protection from and acclimation to the cold - like the word 'Arctic.'

Not surprisingly, there are 394 active US Federal trademarks for Arctic (correct spelling) and an additional 40 for Artic (invented or international or just plain stupid spelling).

There's an ArcticArmorSuit.gifextremity-warming Arctic Toe brand by Georgia boot, Arctic Armor Foul Weather Gear (a mark opposed by Under Armour), the Arctic Cat snowmobile brand, and, for the Nordic in you, Clairol's Arctic Blonde hair coloring.

The word Freeze is also an important ingredient in product names offering relief from extremely low temperatures. There are 387 active federal marks around the word freeze, including the politically correct global warming defying, EcoFreeze.

We are also drawn to over 275 active product names around the word Frost, including Frost Mortgage (freezing rates or assets?) David Frost Wines (just in time for the movie), and of course Frosty Paws treats for dogs (which Chomsky and Pushkin enjoy all year round).

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Posted by Diane Prange at 2:40 PM

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January 14, 2009

Merrill Lynch Naming and Bull Logo Live to Fight Another Day

merrill_lynch_logo.gifThe Merrill Lynch name and its famous bull logo will live on despite the company now being owned by Bank of America.

The new corporate investment bank will be called Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Apparently, researchers went to 13 countries interviewing both current and potential customers to ensure that the name's equity was still strong.

The Bank of America's "Flagscape" logo will also be incorporated into the offering.

The bull logo has been around since 1974 and is hugely recognizable to customers, even in this bear market. One executive in charge of the naming process wisely said that "It would be fiscally irresponsible to try and rebrand Merrill Lynch."

Most other bank names that Bank of America has taken over have been abandoned, but the Merrill Lynch name is simply too powerful to just let go.

This is obviously a good move. Despite Merrill's recent financial failure, the name still means something to investors, and pretty much everyone even vaguely associated with finance knows that what was once Merrill Lynch is now part of Bank of America.

Renaming such a huge organization would cause problems with Merrill employees and former customers. Keeping the name offers both a feeling of security and continuity in tough times.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:30 AM

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January 13, 2009

How Do You Feel About Probiotic Product Naming?

Some naming and branding challenges are obviously more complicated than others. The naming of products containing probiotics - bacteria that supposedly acts as health boosters - seems to be a particularly difficult task.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, last year there were 231 new probiotic-containing products introduced to the market, up from 34 in 2005. Consumers have clearly caught on that this stuff is apparently good for you, despite inconclusive research findings.

Even with an understanding for the product benefits, selling bacteria, even good bacteria, to people has to be difficult. This is stuff that sits in your intestines. It's kind of gross when you really think about it.

The product naming does little to dissuade this disgust.

danactive_varieties_visu1.gifYovation ice cream, DanActive yogurt and Evolve Kefir Probiotic Soda seem like names brought to us from other countries. Purina's Fortiflora for dogs, which helps with good "gut flora," doesn't sound much better.

There's also a GoodBelly probiotic fruit drink, which is a name that is just hard to love. It's almost as bad as Dancing Daisy probiotic milk.

Pop Culture probiotic bars, however, are intriguingly named, not least because the name plays on the word culture, as in cultured bacteria. Interestingly, one of the top probiotics out there is called Culturelle.

I'm thinking that if we are going to make probiotic products more mainstream, the product names are going to need a little more work.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:55 AM

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January 12, 2009

Gatorade's New Generation of Branding and Product Naming

gatorade-G-packaging.gifI'm very impressed with the new Gatorade branding, naming and repackaging. Of all the changes Pepsi has been making to its products lately, this is the one that has the potential to caputre our imaginations. In doing so, it seems to have garnered a good deal play on the Internet.

By focusing on the "G" and the lightening bolt logo Gatorade is able to tread that difficult line between pure sports drink and casual thirst quencher. The line extensions have also been renamed to "convey the attitude of a tough-love coach or personal trainer, with in-your-face names like "Bring It" and "G2."

This simple move will likely reinvigorate this well loved brand name, keeping it relevant while the competition has gotten bigger, wackier, and cooler.

With a new attitude, Pepsi is reminding people how much they like the drink while the recently released Lil Wayne commercial brings the old generation of Gatorade together with the new.

Pepsi is learning how to keep its branding relevant, flexible, fun, and ever-changing, and this is a real win.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:24 AM

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January 9, 2009

Rebranding Can Pay Off - But an Ounce of Prevention Is Still Worth a Pound of Cure.

MSNBC just published an article entitled "How to Play the Rebranding Game." In it, they tell the story of the voice-to-text technology company formerly known as SimulScribe.

Although the name "SimulScribe" accurately described what the service did, customers didn't like it. The new name, PhoneTag, has generated a lot more interest.

phonetag_440x100.gifThe rebranded service gets 40% more new users and three times as many referrals as it garnered under the old name. This is a great case study for the power of naming, because the only thing that changed was the name, not the product itself.

The MSNBC article focuses on how to make company name changes successfully (a subject dear to our hearts), but overlooks the fact that this particular problem could have been avoided by doing more research on the viability of the name "SimulScribe" before launching the company.

Before betting the farm on a name, make sure it passes the typing test. "SimulScribe" proved to be a typo-prone name, one of the reasons customers and investors objected to it.

Even if the name is easy to type and the dot-com domain is available, it's important to survey your target market before you launch your new product or service.

Research costs money, but not as much as having to start over.

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Posted by William Lozito at 2:28 PM

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January 8, 2009

Tropicana Moves (Slighty) Away from Premium to Pure Product Naming

pepsi_tropicana_large.gifStuart Elliott of the The New York Times has a very complimentary article about the rebranding work on Pepsi's Tropicana orange juice.

It is a surprising departure for the brand that went through a revamp about two years ago.

The new slogan, "Squeeze, it's a natural" simply reminds buyers that they are getting freshly squeezed orange juice. According to one executive, "squeeze" has a double meaning - it "is the process by which we get our product and the hug, 'my favorite,' 'my squeeze.'"
What is more interesting to me is the almost generic look of the new packaging.
Ultimately, this appears to be a clever way for Tropicana to sell itself as being an affordable and a quality brand name.
The change is keeping Tropicana relevant and talked about and it is adding a freshness (not a pun) to the carton that I think ultimately will be appealing to consumers in this down market.
What we are really seeing here is a move from the word "premium" (which sounds expensive) to "pure" which suggests good for you. I'm thinking that this is a subtle yet intelligent move made by only slightly repositioning the brand.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:45 AM

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January 7, 2009

Brand Naming Law vs. Larry Flynt

larryflynt.gifI was amused to see that the infamous producer of Hustler, Larry Flynt, is struggling with several trademark issues as of late. His own nephews have brought his name, which stands for all that is disreputable, further disgrace by using it to sell " low quality" porn.

In response, Flynt is filing suit, claiming that the two men are selling "knock off goods."

The nephews claim that they only want to "break into the family business," but trademark infringement is still trademark infringement - even when it comes to porno.

There are two competing names here: "Flynt Media Productions" (the pretender) and "Larry Flynt and/or Larry Flynt Publications." And although this case is headline news, this type of naming dispute happens quite often. The two brothers are, after all, named "Flynt" and might posit that they can use their own names on their enterprise.

Sorry, nope.

The Vegas Trademark Attorney's Blog states his viewpoint quite clearly:
"People forget that trademark law is designed to protect consumers in the marketplace. The brothers do not have the right to use a business name that is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace - even if they do have some bona fide basis for the name."

Simply put, Flynt's nephews are trading on the goodwill of consumers and are guilty of trademark dilution and infringement.

The Flynt name does indeed have a "secondary meaning to the public" and these two are using it to make money. Although, if they so choose, the pair could use their name in another sector, where customer confusion is not likely.

This move appears doubtful however, especially after one of the nephews blurted to the press, "If I can't use my name to do business, then what kind of society, what kind of world is that?"

One ruled by trademark law, sir.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:07 AM

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January 6, 2009

Will 2009 be the Death of Branding as We Know It?

GrimReaper.gifAs we head into the first few work days of the new year, Brandweek is thinking about the unthinkable: Will branding die a lingering death in 2009? Are customers going to go back to price points and quality generics?

The Big Money offered one opinion, recently declaring that the Great Brand may be a "myth."

If this is true, it does not bode well for those of us in naming and branding. But despite these bold predictions, I remain confident that now may be the time that having a good brand name, in an age when brands in general are under fire, is more important than ever.

Tom Fishburne weighs in on today's marketing strategy with a great cartoon up that articulates my thoughts exactly. It is entitled "Blending into the Herd," and strongly suggests just the opposite.

Good brand naming offers companies the opportunity to make their products more than they might be otherwise. Companies have to adept, yes, and a large part of that is creative and strategic branding.

Marketing Daily suggests we stick to our "knitting" this year. "Brands will have to make their messages simple, honest and clear," says one analyst and I agree - but isn't that what a good brand name should always do?

As Ramanujam Sridhar of Business Line reminds us, the brands that we all know and trust are going to prevail. The state of the business environment doesn't exactly spell out the death of branding in 2009, but instead provides a setting for tremendous opportunity.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:55 AM

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January 5, 2009

2008 Celebrity Baby Names Find Inspiration From Popular Product Brand Names

It's quite possibly the most important branding decision they'll ever make. After all, when celebrities name their offspring, they are naming an extension of themselves.

The celebrity, who typically had no say in their own eponymy, now becomes the endorsing brand for this living, breathing paparazzi target of attention. And because this target is a vehicle for growing the celebrity's brand and not simply a child, it requires purposeful brand nurturing.

On the plus side, most of these celebrities have nine months to develop the naming strategy and conduct the target market research before the brand is born. There's probably even time for a global linguistic analysis and trademark registration.

So just as art imitates life, it often imitates business. A quick look at the celebrity baby names for 2008 shows some remarkable parallels with product and service naming trends. We found 10.

#1. The Place Behind the Face
Names of cities, countries, rivers and mountain ranges have long been used to designate the origins of brands or even sur-names. In 2008, Celebrities used toponyms liberally to describe their children. Egypt evokes the exotic while Florence denotes beauty. Bronx, however, may require some explanation.


  • Amazon

  • Oshkosh
  • Olympus_Logo.gif
  • Olympus

  • Alamo
  • johnsonville.gif
  • Newport

  • Johnsonville


  • Bronx by Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz

  • Egypt by Paris Bennett

  • India by Marisol Nichols and Taron Lexton

  • Florence by Toni Collette

  • Dakota by Jessica Lynch

#2. Names that Feed our Imaginations
Brands that are similes for food nourish our emotions. Many feed our mental sweet tooth as well. Celebrity babies in 2008 received a mix of sweet and savory appellations.


  • Blackberry
  • Apple-logo.gif
  • Chocolate

  • Apple


  • Clementine by Ethan Hawke

  • Coco by Diane Farr and Seung Chung

  • Peanut by Ingo Rademacher

#3. Back to Nature
Brand names that are metaphors for the beauty and bounty of nature are comfortable and friendly. For both people and products they are approachable and unpretentious.


  • Dawn

  • Ocean Spray
  • tide_logo.gif
  • Oasis

  • Tide


  • Willow by Michelle Monaghan and also by Mark Owen and Emma Ferguson

  • Rain by Marisol Nichols and Taron Lexton

  • Winter by Nicole Richie and Joel Madden

  • Clover by Tony Hawk

  • Savannah by Marcia Cross

#4. Spiritually Uplifting
Many brands make the emotional connection to a greater power. Likewise, a few 2008 celebrity baby names take on a powerful, almost religious reverence.


  • Quaker

  • St. Jude

  • True Religion


  • Sunday by Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

  • Trinity by Diane Farr and Seung Chung

  • Honor by Jessica Alba

#5. Eponymous and Synonymous
Name a product after a famous person and you might gain from the association of that person's favored attributes. While product brands tend to emulate founding fathers and adventurers, celebrities in 2008 have chosen a more erudite selection of intellectual subjects, excluding, perhaps the last example.


  • Samuel Adams

  • Starbucks

  • Lincoln


  • Emerson by Courtney Thorne-Smith and also by Amy Poehler and Will Arnett

  • Beckett by Stella McCartney

  • Sophocles by Jermaine Clement and Miranda Manasiadis

  • Atticus by Sam Harris and also by Tom and Mieke Dumont

  • Jagger by Joe Don Rooney and also by Soleil Moon Frye and Jason Goldberg

# 6. Colorisms
Many celebrity baby names for 2008 are color-based. And while current trademark convention prohibits companies from locking up color trademarks like brown, blue or rose, there are brands that manage to achieve similar results by adapting the names to familiar Indo-European language forms. (Braun = Brown; Aquos = Acqua)


  • Braun
  • aquos.gif
  • Aquos

  • Orange


  • Blue by Soleil Moon Frye and Jason Goldberg

  • Sage by Toni Collette and Dave Galafassi

  • Rose by Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

  • Ruby by Angela Kinsey

#7 Animal Instincts: Theronyms
In almost every brand category, from automotive to sports to food, animal names are abundant. But because naming children after beings of lesser intelligence can be controversial, the 2008 celebrity theronyms are used in translation or with an adapted spelling.


  • Puma
  • jaguar-logo.gif
  • Dove

  • Jaguar

  • Caterpillar


  • Birdie by Busy Philipps and Marc Silverstein

  • Leon by Brad Pitt and Angelena Jolie

  • Nahla (Honeybee in Arabic) by Halle Berry

  • Lyon by Kyle MacLachlan

  • Callum (Dove) by Kyle MacLachlan

# 8. Borrowed Branding
Several 2008 brand names for celebrity children appear to have been borrowed from retailers. From the ubiquitous Macy's Department store to Levi jeans, many celebrities haven't bothered to disguise their love of shopping.


  • Macy

  • Zuma
  • Levis_logo.gif
  • Levi

  • Avis


  • Macy by Edie Falco

  • Levi by Matthew McConaughey

  • Zuma by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

  • Avis by Daniel Baldwin

# 9. Invented Spelling
Perhaps for the same reason that product names take liberties with spelling, some celebrities in 2008 used phonetic orthography to introduce their offspring in a highly differentiated and ownable way.


  • RAZR
  • phatfarmlogo.gif
  • Phat Farm

  • Pur

  • Geox


  • Maxx by Scott Hamilton

  • Jaxson by Eric Mabius

  • Wynter by Brittany and Harold Perrineau

#10. SynoNames
And then there are some celebrity baby names that are simply synonymous with popular brand names. These 2008 monikers are separated from brands only by a click of the thesaurus.

  • Sunny Sandler = Sunkist
  • (by Adam Sandler)


  • Kadence Hawk = Stride
  • (by Tony Hawk)


  • Tripp Palin = StumbleUpon
  • (by Bristol Palin)

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Posted by Diane Prange at 12:31 PM

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