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March 30, 2010

Beer Naming in Germany Gets Pretty Vulgar

Here's another naming issue that would never fly in America.

A German firm has been allowed by the European trademarks union to create a beer called "Fucking Hell," which is not a popular decision in the small village of Fucking.

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However, the town of Fucking has no brewery and there are no plans to build one there.

Pictured at right is the village limits sign, and the text is a yield sign saying "Please, not so fast!"

The town name dates back to 1070 AD when Bavarian tribes migrated into the region of Northern Austria. The suffix "-ing" or "-ig" refers to "community" or "people," and one of the Bavarian noblemen migrating to Austria was named Focko.

He ruled over the settlement, and named the place "Fockoing" or "the community or people of Focko." This is the etymologic origin of Fucking, Austria.

The Trademarks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union has rejected complaints over the mark being "upsetting, accusatory and derogatory" with the following retort:

The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons. Nor does it incite a particular act. It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell... [Fucking Hell is] "an interjection used to express a deprecation, but it does not indicate against whom the deprecation is directed. Nor can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner (as a reference to the place), merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages.

The owners of the brand name figure they can even start a clothing line. The town does not want the attention, since so many signs from the town already get stolen by English speaking tourists every year.

The Barbeerians figure this might kick off a new trend in novelty beer naming but I am almost positive this beer will not find an overseas home. Which may lead some novelty beer lovers to let fly a few choice words.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:09 AM

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March 29, 2010

iPad Naming and Branding Does Not Prevent Encouraging Sales

Buinessweek.com today posits that the iPad brand name will not hurt sales. This comes after news that Apple has literally run out of iPads and is changing shipping dates.

One marketing guru is quoted thus: "The minute you hear it, you know who brought it to you, how it's going to work, that it's high quality, and how it even looks, the name does all that in just four letters. That's amazing."

Other people say they have been "i-conditioned" to accept the iPad brand name, even tough it does sound like a feminine hygiene product.

I am one of the many people who mocked the name when it was announced.
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Conversely, The Brand Mechanic says he loves it because it creates brand distinction in two ways:

  1. Via the "i" designator
  2. The iPad/iPod connection

He adds, "Face it, if you could change just one letter and connect your protect to the fastest-selling product in history, well, wouldn't you do it?" Well, no, actually. There is something called "likelihood of confusion" that hangs over every single naming decision a company makes, even Apple.

Apple, for its part, has only just acquired the brand name from Fujitsu, after a quiet, behind the scenes negotiation.

This is good news for Apple, and of course the wonderful sales are also good news. But I have to add that the popularity of the product does not make the name any less silly. We all know that Apple could put an "i" in front of almost any word and sell it.

The fact is, the company took a drubbing from the press when it was released and only now is able to point to high sales volume as proof that the naming and branding did not kill the product. Why on earth would the company want such bad PR?

I would amend the Businessweek article to say that sales have been encouraging despite the device's ill-conceived name. This is evidence of the strength of the Apple brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:13 AM

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March 26, 2010

Naming and Branding Brings out the Animal in Frontier Airlines Supporters

Supporters of the Frontier Airlines brand name rallied in Denver yesterday to save the brand name and the animal images on Frontier Airlines airplanes that form the basis of the company's branding. The need for support comes after Frontier was acquired by Republic Airways Holdings, which also included the acquitsition of Midwest Airlines.
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Hard to believe, but people are actually trying to save advertising mascots. One of the protesters even said these animals and the Frontier name offer "job security" and if Republic "comes up with a generic brand, then we're just like everybody else. Right now, we have unique branding that really helped pull us through the tough spots".

There is an active Facebook group called KEEP THE FRONTIER BRAND AND ANIMALS!!!! that has almost 5,000 members.
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People even flew in from other cities to help save the animals, rally organizer, pilot Jan Elliott, said

"We just don't think the new owners should waste time and money, changing something that the public loves. To start over with brand recognition efforts is a bad way to begin our new relationship with other new carriers".

The rally had bells, whistles, banners and even a guy dressed as a Frontier Airlines seat.

There are 60 different animals featured on the Frontier Airlines airplanes' tail fins, which include "Larry the Lynx" and "Grizwald the Bear."

As one protester said about Frontier's possible demise, Frontier Airlines has "brand loyalty. It's theirs [Republic's] to mess up."

The slogan of the day? "Save Our Animals, Save Our Tails."

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:50 AM

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March 25, 2010

Guinness Debuts Black Naming and Branding

I am watching two developments around the Guinness beer brand with some interest, and I am not sure which will have a deeper impact in the future. Namely, Guinness has decided to end its, "Good for you" promotion. Yes, the company has been touting its dry stout beer as, "Good for you" and, amazingly, has been giving away free bottles of the stuff to blood donors.

Obviously, this is not happening in the US, where there are lots of restrictions.

A spokesperson for Diageo, the parent company for the famous Irish beer brand, says, wisely, "We no longer want to promote alcohol as a medicine, or to imply it can be used as a treatment or a cure."

This is a good move, to say the least, since blood donors are among the last people on Earth who should be drinking.
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The Guinness brand stood the test of time and is recognized the world over as the consummate dark, hearty beer.

The company knows this, of course. One famous tagline they have used is "Don't be Afraid of the Dark," because dark beers are a little frightening.

So I was surprised to see that they have a new lager out, but it's black lager.

Guinness Black Lager is available to consumers in Northern Ireland and also in Malaysia .

Will Horbury of The Irish Times asks why the company can't come up with some "normal" beers.

"Why on earth can't they knock up a couple of half-decent "normal" products: perhaps a pale ale, a wheat beer, or even a crisply aromatic Pilsner?"

If you know that people are a little wary of really dark lagers, since your tagline encourages them to overcome that fear, why do you go into the lager market with a black lager? I am sure this will make its way over to the US, so people that are over their dark beer fear can gulp it down.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:27 AM

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March 24, 2010

Yellow Pages Sends Old Logo Walking, Embraces New Logo, Branding

One of the classic taglines in marketing today is "Let your fingers do the walking," with the recognizable Yellow Pages 'walking fingers' logo. This is all changing in Canada as the Yellow Pages enter the digital age.
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There will be "More Yellow, Less Pages" and the new logo will not include an open book.

The former Yellow Pages logo is pictured at right, as the new one is unavailable.

"Let your fingers do the walking," is gone, too. As one Yellow Media exec puts it, "The beauty of the fingers is they're very much relevant whether they're on a mobile device, a Web search, or a print directory." Yellow Media, Inc. is the new name for Yellow Pages Group (YPG) in Canada.

Even the yellow is getting a fluorescent makeover in the new, pebble-shaped logo. The same exec says, "The message it sends is that YPG is multi-platform: we're online, we're mobile and we are still the leading and most widely used print directory in the country."

The term "Yellow Pages" is not protected with a trademark in the US for AT&T (who bought Yellow Pages in 2004) and is being used freely by many companies. The Yellow Pages brand goes back to 1883 when a printer used yellow pages to print a business directory after running out of white paper. There are now over 2,300 Yellow Pages directories in the USA.

However, what is happening in Canada will soon reflect on other Yellow Pages worldwide as the walking fingers walk over more than just pages.

The former logo, with a duller yellow and an open book, was "too traditional" and not suitable for a world where 20% of the company's revenue comes from digital media. YPG is launching applications for the iPhone, Blackberry and Google Android smartphones, since our technology is slowly leaving the paper, physical Yellow Pages behind.

The new campaign launching the revamped brand is aimed at a younger, media savvy generation and will use a healthy dollop of humor to reposition the brand for the digital age. Even the name Yellow Media, Inc, reflects the company's striving to be everything to everybody.

I think this is an excellent example of how naming and branding can be revised to remain relevant.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:15 AM

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March 23, 2010

Rapper T.I.'s Akoo Naming and Branding Facing Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

It's not easy being a rapper fashionista these days, just ask T.I.
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His year-old clothing line, Akoo, has been in hot water seemingly since day one. First of all, he managed to offend the residents of Newark, NJ with a sexually explicit billboard.

Now, the poor guy is being sued for trademark infringement. It seems that there's a company called Akoo International that delivers video content via the Internet, and they feel the Akoo denim line may somehow mislead and confuse their clients, a sentiment that has already gathered scorn on the Internet.

All this, a week before the rapper is slated to be released from a work house where he is serving the remainder of his incarceration for weapon possession charges.

T.I. uses the Akoo name as an acronym for "A King of Oneself." I cannot fathom how Akoo International sees that this denim brand as creating confusion.

This has not been the first time the rapper has faced trademark law either, the Paper Trail hitmaker was accused of copyright infringement after a suit was filed in January of 2010 claiming that his song "What You Know" used portions of a 2004 song titled "Reverence" by Nathan Filby, also known as Motoe Blizzid."

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:05 AM

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March 19, 2010

Tiny South African Airline Scores Against Mighty Fifa World Cup Branding

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The South African low cost airline Kulula.com has gotten itself in trouble with Fifa for its new airline promotion.

"A multimedia marketing campaign that featured advertisements with the headline, the Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What, showing stylized pictures depicting the Cape Town stadium, soccer balls, vuvuzelas and a soccer player has been withdrawn following a letter from Fifa threatening the airline with damages."

This may be the funniest tagline of the year folks, so lets repeat it: "The Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What."

It is really hard to imagine a more blatant, ridiculous attempt to get around trademark law than this one, and yet it worked for Kulula.com, which has made a point of being irreverent in past ads.

Kulula.com, for its part, broke the news to the country via Twitter, "Oh dear, letter from Fifa's lawyers says we broke their trademark of the use of 'South Africa'.

Fifa says the ad campaign breaks the law with "ambush marketing" by, "Seeking to gain a promotional benefit for the Kulula brand by creating an unauthorized association with the 2010 Fifa World Cup."

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Kulula.com was not only told they could not mention the World Cup, but they also could not use the country's flag or even pictures of the country's new stadiums in their ad. They also could not use images of a "vuvuzela," a traditional South African horn that has been used by rowdy fans at soccer games in the country for decades.

Kulula.com has stopped running the ad but the online outrage it has provoked in South Africa toward Fifa, who seem to have trademarked everything South African, will probably earn the little airline plenty of marketing points.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:26 AM

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March 18, 2010

Google Android Phone Denied Nexus One Naming and Branding by USPTO

nexusone.pngGoogle has been denied the name "Nexus One" for the branding of its new cell phone.

Apparently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) deemed it too close to Oregon-based Integra Telecom's product, also called Nexus. This is a brand that generates $60 mil per year for Integra.

The name has not yet been attached to the (very slick looking) device. Now, we are all wondering if the name will be licensed or if a new name will be found for this Android phone. Google is unlikely to challenge the ruling since Integra has used the Nexus name since 2008.

The thing seems to be selling well, with plenty of people making Android apps.

We'll see what Google does next.


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Posted by William Lozito at 10:13 AM

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March 17, 2010

Canon Changes the Face of Domain Naming and Branding with .Canon

This is interesting news in naming and branding.

Canon has applied for the .Canon generic Top Level Domain (gTLD), which Antony Van Couvering of Circle ID says breaks the "thin brand line" of near universal opposition to the practice of companies buying these domain names.
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The fact is, it's the "worst kept secret in the industry" that top brands are quietly acquiring their own domains from ICANN to smoke out cybersquatters, throwing costs to the wind.

This makes Canon one of the world's first companies, and certainly the biggest brand, to say "uncle" and buy its own domain name, making the future Canon home page Canon.Canon.

Many bloggers question the wisdom of this move, saying that the intuitive domain name still ends with ".com" But this may change over time, and Canon is not taking chances.

According to DomainNews.com, "The new gTLD system is expected to allow a company name, brand name, geographic region, or service type to be used as a gTLD within website and e-mail addresses."

The installation of the system is set to begin by the end of 2011.

It just seems logical that a large company with a lot of brand equity would want it's own domain, and not have it bought by some kid in a basement or a shrewd competitor.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:46 PM

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March 16, 2010

Tommy Hilfiger's $3.38 Billion Acquisition Biggest Deal Ever in Apparel Naming and Branding

The Tommy Hilfiger name has been acquired by the Philips Van Heusen Corporation (PVH) for $3.38 billion after the current owners failed to get it listed.

Tommy Hilfiger may seem to be a true American brand but in fact two thirds of the company's business is in Europe.
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Philips Van Heusen also owns Calvin Klein, Izod, and Arrow, and the plan is to launch the name into Asia, making Hilfiger a truly global brand name. This is also the biggest deal ever in terms of dollars spent to acquire a clothing brand and makes Philips Van Heusen the world's fourth largest apparel company.

This almost certainly signals a revamp for the brand which saw its heyday in the preppy 80's and 90's and which is on an upswing after some bad years.

Some say this mega-deal is the "return of private equity."

But what is really interesting is that PVH is trying to ensure that control of Tommy Hilfiger himself rests with them. PVH is seeking "ironclad" ability to control the name, and not just the trademarks. Hilfiger is staying on as "Principal Designer and Visionary" for the Tommy Hilfiger brand but he has been quietly acquiring smaller brands, leading to the worry on the part of PVH that Hilfiger may have plans to create a breakout, competitive brand name.

Ultimately, they need to avoid what happened around the Joseph Abboud name, a trademark law precedent I have written about before. In this case, Jospeh Abboud found a way to use his name to promote another line of clothes after selling it off to another buyer.

Should Hilfiger do the same this, it would sour a deal that is fifty times larger than Abboud's $65.5 million 2008 acquisition by JA Apparel.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:17 AM

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March 15, 2010

Is the Maalox Naming and Branding Debacle FDA's Fault?

The FDA is getting serious about misleading labels, branding and naming.

They are looking at claims like "low fat," "high fiber," and "cholesterol-free" and responding to customer requests for actual warnings on packaging if a food is "high calorie" or "low in nutrients". This came to a head last year when the FDA found that the voluntary "Smart Choices" program was seeing boxes of Froot Loops getting labeled as a healthy option.

This is already having an effect on drug safety where dozens of medications are getting zapped with labeling changes or changes to information about their their boxed warnings, contraindications, precautions and adverse reactions.
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This is all pretty routine news until you consider that last month Maalox was hit by news of "serious" adverse reactions from consumers thanks to poor naming and branding of one of their products.

Their "Total Relief" product looks just like their "Advanced" antacid, but it is in fact much different and the danger to consumers has attracted the notice of lawyers. Notably, "Total Relief" contains aspirin-like ingredient called bismuth subsalicylate, which normal Maalox does not.

People associate Maalox with aspirin-free antacid, and Maalox is benefiting from this to sell this fairly different line extension. This so-called "brand name creep" into a new medicine territory offers real danger to consumers.

It is proof of labeling's impact. Now, Novartis, which owns Maalox, has to remove the Maalox name from the product. They also have to "change the product label design, conduct an educational campaign, and actively monitor and report adverse events associated with the use of Maalox-brand products." The new product, with the new name, will come out in September.

Ouch.

Bnet says Novartis is not exactly at fault here. According to blogger Jim Edwards, "The government agency has a longstanding - and completely insane - policy of allowing two different drugs to be given the same brand name, or two identical drugs to be given different brand names." Hmmm.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:40 AM

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March 12, 2010

Punch Ya Daddy Naming Continues to Live On

I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news, so I'll just put it out there: "Punch Ya Daddy" seasoning can keep its (ridiculous) name.
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I wrote about the seasoning war simmering between "Slap Ya Mama" and "Punch Ya Daddy" last year. The makers of "Slap Ya Mama" Cajun seasoning, Walker & Sons, slapped "Punch Ya Daddy" with a trademark infringement lawsuit last year.

Now, a federal judge has ordered "Punch Ya Daddy" to change its logo and packaging, which is very similar to that of "Slap Ya Mama" and "damaging the plaintiff's business".

The judge ruled that "Slap Ya Momma" is a term that is "quite common" whereas "Punch Ya Daddy" is not, so as far as the naming goes, there is little likelihood of confusion.
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The term "Punch Ya Daddy" came from when the toddler son of the maker of the stuff, Kirby Falcon, said "I'm going to punch ya, Daddy".

"Slap Ya Mama, on the other hand, is a term down in the Bayou that means you like something so much you want to "Slap Ya Mama With joy"

As for me? I'm slapping my forehead at the idiocy of it all.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:46 AM

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March 11, 2010

A New Look for Can Do Canines™ to March into the Future

For the past few months, we at Strategic Name Development have been partnering with Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota (HSDM) to create a new, more all-encompassing name and logo for their steps into the future.
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HSDM is a non-profit organization located in New Hope, Minnesota, and for over 20 years, Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota has been enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities by partnering them with specially trained dogs. Since the company's inception, they have placed over 300 service dogs to people with disabilities. All at no cost to those in need.

However, the organization was growing far beyond its original scope. They were moving to a newer, much larger facility where they can train three times as many dogs as before. Now, HSDM is placing dogs with people in need across the Midwest, not just in Minnesota.

And the dogs' skills are growing as well. They are being trained to do much more than just help those that are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing. Now the dogs can assist people with mobility challenges, diabetes complicated by hypoglycemia unawareness, seizure disorders, and autism. Most recently they have recommitted to serving the needs of disabled returning veterans.

Clearly, the organization needed a new name, and the 'can-do' attitude of the volunteers, the employees, the sponsors, and of course, the canines was perfect inspiration for just that.

As a result, Can Do Canines™, was born.

Al Peters, the organization's executive director said,

I am confident that the new name, Can Do Canines™, reflects much better the people we serve, our volunteers and entire team that makes these special partnerships possible. Each person has to say, 'I can do it' in order for them to be successful."

We at Strategic Name Development were very happy to provide pro bono services for the project; the partnership could not have been any smoother. We are confident Can Do Canines will enjoy much continued success in the future.

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Posted by William Lozito at 12:36 PM

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Sony "Moves" Away From Arc Naming and Branding; Better Than "Giggle Stick"

Oops, well I'm only human. Back in January I believed the hype and predicted that Sony would name its new PlayStation wireless controller the "Arc."

Nope. It's going to be called the "Move" and it's coming out this fall in a kit costing under $100.
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CNET's Crave says that by unveiling the name Sony can start its all-out attack on Nintendo. The name was announced yesterday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

It works with the PlayStation Eye web cam, and Sony claims 36 third party developers and publishers have signed up to support the new product, not to mention the 20 games Sony has planned for it as well.

Its subcontroller adds a joystick and a directional pad.

There were some pretty provocative ideas for the naming sent in by Joystiq readers, but when Joystiq's blog did a poll on it, Move won out.

Joystiq also notes that the logo looks suspiciously like the letter "A", because, they posit, Sony did want to name their controller the Arc but ran into trademark issues.

Already blogosphere wags have generated eight "better" names for the thing, including "Giggle Stick," "Party Rod," and "The Sceptre of Ultimate Power".

Um, maybe not, but good effort bloggers.

The bottom line is that this controller launching with this name is a good move by Sony.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:05 AM

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March 10, 2010

The Unfortunate Saga of Risqué Domain Naming and Branding Continues with the Sale of Sex.com

The domain name Sex.com is up for grabs.

That's right, potentially the most expensive domain name in history is in foreclosure and will be sold at auction, with bids starting at a cool $1 million. It was sold for $14 million in 2006, which was a record then until Insure.Com went for $16 million.
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I have previously written about how the domain name Sex.com has been poorly managed, and even swindled from previous owners. Now, the story seems to have continued its downward spiral.

It will be sold "as is" in the equivalent of a foreclosure sale and should generate a lot of interest, as it can apparently generate $15,000 of revenue a day if managed correct.

Sex.com is one of the top five most profitable domain names on the web today, the others being Fund.com, Porn.com, Poker.com and Business.com.
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The Sex.com domain name has been mismanaged, of course, and is surrounded by clouds of legal skullduggery. It is claimed that one of the previous owners had the name stolen from him, and commenced a ten-year manhunt to find the culprit.

DOM Partners, a New Jersey lender is foreclosing the domain and will auction it on March 18, at the New York law firm, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf.

Ecoconsultancy has a great post up entitled "Six things you can learn from Sex.com's failure," and number one is: A great domain only goes so far.

I have to agree.

It takes more than a name to make a product or a domain name shine. However, we at Strategic Name Development can say, a great name never hurts.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:34 AM

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March 9, 2010

Movie Naming and Branding: Appealing to Oscar and the Boys

I was amused to see that Disney was changing the name of its new film, Rapunzel, to Tangled in order to attract more boys to the film. Seems that The Princess and the Frog wasn't a big hit with the boys, and Disney fears, probably correctly, that the word "Princess" was to blame.
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Because Rapunzel is actually a princess, Disney is worried that this new movie might face the same fate. According to the LA Times, "Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success."

They also considered "Unbraided" and "The Thief in the Tower." Good thing they decided on Tangled. I just cannot see how "unbraided" was supposed to appeal to boys.

This will be in 3-D, and I think that the trailer looks pretty good.
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Movie naming has been on my mind lately, especially since Kate Torovnick did a great piece on How to Win the Oscar: pick a great name.

She notes that "Grand Hotel", "The Great Ziegfeld" and "From Here to Eternity" were all films with really inspiring names and which won despite the odds. So did "American Beauty" and "Shakespeare in Love," which beat "Saving Private Ryan" in 1999: "Shakespeare sounds instantly classic, and who doesn't like love?"

Torovnick suggests that Precious had the best chance of winning and that "producers should definitely start using more positive adjectives in their film titles."

Okay, Kate, I like your thinking but, remember that The Hurt Locker came out on top. Maybe it actually is about the quality of the film, and a little bit of Oscar politics for good measure.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:05 AM

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March 8, 2010

Obama Naming and Branding Losing Luster

All politics aside, the Obama brand name is not helping some businesses.

An article out today looks at the dozen or so Michigan businesses that have used the name to sell everything from pharmaceuticals to realty to auto body repair. And, funnily enough, the President hasn't clamped down on these small business owners, in fact, one of them actually got a friendly call from the White House. Nonetheless, consumers aren't buying it.

The building of the Obama brand, of course, is not new. There are plenty of political analyses out there describing how he used branding to create an excellent image for himself.

However, the appeal of the name seems to flow out of politics, as evidenced by the apparent Israeli love for it.
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But now the brand doesn't sell, and that includes political t-shirts with his likeness and name on them. The Obama store in Union Station has been closed.

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, a book speaking to the evils of branding, wrote last year about how the Obama brand is just another example of how corporate branding has taken over American politics. If that's the case (and I am unsure if it is), then the brand itself is liable to face the same challenges of any other in the marketplace.

I'm not sure what it means when a pharmacy named after Obama decides to change its name to a far more generic Community Health Pharmacy, but I am thinking that the President's brand name equity may be in trouble.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:56 AM

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March 4, 2010

Lara Croft Kills Tomb Raider Game Naming and Branding

So the new Tomb Raider game due out in mid-year will drop the Tomb Raider name in favor of "Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light."

According to one source, this new game is "something completely new and very different to what people might be expecting." This is a surprise, since the Tomb Raider name has a great deal of equity behind it.

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The reason, according to Games Brief, is that this is a downloadable game and the Lara Croft name is a separate and probably bigger brand name that Tomb Raider.

Now, the two brands really require two levels of management, and Lara Croft has by now far eclipsed the Tomb Raider name and association.

Lara Croft has a road named after her in Derby, the UK town where she was designed. She is in "iconic" character in video gaming and the new name reflects this.

That said, there are already rumors out that another game starring Lara Croft is due out, and it might in fact bear the Tomb raider name.

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March 3, 2010

Topeka Changes it Naming to Google...for The Month of March

I was amused to see that Topeka, Kansas has renamed itself "Google, Kansas," at least for this month.

The mayor is trying to attract the attention of the Internet giant's Fiber for Communities program that would make local Internet connections 100 times faster.

There are no plans to change the name permanently. Topeka is a Native American word meaning 'a good place to grow potatoes' although the area is better known for its soybean crops.

The move is part of a plan to keep Topeka's young people at home but it has attracted some unfair derision across the blogosphere. Techcrunch starts out by saying "We're Not In Kansas Anymore. Well, We Are - Google, Kansas," but notes that the benefit could be "huge" and that the city has changed its name before.

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For a brief time in 1998 the city became "ToPikachu" after the Pokemon character. So the Google name is "100 times more sane". PC World riffs the same thought saying "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Topeka anymore."

Networkworld takes a darker tone, saying that this is yet more example of 'Google groveling,' with the requisite Wizard of Oz quote: ("There's no place like Google; there's no place like Google ..." ).

Oh, calm down. The Think Big Topeka website points out why this name change is a great idea because the upside of having that kind of Internet connection and close association with Google would certainly put "Topeka on the global map".

If a 31 day name change can do all this, I say why not?

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Posted by William Lozito at 4:06 PM

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March 2, 2010

TigerText Brand Name Will Irritate Cheating Tigers, and The University of Memphis

I have to laugh at the new TigerText app that really does seem aimed at philandering spouses.
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The ironic name aside, this allows you to send text messages to other phones that can delete themselves and cannot be forwarded. This is great if you really don't want any evidence of your midnight messaging to fall in the wrong hands, like, say, your wife's lawyers.

David Letterman has already made a few well placed jokes about this product.

The makers are being coy about the name, which they claim it just coincidentally shares with a noted cheating spouse. Is it really named after Tiger Woods? The makers say not so.
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iPhone Scoop says one of the makers points out that ""Tigers are notoriously difficult animals to track" and notes that it was coming to us in the Lunar Year of the Tiger.

Um, yeah.

The people who might really take umbrage are in Memphis: The University of Memphis uses this name for its own cell phone text messaging service which is far less nefarious, this one is an emergency alert.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:11 AM

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March 1, 2010

Chinese Naming and Branding the Way of the Future?

I'm fascinated by the future of brand naming in China and happy that we have already been involved in it. My gut feeling is that we are seeing the world of branding and naming happen at an accelerated pace.

Right now, it seems that the Chinese, especially at the regional level, are all about price points and trademarks - there were 800,000 applications in 2009 alone!

Still, there is a view that the Chinese are starting to look for good homegrown names even as they create weird mash-up names that are knock offs of the western brands we all know and love. One such example is pictured at right.
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The fact is, creating a Chinese brand name is very difficult.

There is an entire world of syllables, imagery and phraseology that is a challenge to any naming and branding company, although we in the West are quickly learning how to create appealing Chinese names for Chinese customers.

At least one company in San Francisco is headed by a person who speaks both Chinese and English and one look at all the challenges that go into a Chinese name can give one pause.

One tidbit:

Your Chinese company or brand name should be two to three characters and never more than five. The more characters in the name, the weaker it sounds and the less memorable it becomes. The name should also be easy to pronounce and free from negative political, social, historical, or psychological associations.

Is it worth it? Yes, of course. This will soon be the world's biggest consumer market. Every naming company has to be involved in China.

There is no doubt in my mind that the country will soon be a goldmine of interesting brand names, and now is the time to be involved.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:10 AM

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