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November 30, 2009

Alfa Forced to Drop Milano Naming and Branding After Worker Protests

Alfa Romeo has decided to remove the Milano name from its new 147 model just a few days before the Bologna Motor Show.

The reason? Laid off Alfa workers in Milan feel that the company is being hypocritical by naming the car after a city they have left behind after moving to Turin.

alfa-romeo-milano-iaa.gifAlfa was founded in Milan and was there for 99 years before this cost cutting move took place thanks to Alfa's parent company, Fiat. In fact, the Milano name was once incorporated into the car's badge.

The new name will probably be Giulietta.

This would be the third Alfa to carry that name and according to The Motor Report "Previous Giulietta models include a sedan and coupe built between 1954 and 1965, and a sedan built between 1977 and 1985."

This name was also one of the names that came after Fiat switched back from alphanumeric naming.

I'm thinking this is enough for them to reconsider using alpha numeric naming.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:43 AM

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November 23, 2009

AOL Brand is Not Google and Never Will Be

I hesitated writing this blog post for fear I might miss the point of AOL's new logos. And I didn't want to be one more blogger practicing "schadenfreude" regarding AOL's efforts to revive itself.

NewAOLLogos.pngThe more I look at the six AOL logos, however, the more I am reminded of drawing with hand paints in kindergarten. (Oh yes, there's a fish and a hand which likely wouldn't be drawn by kindergarten students.)

It looks as though AOL is trying to be like Google who almost daily changes its logo to reflect an event on a specific day. AOL will never out-Google Google, so they don't appear to be staking out new territory in the mind of the consumer.

My belief is that creativity should be evaluated in the context of the strategy behind it. Having said that, I'm having a difficult time imagining what AOL's new strategy is that is reflected in these new logos.

For the time being, I vote thumbs down on the new AOL logos.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:32 AM

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November 18, 2009

Tweeter Brand Naming For Sale; Twitter Users Notice

tweeterstore.gifSo the brand name of electronics company "Tweeter" is up for sale and its owners, Wells Fargo and Schultze Asset Management, hope that its similarity to the word "Twitter" will give it some extra equity.

This comes one year after Tweeter shut down.

Moderntweeter.gifThe word "tweeter" used to be commonly known as part of a stereo speaker, but now it is far more well-known as "one who tweets using Twitter." Of course, this allows for some name variations such as a "ghost-tweeter," which is what President Obama has.

The real question is "Will Twitter Buy Tweeter?" As one blogger points out:

There are a number of Tweeter-type references related to Twitter, including "tweets," or the posts made by users, and "tweeters," nickname of Twitter users.  There is also a "tweet deck" and other Tweet-related Twitter references that continue to be created.

The fact is, the word "Tweeter" is really very important to how we perceive ourselves as Twitter users and if this name gets into the wrong hands it really could be a problem for Twitter. A Tweeter is to Twitter as Skier is to Skiing.

Still, Twitter will probably end up not buying the name as they still have to find a way to be profitable. The value attributed to Tweeter by Twitter is inadvertent.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:39 AM

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November 17, 2009

Godiva Sweetens Their Naming and Branding

I love chocolate and thus am intrigued by Godiva's new naming strategy which is designed to make the high-end sweet appealing in these down market times. They've made some subtle but important tweaks.

GodivaAd.pngTheir new campaign and "brand essence" is called the "golden moment" and looks at those stolen moments of pleasure represented by eating high end chocolate. This is a departure from "luxurious celebration," the former brand essence that is now out of step with the times, when luxury is simply not in vogue.

What I'm really intrigued by, however, is the company's move from labeling itself as a "Chocolatier." They have replaced that word beneath the brand name with the words "Belgium 1926." This is an effort to "re-engage people around the Belgian heritage" of the company.

I have written before about how effective linking your brand name to a place is and of course the words "Belgium 1926" immediately conjure up not only the history of the company but also Belgium, chocolate capital of the world. "Chocolatier" sounds pretentious, sort of like "Sommelier," but we can all get behind buying a piece of Belgium.

Still, the name dies hard. Just a week ago, The Food Business Review announced that "Godiva Chocolatier Introduces New Line Of Specialty Coffee." Hmmm. Should we in fact refer to Godiva as a chocolatier? After all, this description is still on its web site. Well, yes, that's the name of the company.

But this move to remind consumers of the company's heritage and its association with Belgium is a way of repackaging luxury... selling luxurious moments - and places - in bite sizes.

Note that the Godiva name, while touting its Belgium heritage, is actually British - in fact just last week, some concern arose over her statue in Coventry.

She was the Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry in protest over her husbands cruel taxes.

The Godiva ads, however, are aimed at Americans but show British people eating Belgium chocolates.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:14 AM

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November 16, 2009

Coca Naming and Branding: Watch Out Coke, Kūka Is Here

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am often amused by the world of energy drinks and the launch of Kūka, another coca-based drink, brings a smile to my face this Monday.

Not because this is a particularly wacky name, although it does sound a little cuckoo, but because it is yet another name that tries to sidestep the biggest coca drink in the world: Coca-Cola.

kuka1.pngThe key ingredient in this 100% natural beverage is "hand-picked Andean coca leaves." The web site boasts "called by its original name, Kūka [Koo-ka] is a curiously complex all-natural non-carbonated coca leaf beverage straight from the heart of the Andes."

They even have loads of testimonials on the Kūka blog site, and some bloggers have noted that the stuff mixes well with whiskey and also with rum, leading us to wonder who exactly is paying top dollar to mix this subtle, natural drink with all of its "medicinal and nutritional values" in a drink.

This is the "signature" beverage for Kuka Drink, Inc. (note the lack of a macron mark over the "u" in the company naming"). The web site for the company promises us a drinking experience without the sugar "jolt" that other, nameless coca drinks give you (cough, Coke, cough).

The slogan is "Feel the Andes" and I suppose this mellow, green package design serves well enough.

The name, of course, is yet another attempt by somebody trying, once again, to sell us on the "good" kind of coca leaf (as opposed to the white stuff and that fizzy stuff from you know who).

Back in 2005, a company named Coca Sek ("Coca of the Sun") tried to re-establish the "good name of the coca leaf" - the drink was sold in Bogata Columbia by people who touted it as the answer to Coke's "imperialist domination." But of course, they did like that Coca name.

Kūka is not an anti-Coke drink but it's hard not to think of Coke when you say the name.

Frankly, I think all of these drinks are well served by the fact that we are all used to drinking Coke. Selling a drink from the coca leaf just isn't that big a leap for most of us.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:37 AM

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November 13, 2009

Taiyaki Branding and Naming Makes Japan Happy

I often look to other countries for naming inspiration and today its Japan, where the horrible economy has brought back in vogue a traditional snack called Taiyaki.

taiyaki.jpgTaiyaki means, wait for it, "baked sea bream." It's a fish shaped pancake that is filled with sweet bean jam and has been around for a hundred years. The name is pretty interesting in that I doubt many westerners would want to name a snack after a fish.

Then I recalled that one of my favorite snacks is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish which just got an award for their cue ten-spot series of commercials. This commercial series follows the adventures of "Gilbert" the Goldfish who gets separated from his pals, who decide to try and find him.

According to Wikipedia, in 1975-1976 a Japanese hit single entitled "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun" ("Swim! Taiyaki") sung by Masato Shimon was also about a fish who slips away from his pals and is finally found by a fisherman who..uh..eats him.

The name is what does it: the word "Tai", which means sea bream, also is close to "happy". Sea Bream is a part of the carp family, which the Japanese have a deep reverence for.

The treat is sold at festivals and you can pick one up for as little as a hundred yen ($1.10). That ought to make anyone happy.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:06 AM

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November 12, 2009

GM Bets Naming of New Buick Regal Will Drive Younger Buyers To Its Doors

It's pretty much been an open secret since last month on the blogosphere that GM is planning on bringing back the Buick Regal.

This brand name revival will essentially be modeled after the Opel Insignia, which has been selling very well in Europe and was in fact the 2009 European Car of the Year - 64,000 of these have also been sold in China over the past year, where Buicks are very well regarded.

buick-regal-burgundy.gifThe mainstream news has finally broken the story, but notes that this premium brand has traditionally appealed to older buyers (the average age of a Buick buyer is 57 vs 46 for all new vehicle purchases, and five years ago it was 62). However, this new youthful, sporty design is meant to "drive the age down" into the mid 40s.

The Regal nameplate has been on the market for six years and is still one of the names most associated with Buick by consumers. Which explains why they are pushing the brand hard in LA, especially since Buick traditionally sells poorly in age-obsessed California and this is where the image of the brand name might find a lift.

Many people out there think that the Regal name, and indeed the Buick name, is beyond redemption, but its clear why GM is hanging on to both: The Chinese love the Buick and Regal names and the car itself has proven to be a winner overseas.

Buick is betting that name recognition will carry the day in the US. As an automatic win in China, a probable win here in the United States, where the car is clearly geared for the younger buyer, doesn't sound like bad odds.

This appears to be a good branding move simply because there is still a large amount of equity in the Buick Regal name. Time will tell.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:52 AM

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November 10, 2009

NY Neighborhood Naming: Going GaGa for GoCaGa

Can changing a neighborhood's name increase the value of the properties therein?

New York real estate agents seem to think so.

The New York Daily News reports that acronym type names are popping up all over Manhattan real estate offices, and boy are they weird.

If you'd live in SoHo, why not try BoCoCa, GoCaGa or BoHo? Mapmakers even have put down DUMBO as a real part of the city (near the Manhattan Bridge).

greenwichsouth.gifThere already has been NoHo, which is north of Hudson Street, and Nolita, which is Little Italy, but the Bowery below Hudson Street is now BoHo and BoCoCa is "an amalgamation of three old-school Brooklyn neighborhoods - Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill."

Hell's Kitchen is trying to turn into "Clinton," leading one blogger to note that "as it abuts Chelsea, you could very well find yourself living in Chelsea-Clinton." Nearby, there also appears to be a strong push for the creation of a Greenwich South.

The Gothamist weighs in on all this, writing:

BoCoCa would be better if it could be pronounced "BoCoCoa," because right now we're tripping on it, saying, "BoCaCa." Plus there's nothing wrong with just saying Cobble Hill or whatever. Then CoWaDi sounds like "Witch Doctor http://www.mareesalbumlyrics.com/Witch_Doctor.html " from Sha-Na-Na..."Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah, ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang." It would be better off if the area was called "The W.D." - think "The O.C " - or just "The District" - don't think the CBS show.

Despite the strange factor, people just don't seem to like many or most of these new names. In fact, Cityfile points out "None of them have caught on yet and probably never will so if you use them in conversation, you'll probably come off sounding pretty stupid (and may get mistaken for a desperate real estate broker). But feel free to take your chances."

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:08 AM

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November 9, 2009

Losing Your Twitter Naming and Branding Just Bad Business

There is simply no excuse for major companies like GM and Hyundai to have their naming and branding hijacked on Twitter. AdAge gives us the lowdown on the tremendous number of major brand names that are infested with Twitter squatters. They include

TwitterCollage.png


  • General Motors

  • General Electric

  • Diageo

  • Coty

  • Comcast

  • Eli Lilly

  • Kellogg Co.

  • MasterCard

  • Nestle

  • Walt Disney

225px-New_Walmart_Logo.svg.pngEven Walmart has had its name taken. This is just incredible... all of these brands should have a legion of people willing to stake out their names on the social networking mediums, and yet they have been caught flatfooted.

Don't they care that their brand name is now being used by someone else?

The warnings have been many. And losing Twitter as a communications platform - a free one at that - is just bad business. Almost half (48%) of Twitter users will investigate a brand mentioned on the site, people.

Twitter users pay attention to brand names that get tweeted. This is more than was previously thought and yet some of the biggest names out there are out of the game.

I have written before about how important it is to protect your domain name and your identity on Facebook.

This is not kid stuff: people are paying attention, and losing your name to a squatter is disappointing and sub-optimum brand name management, especially by some leading brands and companies.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:45 AM

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November 6, 2009

McDonald's Walks Into a Naming and Branding Lion's Den

The Eden Prairie, Minnesota restaurant The Lion's Tap has settled its trademark suit with McDonald's over the fast-food giant's use of their slogan "Who's Your Patty."

The Lion's Tap has been using the slogan since 2005. According to the Jordan Independent, "The phrase is on company T-shirts, newspaper ads and headlines the restaurant's Web site." The Lion's Tap probably will not financially benefit from this, as yesterday's filing says "All claims ... are dismissed with prejudice and without costs and disbursements of attorney's fees to either party."

LionsTapWhosYourPatty.pngThis is an interesting issue not least because Lion's Tap only filed for the federal trademark a few days before the trial despite having a Minnesota trademark for the phrase.

The case was hailed in Slashfood as "a small fry" going after a "super-sized giant," with the tiny, out of the way restaurant being the small fry. Had The Lion's Tap held the federal trademark their position would have been much stronger.

DuetsBlog asks the million dollar question: "What did McDonald's know and when did they know it?" and suggests that McDonald's probably had no idea that The Lion's Tap was using the slogan.

But they should have because of the Minnesota trademark.

Duets notes that the restaurant has used other slogans in the recent past, including "Any Fresher and it Might Get Slapped," "Sponsoring the Napkin Industry Since 1977," "Yes, They Really Do Exist. Come See One for Yourself," and "Lions and Burgers and Fries, Oh My!" So even if some acolyte at McDonald's had been trolling the Internet for usage of the slogan they would have been foiled until quite recently when the restaurant's site was revamped.

Duets also discovered that the actual domain whosyourpatty.com is not held by either Lion's Tap or McDonald's but instead by Patty Wood, a real estate agent.

McDonald's probably was willing to concede the point here to avoid bad publicity, but legally things look a little murky. The Minnesota Litigator puts it very tactfully in their examination of the case: "Lion's Tap counsel has expressly invoked David vs. Goliath in the complaint and has otherwise adopted a somewhat light-hearted tone not normally associated with complaints initiating lawsuits."

I'm thinking that this was good publicity for The Lion's Tap and not worth the trouble for McDonald's.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:40 AM

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November 5, 2009

Chrysler Gets New Brand Identity and Ram Dodges Criticism About Split

So before Chrysler could even release their new logo yesterday, the blogosphere was flooded with reviews of the change.

For one, Motor Authority described it as lovely retrospective of past logos:

chrysler-newlogo-wings.gif

The logo, which seems oddly compressed in the vertical axis, is a sort of retro-modern combination of the winged Chrysler logos of the 1990s with a modern typeface and the Chrysler name. It may be yet another visible aspect of the Fiat restructuring and rebranding of Chrysler though the symbol also bears at least a passing resemblance to Aston Martin's famous winged icon.

For those disappointed to see the old logo go, don't get too upset because it seems that the familiar Pentastar will not be wholly retired, living on as the company's corporate identity.

But the new logo hasn't been the only news coming out of Chrysler recently, the Ram brand is also making a big change, divorcing itself from Dodge.

I have written about this before, but now the company's new "My name is Ram" ad campaign is reintroducing the brand to hard core truck lovers.

One executive asks that we think of the relationship between Dodge and Ram as akin to that shared by the iPod, iMac, and iPhone brands with Apple: "They are part of Apple, but also compelling brands on their own." A very nice thought, but also a comparison that Automobile Magazine calls "a reach." I agree.

dodge-ram-logo.gifIn fact, there is much anger in the blogosphere about the Ram brand. Pickuptrucks.com gives us "5 Reasons Why It's Wrong To Divorce Ram From Dodge" and number one is "Dodge Ram pickup truck owners say they drive a 'Dodge Ram'" and dropping "Dodge" from the name leaves a "void."

The company is going to push the Ram name and the truck hard, promising "you'll never have trouble recognizing what a big bad Ram looks like."

Maybe so, but some odd combinations just seem to work well together, like a banana split. No one quite knows why, but dessert definitely sounds a lot less exciting when you're just eating a banana.

Good luck Ram, here's hoping the move proves to be a fruitful one.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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November 3, 2009

Vodka Naming Gets Buff with Devotion

Vodka naming is now officially pretty darn weird. Not as weird as energy drink naming, but it's close.

devotion-vodka.gifA new vodka from San Francisco is being named Devotion. Never mind that San Francisco is hardly a place you'd associate with vodka (I personably think of Poland, then Russia, then Sweden, then Finland), this vodka offers "the benefits of protein" and was created by a "dining aficionado and fitness buff." Because, as we all know, fitness and hard alcohol go together like salad and chocolate frosting.

This drink was created when the creator decided to give us something that represented his two favorite passions: "fitness and nightlife." This is the stuff you need to drink if you want all the goodness of vodka with all the health benefits of protein.

According to the press release: "Its name Devotion shares many of the same attributes of the world's greatest athletes and success stories: commitment, drive and success." It's slogan is "Get Devoted".

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of confused. There is already a word for becoming devoted to vodka, it's call alcoholism.

trump-vodka.gifHowever, a vodka hailing from San Francisco is really nothing when you have vodka from Florida named 4Orange that is "distilled exclusively from pure Florida oranges."

What happened to potatoes? Is this really even vodka?

Then there is Hendrix Electric Vodka. Didn't Jimi die during a binge?

Compared to that, Trump Vodka (pictured right) is pretty tame.

Although, I won't think too hard about it, because I'm too busy making martinis out of Godfather Italian Organic Vodka. Here we have a vodka name that flies in the face of common sense: it's named after a movie and a crime syndicate, it's Italian, and it's organic and it's vodka.

Italy and vodka have about as much in common as oranges and vodka or fitness and drinking.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:37 AM

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November 2, 2009

Global Brand Name in the Dictionary: Nissan Leaf

nissan-leaf.jpgIt's extremely rare these days to have a word in the dictionary that is trademarkable globally.

Congratulations to Nissan for the Leaf brand name, for its first electric car.

To develop a trademarkable brand these days usually means a coined name or combination of words from a language other than English.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:58 AM

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