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January 29, 2010

Football Naming and Branding: Trademark Lawyers From NFL ask "Who Dat?"

While it is indeed tempting to continuing dumping on Apple for the ridiculous iPad name---no it seems a Canadian company has been using the name for bra inserts and owns the trademark in the US, I think I will desist and turn my attention to the NFL.

It seems the NFL is aggressively claiming rights on the phrase "Who Dat?" for use by the New Orleans Saints. This has knocked two small businesses ---Fleurty Girl and
Storyville. This is interesting, as the phrase has been in use for over a century, first finding use in nineteenth century minstrel shows and has been used by fans in reference to their team for decades before the mark was applied for in 1988. Although a music duo seems to have snapped it up five years earlier.
Sal and Steve Monistere recorded a version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" in the early '80s and incorporated the "Who Dat" chant into it. ... Because the song helped create the widespread use of the "Who Dat" chant, the Monisteres and their company, Who Dat, Inc., say they own "Who Dat."

If the NFL is going to win this, it has to somehow prove that the phrase is theirs. They also claim the Fleur de Lis sybol is theirs. But as far as "Who Dat" goes, they have a battle on their hands.

"To prevail in a trademark infringement case, one has to show both that the public associates a mark with your business and that you were the first to use it," said David Patron, a partner at the law firm of Phelps Dunbar.

If the NFL keeps it up, the Monisteres vow to create a t-shirt that says 'Defend Who Dat' as owned by the fans and not the NFL. The phrase, they claim, "transcends football"

As can be imagined, this is a rude shock to Who Dat Nation.

Football bloggers are notably upset about this with one blogger asking if the NFL plans on going after the Catholic Church next.

My feeling is that this is the kind of trademark that should remain with
the fans and then be phased out of usage. C'mon guys, the 80s were a very painful time in our past. Why would the NFL want the association?

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:54 AM

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January 28, 2010

It's Official: iPad Naming Makes Women Cringe

OK, I've already apologized for predicting Steve Jobs would name his new gadget the iSlate.

It is indeed the iPad, a name I would not have chosen for two reasons. First, as I wrote a week before the announcement, it looks like "iPod" and second, that word "iPad" already has been mocked on Mad TV as sounding too much like the Maxi Pad feminine hygiene product.

It seemed impossible that Apple would choose it, because they know full well how viral humor on the Internet can sway customer perception about a product.

I'm not alone in this, it seems.

This morning there is a backlash against the name that is pretty intense. CNET calls it "cringe-worthy", Gizmodo predicts a slew of Maxi-Pad jokes, and The New York Times says that it makes women "cringe" (there's that word again), reporting that the word "iTampon" is making the rounds across Twitter.

Fast Company is even more succinct: "Apple's iPad Name Not the First Choice for Women. Period." PC World is already counting the "sneers and jeers" on the Internet, wondering if this is a "Venus vs. Mars" issue.

Blogger Anne Althouse, wonders if Apple bothered to check with any women about this one.

Or men. Let's face it, what guy wants to buy a product that sounds like it's a Wi-Fi sanitary napkin?

It also seems that Apple doesn't have any iPad-related domain names yet, either.

As if that was not bad enough, the name also may lead to a big fight with Fujitsu, because the Japanese company has sought a trademark on the name since 2003.

Since 2002, Fujitsu has been manufacturing a handheld computer called the iPad. Although Fujitsu lost its trademark rights last year, Masahiro Yamane, the PR head of Fujitsu, still believes they have the rights to the iPad name.

All in all, it is really hard to believe that Apple could not have seen this coming. I have rarely seen such quick, vitriolic backlash against a product name. I have never, ever seen such intense mockery aimed at Apple.

And while I am an Apple fan and we are a Mac shop, I might add that their past naming mistakes (cough, Lisa, ahem, Newton) perhaps not coincidentally were attached to doomed products.

Steve, what were you thinking?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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January 27, 2010

Oops! Looks Like it's an iPad!

I speculated earlier today that the new Apple device would be called an iSlate.

Well, if I had gotten it right, I'd be on the first flight to Atlantic City. However, I was wrong. At an 'invite-only' press conference in San Francisco, Steve Jobs just announced the new name: iPad.

It looks like an inflated iPhone, and apparently acts like one With a 9.7" screen, and at a miniscule 0.5 pounds, this "truly magical and revolutionary" device will sweep the nation.

The iPad has all the same functionality as an iPhone. Jobs ran apps, as well as showed a portion of the Disney Pixar movie Up during the conference.

With the e-reader market poised to flourish this year, the iPad, with all its capabilities, should jump to the head of the class.

If used to its full potential, there is speculation that this device could single-handedly save the struggling newspaper and publishing industries. It would be a shot in of adrenaline for publishers around the country, and possibly the globe.

The iPad looks like a blast. It's priced reasonably well too. Look for the iPad to launch the Year of the Tablet in 2010.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:54 PM

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HTC's "Quietly Brilliant" vs. ShoreTel's "Brilliantly Simple" Slogan Conflict

There's a potential trademark dispute brewing between HTC, the Taiwanese cell phone maker, and ShoreTel, the Sunnyvale, California-based Internet Protocol phone system provider.

HTC's new tagline is, "Quietly brilliant."

ShoreTel's new tagline is, "Brilliantly simple."

The trouble is, both companies compete in International Class Code 9, and 37. International Class Codes divide consumer goods and services into similar categories and are primarily used to file trademarks.

In the United States, ShoreTel has a jump on HTC since they filed earlier on June 8, 2009, and actually were just allowed the slogan by the US trademark office.

But internationally, HTC filed for a trademark application for its "Brilliantly simple," slogan which the US and other country trademark offices have not ruled on yet.
I think, ShoreTel's trademark filing of "Brilliantly simple," has a good chance of trumping HTC's "Quietly brilliant," in both the US and globally, since ShoreTel can claim that they had every intention to file "Brilliantly simple," globally.

It will be interesting to see how this potential trademark clash will play out.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:26 AM

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iSlate Naming for Big Day, Rejects Doonesbury's "Jesus Tablet"

So today is the big day.

At 10 AM Pacific time we will finally get to know what on earth Apple plans on calling it's new tablet computer at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center.

I am still betting on iSlate, as is the site, which yesterday asked the horrible question: What if there is no iSlate? And even if there is one, what if it's not called iSlate?

Gizmodo leads us through the myriad of rumors around the device, reminding us that the device is generally being referred to as a "tablet" although the code name is K48.

Engadget tried to sell us all on the idea that iTablet is the obvious name by showing an email supposedly sent out by Apple with an iTablet file heading, but has since recanted.

Wired has just published a fascinating article suggesting that the event might not be about tablets at all but instead about content management.

I'm are really wondering what this is going to be called.

I am standing by iSlate, as are the bookies (yes, people are betting on this, I am not one of them).

I am also rejecting Doonesbury's suggestion that this will be called the "Jesus Tablet". Steve Jobs doesn't walk on water. Yet.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:05 AM

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January 26, 2010

Europeans Change Charmin Name to Cushelle, Mr. Whipple Rolls in His Grave

They do things differently over in Europe.

For example, they decided to rename Charmin bathroom tissue. The new name? Cushelle. This comes after the takeover of P&G's European tissue operations by SCA, Europe's largest private forest owner. The Cushelle brand comes with a koala bear mascot and the assurance that this is "Formerly Charmin" and the "Same Great Product."
Before you laugh, consider that SCA changed the name of Bounty, another recently acquired P&G brand name, to "Plenty" and grew its European market penetration from 26.5% to 34.7%.
Most people in the USA can still recall Mr. Whipple admonishing customers not to squeeze the Charmin, making this an iconic name in household branding in this country.

However, the same associations do not transfer overseas, where soft bathroom tissue was a relative novelty back in Whipple's day.

Also consider that the name "Charmin", to some, is almost synonymous with wasteful rainforest destruction.

According to Marketing Magazine , "The name Cushelle was selected for its sound, which reflects the product's softness," an SCA statement said. The company describes its new koala icon as a 'softness magnet'."

The new brand is meant to retain Charmin's "friendly, fun, family image." The challenge, according to one blogger, is turning this into a "must have" product. P&G did this years ago in the US, but will it work as well across the pond? We will have to wait and see.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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January 25, 2010

Jokes Aside, Sony Arc Naming Likely for Playstation Motion Controller

Sony's yet to be officially released new motion controller has had quite a
few names attached to it over the last year or so, such as the "Sphere" and the "Gem". Now the blogosphere has churned out the name that sounds about right: the "Arc".

This comes after a website called was registered, although nobody can confirm if Sony registered it. PSP World suggests that this be called the "Sony Fuse" or the "Sony Muv" or else the "Playstation Shift".

We do know that Sony has registered , leading me to think that VG247 has it right, the Arc name is a keeper.

PSX Extreme describes the Arc as, "Having two wand-like, Wii-like pieces, each of which is topped with a tracking device in the shape of a ball. It's why people have been calling it the 'ice cream cone controller.'"

The appearance of the thing has already created some ridiculous bogus names, which you can read about here. Trust the gaming geeks to make these puerile connections. Look out for it this spring.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:35 AM

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January 22, 2010

Minnesota Sports Name Change Sends the Saints Marching Out of Town

Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, and Saint Louis Park are just three of the numerous city names in Minnesota that contain the word 'Saint.' Or do they?

With the state in a frenzy over the upcoming NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, the local sports radio station, KFAN, suggested these cities be called "The Paul," "The Cloud," and "Louis Park," during the week leading up to the game on Sunday. Not having the intention to be taken seriously in their renaming efforts, they may have gotten more than they wished for.


Despite opening day being nearly 4 months away for the Saint Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team in Minnesota, they are temporarily changing their name to "The Paul" to show their hometown support. In addition, it is possible they will be wearing jerseys with the name "The Paul" for a game in the upcoming season.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few "The Paul" t-shirts around the Twin Cities this weekend.

Skol Vikes!

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:07 PM

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Sun Life Snags Dolphin Stadium Naming in Time for Superbowl

The brand names associated to the Superbowl are myriad.

The game itself is "presented" by GMC Sierra, but Bridgestone "brings in" the Who at halftime. But possibly the most amusing naming coup of the game goes to Sun Life, who has tacked their name to the stadium just in time.

Sun_Life_Financial_logo.pngThe Sun Life naming replaces the Jimmy Buffet inspired Landshark naming, which was in place for less than a year.

I loved the Landshark naming, which was named after the Anheuser-Busch lager sold under Buffet's Margaritaville brand. It was funny, irreverent, and somehow it complimented the Dolphins brand name.
Right now, the stadium is officially "Dolphin Stadium" (not "Dolphins Stadium", interestingly) and has been since January 5th.

Sun Life is a Toronto-based insurer whose name, I must admit, sounds pretty good in Miami.

This is an outright effort to build the brand name in the US. They have a 10 year deal that costs "half what major league stadium sponsorships fetched before last year's financial meltdown."

As the Globe and Mail points out, they are paying only $4 million a year for naming rights, while

In comparison, Citigroup dropped $400-million in 2006 to sign a 20-year marketing deal with the New York Mets baseball team. Bank of America Corp. started paying $7.5-million a year in 2004 to have its name on the home of Carolina Panthers football stadium in Charlotte, N.C., while in Philadelphia, rival insurer Lincoln Financial drops $6.7-million annually for the rights to the home of the NFL's Eagles.

The name change took official effect on January 20, just in time for the Pro Bowl next week. The Landshark name may be gone, but Buffet's fight song will remain, it seems.

Here is the chronology of the naming of Sun Life Stadium, courtesy of the

  • Aug. 16, 1987-Aug. 25, 1996: Joe Robbie Stadium
  • Aug. 26-Sept. 9, 1996: Pro Player Park
  • Sept. 10, 1996-Jan. 9, 2005: Pro Player Stadium
  • Jan. 10, 2005-April 7, 2006: Dolphins Stadium
  • April 8, 2006-May 7, 2009: Dolphin Stadium
  • May 8, 2009-Jan. 5, 2010: Land Shark Stadium
  • Jan. 6, 2010-Jan. 19: Dolphin Stadium
  • Jan. 20, 2010: Sun Life Stadium

Now we just wait to see what the future holds for the south beach stadium.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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January 20, 2010

Is Apple's iSlate Naming Changing to iPad?

Okay, the new iSlate from Apple may actually be an iPad.

islate.pngIt is looking less like becoming an iTablet by the minute. And the iGuide looks less and less like a possibility, as the new trademark filing for the iPad has the blogosphere all agog.

It seems that last month the name iPad name was snagged by a company called IP Application Development, which might be a dummy for Apple just as Slate Computing, which trademarked iSlate, seems to have been.

Already there are doubts about the iPad name, which was ripped off back in 2006 on Mad TV, according to Wired; a poll on the same page has people loving the iSlate name by a pretty large margin.

Still, don't count out iTablet. As of yesterday Boy Genius is still using the name.

As for me, I am betting on iSlate. Why?

Call it judgement, or call gut feeling. Think about it. They have the iPhone, iMac and iPod. Why suddenly have the iTablet?

Apple goes for one syllable after the lowercase "i" and iPad looks a heck of a lot like iPod. I'm thinking this filing was just to stir up hype for the Jan 27 Event at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:58 AM

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Is Your Brand Name Music or Noise?

wisconsin-tourism-federatio.gifWhen it comes to target market acceptance of new names, the way a name sounds often trumps what it means.

This is especially true for coined names whose lack of meaning often places a heightened importance on harmony and melody.

The most successful brand names for speakers of English follow a basic Consonant-Vowel-Consonant word structure pattern that offers not only idiot-proof pronunciation, but a smooth musical cadence as seen in names like Panera, Toyota and Adidas.

Contrast these examples with the heavily vowelled Daewoo and Haier - two brands that are popular in Europe and Asia but have yet to make beautiful music in the U.S.

Consonant clusters in newly coined names are even more problematic than their vowel cluster counterparts. (This is ironic as the very foundation of Old English is loaded with Germanic tongue twisters like which, whistle and bright).

Yet in newly coined names, consonant clusters can sound like cacophonous noise. It's no small wonder that Web 2.0 brands like Elgg, Lphanr, Sctuff and Plurn have had problems attracting an audience.

Word structure should also be viewed holistically. Names that combine two or more words with a musical result have a sound advantage over others.

Take, for example, the poetic tunefulness of Shake n' Bake or Hannah Montana or Mike n' Ike.

It's important to note that perfection is not required as brands like Calvin Klein, Under Armour and Select Comfort use somewhat imperfect rhyme to create memorable musical monikers.

Even more prevalent is the use of English's oldest style of poetry in brand name development: alliteration. Some of the most successful brands in the U.S., Best Buy, PayPal, Coca Cola, and, Dunkin Donuts, for example, use this age-old tactic to distinguish their brands from other marketplace noise.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:09 AM

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January 19, 2010

Coke, Apple: When Branding and Naming Isn't Branding and Naming

Sometimes a brand name is not a brand name. Instead, it's a placeholder or an internal code name for another brand new product. It's an approach used when a company does not want to tip off the competition.

Take for instance, the MacGuffin that Apple seems set to release on Jan 27. We are all wondering if it will be called an iSlate, but Apple is keeping mum.

However, in a recent 'Save the Date' release to information starved journalists, Apple asks invites writers to, "Come see our latest creation," which just sounds downright creepy. It's like some kind of techno speak for a new baby.

What is it? What will it be called? We have no idea. They have dropped a few hints, though. The invitation is decorated with bright ink splotches, suggesting that "colour may be an important feature of the new product."

Coke, another brand we all know and love, is busy testing out a 90 calorie version. Well, sort of. They are offering us a 7.5 oz can, as opposed to the the regular 12 oz can. You get less, so you consume less calories.

So this is sort of a new name but sort of not. It certainly doesn't seem to come with a new price.

One blogger jokingly calls it "Wee-Coke," while Amy Brightfield wonders if we really will drink less of it, or just crack open two cans, making for a 15 oz, 180 calorie Coke drinking experience.

If that happens, Jennifer LaRue Huget asks "whose fault is that?"

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:32 AM

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January 18, 2010

Can SJP Make Halston Naming and Branding Fashionable Again?

Sometimes the names of people and the names of brands go together beautifully. Think about Apple and Steve Jobs, or Microsoft and Bill Gates. The people behind the brand name often drive the brand itself through the sheer force of their personality and celebrity.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fashion world, where the names of designers are the brand. Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Joseph Abboud: these are people whose names are also labels.

One brand that seems to be learning this the hard way is Halston. Yeah, that's right, Halston, as in the mega-seventies brand that Billy Joel mentions in "Big Shot". Back when disco was the thing, Halston made the must-have dresses for anyone who wanted to be fashionable.

Its larger than life founder, Roy Halston Frowick, who died in 1990 after being tossed out of Halston in 1984 partly due to his excessive drug use, led the kind of flamboyant lifestyle we have come to expect from high-end designers.

Even after twenty years, the name still is well known and there have been six attempts to bring it back , all of them failures. This, even though seventies era-style seems to be making a comeback. As the New York Times reported at the start of 2008, the brand has "a lot of believers" but loses millions of dollars.

In 1993 one writer said that bringing back Halston would be "the fashion equivalent of reuniting the Beatles." Some really slick designers have done their best since then to make the brand work.

Now, the task of bringing Halston back has fallen to Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker, who will take a design role in the Halston Heritage collection affordable dresses that are "updated archival Halston pieces."

SJP may be able to do this, not least because this is Halston Lite: affordable wear with a big name attached. She is wearing the dresses in Sex and the City and doing all she can to retain her status as celebrity fashionista.

But her name is not Halston. This is still just a deep endorsement. After all, she is flogging us dresses out of the company's vaults. It seems to me that the fashion brand name needs the actual person behind it or it flounders.

The people that remember Halston are all getting to the age when wearing one piece minidresses is rather a challenge. If history is any teacher, if this works it will be on the back of SJP and not the Halston brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:00 AM

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January 15, 2010

Midwest Airlines Naming and Branding Should Be Scrapped

It looks as if the Midwest Airlines name is going the way of the Dodo.

Indy-based Republic Airlines, owner of the Midwest and Frontier Airlines brands, says it is looking at what "makes the most sense" and this includes scrapping the Midwest name in favor of Frontier's. This would be a logical outgrowth of the consolidation of the two brands.

Midwest has been known for its high-end amenities, attracting business travelers willing to pay a little more for things like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Now, fliers like the Cranky Flier say the brand differentiation is all but gone, saying (crankily) "Midwest isn't even a brand anymore - it's just a name they seem to use for selling purposes but that's it these days" and reporting that his Midwest flight was quite Frontier-like.

Given that Frontier flights include leather seats and LiveTV, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but the Midwest level of luxury is gone.

The CEO of AirTran recently said pretty much the same thing, "You can call it what you want, but any business traveler in that part of the country knows that what used to be Midwest doesn't exist."

Last November, when Midwest ceased to exist as a company, it was clear that the planes were being sold off and there was not much remaining at all.

Back in June Dave Reid predicted the end of Midwest, saying that the Republic buyout would "accelerate their slow transition from a luxury first class airline, to an inexpensive low cost carrier."

The airfare wars have indeed hit Milwaukee and it seems logical for the Midwest name to finally be put to rest. Travelers still expect first class service for reasonable rates from the Midwest brand name, and that is just not possible anymore. Plus, the name is too localized in Milwaukee.

It's a shame to suggest that the Midwest name be put out of its misery, but the time has come.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:43 AM

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January 14, 2010

Tricky Joseph Abboud Naming and Branding Setting Trademark Law Precedents

Back in 2008 I wrote a blog about the ill fated Joseph Abboud name. When the famous designer sold his trademark to JA Apparel for $65.5 million, that company received all "associated names, trademarks, etc., including Joseph Abboud, designed by Joseph Abboud, JOE, JA, and similar or derivative terms."

Abboud has since tried to use his name in other fashion ventures, to no avail. He was allowed to "be himself" (whatever that means) but could not profit from the goodwill associated with the Abboud name.

Until now, that is.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a federal judge has ruled that he can use his name to promote a new line of clothing with a few caveats.

Abboud wants to use the tagline "a new composition by designer Joseph Abboud" and the court has ruled he can do so provided he also indicates that he is not associated with JA Apparel or products sold under the Jospeh Abboud trademarks.

Even more interesting, "That disclaimer can't be written in smaller print than the text in which his name is used" and "Mr. Abboud can't use his name on the new label's clothes, tags, labels or product packaging." He can only use it in marketing materials in a "descriptive" fashion and only "in a complete sentence or in a phrase, and [the name] can't be larger or more distinct than the words surrounding the sentence or phrase."

This is what the New York Post calls a "low key approach" but it is sending reverberations through the fashion world and certainly in the world of trademark law.

JA Apparel claims they are "thrilled" with the result of this suit (no pun intended).

In a statement from JA Apparel, the company stated, "While Mr. Abboud is free to compete in the consumer marketplace, he simply must do so without in any way using JA Apparel's valuable Joseph Abboud brand name. We are hopeful that this ruling ends this case and enables us to focus on continuing our successful efforts to build the Joseph Abboud global lifestyle brand in markets around the world."

I'm actually fairly sure they are not thrilled. It will be very easy for a designer to market the name on other brands while still staying within the parameters of the law. This is clearly a matter where the contract was ambiguous and it has led to much anguish on both sides.

This decision may open the floodgates for other entrepreneurs who sold their names to larger companies to endorse products made by those companies' competitors, albeit in a roundabout way.

It will also ensure that future contracts that involve the sale of a personal name that is also a brand name will become far more stringent.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:06 AM

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January 13, 2010

Canadian History Magazine Changes its Naming to Avoid Spam Filters, Porn Searches

Sometimes even the most innocuous names have to change with the times.

I was amused to read that the 90 year old, staid Canadian history magazine The Beaver is going to have to change its name because the word "beaver" simply has too many dubious connotations nowadays.

To be more accurate, the word "beaver" just is not search engine friendly. Electronic newsletters were being sent to reader's spam boxes and as Deborah Morrison, President and CEO of Canada's National History Society, which publishes The Beaver, points out, "We noticed monitoring our web traffic that the average visitor time to our website was eight seconds. And I have a feeling that might be because a lot of people going to the site weren't exactly looking for Canadian history content."

The press release doesn't mention the naughty connection. One blogger is fairly cranky about the name change, pointing out that the word has had a double meaning for some time.

The new name will be Canada's History.

The magazine was originally named to "evoke" the thriving fur industry of Canada which might be yet another reason to rename it.

The National Post has an amusing list of alternative names, which include "The Moose" and "The Beav" and even "Stuff That Happened in Canada."

I'm thinking that Canada's History is just fine.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:09 AM

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January 12, 2010

Kodak Playsport, EasyShare and Slice: Good Product Naming for Social Networkers

Back in >August I blogged about the ill fated Kodak Zi8 naming l, which was panned in the Boston Globe as meaningless.

Kodak turned to social media (where else) to rename this new, pretty nifty gadget and the new name is derived from play and sport: >Playsport. Both names were individually submitted by online contest participants, it was Kodak that created the final name, which is pretty good.

I'll also grant Kodak another naming coup. Their >Slice, a half camera, half-photo album gadget, is pretty gorgeous. The name really does capture what the camera looks like. This was >launched at the Las Vegas CES as was a new crop of EasyShare cameras.

EasyShare is a good, descriptive name that has been around for some time. The cameras are getting good >press too, perfectly aimed at the social networking crowd.

So, well done Kodak. You've managed to atone for past naming and branding sins and have further enhance your marketing efforts.

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January 11, 2010

iSlate Naming and Branding Making Indelible Mark in Computer World

iSlate_prot.jpgThe iSlate name has set the computer world alight.

It is very hard to think of another instance when a rumored product name has had such an effect on an industry's naming and branding.

Dell's marketing execs already have shown us a series of slates that may or may not see the light of day. This comes as expectations grow over the launch of an iSlate created by Apple that may or may not exist, and may or may not be successful.

Microsoft has jumped on the bandwagon as well via HP in the guise of an Android Slate, making "Slate" the name of the month in Silicon Valley

This seems to me an attempt to breath new life into the ill-fated tablet. The slates that are being pushed at consumers now are not really novel ideas, they are preemptive strikes against a possible breakthrough by Apple.

The thing is, Apple has single handedly made the slate something you need to have by doing nothing. Rumors have carried the day as far as the iSlate is concerned.

Regardless of your opinions of Apple, everyone listens to Cupertino when it comes to naming products, it seems. If Apple it doesn't like the name or the proposed product (if it exists), then many computer makers are going to be stuck with slates.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:38 AM

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January 8, 2010

Lady Gaga Helps Revamp Polaroid's Yesteryear Branding

0417_lady_gaga_pcn.jpgI have written about Polaroid before, and the news that they have recruited Lady Gaga to help resurrect its brand is pretty earth shattering. `It's unclear what exactly she's going to do for the iconic brand as its new "creative director" , but she's now indelibly associated with it.

Some investors who bought Polaroid plan to bring back the Instamatic, as well as some other interesting gadgets. The idea is to gain as much leverage from the Polaroid name as possible.

For her part, Lady Gaga says "The Haus of Gaga [her management team] has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion, technology, and photography innovation - blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era - and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand." Um, OK.

She'll also be on the social networks and plastering the Polaroid name up at her concerts.

The idea, obviously, is to keep the Polaroid name as relevant as possible. She also has stressed that this is not a simple endorsement deal: "I'm working on bringing the instant film camera back as part of the future," she claims.

Polaroid is clearly trying to make its name more relevant and not so indelibly associated with nostalgia tech, and Lady Gaga will certainly help do this.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:03 AM

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January 7, 2010

Weatherproof Blows a Presidential Naming And Branding Opportunity

obama_weatherproof.jpgThe blogosphere is lit up with comments about the way the apparel company, Weatherproof, has appropriated President Obama's image for a massive billboard in Times Square.

The President was apparently wearing a Weatherpoof brand jacket when an AP photographer snapped a shot of him striking a thoughtful pose on the Great Wall. Weatherproof duly acquired rights to the image and turned it into an advertisement. The president of the company (somewhat cynically) commented, "We did this in good faith. This is an image that we thought would enhance the President of the United States.'

The White house has tartly commented that it "disapproves" of the billboard and most mainline newspapers and mags would not run the ad.

This kind of advertising, I think, is ultimately detrimental to the brand. While I will concede that Weatherproof has found a great image to use, it's pretty obvious that the President isn't a pitchman for any clothing company. One blogger reacted in "shock" at the photo, and then asked "Besides, what are we in China?".

Yes, this gets lots of attention but I'd say it's the wrong kind.

The company briefly sold this item as the "Obama Jacket" alongside the image. This is murky water in the legal sense, and according to at least one attorney, a "fight not worth fighting".

To me it smacks of sleaziness and makes the company look tawdry. I think there are better ways to associate your brand with a President - using PR, for instance, or possibly limiting the association between President Obama and the jacket to the online and offline catalogue.

President Clinton, for instance, will always be remembered for wearing a Timex Ironman watch, which he donated to the Smithsonian. Timex was very careful to not exploit the Clinton's image in such a crass way and the presidential association has lasted.

Why didn't Weatherproof simply place a few articles commenting on the fact that Obama traveled to China wearing an American made, inexpensive, dependable garment?

The company boasts on their web site about using "avant garde" marketing strategies but this is just dumb. The irony is that, right now, as a consumer, I don't even know which coat is the one Obama wore and I wouldn't mind checking it out. I'm sure I could spend another ten minutes figuring it out, but why bother?

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:18 AM

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January 6, 2010

ASU Puts a Cork on Sun Devil Ale Naming and Branding

sunblk.pngArizona State University has demanded that a local pub rename its Sun Devil Ale.

The owner of SanTan Brewing Co has decided not to fight the university's recent cease and desist letter and will instead hold a naming contest during January and February to find a new moniker for the brew that has been sold in his establishment for two years.

The owner has (mildly) suggested this is a case of "selective enforcement" around the trademark for a name which is very widely used in Chandler, Arizona.

Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law attorney Mark Reichenthal at IP Ideas took the liberty of looking at the Secretary of State of Arizona's website and found "quite a few" places that used the Sun Devil name.

Wandering Justin irately goes further, noting that a quick perusal of the Internet comes up with "a women's nudist club, a liquor store and an auto repair chain" using the name... and possibly a bail bonds company.

The problem seems to be that naming an ale using the term "Sun Devil" not only encourages underage drinking at the university but also could be something that takes off pretty quickly outside Chandler (the pub owner looked for a federal mark, a sign he might have been thinking big), without ASU getting a penny of the proceeds.

This kind of problem occurs when a trademark holder is a little lax in protecting its mark, leading people who are being prosecuted to wonder why they are being singled out when others are let off the hook.

ASU would win if push comes to shove, which is rather a shame because it looks like SanTan Brewing acted in good faith here. I suppose a naming and branding consultant could have cleared this up before it became an issue.

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Posted by William Lozito at 1:49 PM

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January 5, 2010

iSlate Naming and Branding on the New Mac Tablet?

Trying to figure out exactly what Steve Jobs will name his forthcoming MacGuffin - otherwise known as the "Mac Tablet" or "iSlate or "TabletMac" - is just no fun, but all the blogosphere chatter on this subject just cannot be ignored.

appletablet250.pngArik Hesseldahl weighed in on December 27 in Businessweek with a blog that predicted the release of this thing within the first quarter of the year, noting that the Cupertino Kremlin had, as usual, kept silent about its intentions, while quietly acquiring the name TabletMac from company called Axiotron.

Today, Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal up the release date to this month, calling it a "tablet PC" (horrors!) or a "tablet computer" and predicting a shipment of 10 million computers within the first year of release.

The code name might be iSlate, and the real name of this might be iSlate. In fact, recently leaked information points to an iSlate product and site.

The TabletMac name has been filed under the "interesting but doesn't mean much" category by 9to5Mac, just as a means through which the company can avoid the likelihood of confusion with other brand names out there.

Whatever happens, it seems that January 26 is the day on which all will be revealed at the Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

I'm betting on iSlate. They need to differentiate this product from the Mac range.

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8:40 AM

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January 4, 2010

Word and Phrases That Cannot Be Used for Naming and Branding (Or Anything Else) in 2010

I think it is only proper we begin the year with a look at the banned words for 2010 that have come from Lake Superior University.

They have just released their 35th annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness" and - no surprise - techie terms take the biggest beating.

dictionary.jpgThese are words that one really should not even think about using in a branding and naming campaign. "Tweet" is history (OK, I doubt it), as is "App" (please) and some economic terms like "In these economic times," "toxic assets" and "too big to fail."

Also "czar" as it applies to government posts (Drug Czar, Jobs Czar, Car Czar etc), a word I looked at with some curiosity at the end of 2008.

Not to be outdone, Twitter has banned a whole slew of words that you can no longer use as PASSWORDS - because they are too obvious. Included in the list is the word password itself, as is 123456. Duh.

AskMen has put out the top ten "Most Overused Words," and these include "love," "hate," "literally" and "seriously."

Yahoo HotJobs! has the most "annoying, overused words in the workplace" up and these include some that I have been longing to see get led to the trash heap of slang, "leverage" being number one as well as "reach out" and "disconnect"... thank you, Yahoo.

The Frisky has come out with a pretty good list of 25 words and phrases that are the most overused of the decade. These are pretty good, and include obvious howlers like "wardrobe malfunction" and less obvious ones that still, I must say, deserve to be put out of their misery... like "date night" and "status update."

You have been warned, people.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:50 AM

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