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October 30, 2009

Naming and Branding in 2010: Keep it Simple

So the magic marketing word for 2010 is "simple" according to USA Today, and this is sure to have a major effect on naming and branding. Last year was all about "cheap" but consumers are now looking for simplicity in health and beauty items and most definitely in things they eat.

Simpleskincare.pngMarketers now talk about how few ingredients there are in things you buy in the supermarket... this year there were ingredient decreases in 19 food product categories including pet food. And between 2005 and 2008 there was a whopping 64.7% increase in products using the word "simple" or "simply" in their brand name.

Less is more because consumers believe that if a food product contains a few simple ingredients, it must be good for them.

Häagen-Dazs offers us "Five" ice cream which contains that many ingredients (milk, cream, sugar, eggs and one natural flavor) for a public that is now searching for recipes that use 5 ingredients thanks to Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto which some home cooks find "mind boggling."

Beech-Nut tells us they offer a "No Junk Promise" in its Let's Grow toddler foods. Starbucks has streamlined the ingredients in its its food offerings while Frito-Lay's new campaign pushes the idea of three ingredients in their new chips campaign "the power of three."

Simplicity in ingredients makes people believe there is a transparency that today's shoppers seem to find attractive.

This month six new products from the UK skincare brand Simple launched in the USA - these also have a minimum of ingredients. The Chow message boards says it best: when it comes to food, "complicated does not equal better."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:40 AM

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October 29, 2009

Fashion Icon Marc Ecko Sells Naming and Branding Thanks to Poor Real Estate Market

It seems to be a sign of the times when Marc Ecko loses control over his brand name thanks to the decline in real estate prices. He has signed over 51% of the Marc Ecko brand to Iconix, which controls Joe Boxer, Rocawear and London Fog, for $63.5 million, "plus $90 million in financing for a newly formed joint venture."

eckologo.jpgThis is a fashion guy who has successfully used video games to get his name out there.

Whew, that is a lot of equity tied up in one designer name. But he'll need it, as he is trying to lease out a 280,000 square foot headquarters in midtown Manhattan and manage a 30-acre estate in New Jersey.

He's laid off workers and even auctioned off his watch trademarks and the Avirex brand, leading Agency Spy to say "Brand Loss Eckos Thru the Web."

This comes on the heels of reports that his signature urban look is losing favor with the kids, though Ecko himself seems phlegmatic about losing his name: "I've lived through a leveraged position...I don't know whether, once you grow up your business like that, you have full control anymore anyway."

And at least one blog says his brand is one of the top ten urban brands out there ... of hundreds.

I have written before about how well known people lose their names (I'm talking to you, Joseph Abboud and Steve Saleen), but this seems like an epidemic in the design world, where egos are attached to names equals brands.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:40 AM

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October 28, 2009

Place Naming and Product Branding: A Symbiotic Relationship

Think about these famous brand names:

  • Kate Spade

  • Vineyard Vines

  • Chanel
kate-spade-new-york.jpgEach one proudly proclaims their origins.

The words Kate Spade on a product are almost always followed by the words "New York."

The labels on Vineyard Vines products share space with the words "Martha's Vineyard."

And Chanel perfumes elegantly bear the name "Paris" on the packaging.

The reason for this is obvious: these places add instant cachet and equity to the brand vineyard-martha's-logo.jpgname. Chanel may be sold all over the world, but to buy a Chanel product, for millions of consumers, is to buy a piece of Paris. Likewise, Vineyard Vines products carry the tag and the Martha's Vineyard name with pride.

The point is, the brand's place of origin - or supposed place of origin - carries an instant attraction.

All three of these brands have associations with the cities they tout on their labels, but a moment of consideration is in order. What, exactly, is so "New York" about a Kate Spade bag? They are designed in New York, but many are manufactured in China.

I am also reminded of Apple Computer, whose packaging reads "Designed by Apple in California" (I have it right here beside my Mac), but we all know the stuff is built in China.

Similarly, Vineyard Vines does have a shop on Martha's Vineyard, but much of their business, and certainly their manufacturing, is done off-island.

chanelbottles-paris.jpgDitto for Chanel - the perfume is made in California, of all places.

Consumers like to have brands that have a distinct relationship with a supposed country of origin, but its likely that the connection is tenuous at best. The brand is essentially catching a free ride off of the equity of the place name they have chosen to associate themselves with.

It may be that the people who manage the New York, Paris and Martha's Vineyard brand names might want to have a word with Kate Spade, Chanel and Vineyard Vines, but the fact is that this is a symbiotic relationship. The more products and services that want to associate themselves to a place, the better it is for the place itself.

However, there should be at least some real connection to the place you want your brand associated with.

I can go visit the Vineyard Vines store in the Vineyard, or explore the Kate Spade design studio in Manhattan online, and Chanel has a well-known presence in Paris.

So long as the brand can say that it has at least a foothold in the place is associates itself with, customers will perceive it as authentic.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:16 AM

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October 27, 2009

Is Baby Einstein Brand Naming Misleading?

Yesterday Brandweek noted that watchdog groups are calling for Disney to change the name of its beleaguered Baby Einstein products after news broke that these products probably do not make your baby smarter.

baby_einstein_logo.jpgIn fact, one study suggested that these actually make Junior a bit dumber.

This all follows a New York Times piece entitled "No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund," which outlines the refund Disney is now offering to disillusioned parents who bought Baby Einstein videos between June 5, 2004 and Sept. 5, 2009. That might be quite a financial blow: it seems that a third of all babies in America between 6 months and 2 years old have one of these videos, which also include Baby Mozart, Baby Shakespeare and Baby Galileo.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is demanding a name change, saying:

Disney should change the name of Baby Einstein because it still has a strong implication that it makes your child or baby smarter. They should change it to a name that does not imply that it could improve a child's cognitive capacity or that it is any way educational for children under the age of two.


The Wall Street Journal has put up a great blog about this and asked readers what they think about very young children watching "educational" videos (whether or not a video for toddlers can be termed educational at all is now a debatable concept).

baby-galileo.jpgOne reader defended the series, saying that his son "learned things from them, especially when he was able to talk and say the colors and shapes. He would even do sign language along with one of the sign language ones."

Another leads us to the Baby Einstein site, which points out that this is a consumer satisfaction issue and nothing more and says that implications that the company is admitting that they ever suggested their products were educational are simply misleading.

I applaud Disney for offering the refund, but must wonder if the product naming doesn't at least suggest that it will make your child smarter. Parents I know who have bought baby Einstein products did so under the belief that these were designed to help their children's cognitive development.

Still, as one marketing executive points out in Brandweek, "I don't think Baby Einstein should change its name. It's a great name and gets to the heart of the concept in the brand."

What do you think?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:41 AM

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October 26, 2009

Olsenboye Girls Clothing Naming May Succeed Despite Odd Brand Name

There is a lot of excitement in the blogosphere about Olsenboye, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's new JCPenney's line, which pre-launches today.

olsenboye-olsen-twins.jpgThis junior line will be available in 600 JCPenny's stores, receiving a large amount of support from an enormous marketing campaign. According to WWD Retail:

The effort kicks off Monday with an Olsenboye truck cruising around New York selling merchandise and giving out cupcakes, balloons and pins, and empty racks in 50 high-profile stores will be covered in Olsenboye shrouds. Beginning Nov. 6, Olsenboye will be available on and in those 50 stores, including the Manhattan flagship, for a limited time.

The new line will also compliment the twins' higher end offerings known as The Row, and Elizabeth and James, but of course will carry lower price points.

As for the name Olsenboye, this is supposedly the twins' "ancestral name," but it does end with "boye," which pretty much sounds like "boy." A strange choice for a girls' fashion line.

This is the kind of name that makes me raise my eyebrows, and if anyone outside of the Olsen twins had selected it, I'd say that it was a terrible choice. But the Olsen twins seem to be a law unto themselves.

As I have said before, they are pushing adult fashion sophistication into the tweeny world. Despite the odd naming choice, this new brand may be positioned for success.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:51 AM

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October 23, 2009

Silly Product Naming in the Bayou: Slap Ya Mama vs. Punch Ya Daddy

Every Friday I try to look for a lighthearted naming and branding story. Today's spice world branding news fits quite nicely.

More to the point, the announcement of the "spice wars" between two spice brands: Slap Ya Mama vs. Punch Ya Daddy.

No joke. These are real brand names.

SlapYaMamaSeasoning.jpgAccording the Jack Walker of Walker and Sons, makers of Slap Ya Mama Creole Seasoning, the name comes from "an old Cajun saying that our father used to use. When he'd cook, he'd say that he cooked so well that it'd make you want to slap your mom because she can't cook as well as he can."

Taking this saying to marketing arena, one sales site promises that it "Tastes so good it will make you 'Slap Ya Mama' with joy!"

Um, well, OK. I guess.

But enough people apparently buy this stuff that there is equity in the name and hence Punch Ya Daddy, another Louisiana brand, was born.

punchyadaddy.pngKirby Falco, maker of Punch Ya Daddy, "was quoted as having come up with the name for his seasoning while roughhousing with his young son, who said, 'I'm going to punch ya, daddy.'"

Slap Ya Moma has been around since 1998. Punch Ya Daddy's first appearance was in February of this year.

I'm sure you can see the issue here - the packaging and the likelihood of confusion on the part of consumers. The similarity in font, design, packaging size and format between the two products appear to suggest that Punch Ya Daddy is made by Walker & Sons.

Frankly, I think at least one spice maker here deserves to get punched for copyright infringement. The other should get slapped for misogynistic product naming.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:49 AM

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October 22, 2009

Guilt, Shame: Hot Naming Trends You Simply Can't Pass Up

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece up today about guilt and shame and how they figure into the shoppers mindset.

Guilt and shame are really the new black this season, the buzzwords that everyone should be thinking about in the naming and branding business. Or as Christina Passariello puts it, "In the past year, the guilty pleasure of shopping has turned to plain old guilt" and this has led to what one pundit calls "luxury guilt."

gilt-group-logo.gifThis has led to some interesting branding decisions. They cite The Daily Obsession, a shopping blog, and the aptly named Gilt Groupe, which offers online, high-end sales by invitation only, as examples of avenues for the newest guilty pleasure.

Similarly, one of the hottest stores in Paris is called Merci, while a quick perusal of Google gets us Guilt Free Shopping at and "No Guilt" shopping articles at Madison Avenue Spy.

Softpedia also informs us that "Women feel guilty about shopping but Can't Stop," where one ice cream maker tells us that "Life at the moment is full of stresses with money being right up there, but it's difficult to break the habit of a lifetime. Going shopping now comes with more baggage so women are trying to find creative ways to justify their spree."

So what makes shopping "guilt free?" There seems to be two lines of thought:

  • One - you offer outrageous sales that allow consumers to say that it is too good of a deal to pass up.
  • Or two - you partner with a charity or environmental cause, which generates the idea that you may be spending money, but not to worry, it is for a good cause.

Hence there is "guilt-free jewelry shopping" to be done and the chom-push-biscuit.gifpromise on Thankful Planet where you can "give more" and experience "no more green buying guilt" by shopping to both save and help the planet at the same time.

You can even "treat your dog's taste buds - without the guilt." Our Canines Linguists, Chomsky and Pushkin, will most definitely appreciate that.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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October 21, 2009

Brand Naming Grotesque and Painful

animal-branding.gifToday's BBC News discusses a new movement in the UK known as "Ponies 4 People" that is attempting to prevent the branding of Exmoor Ponies.

Before I go any further, I think the branding of animals, ponies or otherwise, is inhumane.

What I find interesting, however, is that one of the earliest applications of branding was when owners branded their livestock.

Today this behavior is considered "grotesque and painful." Branding in business today may not be grotesque, but it certainly can be painful.

To reduce or eliminate the potential pain of modern day branding, it is helpful to:

  • Let the target market drive the decision.
  • Don't assume the way you think is how the target market thinks.
  • Recognize that if the brand feels uncomfortable to you at first it may be the best decision long-term for a defensible and extendable brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 3:45 PM

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Apple's Mighty Mouse Product Naming Gives Way to Fantastic Magic Mouse

magic-mouse.gifSo Apple has a new mouse that is called the Magic Mouse that "is basically a mouse-shaped trackpad that accepts Multi-Touch input, so users can now use combinations of multi-finger swipes and taps to navigate their Mac and perform basic functions."

The Mighty Mouse brand name that was on the former incarnations of this product is no longer in use thanks to the fact that Apple lost a trademark infringement lawsuit to hardware maker Man & Machine.

Apple had licensed the name from CBS, who owned the trademark for Mighty Mouse, the tiny superhero we all grew up with, but because the Mighty Mouse they own was a flying animated character and not a computer peripheral, their licensing deal fell flat.

Engadget has the whole story mickey_fantasia.gifin some detail as well as pictures of the (computer) mice in question.

Man & Machine have sold a line of mice that are "rugged, hygienic, waterproof" for over five years now and celebrated their win earlier this year with the following statement:

Others have used the name Mighty Mouse for their computer mice and have sought registration of that trademark, but now the United States government has spoken.

I like the Magic Mouse name but I am surely not the only one who thinks of yet another famous mouse wearing his wizard's garments from Fantasia when I hear it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:32 AM

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October 20, 2009

Droid Phone Naming: An Irresistible Force for iPhone Owners

Motorola-Droid-01.gifSo Internet geeks around the world are rejoicing over the forthcoming "Droid" smartphone war, or to quote the NY Post, who in turn quoted Yoda, "Begun, the droid wars have."

Verizon, Motorola and Google have licensed the product name from George Lucas and verizon-droid.gifon Sunday the new TV spot came out, which looks like a teaser for a movie. The ad, entitled iDon't, lists all the things the iPhone, er, doesn't do. They even have a web site called

According to Beta News:

While the ad harkens back to the 16-bit era of video gaming when Sega ran a campaign with a nearly identical tag line ("Genesis Does what Nintendon't"), it is one of the most direct advertising attacks a Fortune 500 company has made on Apple, which has itself been directly attacking Microsoft Windows in its advertisements for many years.

The reviews on this thing have been very positive, but of course I am interested in the naming.

starwars-r2d2-c3po.gifEveryone who has watched Star Wars knows what a "droid" is - an intelligent robot. Anyone who has not will probably think it has something to do with the Android system behind it. I have written before about the (somewhat sinister) Android name, of course, but this is different, because these guys really are aiming at iPhone customers.

And if you want to entice customers away from Apple, naming a phone after a Star Wars character is almost unfair because, let's face it, Apple people are Star Wars people. The temptation to dump an iPhone to own your own droid will really be hard to resist on the part of most Apple folks.

Just watch. Every single male iPhone owner under the age of fifty will feel the Force call him.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:20 AM

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October 19, 2009

Crazy Company Naming and Renaming Besets Investment World

Some of the more amusing - or perhaps frightening - naming and branding industry postscripts are the names given to major financial entities in America.

One would think that in this environment the real money would be in play it safe, anonymous naming and renaming like that embraced by AIG.

Nothing doing.

A great piece about renaming private equity by Lauren Silva Laughlin caught my eye last week. The term is so maligned, misused and nowadays inaccurate, that Carlyle's David Rubenstein thinks it should be called "change capital" or "value-added equity." Laughlin, tongue firmly in cheek, suggests instead that it be called "underwater equity" or "fee-squared capital" or, hilariously, "Pupa equity" standing for "Private until public again."

kaChing-logo.gifI avoided writing about that because I thought it sounded a bit, well, silly, but now I just can't help myself. You see, a new Mutual Fund tracking site is going to be called "kaChing." It started as a game on facebook, has graduated to a fairly sophisticated investment monitoring device, and soon will be a place where real money is traded. You can even get yourself ranked as a "genius."

kaChing. Get it?

rcg_logo.gifHow about a fund for the more literary minded? Okay, then why not throw your cash in with the Roark Capital Group. These guys have $1.55 billion and are ready to put $750 million into the private equity market.

The name of the company comes from the greedy, ruthless, self-obsessed architect in The Fountainhead, an Ayn Rand novel. You know, the one where people who are not "creators" are "parasites."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:29 AM

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October 16, 2009

Polaroid Branding Naming is Back in the Picture

I've said it before and I'll say it again today, you just can't keep a good brand name down.

polaroid-logo.gifCase in point is the resuscitation of Polaroid, whose legendary instant cameras will once again be available to consumers in 2010. Polaroid's new licensee, The Summit Global Group, promises that this will be nothing less than the "re-launch of instant photography [in] both traditional and digital formats."

Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 in December of 2008 and its brand was duly sold off in April. But Austrian businessman Florian Kaps' Impossible Project enabled Polaroid's comeback by relaunching analog instant film after Polaroid quick manufacturing it in June 2008.

impossible-project-logo.gifSays one Summit executive, "With significant marketing effort being applied to instant photography, both with the re-launch of instant film and through product line expansion of the digital formats we will introduce the Polaroid Brand to younger consumers and ready them for a lifetime of Polaroid experiences."

Incidentally, this all comes after the last batch of Polaroid film passed its "use-by" date on October 9.

Overall, the blogospehere seems to herald this as a good thing. Or as Bitter Wallet puts it, "The world would be a little less colourful without Polaroid, even if you do have to flap it violently back and forth for 90 seconds."

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:17 AM

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October 15, 2009

Barnes & Noble's New eBook Embraces Feminine Product Naming, Sort Of...

So the news is out: Barnes & Noble has a new eBook reader that is set to rival Kindle.

Its name? Athena. As in the goddess of wisdom and war.

amazon-athena.gifGizmodo leaked the photos earlier this week but did not reveal the name, claiming it was "freaking terrible."

Despite Gizmodo's opinion of the name, others feel Athena will be a success.

For instance, the USA Today blog wonders if this is the "Kindle Killer." And PC World says this might mark the moment when eReaders actually become a mass market product.

Even Kindle gives it due respect.

But is the name really as bad as Gizmodo says?

Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, of household arts and crafts, of spinning and weaving, of textiles. Inventor of the flute, the plough and the ox-yoke, the horse bridle and the chariot. Athena, goddess of war, guardian of Athens, the city named for her; defender of heroes, champion of justice and civil law.

Now, I like the name, but I do have one small reservation - do female names work when it comes to high-tech gadgets?

Previously I've commented on gadgets with feminine names, like the Blackberry Pearl and Curve vs. the Bold, because they seem to face challenges in the marketplace no matter how alluring the actual products appear to be.

However, with Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, the guardian of Athens, there are some innate associations with power and strength. Despite being the name of a goddess, it carries strong connotations that may rival more masculine sounding product names.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:30 AM

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October 14, 2009

Netbook World Trembles as HP Puts Compaq Naming and Branding Back to Work in the USA

HP owned Compaq is making a comeback as an "ultra-inexpensive" computer brand, offering cheap notebooks that might cause problems in the netbook world.

compaqpresariocq61.pngCompaq is very popular in Asia but has been languishing in the USA. As of this week, HP is hoping that USA consumers will opt to drop $399 for a loaded notebook over a skimpy netbook.

HP acquired the Compaq brand in 2002 but shoved it aside soon after.

The new computers - one laptop and two desktops - proudly bear the Compaq name and you can get the cheapest one - The Presario 4010f - for a mere $309.

James Kendrick feels that people who are considering buying a netbook "strictly based on price" should really take a second look.

HP has for some time claimed that they have a "two tiered" strategy with Compaq. According to Empoprise, back in 2002, HP gave this cryptic statement about how the brand name would be handled:

"In the consumer and retail arenas, both the HP and Compaq brands will stay in place for certain product lines because of "varying brand equity throughout the world," according to Zitzner. Thus the Compaq Presario line will stay as it is, and HP's Pavilion line will also remain. In the handheld computing space, though, HP's Jornada devices and Compaq's iPaq PDAs will morph into HP iPaq devices. Wireless product lines will carry the HP brand. Got all that?"

Hmmm. That didn't really happen. What did happen was that Compaq became a down-market name you'd find in big box computer stores without much of an identity at all. But as of this month, Compaq is back with us and set to possibly end the netbook reign trend. The brand is worth billions overseas, so breathing new life into it in the USA ought to be rather simple.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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October 12, 2009

Singling Out Singlish Part 4: Linguistically Getting the Job Done

uniquely-singapore-4.gifThe tiny Republic of Singapore (only 699 km²) has been independent only since1965. Current citizens are the descendants of immigrants from mainly China and India as well as the local indigenous race, the Malays, who also make up the populations of nearby Malaysia and Indonesia. This Asian culture, again, is reflected in Singlish.

It creates characters that reflect Asian cultural attitudes and habits:

  • Ah Beng and Ah Lian - these are traditional Chinese names but increasingly, Singaporeans are going for western names deemed more sophisticated and international, like Kristine (not even with a C!) or Marc (not even with a K.) So an Ah Beng is an unsophisticated Chinese boy who stereotypically speaks gutter Chinese, likes neon-coloured clothes, spiky, gelled hair and conspicuously displays accessories such as his cell-phone. It's someone who thinks he is in the forefront of fashion - brands hang heavily on him - but is actually completely lacking in taste. The female version is Ah Lian. "Did they actually go on a package shopping tour to Guangzhou? That's just so Ah Beng!" (Guangzhou is a city in southern China famous for factories mass producing cheap products, some of which are imitations of brands)
  • Auntie - a respectful way of addressing an elderly lady in Singapore, be she an acquaintance or a total stranger. The male version is naturally Uncle. There will be a lot of aunties and uncles in Singapore. "Auntie, very crowded here. You don mind - please queue here!" says shop assistant to old woman. Asians had the global village mindset long before the west popularised the phrase.

Increasingly, Singlish is common to all. A local publisher has published an entertaining, descriptive guide called The Coxford Singlish Dictionary, an obvious pun on the esteemed Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

Sadly, the government seems bent on banning it from all official publications and broadcasting. Writers, filmmakers, playwrights and teachers have been discouraged from using it. Ironically, the online edition of the OED included two Singlish words from day one: the particle lah which can express infinite nuances of emotions and the word sinseh meaning a physician or an herbalist.

The Brits use questions tags: "It's hot, isn't it?" And Americans love their tongue-in-cheek, "Am I the smartest or what?" Likewise, endings such as 'lah', 'meh', 'ah', 'man', 'or what' are the salt, the flavour, the very essence of Singlish:

  • "You don't know this meh? " (expressing surprise, disgust among some other twenty emotions)
  • "Eh, come with us lah! " (persuasion, but also resignation, irritation among some other 30 emotions)
  • "You coming or not, ah?" (likewise)
  • "Wah, this test is really tough, man." (and it usually means just that)
  • "You want to buy this or what?"("You want to buy this or not?")

Supporters claim that Singlish will persevere simply because it does exactly what it is supposed to do. Can you get any clearer than 'You come or not?" After all, Singlish is language of the people, by the people, for the people, er, lah....

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:37 AM

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October 9, 2009

Singling out Singlish Part 3: Visual and Sound Linguistic Adaptations

Uniquely_Singapore_Logo.jpgSinglish is not quite a written language but it is flourishing, albeit without government blessing. It argues that Singlish is too limited in its power to communicate and that the rest of the world will not understand Singapore, and that it makes Singaporeans look incompetent or even stupid. Yes, Singlish is very often the only form of English for Singaporeans who have not learnt the language well. But increasingly, even among university graduates, politicians, artistes or professionals who can speak English very well, Singlish has become a badge of identity world.

"I'm blur, are you sure you're using that word correctly?"

Singlish is melodramatically visual:

  • vomit blood - rather graphic, and used to denote extreme frustration and annoyance. "I tell you, I don't know how many thousand times I have told him how to do this, until I vomit blood, and he still doesn't get it!"
  • blur - when someone is unsure or confused. "Aiyah, don't ask him - he's always so blur about directions."
  • sotong - the Malay word for octopus which squirts ink and clouds everything, so it has similar meaning to blur. If you're blur sotong, then you're absolutely hopeless or a 'gone case'.
  • kena sai - Kena is the Malay word meaning to be hit with, and sai is a Chinese dialectal word for faeces. So this phrase means to hit or cop sh*t, often when one experiences bad luck or embarrassment. "How was I to know that he was sitting at the next table listening to all our complaints? Of course, kena sai la!"

Singlish thrives on sound effects:

  • chope - Imagine the sound of a heavy bag or a human bottom plonked onto a seat. This means to reserve, as in reserving a chair or table. You need to co-ordinate your act when you go to the canteen or the food court with a friend - he queues up for the food while you chope the seats.
  • shiok - you literally have to expel this word from your body and it means great, wonderful, super, hot, cool, terrific, out-of-this world. "Wow, the concert was so shiok! He sang everybody's favourites, man! Worth every cent!"

Want to learn more? Please check out Part 1 and Part 2. And keep an eye out for the final installment of "Singling out Singlish."

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Posted by Diane Prange at 11:09 AM

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A Tiny Airport Gets Some Impressive International Naming and Branding

I guess when it comes to airport naming, "imitation is the best form of flattery," which was the bemused reaction on the part of Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan upon learning that Florida's Bay County airport officials had named their new airport the "Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport".

BayCountyAirport.pngYou see, Okaloosa already has a Northwest Florida Regional Airport.

Both airports are pretty small. The Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport handles only 11 flights a day, vs. Regional's 53.

So why are these names so similar? Because, it seems, low cost carriers want to fly out of fewer cities while covering large regions... like, say "Northwest Florida" vs. Panama City or Okaloosa County. These places sound tiny and out of the way. Northwest Florida, however, sounds large, and of course the "Northwest" name is very airline friendly.

One exec remarked "this truly is Northwest Florida's international airport and will be this region's gateway to the world - and the world's gateway to our region."

Oh, yes, this is actually an international airport as well!

The new name was culled from hundreds of suggestions, and had to have "universal appeal, reflect the region served and support economic development and tourism." One blogger feels that it should simply be called the "Northwest Florida International Airport" and I'd agree with that. Northwest Florida sounds pretty darned impressive. Tag on the word International and it takes on world scope... even if it only has 11 flights a day.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:41 AM

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October 8, 2009

Stride Rite Company Naming Gives Way to Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group

The Stride Rite group will be doing business as "Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group," an integral part of its parent company, Collective Brands Inc. The news was made official yesterday at its Annual Investor Conference in Kansas City.

stride_rite_0.pngThere will be "no change to the time-honored Stride Rite children's footwear brand or the Stride Rite Children's Group."

Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group includes Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds and the Stride Rite Children's Group, along with Stride Rite, Robeez, Keds Kids, Saucony Kids and Sperry Top-Sider Kids.

According to one exec, "The new name best describes what brings us together - a collection of fiercely independent performance and lifestyle brands with unique personalities and strong marketplace positions, each focused on distinct and targeted customer groups. As well, as a result of being part of Collective Brands, we have a renewed and strengthened business model leveraging powerful infrastructure designed to platform our brands and businesses for maximum success in the global marketplace."

Collective Brands was formed in 2007 when Payless ShoeSource bought the Stride Rite Corp. and Collective Licensing International. Collective Brands, the parent company, will keep its name.

So this might go down as rather "meh" news save for the fact that this is a pretty savvy move that has caught the attention of investors. This is a strong company whose stable of well known brands seems to be on an upswing.

Each brand is well known, to be sure, but none of them are really category leaders. Their existence under the Collective Brands seems to give them critical mass.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:11 AM

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October 7, 2009

Consumers Weigh in on Beyoncé's Sasha Fierce Fragrance Product Naming

A few weeks ago I commented on Beyoncé's trademark dispute with Abercrombie & Fitch over her possible use of Sasha Fierce, the name of her alter ego, for a woman's fragrance, because Abercrombie already uses Fierce as a product name for cologne.

In the trademark world, the question that determines whether or not Beyoncé could secure a trademark for Sasha Fierce is: Would a Sasha Fierce woman's fragrance create confusion with a men's cologne called Fierce on the part of the consumer?

We thought that no one was better suited to answer this question then, you guessed it, consumers themselves.

Check out their somewhat surprising answers in the video below.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:39 AM

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Kraft Product Naming Swap: iSnack 2.0 Out, Cheesybite In

It doesn't really surprise me that the iSnack 2.0 product name for the new cheesy Vegemite product was pulled, leading some pundits to say that even if the (admittedly terrible) iSnack 2.0 name was a marketing gimmick, it might have done harm to the brand.

Kraft, the makers of Vegemite, has had plenty of media attention over the last couple of weeks, but unfortunately, most of it has been negative. Lots of bloggers are even getting sick of the iSnack naming hoopla.

Amazingly, Kraft went back to consumers and held another online competition and this time around "Cheesybite" was the name that came out on top, which is a big improvement.

However, during this second attempt, consumers where not given a chance to submit a name for the new product. Instead, 50,000 online participants were given seven naming options:

  • Cheesybite

  • Creamymate

  • Smooth

  • Snackmate

  • Vegemate

  • Vegemild

  • None of these
Vegemite Smooth was a close second, while Vegemite Creamymate was the least popular choice.

In addition, "Cheesymite, one of the most popular suggestions from the original 48,000 entries, couldn't be trademarked" because it was already in use.

Through all this, Kraft still maintains that the iSnack debacle was not a gimmick, with one executive saying "Hand on my heart, the Kraft board would not engage in anything as unethical as that."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:04 AM

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October 6, 2009

Dodge Ram Car Naming and Branding Goes it Alone

The news that the Italian owners of Chrysler are splitting the Dodge brand into car and truck groups has caught the blogosphere by surprise.

dodgeramtruck.pngThis comes on the heels of the news that the Chrysler brand name is going to be positioned as a luxury brand "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac."

Analysts see this as a tough sell, not least because Chrysler already is viewed by car buyers with some suspicion and the maintenance of a high end brand name (like Cadillac) is very high.

The Ram Truck brand will isolate a once popular truck brand away from the Chrysler and Dodge Car brands. It probably will mean a redesign of the logo. It also separates the pick-ups from the Jeeps (very tempted to make a goats and lambs analogy here, but I will desist).

This will not really have an effect on the consumer in the short term but it may mean that the cars will start to look far different than the trucks and "trucks only" dealerships may start to sprout up.

For my part, I really do not see the "Ram" brand as "new" and it is not a secret that most pick-up truck brands have a pretty healthy amount of separation from the car brands.

The Ford F-series is almost a law unto itself at Ford, and it is hard to confuse a Ford truck with a new Taurus, for instance.

My feeling is that the really ailing element of Dodge is the car division. Fact is, the Ram brand has a great deal of equity and is probably the easiest to resuscitate.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:43 AM

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October 5, 2009

Singling out Singlish Part 2: Linguistic Adaptions in Pronunciation

uniquely-singapore-or.gifSingapore is a linguist's paradise. History has bequeathed it a cauldron of languages, dialects and accents. A long-established bilingual school policy and the government practice of presenting news, announcements, signs, documents in four official languages (English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil) means that the average Singaporean grows up exposed to a number of languages. The Prime Minister makes his National Day speeches (much like the State of the Union) mostly in English but also a smattering of Mandarin and Malay. Multilingual households are common, with children speaking dialect with grandparents, Mandarin with parents, English with teachers and Singlish to siblings and friends.

What has Singlish done with English?

Singlish adores abbreviations, be it a swallowing of vowels or an omission of verbs:

  • ne'mine - a contraction for 'never mind'.
  • sabo - pronounced saboe and derived from the word sabotage and reserved for people who are trying to set you up, as in 'Why didn't you tell him I was on my way? You trying to sabo me?"
  • gahmen - a.k.a government. Everybody talks about the gahmen, especially taxi-drivers.
  • oso can - a mispronunciation, sometimes deliberately, of 'also can' to mean that something is acceptable or not a problem. 'Ne'mine, we can makan whatever you want. Or we can go to Adam Road for stingray barbecue instead?"" "Oso can."
  • air-con - obviously, an air-conditioner but often use without verbs, as in, 'Can you on the aircon?' Or 'Do you want me to off the aircon?'

And loves acronyms:

  • MC - medical certificate. In Singapore, you can't just skip school or work (in the civil service) without a valid document from the doctor certifying your less than perfect health. Hence, to be on MC is to be on sick or medical leave.
  • "Eh, I'll have to go to the Mindef HQ 'coz my son has to defer his NS. The MRT too crowded lah, so shall I take the PIE or the TPE?"
  • Mindef HQ: Ministry of Defence Headquarters, NS: National service (in effect 2 years of compulsory military service), MRT: Mass Rapid Transit, the local subway, PIE and TPE: Pan Island Expressway and Tampines Expressway, the names of major highways. See lah below.

Yet contradictorily, Singlish also repeats words for emphasis as in "Oh, you're a big, big boy, man!" Also:

  • barang-barang - barang is Malay for stuff, paraphernalia or too many things to name. "He's so messy - his barang-barang is always all over the place!"
  • don't play-play (or pray-pray') - Well, you've probably all heard about oriental rhotacism, that indistinction between the r and l sounds. This expression is a warning against foolish behaviour. 'The deadline is tomorrow and you still chatting. Don't pray-pray ah, I tell you!"
  • ya-ya - someone is talking too much nonsense or boasting or being just plain irritating. "Wow, a new car every day - a bit ya-ya or what?"

Want to learn more? Please check out Part 1 and stay tuned for Singling Out Singlish - Part 3, what happens when Singlish modifies or makes-up words?

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Posted by Diane Prange at 8:52 AM

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October 2, 2009

Company Name Change: Hilton's New Name and Brand Identity

Branding Strategy Insider recently quoted a brand management executive at Hilton hotels asking a simple question: "So what's a Hilton?"

hilton_ww_logo.gifHilton has decided to foreground that question by spiffing up its brand identity. They have traded in "The Hilton Family" for the more corporate (and accurate) "Hilton Worldwide," which Brand New doesn't seem to care for.

Hilton's press release tells us:

With the addition of the word "worldwide," the new logo unites all members of the organization across all parts of the globe with one shared vision for success. The platinum and gold stylized H evokes quality, stature and the richness of Hilton's heritage. The two halves are reflective, which are a reminder of the company's storied past and vibrant future, and the open curves are welcoming, symbolizing the world of travel by suggesting the round edges of the globe, the arch of a bridge and posts of a bed.

Worldwide, individual hotel brands will remain as they are, while this new logo and branding will "be used in business-to-business communications to hotel owners, the travel trade, and for the Hilton HHonors loyalty program."

Consumer face branding will remain the responsibility of individual hotels and the major brand names will stay in place (Waldorf, Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, etc).

Bnet notes that this move comes after some scandals at the top echelons of Hilton's management and also reports that some believe the website slogan, "Filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality," is a blatant Christmas marketing tool.

Well, what if it is? It is that time of year...almost.

This new logo, which gives a congruent name and identity to a tremendous hotel brand name with 10 sub-brands, has come at the perfect time, coinciding with the hotel's move to a new headquarters (from Beverly Hills to McLean, VA).

Or as Hotel and Motel Management says, the hotel's rebranding was "essential to the future of the hotel brand family's existence."

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:21 AM

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October 1, 2009

Questionable Abbreviation, Necessary Name Change

Sometimes we scratch our heads when we hear about a name change.

Sometimes we think a name change could be a difference without a distinction.

For instance, the Wisconsin Tourism Federation changed their name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin.

toursim-federaion-wi.gifI thought to myself, did this organization really have to change their name using the same words?

The answer is in their logos (old - above, new - below).

Note that the abbreviation for the Wisconsin Tourism Federation, which appears in their old logo, is WTF.

Need I say more?

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:28 AM

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Singling out Singlish Part 1: Singlish Implications for Global Brand Naming

Like many former British colonies, Singapore has adopted English as an official language. In fact, it is now the mother tongue of many Singaporeans, most of whom look decidedly Chinese, Indian or Malay.

But although Singaporeans may take the lift rather than the elevator and get into queues rather than lines, their brand of English also has a distinctive local flavour. This patois is called Singlish, a linguistic curry, an amalgamation of influences, e.g. English grammar imposed on Malay words or direct translations of Chinese as well as totally native-invented words and expressions.

What are some aspects of Singlish?

uniquely-singapore-logo.gifWell, for one, it reflects historical experiences:

  • ang-moh - all over Asia, there are words to describe the Caucasian foreigner - gaijin in Japan, laowai in China, farang in Thailand and in Singapore, he's an angmoh, meaning red-hair. Colonial Singapore seemed to have attracted a fair number of Irish, many of whom founded some of the best schools in the country.

For another and more significantly, it integrates words from the dominant Asian languages in the region:

  • makan - the Malay word for eat or food and hence used and heard any time of the day in food-obsessed Singapore, "Eh, let's go - makaning time!" "Is the makan there any good?" One of the most popular food sites dedicated to Asian food is
  • jiat gentang - this combines a Chinese dialect word for eat (jiat) with the Malay word for potatoes (gentang). It describes someone who speaks with a pretentious Western accent (since potatoes are associated with Europeans). 'Just because he went to California, now he only knows how to jiat gentang'. Some radio announcers and DJs have gotten grief for jiat gentang.
  • buaya - the Malay word for crocodile, it is often used especially by students to refer to someone who's a skirt-chaser, a flirt or someone who always has his eyes on the ladies. Can be used as a noun or a verb. "So what are you doing in my office? You come to buaya Nancy, is it?"

Singlish not only sources from its Asian languages but, obviously, also English. Stay tuned for "Singling Out Singlish - Part 2" with some interesting adaptations in pronunciation.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:10 AM

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