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December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Strategic Name Development

The snow is on its way and where we're from it's bound to stay,
So snuggle up close beside the fire,
And enjoy the warmth as the flames burn higher.

snowontrees.jpgGather around your closest friends,
Especially those on who you depend,
To make it a season filled with delight,
Despite the weather and the cold, dark nights.

And watch for the man in the bright red sleigh,
Who's bound to arrive on that special day,
Wishing a Merry Christmas to everyone,
Just as this little poem has done.

So happy holidays to all from us,
May your Christmas season be filled with glee!

Posted by William Lozito at 2:55 PM

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Steve Nash Turns From Basketball to Naming and Branding

I'm going to blog about Canadian NBA player Steve Nash today, who is
gracefully turning himself into a meaningful brand name. He is nowhere near as big a name as Kobe Bryant or many other high profile athletes, but he is congruently building himself into a brand name as his professional basketball career winds down.

SteveNash.jpgHis new move is to take over the Fitness World chain and turn it into "Steve Nash Fitness World," this after starting with one fitness club only a few years ago.

He has also endorsed a line of Nike's using recycled material called "Trash Talk" (get it?) as well as a line of skin care products. He is well known for his philanthropic image and his genuine belief that people should become more fitness oriented.

The new buyout puts his name on 16 additional locations across Canada, and while the biggest competitor (Good-Life Fitness Centres Inc.) has a cool 200 locations, I would keep an eye on Nash.

Here is a guy who walks the talk. All of the brands endorsed have a common denominator of fitness and health. He's genuine and he means business. This is a nice change.

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Posted by William Lozito at 1:49 PM

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December 21, 2009

SAAB Car Naming and Branding Up in the Air

The saga around the SAAB brand name is pretty sad. It looks like the
company is history, the car is history, and perhaps only the name will
remain to be sold to the highest bidder.

The blogosphere is full of bitterness about this, with one engineer commenting 'This is as if a bad guy [GM, current owners of SAAB] watched someone die and then snatched his ID card to sell it.' Ouch.

saab_logo.pngThere are tributes galore about the little car - an offshoot of the airplane industry - while a last ditch effort is made by Dutch luxury car maker Spyker to acquire the name from GM. Right now, GM is "winding down" the brand name.

But all is not lost, sort of. Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Ltd. (BAIC) has the technology for two SAAB models and might - might -make an offer for the name.

I feel this would be a real coup. The SAAB name has so much equity that if the cars are good enough, people would be prepared to buy them from Chinese sellers. Don't believe me? Just look at Land Rover, which was owned at one point by German automaker BMW and then Ford and now Indian car giant TATA.

Land Rover is to English car making as, well SAAB is to Sweden. Yet buyers keep buying Landys, no matter who builds them.

I would hate to see the SAAB brand name die and do hope that somebody acquires it. Soon. A Chinese SAAB? Well, why not?

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:09 AM

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December 18, 2009

Bad Car Naming and Branding Alive and Well in 2009

Every year the worst car names are discussed across the Internet and this year has a bumper crop. Amanda Wegerzyn at Cars.com weighs in with a hilarious, brutal post that trashes not only the entire Lincoln lineup ("What's the difference between the MKZ, MKX and MKS? Gimme a second to look it up because I honestly can't remember which is which.") as well as the Toyota Yaris for being "ridiculous and nonsensical."

She also skewers the Subaru B9 Tribeca: "Here we've got a family crossover named after a fashionable neighborhood in lower Manhattan and... a World War II bomber?"

NissanHomySuperLong.pngHer lowest blow is saved for the Ford Aspire: "When Ford slapped the Aspire name on the back of this car, they were basically saying: 'Yeah, even our car knows you wish you were driving something cooler.'"

Go Retro takes a longer look back in time, hammering the Dodge Diplomat ("A misguided advertising attempt to make a soccer mom feel like she's royalty or something.") as well as the utterly un-PC MG Midget ("saying that you drive a Midget just sounds weird.")

She also hammers the Ford Probe, as does nearly every other car blogger ("I don't know about you, but anything that sounds like something that would be inserted into any of my bodily orifices during a medical examination or procedure is definitely a turnoff to me.")

Bill Classman reminds us of some classic horrible names, among them the Rolls Royce Mist (in German this means, um, well, read the blog), the Opel Ascona (read the blog) and the ill fated Honda Fitta (ditto).

But the most hilarious post comes from Jalopnik, who looks at some historically awful names (the
1920s era Studebaker Dictator was a pretty bad one), as well as some current bad naming choices, most of which come from Asia.

The "Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard" is pretty awful, as is the "Toyota Estima Lucida G Luxury Joyful Canopy."

But the "Nissan Homy Super Long" really takes the cake.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:48 AM

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December 17, 2009

Nintendo Trademarks Zii Brand Name, But Why?

nintendo-wii-console.gifSo Nintendo has trademarked the name Zii, although nobody really knows what the trademark would be for. Certainly not a name for the Wii 2.

At least one blogger feels this is a preemptive move against "dodgy knock offs" such as the Jungle Soft Vii.

Gamer Crave also notes that this is a renewal of a 2006 trademark, noting via Engadget that trademarks have also been filed for "Bii, Cii, Oii and Yii," adding "Why the Big N didn't go the extra mile and trademark Xii, Uii, Iii and Nii is beyond me, and my Mii."

There is no doubt that the Wii brand name is worth protecting, but unless in they intend to put all these trademarks to use in some form, they may not have the rights to these names for long.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:50 AM

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December 15, 2009

Tiger Woods Brand Name is in the Rough

tiger-woods-celebrate.gifThe Tiger Woods scandal cannot be ignored anymore in these pages. Jokes and moral ranting aside, what is unfolding now is a case study in how a top athlete's personal behavior affects his endorsement power.

And the value of the Woods name seems to be going down. I'm surprised, because a couple weeks ago most of the industry experts thought this would not affect his profile.

But reports are already coming in that Nike products bearing the Woods name are not moving as fast out of the stores. And The New Yorker predicts that few people will want to "be a Tiger" anytime soon not only because of his personal mishaps, but also the lack of discipline he has shown in bedding a series of comical bimbos followed by driving his car into a tree.

This stuff is the absolute antithesis of the kind of focus and control he is known for on the course.

Kate Moss may get her comeback after we discovered she was a druggie, but deep down we didn't expect more of her. Models do drugs, this is no surprise. Tiger, on the other hand, was all about grace and focus under pressure. This is what his name once stood for and why we paid to have it on apparel, cereals and shaving products.

The fallout is that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans have a negative view of the man and companies are starting to take note. As one ad executive says:

It's not surprising to see brands begin to disassociate themselves from Tiger, as his image has been seriously tarnished from the events over the past two weeks. Brands associate with personalities because of their aspirational association with consumers. Any endorsement associated with Tiger Woods is tainted right now.

tiger-gatoradex.gifTainted? Susan Krashinsky in the Globe and Mail says Tiger might actually be toxic. Companies want a safe brand name to endorse them and Tiger really seemed to fit the bill. Not anymore.

Tag is reconsidering their relationship with him and Gatorade has already stopped one line of products bearing his name. Accenture, of course, has wiped him off the balance sheets.

Tiger has taught us that celebrity endorsers can misbehave up to a point... but if they misbehave in violation of the core values we associate with them, they're in the rough.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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December 14, 2009

Nexus One Naming and Branding Gets "Dogfooded" with New Google Phone

The new Google phone is being "dogfooded" (tested) by employees and it's name is going to be Nexus One.

It will be made by HTC and sold online. It seems this is the real deal, and of course has been met with real excitement across the blogosphere.

This phone is Android 2.1 based and full design control was handed over to Google. It is significant that the company is not partnering with a wireless carrier on this incarnation of
Android.

The name has an interesting background. Nexus echoes the movie "Blade Runner". To quote
John Gruber on this:

"Nexus is the brand name of the series of androids (a.k.a. replicants) in Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The story concerns escaped Nexus-6 models"

Here we have yet another movie inspired Android phone (remember the "Droid").

Interestingly, a Chinese translation company has already tried to figure out how to
translate "Nexus One" into meaningful Chinese, and is even hoping for competition from Google on this.

They are looking for a poetic version of the word "Nexus," which they remind us is "a connection or series of
connections within a particular situation or system".

Hmmmmm.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:30 AM

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December 11, 2009

Tavern on the Green Restaurant Brand Name Worth $19 million

I am fascinated by the fact that the name "Tavern on the Green" seems to be worth more than the restaurant itself.

TavernontheGreen-logo.gifThe Le Roy family, who has owned the restaurant for decades, filed for bankruptcy protection in September, but now its landlord, The City of New York, is now selling it off.

However, the name, as it turns out, might be worth as much as $19 million, more than enough to pay the $8 million owed on the place. That's more than the value of Circuit City's name.

New York seems to feel they have rights to the name as part of the bankruptcy protection deal, but the Le Roys have noted that they trademarked it in 1981 (the restaurant's name goes back to 1934). Just to be on the safe side, New York also has rights to an alternate name: "Tavern on the Park."

The San Francisco Public Library Patent and Trademark Blog says this is a great example of just how valuable intellectual property can be. And make no mistake, the Tavern on the Green name has serious equity. It could, for instance, easily be turned into a franchise that has nothing to do with Central Park.

I would hope the Le Roys manage to hold on to it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:21 AM

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December 10, 2009

Google Goggles: Fun Naming for a Cool App

So some of the bloggers out there are accusing the new Google Goggles visual search tool of having a "silly name."

google-goggles-search-by-si.gifI must object.

I have always wondered when Google would find a way to link its name with the word "goggle" and now, it's finally happened. It kind of had to happen really.

And by using it for this application, it allows Google to leverage its name in search with its growing name in the mobile phone world.

Essentially, Google Goggles let's you point a camera at something and Google gets you information about it.

This is going to be loaded on Android phones first, offering users a really interesting way to interact with the real world via their cell phones. Although Google does promise that it will eventually be made available for iPhone and Blackberry, one executive says, "Unfortunately, we don't have a specific timeframe to share."

I'm thinking the competitors will have to wait until Android is fully associated with this unique search-by-sight tool.

The name, which is kind of a tongue twister, is easy to remember and makes the application sound fun.

Additionally, it gives a bit more personality to the Android brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:17 AM

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December 3, 2009

Will Chrysler Replace the Lancia Brand Name in Europe?

lancia-logo.gifSo by 2011 Fiat S.p.A may be replacing their Lancia brand name with the Chrysler brand in Europe.

This is a surprise move that may signal the demise of the 103-year-old brand name. It is also further proof of just how serious Fiat is about making Chrysler a global brand name.

Most Americans are unaware of the very popular Lancia name but it has tremendous equity in Europe. However, it may end up that the Lancia name will only be used in a few markets - like in Belgium and Italy, where the brand hails from.

The other option is to sub-brand the Lancia name under Chrysler on top models, but it seems unlikely that Italian buyers will go for that.

Chas Hallet of Autocar.co.uk puts this interesting relationship nicely when he says, "Both are brands with pretensions of grandeur and both have very little impact outside of their home territories."

Lancia-Thesis.gifStill, there is tremendous equity in the Chrysler brand name and a great deal of affection for the Lancia automobiles. This move would give Chrysler an instant presence in Europe.

Interestingly, the one blog has already created photoshopped imaginary cars that migtht grow out of this union.

The final decision comes at the end of 2010, but I think this is ultimately a good move. If Lancia continues to bring out interesting cars, this could really bolster Chrysler's image.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:47 AM

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December 2, 2009

el Jimador New Mix Borrows Soft Drink Brand Naming to Compete with Beer

Today my mind is on tequila. Specifically el Jimador's "New Mix" cocktail
in can.

To quote the Tequila Examiner, there will be three types of these New Mix drinks, including "Spicy Mango Margarita, the Paloma (the most popular tequila cocktail in Mexico), and the Margarita (the #1 requested cocktail in the U.S.)."

The campaign to sell the stuff will begin this month in California and roll out across the USA.

elJimador_Margarita.gifThe brand name, el Jimador, is what the master harvester of agave plants is called, but I'm more interested in just how closely the artwork resembles that of soft drinks. Canned cocktails compete directly with beers and even have about the same percentage of alcohol, but soft drinks might skew slightly young for margaritas.

One blogger even describes the stuff as being similar to a soft drink and the company's branding seems to do very little to dispel that impression. This simply does not look much like an alcoholic drink.

The product comes from the very respected Casa Herradura, one of the top tequila producers in Mexico, which in turn is owned by Brown-Forman of Louisville, KY.

So even though Brown-Forman may be targeting beer, particularly "Mexican imports and flavored beers like Bud Light Lime," you can't help but wonder if they are also trying to make mixed drinks look more appealing to the younger markets.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:45 AM

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December 1, 2009

Russia Introduces New Olympic Logo, Branding

Russia has unveiled the first Olympic logo inspired by a web address.

The logo for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is a mashup of the domain name - it's all blue lowercase with no graphic save for the Olympic rings. The words sochi.ru are right there for anyone who wants to surf the site.

Sochi.pngThe slogan of the games is "Gateway to the Future" which was "chosen to promote Sochi 2014 as a catalyst for long-lasting sporting, social, economic and environmental legacy." To this end the games will use as much sustainable timber as possible.

The launch of the logo was delayed a day due to a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg making the celebrations somewhat muted.

This slogan is part of an effort to showcase Russia to the world. According to Inside the Games, "It is the gateway for the world to discover Russia's passion, innovation and excellence through hosting the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."

I am pretty impressed: not only is this logo using a domain name, it is using the .ru domain in a bid to really promote all things Russian - even in cyberspace.

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