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February 27, 2009

U.S. Economy Name Development Contest

I just read another depressing article on the hopeless outlook of the U.S. economic recovery.

But the truth is that now is the time when we need to have faith that we can overcome the troubles of our current situation and work together to promote strength and confidence in the American worker and the American Dream.

RecoveringEconomy.gifIn an attempt to do this we have recently been promoting a naming contest that asks every American to look forward to a brighter future and imagine that we overcame the dreariness of our current crisis. With that image in mind we then asked willing participants to name this inevitable economic turnaround for a chance to win a year's supply of movie tickets (24 free movie tickets).

As a result, we have received a lot of positive feedback and many compelling name candidates that in themselves display the creativity and courage that the modern worker has to offer.

So much so, in fact, that we have decided to give those of you who have held back your inspiring name ideas a bit of extra time to submit them.

The new deadline for our Name the U.S. Economic Recovery Contest has been extended to 5 PM EST on Friday, March 6th.

And the winner will be announced on our Name Wire® blog on Friday, March 13th!

Don't miss out on your chance to name history by looking to the future.

We look forward to the rest of your name ideas! Good Luck!

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:12 PM

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Does Maybach Zeppelin Naming Herald Good Times or Bad Times?

2009-maybach-zeppelin.gifThe return of the Maybach Zeppelin brings with it a whole array of interesting car naming discussion points.

For one, this is a reincarnation of one of the most luxurious cars of all time - a Benz that captured the public's imagination back in the pre-Hindenberg 30's when Zeppelins still loomed large both in the public consciousness and in the skies. More specifically, it echoes the Maybach Zeppelin DS 8, model year 1932.

The Maybach Zeppelin is pretty much the ultimate luxury car on the market today, which makes it almost too lavish for some of us - note the Rocky Mountain brown or Taiga black color options and the California beige leather along with the stromboli black stitching (Stromboli, you will recall, was the evil puppet master in Pinocchio with the black beard).

I also have to wonder why they have Taiga black, given that a Taiga is a "biome characterized by coniferous forests."

Wouldn't a Taiga green be a more suitable name? The only association the name currently has with blackness is a gothic metal band in Finland.

In addition to expensive sounding colors, this car also has a fragrance distributor. I'm not kidding. It comes standard with "woody" or "fresh" scents, but for a few extra thousand dollars they will let you make up your own. I'm thinking I'd go for "mint" on this one, because that's what it costs.

There are two models, the 57 Zeppelin and the 62 Zeppelin, with the numbers at the start of the name refering to each car's wheelbase. The real big numbers, zeppelininsignia.gifhowever, are displayed in the costs, as the two models are priced at $523K and $609K, repectively.

The hood will bear a double MM emblem and a Zeppelin insignia, distancing this design from the Mercedes Benz brand name.

Altogether, with the design, pricing and naming of this new automobile, you'd almost think that Maybach felt there was a market for these things in the U.S.

Well, we all can dream. Can't we?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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February 26, 2009

Tapping Into New York Bottled Water Brand Naming

Tap'dNY.gifThe Los Angeles Times is quite intrigued by a new bottled water called "Tap'd NY. Purified New York City Tap Water."

Yes, somebody finally did it, they created a bottled water straight from the tap in New York, which is a city that boasts incredibly clean, great tasting water. Taking this fairly pure product, they've treated it to remove the chlorine and sell it for less than the competition.

The draw? Well, everyone seems to know that New York City water is pretty darn good, and buying water that comes from New York leaves a smaller carbon footprint than sending your dollars to Fiji or France (sort of).

One blogger adds that "we understand that Poland Springs is neither from Poland nor from springs" so why not just get the best tap water money can buy?

In addition to the surprisingly honest name, the company also has a series of clever taglines that adorn different bottles, ranging from "Bottle Water Without the Funny Accent" to "No Glaciers Were Harmed Making this Water."

However, starting a new bottled water company is a risky move, given that bottled water sales are declining. Consumers are starting to wonder if bottled water is actually better for you and most of us have accepted that the bottled stuff is pretty much the same as what comes out of the tap.

Bottled water is also seen as a major culprit in filling landfills, creating millions of empty, non degradable bottles, which recently led to the mayor of San Francisco to pass an order that forbids city government from buying bottled water.

belu-6pack-plus-single-bio.gifTap'd NY gets around this by encouraging people to reuse the bottles by filling them with, you know, actual tap water. They even have a team of "Hydrators" who will refill the bottles for you.

Besides Tap'd NY, there is at least one other bottled water company that is trying to atone for its waste: Belu, whose water comes in bottles made of corn. Located in the UK, all of the company's profits also go to clean water.

And I must admit that Belu's name is interesting, but I still think I like Tap'd NY even better.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:03 AM

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February 25, 2009

What Would You Name the U.S. Economic Recovery? (For Free Movie Tickets)

ObamaSpeechPicture.gifWithout optimism, there can be no hope for an economic turnaround in our near future, but as President Obama boldly stated in last night's speech, "We will rebuild, we will recover."

At Strategic Name Development, we tried to spread this message a few days ago by promoting a naming contest that challenges participants to name the future recovery of the U.S. economy, because all great moments in time deserve a great name to be remembered by.

We placed ourselves ten years in the future and looked back at a remarkable U.S. economic recovery that we believe to be inevitable. In doing so, we saw another moment in our nation's history that warrants a memorable name and came up with a few examples:

  • The Universal Reversal
  • The Crash and Learn Era
  • Remade in America
  • American Dream, The Sequel

If you believe that the American people can overcome our current economic crisis, or simply think you have a better name, and would like to win a year's supply of movie tickets (up to 24 tickets), please submit your name idea to our Name the U.S. Economic Recovery Contest.

Who knows, your name may be the name that will forever define the rebirth of the U.S. economy.

The contest ends at 5 PM EST on Friday, February 27th, so don't miss out on your chance to help spread a little optimism around a topic that has recently drawn nothing but negativity.

The winning name will be announced on this blog on Friday, March 6th.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:22 AM

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February 24, 2009

Does Your Product Naming Pronunciation Sound Risky?

warning-sign.gifSome new research in Psychological Science from The Association for Psychological Science, tells us that human beings tend to find unpronounceable product names risky.

Two made up food items were put head to head, Magnalroxate and Hnegripitrom, and the latter, which is almost impossible to pronounce, was declared by consumers to be the most dangerous. Additionally, a fictional amusement park ride called the "Vaiveahtoishi" was perceived as being more dangerous than the pronounceable "Chunta."

Of course, these finding have obvious implications in the naming and branding business.

Tylenol's scientific name, N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, will certainly have to be hidden from consumers, while tea ingredients including glucopyranosyl-fructofuran may send some consumers running scared.

Even more interesting is that we underestimate the risk attached to items that are familiar sounding. Risk, it turns out, is much more of an intuitive process than we used to think.

This news could not come at a worse time for household cleaning brand names, which already have plenty of suspicion around them.

New legislation may even force name brand cleaners to disclose their chemical ingredients, which would actually be a reactivation of a 1976 New York State law that has been ignored for decades.

My guess is that people won't like the sound of even the safe ingredients, never mind the bad stuff.
However, this is all good news for eco-friendly brand name cleaning products, which often consist of ingredients we know and trust.

One green blogger puts it this way: "The most eco-friendly cleaning products are those where you recognize all of the ingredients on the label and know they are harmless."

Brand names like Green Irene use the slogan "Simple. Pure. Clean." to convey this message, while other products are given the Green Seal of approval by third parties.

In the end, it may be the simplicity around the brand names of these products that give them an advantage, rather than their eco-friendliness.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:23 AM

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February 23, 2009

Does Hot Cell Phone Product Naming Translate Into Sales?

InstinctCellPhone.gifIf you had a choice between the KRZR, the 8800 Arte, and the Instinct, which cell phone would you choose?

According to our recent online survey conducted among 515 consumers from a Greenfield Online U.S. national panel, most of us would innately prefer the Instinct name.

Interestingly, when it comes to consumer perception of cell phones product names, good brand naming strategies equal more sales.

We measured consumer perceptions on 15 cell phone product name and brand architecture factors of representative product names from four major cell phone companies and compared it with the U.S. market share (from Q3 2005 to Q2 2008) of those same companies:

  • Motorola

  • LG

  • Samsung

  • Nokia

As it turns out, the most preferred cell phone names belonged to Samsung and LG, the two companies that saw a rise from 16% market share in in the third quarter of 2005 to 20% market share at the end of the second quarter in 2008.

Conversely, Motorola with a 30% market share at the beginning of the study saw a decrease of nine points to 21%. It is no surprise then that Motorola also ranked low on all six name attributes tested in the survey:

  • Modern
  • Creative
  • Engaging
  • Original
  • Cool
  • Easy to Remember

Similarly, Nokia also experienced a drop from 16% to 9% of U.S. market share over the same time period, with all of its brands scoring lower than all other brands on every measure.

If you are interested in learning more please read the articles on our proprietary research published by Advertising Age, Brandweek, and Adweek.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:05 PM

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Are Muscle Cars Too Strong To Be Killed By Pontiac Brand Naming Retirement?

gmlogo.gifThe retiring of the Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac brand names has fired up a great deal of debate on the blogosphere.

I have long thought that the best thing for GM to do is to follow Toyota's lead and streamline its brand architecture, keeping Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. This move streamlines GM and gives its remaining brands ample room to grow.

Autoextremist goes so far as to say that GM should in fact rename itself, replacing General Motors with Precision Motors. That, however, may be a little extreme, as others have pointed out.

Although one must admit that some of these popular brand names will not go quietly.

Jalopnik has followed the demise of Pontiac pretty closely and wishes it a cheerful adieu, but I feel like playing devil's advocate today.


Because CNN has all but declared the "muscle car" dead with the demise of Pontiac which really makes me wonder.

pontiac_logo_5.gifPontiac really was all about muscle cars. At least a few decades ago. And Americans love their muscle cars. We still have them in our genes, like mullets, sleeveless t-shirts and heavy metal.

gran-torino-fl-poster-full.gifEuropeans and Japanese automakers just do not get muscle cars. And for every person out there wanting to buy a Prius or a Fusion, there's ten guys who dream about owning a Trans-Am or a Corvette or a Gran Torino, which was just named "Hollywood's Coolest Car."

Remember when Kevin Spacey traded in his Toyota for a Firebird in American Beauty? He was speaking for legions of men who feel a little part of their souls die when they crawl into a Camry.

Love them or hate them, muscle cars are what Americans do best. Pontaic has been stuck with the Aztek, but deep down it's a rude, nasty nameplate for people like Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen.

The New York Times went to a group of experts to gain some insight on this topic, and not surprisingly, many of them were not too thrilled with the departure of this well loved brand name.

Let Hummer go, Let Saab go, they say, but Pontiac has some real equity to leverage.

How about putting that Pontiac name on a few, select models? It may sound crazy, but Pontiac is to muscle cars as Harley Davidson is to hogs.

And I can vividly recall when Harley seemed doomed.

Some enterprising entrepreneur will buy the Pontiac business and find a way to make it work as a fuel efficient muscle car.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:00 AM

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February 20, 2009

Brand Names and Silly Spelling: Is this the End?

guitarhero.gifBloggers are up in arms over the misspelling of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd's name on the new Guitar Hero: Metallica box.

The misspelling (Lynyrd Skynrd, minus one "y") was spotted by Rolling Stone and the mistake was quickly fixed - Activision, the game developer and publisher of Guitar Hero, even confirmed that the final box art has rectified the problem.

This is just an example of poor proofing, even Lynyrd Skynyrd admits that the name is hard to spell and pronounce. Their first album was actually "pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd" and the name itself was originally Leonard Skinnerd, after a hated gym teacher that the original band members endured at Robert E Lee High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

More interesting is the idea that stress created by the recession is making us all less accepting of poor spelling when it comes to brand names. MSNBC reports that some customers will not patronize Krispy Kreme or restaurants with menus that have been hastily written ("Try our Sweat and Sour Chicken!").

In addition, blogs and web sites that castigate poor spellers are on the rise and Facebook has a group called "I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar." There's even blogs called The Grammar Vandal and the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

This all makes me wonder, when it comes to product naming and branding, has the recession put an end to silly spellings for good?

Dunkin' Donuts... better watch out.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:02 AM

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February 19, 2009

Pull My Finger: Trademark Naming Infringement Stinks

ifart_iphone.gifThe producers of a farting iPhone app are making a stink over the trademarking of the phrase "pull my finger."

I'm not pulling your leg.

Air-O-Matic, the maker of the "Pull My Finger" farting app for the iPhone, claims that iFart Mobile has appropriated the phrase "pull my finger" in its ads. However, iFart says the phrase "pull my finger" is "generally known" and "widely understood in American society to be a joke or prank regarding flatulence."

And thus begins the battle for what Discover Magazine calls "the lowest common tech denominator."

iFart offers a "stealth" feature that allows you to time the farts well in advance, or to make the phone fart when moved. It even has fart sounds named "Jack the Ripper" and "Brown Mosquito."

I have done some interesting naming jobs in my life, but naming different kinds of flatulence is not something I have yet considered. There's real imagination in matching a fart sound to the sound Bigfoot makes when he's feeling windy.

This is nothing new, of course. There are dozens of fart apps for the iPhone, at least 75 of them, but these two are really gassing it up.

Air-O-Matic wants $50,000 from iFart and has a video that explains their side of the story.

But as MacBlogz says, this whole thing is just "taking the fun out of flatulence."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:03 AM

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February 16, 2009

What Should the U.S. Recovery Be Called?

globe.jpgAmerica will recover.

Yet all this negative news about the economy is blinding us to the possibilities and opportunities that lay ahead. After all, this is still America, a place where "all things are possible."

In the vast global echo chamber, America's economy today is invariably referred to as a "Crisis," a "Meltdown," a "Recession," and even a "Depression."

But America will get better. And when we do, this period will be named.

We imagined ourselves in the future looking back at what we believe will be an inevitable economic recovery and developed some suggestions for naming the era.

Names that Pay Tribute to the American Spirit
Focusing on America's enduring spirit, these names tap our unnerving ability to rebound.

  • The AmeriCAN DO
  • America's Second Act
  • The American Resolution
  • Remade in America
  • American Dream, the Sequel

Names that Lead us From Darkness to Light
Nothing is more American than a good 'Rags to Riches' story. These names accentuate the turn of the tide and the swing of the pendulum from hopelessness to hope.

  • The Universal Reversal
  • From Greed to Great
  • The Crash and Learn Era
  • From Fizzle to Sizzle
  • The Profound Rebound

Names that Help us Grin and Bear It
Our spirits are lifted by a good laugh, which these names reflect.

  • The Extreme Economic Makeover
  • RegainOnomics
  • Boomsday
  • The Great Resurrection

Announcing the 'Name the U.S. Economic Recovery Contest'
Here's a chance for you to also imagine that you are in the future, looking back on the inevitable U.S. economic recovery.

What would you name it?

Names will be judged on their ability to address the following three criteria:

  • Uplifts our spirits
  • Leads us from darkness to light
  • Engages and entertains us

tix.jpgTo submit your name ideas for a chance to win a years supply of uplifting entertainment (24 movie tickets), go to

Contest entries must be received by 5PM EST on Friday, February 27, 2009.

The winning name will be announced by 8AM EST on Friday, March 6, 2009.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:04 PM

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Blackwater Company Naming Won't Keep on Rolling

blackwater.gifThe news that security firm Blackwater is changing its name to "Xe" has the blogosphere sharing a laugh.

The rebranding plans apparently began back in 2007 after some of the company's security guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in an operation that has ultimately led to it being kicked out of Iraq. The Blackwater "family" of over two dozen businesses will now use the Xe moniker, pronounced "z" as in "xenophobia."

I frankly find it hard to think of a more sinister sounding name. I'm sure there are a few, but calling your company "Xe" sounds a little ridiculous for an organization trying to clean up its image.

The original name was inspired by the dark water swamps of northeastern North Carolina, an area that many people think of with great fondness, even though the name could also bring to mind Blackwater Fever, but let's face it, Blackwater sounds like a "shadow army that has long slipped through the legal cracks."

Most bloggers are convinced that no amount of name changing will rehabilitate the Blackwater image.

The only piece of good news from this company name change is that the Doobie Brothers tune Black Water is free from being associated with any negative publicity the company collects from here on.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:09 AM

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February 13, 2009

Starbucks to Go With Via Product Naming for... Instant Coffee?

mcd-coffee.gifThe competition between McDonald's and Starbucks has been brewing for quite a while, but now things have boiled over. Starbucks is taking aggressive action against McD's sucker bait on two fronts.

Bad idea.

To begin with, Starbucks is a textbook case of how a premium brand name captured the hearts and minds of consumers in a relatively short time by building mystique, not around the products, but the experience.

Faced with a crashing economy and a brutal onslaught from the golden arches, it looks like Starbucks is walking away from its hard earned positioning in the mind of the consumer. Witness the "four bucks is dumb" campaign against Starbucks that seems to have won over some cash strapped consumers.

Starbucks has countered with cheaper food and an injunction to its servers to remind customers that 90% of their coffee offerings are under $4. All this, despite at least one poll that shows Starbucks customers overwhelmingly feel that the java is not overpriced.

Starbucks is offering less expensive eats in order to "take advantage of the new customer frugality" that's out there. But surprisingly, it is also going to offer, believe it or not, instant coffee.

starbuckscoffee.pngAgain, this is suckers bait. Starbucks is losing sight of its reason for being and trying to out McDonald's McDonald's. And it won't work.

Starbucks' supposed breakthrough product, Via, makes you think Maxwell House and Folgers, the everybody's coffee sold in supermarkets.

An unidentified Starbucks' source in a recent Ad Age article assures us that Via is "not just a sign of the times," but has been in development for quite a while.

Via, of course, means "to go" or "the way."

For Starbucks, it is the absolute wrong way.

I predict that Starbucks will regret these short-term knee-jerk reactions to McDonald's and will return to its historical roots and perceptions in the mind of the consumer.

Hopefully Starbucks will remember that they offer an experience that just happens to include coffee.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:19 AM

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February 12, 2009

Private Label Branding Finds Perfect Storm of Success in Recession

The debate around private label brands versus commercial brands is rearing its head in Britain, where cash strapped consumers seem to be migrating towards better and better private label brands.

Referred to as "own brands" across the pond, the British are seeing sales shoot up between thirty and forty percent, leading one brand expert to say "everything is up for grabs."

I have watched the rise of private label branding for some time and am convinced that we are seeing a tidal shift, a "perfect storm," of good private label branding meeting a consumer base that is more than willing to save a little money for products that may be a little less known. As a result, companies like Kraft and Sara-Lee are seeing drops in sales as consumers opt for the "brand name bypass."

cremoralogo.gifThe distinct advantage seems to be going to companies like Treehouse Foods. They sell both brand names we all know and love, like Cremora, and great private label brand names, which have recently led to an increase in sales.

Another interesting example is the new V7 computer bag brand name, which actually has premium brands like Targus Group International and Belkin playing catchup, as big name brands are starting to sell cheaper products using new brand naming.

The trend has even extended to window blinds, where consumers report being happier with private label brands over competitive brand names.

The Murketing blog puts it very well when it suggests that private label products are "all very much branded goods. They were simply branded by a retailer, not a manufacturer." These products are seeing huge spikes because they have great price points and the naming and branding is also becoming more and more professional.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:54 AM

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February 11, 2009

How Much are Bob Marley's Product Naming Rights Worth?

The news that the Bob Marley name and related trademarks have been handed over to a private equity firm to "grow his legacy" gives us an interesting insight into the value of an iconic name like Marley's. The deal should be worth $1-2 billion over the next three years.

bob-marley2.gifThere have been many unlicensed Marley products on the market for some time and they seem to be growing despite the fact that Marley died in 1981, almost 30 years ago.

The new deal should help bring order to this chaos, covering "accessories, apparel, footwear, food and beverages, collectibles, luggage, musical instruments, promotions and entertainment, stationery and paper goods, hospitality (including restaurants, cafes, hotels, resorts and spas), as well as video games and computer products."

To acquire the naming rights, Hilco Consumer Capital is paying a total of $20 million for half of the House of Marley.

Some bloggers feel this is a "sell out," but it does seem to me that Marley's family has the right to ensure that they profit from the name, rather than countless counterfeiters.

In addition to Marley, Hilco will also control the product names "Tuff Gong, Catch A Fire, One Love, Three Little Birds and Relics of Antiquity. Although with Marley's name in the hands of Hilco, don't expect to see it on rolling papers anytime soon.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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February 10, 2009

Hilton Cleans up Its Hotel Brand Naming

I am keeping an eye on Hilton as they proceed with their secretive "Project Global 21" plans to introduce a new "lifestyle hotel brand" to the world next month.

The code name sounds impressive, but the brand itself is designed to appeal to people with disposable income and soccer moms. Yes, soccer moms.

Hilton is creating an answer to the rise in boutique hotel naming by putting out a concept that is a combination of "luxury lifestyle" and "homey." I may be wrong, but anything suggesting luxury is going to sound a little intimidating given the struggles hotels are having - even rooms in Vegas are being sold at cut rates.

waldorf-astoria.gifIn addition, I would also like to point out that Hilton has officially done away with the "Waldorf=Astoria" name.

The official naming will be Waldorf Astoria (notice the dramatic lack of a hyphen) and the Waldorf Astoria collection, although I predict that this change will take some time to implement - the Waldorf-Astoria in New York has used the hyphen in the naming scheme since 1931.

There was even a song referring to the hyphen, entitled "Meet Me At The Hyphen" and yet another called "The Waldorf Hyphen Astoria." In fact, the Waldorf-Astoria even had a physical hyphen: a store and office block that bisected the legendary New York hotel's land that made the hyphen all the more part of the hotel's lore.

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:30 PM

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Of Sheep Dips and Pigs Noses: Whisky Product Naming Goes Social

pigsnosewhiskey.gifWould you drink a whisky called "Sheep Dip?" How about one called "Pig's Nose?"

Kieffer Southerland would.

The Spencerfield Spirit company has rescued these orphaned brand names from the dustbin of history and brought them back to public consciousness.

Sheep Dip has a good tasting rating and clocks in at $30 a bottle - the name comes from the traditional nickname Scottish farmers give to homemade whisky.

Pig's Nose comes from the farming expression "soft as a pig's nose" and has a mellow quality that comes together in a "muddy way," while also setting you back $30.

These revived product names are being very proactive in using digital and social media to get the word out, appearing on various blogs and even Flickr. They also have a Facebook group called Sheep Dip Fold.

Sheep Dip used to be a best selling whiskey at Harrod's and its relegation to obscurity probably has more to do with the vagaries of global whisky marketing than anything else. The point here is that when it comes to reviving a brand name there is more than one way to skin a cat, or dip a sheep.

This news follows that of a Canadian whisky maker who can now use the name Glen Breton without fearing reprisal from the Scotch Whisky Association, which feels the use of "Glen" might mislead consumers into thinking that the product came from Scotland (e.g. Glenlivet or Glenfiddich). "Glen" is the Scottish Gaelic term for "valley."

I might also note that the name "whiskey" and "whisky" seems to be used interchangeably in the articles I have been reading this morning. Just for the record, whiskey refers to American and Irish whiskies, while "whisky," the older form, is what the Scottish and Canadians drink.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:26 AM

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February 9, 2009

Brand Name for the Obama Dog Name

D.O.T.U.S_highres.gifLet's face it. Everything is a brand these days, so why not brand the First Dog with a clever name.

As you know, the Obama family has narrowed down the choices to a Labradoodle and a Portuguese water dog.

In an earlier post, I shared the PETNAME checklist for naming the Obama dog.

RahmRod_highres.gifIn addition to the checklist inspired by our survey of 487 U.S. citizens selected at random from a Survey Sampling national online panel, who owned a pet and supported Barrack Obama in the recent presidential election, we also conducted "in-person intercept interviews."

These in-person interviews were conducted from a cross-section of U.S. citizens.

Each participant gave their name suggestion for the Obama dog along with their reasons why it would make the best name.

The video of these interviews makes for interesting viewing. Please click on the video below.

If you have any ideas on the name for the Obama dog, please leave a comment. The video is also available on YouTube.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:14 AM

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February 6, 2009

Citigroup Stadium Naming: Savvy or Strikeout?

mets-logo.gifThe controversy over the Citigroup naming of the Mets' new stadium has brought to light how important advertising is to the success of a company.

The question everyone is so anxious about is how can Citigroup have the nerve to dump $400 million into the naming rights of a stadium when it's asking for $45 billion in bailout money?

Well, the simple answer is that a company that does not advertise is a dead company, and stadium naming, according to some experts, offers incredible value in terms of getting your name out there in the public consciousness. $400 million bucks is ultimately not that much given the scale of Citigroup.

The problem is that such a move creates the wrong perception among people who are hyper-sensitive to the excesses of the banking industry.

Fact is, the Mets have a legally binding agreement with Citigroup on this, and are expecting the returns off the naming to cover a great part of the stadium's running costs. Backing out of the deal would not only show bad faith on Citigroup's part, it would underline to everyone the sad state of the US financial world.

Maybe the cost is a little excessive, but it didn't seem that way in 2006 when the deal was done. The US Treasury is looking into this agreement and even they understand that citilogocompact.gifmarketing expenses are off limits - they are a necessary part of the bank's survival.

But the public sees this as an expenditure akin to the (admittedly ridiculous) $50 billion jet that Citigroup had to nix. This whole deal is wrongly making Citigroup look greedy and frivolous. It is creating what one bystander calls "bad will" instead of "good will."

The only upside? Citigroup may escape what the New York Times calls "the stadium naming jinx" - eg many big banks that have put their names on stadiums have gone bust. "Should Citigroup back out of its naming pact, perhaps it can remain merely beleaguered, rather than, say, liquidated."


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Posted by William Lozito at 9:58 AM

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February 5, 2009

Is Poster Boy the Jesse James of Brand Naming?

PosterBoyImage.gifThe mystery around anti-advertising activist Poster Boy has got me thinking, once again, about the relationship naming and branding companies have with consumers in a world where more and more consumers see brand names as "theirs" to do what they like with.

Poster Boy is the guy who goes around New York with a razor blade, rearranging signs into grotesque parodies of themselves. Some of his work includes slicing up a McDonald's sign to read "McDorse the world" and changing the name "Iron Man" to "Iran = Nam." Overall, he has struck more than 400 times, but now he's busted.

Or is he?

The Ad Pulp blog quotes from Poster Boy's Flickr page: "Poster Boy is many things, but is not one person. Poster Boy is not about subway posters or even adverts in general. Poster Boy is an idea."

It could be, and probably is, that Poster Boy is simply a name attached to many people out there playing with advertising by either deconstructing it or turning it into weird art.

Not surprisingly, some marketing people are enthusiastic about Poster Boy, saying "Surely if we're helping brands become more real, believable, genuinely useful and honest then this kind of expression is quite beautiful, and not at all scary."

So many ad campaigns today solicit consumer participation, which sooner or later will make it hard to go back to when consumers were asked to observe before acting. Now, with today's technology, consumers have endless opportunities to interact with brand names and the advertising that goes with them.

The very fact that branding is taken seriously as street art is rather encouraging. But the bottom line is, most advertising begs consumers to pay attention. This guy, or perhaps group, is accomplishing that very goal.

I doubt we have heard the last of Poster Boy.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:42 AM

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February 4, 2009

I Love the Scent of Naming and Branding in the Morning

NoseSmell.gifI am always fascinated by the naming and branding behind new scents, and today's Wall Street Journal has given me food for thought.

Interestingly, the scents attached to cleaning products are the "the lowest-hanging fruit as far as new-product innovation is concerned -- you don't have to change a capability or substantiate a new claim." Just cook up a new scent, add a good name to it, and viola, you have a new and improved version of the same old formula.

Of the over 3,000 new cleaning products introduced last year, a whopping 93% had a new scent, an increase of 100% over 2004. Consumers today, referred to at Procter & Gamble as "scent seekers," are going for unique scents like "Moroccan Bazaar," "Brazilian Carnaval," and "Hawaiian Aloha."

Then there is the importance of scents in retail environments, for example, after Westin hotels have cleaned up with their "White Tea" scent guests can ask for it in the gift shop.

Home scents have also moved beyond just cleaning products; check out the offerings from Fruits & Passion. There is even a chart that tells us how certain scents make us feel:

  • The scent of talcum powder makes us feel safe.
  • The smell of apples and cucumber makes a room feel bigger.
  • And the scent of pumpkin pie and lavender are especially arousing scents for a man - though the smell of the sweat of nursing mothers is the big turn on.
The most intriguing, however, are the personal scents we like. Some want to smell like Wall Street (brisk citrus), or Park Ave (which smells like florals).

Now, whether or not Wall Street actually smells like brisk citrus is almost irrelevant. The most important element to a name is its ability to interest the consumer in learning more. And really, I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to take a whiff of Wall Street in a bottle.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:07 AM

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February 3, 2009

Classic Naming to (finally) Disappear from Coke Product Name

The name Classic is coming off of the iconic Coke brand name, finally.

The Classic naming only appears in North America, a hangover from the New Coke debacle of April 23, 1985, "a day that will live in marketing infamy."

NewCokeCan1985.gifNow, over two decades later, the reason for the existence of the Classic naming is no more - very few people can even recall what New Coke tasted like despite surviving until 1992 before being quietly shelved.

The Classic naming will live on in the fine print on the back of Coke bottles and cans as Coke Classic Original Formula.

This product naming decision comes in conjunction with Coke's "Open Happiness" campaign, aligning the product naming with worldwide standards.

The famous name change is still referred to in every marketing textbook as a classic (excuse the pun) example of how emotional attachment to a brand name is a CokeClassic.gifdangerous thing to play with. One executive from Coke says that "Some cynics say we planned the whole thing. The truth is, we're not that dumb, and we're not that smart."

Some bloggers feel that the Classic naming actually gave the product a kind of "vintage feel" and as I've mentioned before, the name "Classic" can lend an instant status to a brand name.

In this case, Coke, by definition, is a classic and the destruction of the moniker is something of a relief.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:38 AM

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