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May 27, 2010

Happy Memorial Day from Strategic Name Development

grillling.jpgWell it's time again for a long weekend away from the job. We sure hope you enjoy your time off, and get to spend Memorial Day soaking in the weather on a lake, golf course, or backyard somewhere.

Let the burgers and dogs sizzle on the grill as you get some much needed R & R.

However we should never forget the true meaning behind the holiday and remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
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Remember the men and women in our armed forces that have gone before us. And consider those currently serving in harm's way around the world to protect our nation.

And a big congratulations to the West Point Academy Graduates of 2010! You're our future. Thank you.

Take it easy this weekend, we've all earned it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 5:06 PM

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BP Naming and Branding is Mud

If the BP oil spill disaster will teach us anything in the world of naming and branding, it's that a brand name is just as fragile an ecosystem as a pristine beach or the Everglades. It takes one really big, uncontainable spill to pollute and destroy it.

Laura Ries identified BP's "brand problem" earlier this month, saying bluntly (even for her), "The spill in the Gulf has pulled the curtain off of a company that has been blowing smoke up our butts for years. No consumer, regulator or politician will soon forget this tragedy" and concluding with,

Strong brands with a reputation for quality, safety and honesty are able to survive even the worst tragedies and negative PR stories. Toyota, Tylenol and Goldman Sachs have faced some dark days recently, but for them the future is still bright because the brands are strong. For BP, not so much. A brand with a poor reputation facing one of the worst oil spills ever is damaged goods. No amount of advertising can fix this. Anything BP says will no longer be believed. You can fool us once, but never again.

BP_Logo.pngThe names coming out of this spill are always going to, er, stick to the brand. Think "Oil Spill," "Top Kill" and "Junk Shot."

But from a branding perspective, things have gotten far worse. Aside from the terrible PR this is generating, the Internet is busy tearing up the BP brand name.

24/7 already has a joke article up saying that BP is planning on changing its name. But many a truth is said in jest, because this brand name is now mud. Quite literally.

Right now, its product is "environmental destruction," according to Edward Boches at Creativity Unbound. And the company's PR people are now dealing with a rogue Twitterer at @BPGlobalPR who now has a whopping 54,000 followers and whose satirical, bitter tweets ("Thousands of people are attacked by sea creatures every year. We at BP are dedicated to bringing that number down. You're welcome") are getting retweeted every second. Never mind that this guy, whoever he is, has more followers that BP's real Twitter feed @BP_America or its Oil Spill @Oil_Spill_2010 Twitter feed, the WSJ already has picked up the story with almost palpable schadenfreude.

Add to this Greenpeace's competition to actually rebrand BP (BP= British Polluters, and that's just one of the milder ones, there's also "Bad People" and "Broken Promises" and "Bloody Pillagers"). And for those of us who do not spend all day online, there are literally companies cashing in by selling tote bags, shorts and coffee mugs with satirical BP taglines like "We're bringing oil to American shores."

The damage that BP has done to our coastline is incredible. In return, the damage the Internet is doing to BP's brand name is incalculable.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:20 AM

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May 26, 2010

Dell Streak Naming and Branding: When is a Smartphone a Tablet?

Oh, how complicated the iPad has made naming and branding.

I have already written about how people insist on calling iPad competitors "tablets," but sometimes, a tablet is not a tablet.
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Lance Ulanoff at PC Magazine has written a great article about the new Dell Streak. He thinks it has a "nice name," but he queries whether or not or not it deserves to be called a "tablet."

Before I get started, I'd like to say that I think the name is OK but it sounds more like a fraternity initiation prank, than a high-powered computer.

Anyhow, Ulanoff says that this device, which was formerly known as the Dell Mini 5 (bad name), may be larger than your average phone, but it is not large enough to be called a tablet. It only has a 5" screen, as compared to the 7" screen of the HP Slate. Yes, Slate is definitely a tablet.

However, neither is as large as an iPad, which is largely considered the gold-standard of tablets. It has a 9.7" screen.

Ulanoff admits that he is not the "Supreme Court of tablets" but asks the almost metaphysical question: "Where does a phone end and a tablet begin?" seven inches is OK, he says, but five inches is just too small.

His idea? If it can ft in your pocket, it's probably not a tablet.

Dell, however, does not think this is a smartphone. According to Wired, they see it as a "mini tablet."

So I suppose it's a phone that thinks its a tablet.

PC World is not having it. They say it "misses the tablet mark" and insists it's, "Just another Android smartphone."

Zack Whittaker of ZDNet says it's actually a bridge between the smartphone and the iPad, making it a "phone slash tablet come smart-device."

Dell, I'm reminded of the saying, "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck." It's a smartphone, not a tablet!

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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May 25, 2010

Dodge Adds Racing Stripes To Naming and Branding

It had to happen, of course. Dodge had to redesign its logo after it split with Ram, not least because the old logo was, well, a Ram. The new logo will be the twin red slashes from the SRT performance brand. These are meant to symbolize the "sporty character" of the Dodge brand.

dodge_new_logo.pngAt first, the slashes will only appear on Dodge "signage and print materials" while on the vehicles the Dodge name will stand by itself in a new script.

The "twin slashes" will first appear on the the 2011 Dodge Charger and the seven seater that will replace the Durango.

Dodge has had a few false starts - the Viper logo, according to Boing Boing, looks like an "upside-down Daffy Duck."

But a careful look at the new logo really seems to position Dodge as a sports car maker. And the typography on this new logo really looks bold and seems to hearken back to the days of the muscle car. Dodge is clearly trying to attract a younger, more masculine demographic.

I am reminded of a blog written two years ago that posted that Dodge no longer wanted to be a "power brand" and would be looking for a "kindler, gentler image." Some even said that the company was shifting its marketing from "muscle to mileage," but by adding racing stripes to their marque, I would say that Dodge has gone in another direction...

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:59 AM

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May 24, 2010

Atlantic Southeast Airlines Changes Naming and Branding to Attract New Partners

The trend towards more simplistic naming and branding continues upon the announcement that Atlantic Southeast Airlines has launched a new brand identity "that reflects its strong, forward-moving direction within the regional airline industry."

This subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc. operates 800 daily flights to 113 airports in 31 states and the two companies form the world's largest regional airline.

ASALogos250.pngThe new logo is far cleaner and less quirky than the old one and their tagline, "Stay Connected!" seems to be a play on Internet connectivity and "connection" flights via Atlanta's airport.

It shifts away from the acronym "ASA" (which is still the main word on the domain name, flyasa.com). They are promoting their own name in order to separate themselves from their historic associations with Delta, illustrating the company's expansion beyond reliance on Delta, for whom it often acts as a regional carrier.

The bolder imagery and the foregrounding of the name is interesting, I think. Here is a company trying to create a separate identity, despite the fact that the branding is not directed at passengers, who cannot buy tickets directly from the airline.

This is a move to make the brand more attractive to more partners and I think it works very nicely.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:33 AM

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May 20, 2010

Seiko Ananta Naming and Branding Set to Slice into Rolex's Profits

Behold the Seiko Ananta.
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This is a spring drive chronograph watch that is set to compete head on with Rolex with a price range to match.

That's right, it's a Seiko. But therein lies a naming and branding story worthy of careful study.

First of all, Seiko has long been associated in the American consumer's mind with cheap and cheerful quartz watches, even though their watches have been to the ocean floor, the moon, the Olympics and in numerous James Bond films. As Zero Hedge says, this is their Lexus.

The entire brand is getting an overhaul and they are using this brand as a means of providing a unique experience for their consumers and to prove to the world that they can create top quality watches with real brand equity.

Already seen as a premium brand in Asia, Seiko is redefining itself to the rest of the world as the minutes tick by.

This month The Fashion Watches for Women blog announced that Seiko was the "new hip name in watches." With brand name timepieces like "Orange Monster, Black Samurai, White Knight" that are revered in Asia, it's easy to see the watches booming worldwide.

Peter Farrar, a fashionable watch guru states that Seiko and Armani are now two of the most popular names in timepieces.
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The Ananta is really something special. AskMen.com gave it a very high ranking, stating that it is the men's watch to own in 2010.

The timepiece also received much attention at Baselworld 2010, the watch industry's annual trade fair.

Seiko is pushing their brand name into the stratosphere using a smart branding strategy. The name "Ananta" is Sanskrit for "the infinite" and it references the ancient craftsmanship of the orient very nicely. Although some say that people at Baselworld thought the watch was curiously called "the banana.'

More important is the art of "Katana", which they have linked beautifully to the Ananta. Katana is the centuries old trade of sword making. This is referenced in the design of the watch as well as the polish of the case and bracelet.

The Antana website features a video of a sword being made before it splashes into the watch itself. The introduction of this world has caught the imagination of the entire blogosphere. What do swords have to do with watches? It's a forced association, of course, but a massively effective one.

The Swiss may have the reputation for making good watches sealed, but the Japanese have always been able to produce beautiful swords and associated craftsmanship. It's brilliant, really.

This is a case of a brand taking its weakness, association with Japanese watchmaking which is seen as cheap but dependable, and turning it on its head.

I want one.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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May 19, 2010

New York Yankees Have Most Valuable Naming and Branding in Sports

yankees11.pngForbes reported yesterday that the New York Yankees have the most valuable brand name in sports.

It's worth a whopping $328 million.

This is sad news for now dethroned Manchester United, who are worth $285 million. The Yankees saw their name rise in value thanks to the heavy merchandising following their 27th World Series win and the opening of the new stadium.

Another American team to recently debut a new stadium, the Dallas Cowboys, have the most valuable name in football, at $208 million, $128 million more valuable than the average NFL team. However "America's Team" is stil worth $120 million less than the Yanks.

The European press were quick to report that Man U's overall team value was still greater than that of the Yankees: $1.841 billion (£1.272 billion) versus $1.606 billion (£1.109billion). That may seem like a big number, but recall that the Google brand name is now worth $100 billion.
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Some bloggers also posit that the Yankees should be the "most disliked" baseball franchise, despite the fact that the Cleveland Indians now hold that title according to a survey in the Wall Street Journal.

The Minnesota Twins ended up as one of the most liked teams in baseball. This should come as no surprise since the team just opened the dazzling new Target Field, they re-signed Joe Mauer, and the high quality baseball the Twins continue to produce year after year continues to draw fans' attraction.

The Yankee-rival Boston Red Sox were second place in this ranking, while one blogger suggested that the Cincinnati Reds scored high on the hatred index thanks to their boring logo.

Hmmm. I'm not sure about it's the logo's fault, but I do think that this news will make New York Yanks fans even more arrogant.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:10 AM

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May 18, 2010

CA, Inc. Company Name Change to CA Technologies

Joab Jackson of PC World wrote an article yesterday regarding the CA, Inc. company name. to CA Technologies.
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As you may know, previously the company was known as Computer Associates. But was forced to change their name to distance themselves from the bad press they had been receiving. CEO Sanjay Kumar had just pleaded guilty to fraud charges, and the company wanted to show the public that it was ready to move on.

Jackson contacted Strategic Name Development to get a perspective on company name changes, especially on a CA, Inc. who has changed its name three times in the past five years.

I think CA, Inc. runs the risk of becoming the, "Larry King of company name changes." King has been married to seven different women, and CA Technologies looks to be going down the same trail.

To make matters worse for the company, The Channel Register even surmises that the company will always have to carry the parenthetical moniker, "Formerly Computer Associates."

It will be interesting to see how CA Technologies introduces the new name, and where the company goes in the future.

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Starbucks Surprises With Natural Fusions Naming and Branding

I have already posted my thoughts on Starbucks' move to revamp and repurpose the Seattle's Best™ brand name. Their new initiative, however, has me scratching my head.
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They are offering us flavored coffee in the supermarkets via their "Natural Fusions" line, and, amazingly, the Starbucks brand name will be front and center.

Sixty percent of Starbucks customers buy the flavored stuff, and eighty percent of American coffee drinkers buy flavored coffees, so this is a great way to reach a bigger market. It is also a shot across the bow of Maxwell House and Folgers.

The flavored coffee market is a $265 million business, and Starbucks will offer Vanilla, Caramel and Cinnamon flavors.

The only thing is that flavored coffee is to real brewed coffee as, say, the canned mixed drinks sector are to single malt scotch. This is a move that is "way down market" as 24/7 puts it. They go on to say that:

The Seattle's Best move can be defended because it does not carry the Starbucks name and the parent company can wall off the effects that the new product will have on the Starbucks image. The new flavored coffees carry the Starbucks brand, a sign to both the investment community and consumers that the firm is willing to risk sales at its flagship retail stores in the hopes that it could quickly pick up market share and profits in the grocery store business.
Other bloggers are not as circumspect: Sandbox tells us this is the turning point for the company.
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They compare Starbucks coffee to "Boardwalk" on the monopoly board and flavored coffee to the low-end, "Mediterranean Avenue." Saying, "It doesn't matter if you're making the premium quality product. You could make the best quality, gourmet, all-natural, organic, fried pork rinds in the world, but, you're still selling fried pork rinds."

Ouch.

I just cannot understand why Starbucks did not put the Seattle's Best brand name on this new coffee.

Needless to say, I am surprised by this move.

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Posted by William Lozito at 5:12 AM

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May 17, 2010

Does Subway Own the Footlong Brand Name?

subway-5-dollar-footlong.gifSubway seems to think they own the name "footlong" and they have sent a threatening letter to a small business owner in Coney Island to back it up. His website, www.gotfootlongs.com, has apparently run afoul of Subway, but now Subway says the threat was a "mistake" since, they have only applied for the mark.

Do they really think they own the term footlong? Seriously?

The NPR queried Subway on this and they replied with a snarky message:

Any legal process we go through is to protect the investment our franchisees have made in the brand...If 'footlong' is a name that's been associated with us, it would benefit them that we would take an action like this to protect the association.

Really, Subway? Really?

I think of Subway as selling SUBS, while the word footlong is associated, in my mind, with hot dogs. In fact, a footlong sub really isn't all that big, in my book. By the way, Domain Name Wire did a little Internet research on the site www.footlongs.com, but said that "after typing in that domain I quickly closed my browser. (Seriously, don't go there)."

So, I guess there is yet another, er, area, where Subway will have to enforce its mark.

footlongdogs.gifI have been to dozens of restaurants that sell footlong hot dogs and sandwiches, despite Subway's claim that they invented it in 1967 and only got around to trademarking it now.

This is a term that is embedded in common usage (14,900,000 results on Google, for starters).

I strongly doubt that Subway will get to own it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:11 AM

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May 14, 2010

The Australia Unlimited Tagline is Limitlessly Better than Its Predecessor

AustraliaUnlimited.gifAustralia's new slogan is "Australia Unlimited," while the (unattached) new tourism campaign will use the tagline "There's Nothing Like Australia."

The latter was launched via an amusing, and effective, interactive campaign recently. "Australia Unlimited," however, was coined by the same people who brought us the disastrous "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" campaign that many people felt was offensive and promoted the idea of Australia being filled with foul mouthed rubes rather than as an excellent tourism and business destination.

Trade minister Simon Crean said of the new tagline, "Being the 'quiet achiever' is not going to cut it in an increasingly competitive global market...We need to market ourselves better. Australia is known as a great place to have a holiday but it is also a great place to do business."

The campaign will be launched during the Shanghai Expo in China next week, who is Australia's largest trading partner.

The worldwide chairman of the agency that created the campaign, Tom Dery, said in a radio interview (click here for the full interview) that this reflects the "unlimited potential" of the country and will "attract immigration, investment, and promote a lot of things that perhaps people overseas aren't aware we've got in Australia."

I have watched this rebranding campaign since its inception in August of last year. The campaign is taking its cues from New Zealand's 100% Pure campaign, which has been in effect for over a decade and attracted both tourists and business people to the country.

The new tagline does indeed promote the idea of limitless possibilities, although it sounds a tad corporate. But then again, that may be the point. I also find it amusing that the Australians, true to form, can't resist creating a slogan that sounds bigger than that of their Kiwi counterpart.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:24 AM

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May 13, 2010

WePad? WeTab? GoogleTab? Bad Week in Naming and Branding for iPad

I think the CEO of the Decade, mush be having a rough week down in Cupertino.sadjobs.jpg

First off, Yahoo asks, "When did Apple become uncool?" The article cites Steve Jobs's jealous protection of the iPad trademark, his G-rated apps for the iPhone and iPad, his rough treatment of a blogger who found a fourth generation iPhone and his snarky emails to Apple loyalists as evidence that he might be turning into the Grinch of Cupertino.

Now comes the news that a company in Germany was forced to rename their "WePad" product to avoid a naming and branding hassle with Apple.

The new name will be "WeTab" and yes, it will play Adobe Flash. Sorry Mr. Jobs, but Flash isn't going away anytime soon.

So, the company is going to call it the WeTab, eh? As in, tablet, I suppose. I would imagine that the word "Tablet" is a naughty word around Jobs. He must be reading, with some fury, that Google and Verizon want to make their own tablet computers.

Yes, there's that pesky word again, tablet.

Remember how Verizon has been patiently waiting for access to the iPhone, but Jobs has extnded the exclusive agreement with At&T for six months? Verizon does. So teh carrier has turned to another really big, cool brand name. Google.

And Google want to sell tablets. Not pads.

Some say we need an "iPad Killer" but doubt this collusion will produce it.
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Others say this is in fact the "iPad Killer" and you can bet it will use Android.

Google Android smartphones, by the way, are outselling iPhones now, can't be making Jobs too happy with Google, either. But the point is, these guys are building tablets, and Jobs calls his product a "pad."

Since the iPad name just does not stick with consumers, I wonder, if it might be possible to outbrand the iPad.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:06 AM

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May 12, 2010

Seattle's Best Coffee Gets Aggressive Naming and Branding Retread

SeattlesBestCoffee.gifStarbucks is using some slick branding to survive the competition McDonald's has offered during the recession.

They have controlled the Seattle's Best Coffee brand name since 2003, but now refreshed the logo and are planning to expand franchising from 3,000 points of distribution to "more than 30,000" by the end of the company's fiscal year.

You'll find it everywhere, from "cafes and cruise ships to bookstores and grocery aisles," as well as in AMC movie theaters and Burger Kings.

The new logo "maintains the brand's historic association with its name and the color red while assembling a number of universal coffee symbols, such as a drop and a cup."

So what we have here is a brand name that Starbucks can use to offer a less expensive experience to users and compete aggressively at the low end of the market "without sullying its own brand name."

Take that, McCafe!

It should come as no surprise that Seattle's Best Coffee has Seattle in its bones: it was started in 1969, originally under the name the Wet Whisker before it became "Stewart Brothers Coffee," eventually changing to Seattle's Best Coffee (with 129 locations) and getting bought by mighty Starbucks.

The Seattle's Best employees have bragged that they have retained the company's identity in the face of the acquisition, with rumors that they did not share their coffee recipes with their new owners.

As of last year there were only 580 Seattle's Best shops, with 480 of them in Borders bookstores. However, the brand is now being used to wonderful effect to compete in market's once below the Starbucks' radar.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:15 AM

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May 11, 2010

Did Tagline Development Save Times Square?

saysomethingposter.gifYesterday the New York Times picked up on the fact that a slogan might have saved hundreds of lives in Times Square.

The slogan is, of course, "If You See Something, Say Something," which has been used by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) since about 2003 after the it saw the need for a security campaign in the post-911 world.

It's now been reproduced on books and made its way into pop culture as a song and a play, as well as a tattoo.

There is no doubt that it's a catchy slogan, but some feel it is also making people rather paranoid - "If You Fear Something, You'll See Something."

It also has led to a few jokes across the blogosphere as people own up to the fact that there are plenty of weird things to see in places like Times Square. Slate magazine says that if you followed the advice of the slogan, "you'd never shut up."

This is partly because the slogan promotes an idea, but perhaps not direct action. For instance, can you remember who to call if you do see something suspicious?

All that said, this is a wonderful slogan to keep people safety minded, and that is certainly valuable. It reminds me of the WWII era slogan "Loose Lips Sink Ships," which was indeed the inspiration of the slogan and is still very much in use today in different guises.

My feeling is that this will be a slogan that will last almost as long.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:10 AM

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May 10, 2010

Energy Drink and Spirits Naming and Branding Keeps Me Awake and On My Toes

Energy Drink naming and branding is a recurring interest for me, primarily because this is a field where traditional rules do not apply. Energy drinks make anything they touch weird.

An article on Fox News points out that the trend towards energy drinks and alcohol has of course created a whole bevvy of strange beverage names. "Liquid Viagra", for instance, is a drink mad from Red Bull and Jagermeister.

You can also actually order pre mixed drinks, like A:M White Citrus for those early morning drinking urges you get, or late night urges at 2 AM, just in time for the after-party.

Fruit Blast is "fruit punch liqueur" while Dragon Joose is another crazy-named flavored malt beverage.

Then there's Four Loko Watermelon, which one blogger says is "the pinnacle of Bad Caffeinated Malt Liquors, the drinks that the government wants to keep you from, your momma warns you about and your fellow idiot drinkers give you High Fives for chugging."
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Energy drinks and alcohol are a match made in hell, but of course the Coca-Cola knock offs keep coming. Enter Coca Colla, which is sold in Bolivia and is made from Coca leaves favored by the Colla people. Yes, the Colla people, that was not a typo. I'd almost say that the red and white label looks like that of the Coke we all know, but it is just too primitive.

I am sure that the people at Coke are trembling when they hear a government source in Bolivia say, "Soon, people will stop talking about 'God, Country and Coca-Cola'; they'll be talking of '[Andean Goddess] Mother Earth, Bolivia and Coca Colla.'"

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:07 AM

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May 7, 2010

AT&T Continues Freshening Naming and Branding as Apple Grants Extension on iPhone Exclusivity

attiphone.pngApple has granted AT&T an extension of its iPhone exclusivity agreement in a "Faustian" bargain that sees AT&T providing "low-cost and truly unlimited data plans for the iPad."

But the extension is only for six months, and then the service goes up for grabs again, much to the delight of Verizon, whose grab for the iPad was purportedly rejected.

If it's in the stars, Verizon could be getting access to the iPhone in 2011.

Last month I wrote about AT&T's decision to drop its name from its logo. This is a part of the company's attempt to become a "lifestyle company," and its new tagline, "Rethink Possible," really reflects this.

This movement to a "lifestyle company" like Apple, seems to be exactly what AT&T has been up to as it faces the possibility of losing its exclusive agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone. Is it a coincidence that this change happens now? I doubt it.

I also think its recent decision to finally rename it's Hulu-esque video portal with the somewhat strange name U-verse online is part of the company's relentless attempt to look less stodgy and more hip. AT&T's TV Everywhere strategy is one that is close to the hearts of Apple enthusiasts, and Apple is everything to AT&T.

Some think the U-verse name is a "placeholder" while AT&T finds a way to repurpose its video site. Right now, not much has changed for AT&T Entertainment users since AT&T launched it last year.

AT&T seems to be paying attention to naming and branding now because the entire industry is reinventing itself.

Already, the wireless industry is radically changing in ways that are hard to fathom. As Marketing Review says,

"A few examples are Sprint working with Ford to put the Internet on the dashboard. Or AT&T working with power companies to read meters wirelessly, saving money on meter readers. There are many examples. Suddenly the marketplace is different with new competition from many companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox."
Or Verizon, which really must be a bane of AT&T's existence, having recently received higher ranking than AT&T in terms of brand ranking.
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Half of Verizon's users want an iPhone and would switch if their carrier offered it.

The problem AT&T faces is one that I have written about before, and it's a brand name issue. People who use iPhones need to be educated about their carrier. If AT&T Mobility loses that exclusive agreement at the end of the year, they are in deep trouble.

Too many Apple users are going to look for a fresher, younger, trendy brand name, like Verizon, just for the sake of it. Another segment of them will fall away because so many iPhone users are fed up with AT&T's coverage.

AT&T is playing a brutal game of catch up.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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May 6, 2010

Apple's Trademark Branding Strategy Sets the Standard

Apple is vigorously protecting and expanding the trademarks around the iPhone.

Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office published its "Made for iPhone," mark covering a "Full line of electronic and mechanical parts and fittings for handheld computers and portable and handheld digital electronic devices," according to Patently Apple.

They also now have a "Made for iPad," mark, to join its "Made for iPod" one.
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Apple's iPhone devices now account for 40% of its revenues and the expanding industry around making apps for the device can now fall almost totally under Apple's control because each app will have to earn the trademark support.

Apple has also been trying to trademark the actual app icons with minute descriptions such as, "The mark consists of a rectangle with rounded corners depicting a stylized white cloud on a blue background" for the MobileMe iDisk.

This all has Mashable saying, "If Apple gets the trademark, then we guess it makes sense." It seems that "None of the trademark motions are new app icons and cover the standard iPhone and iPad icon library including MobileMe Gallery icons and iDisk." applelogo1.png

The news was broken by Gizmodo, who says the detail Apple is going into here is "ridiculous," but I have to say that those icons are very much recognizable as part of the iPhone world.

That said, I am a little bemused by Apple's recent slapdown of Ellen Degeneres, who had the temerity to make a spoof an iPhone commercial that suggested the device was difficult to use ("My fingers are so much thicker than I remembered.").

This comes right after they had the frighteningly named "Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team of California" kick down the doors of Gizmodo's Jason Chen's residence over his publication of iPhone 4G photos.

Funny, and the "Mac Guy" from their commercials seems so warm and peaceful.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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May 5, 2010

Naming and Branding Low Point of 2010: The Better Marriage Blanket

Today I bring you the year's top contender for most ridiculous product name. Ladies and gentleman, behold the "Better Marriage Blanket."

How does this blanket improve your marriage, you ask? By absorbing the foul smell of flatulence, oh, and the "toxic fumes from mattresses and box springs," which has at least one blogger saying "Seriously?"
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I wish I was joking. I am not.

This is a really imaginative nadir in marketing. The idea is that passing gas in the bed can cause divorce so you should buy this thing with it's military grade fabric that comes to us from the technology used to protect soldiers from poison gas.

Fact is, the company can hardly keep up with demand, according to Bnet.

They note that "The phenomenon says something profound about the psyche of the American consumer," but they're just not sure wha that profound thing is.

It is also suggested that you do not give this as a marriage gift, but notes that the word "marriage" occurs six times in the (ridiculous) ad.

Walletpop is loving this, wondering if the twin and king sizes of the blanket refers to the size of the blanket or the size of the problem. The site also offers some alternative naming ideas: "You've Gone Too Fart" and "Bubble Wrap."

Geekolgie says this is, "Officially signaling the end of mankind."

I wouldn't go that far, but it's definitely a turn for the worse.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:12 AM

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May 4, 2010

Continental Airlines Naming and Branding Flies South

So it's official: the Continental name is dead following the merger between Continental Airlines and United Arilines.

The combined holding company has nixed the name and already put out pictures of the new paintwork that will be on the United planes.

And the news is that while the name will be United, "Continental's colors and its livery logo, a gold and white globe-like sphere on the tail wings of its fleet, will remain intact." unitedairplane.png

The Continental name was well known, and many in the Northeast today are puzzling over why it is gone. It was well known across New York, being featured on taxis and formerly on the arena that is home to the New Jersey Nets and Devils.

Continental was also a greatly admired company, and conversely one industry watcher called the United name "toxic" because of its frequent staff issues and bankruptcy.

Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal is particularly sad to see the name go, bidding farewell to the "Proud Bird," a hearkening to the company's old 1960's tagline "The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail."

"For many long-time Continental loyalists, it'll be a sad day when the name gets painted over for the last time and a colorful chapter of aviation history is closed," writes McCartney.

Steven Frischling, a blogger of Flying With Fish, is less nostalgic, saying that the plan to merge the United name with Continental's imagery is just plain "confusing."

Since this will make United, the world's largest airline, Frischling suggests a whole new branding nomenclature and the name "Varney Airways," after Walter T Varney who interestingly, founded both companies!

Now, all eyes are on American and US Airways, who might follow suit to counter the United behemoth, but this seems unlikely.

And given the state of the airline industry's mergers and acquisitions, I would be hard-pressed to see an intervention by anti-trust regulators.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:58 AM

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May 3, 2010

Today Starbucks Breathes New Life Into Frappuccino Naming and Branding With "However-you-want-it-Frappuccino"

Last week we learned that Starbucks is planning to cash in on the equity of the Frappuccino brand name this summer. The recent drop in sales for the drink that represents 15-20% of sales at Starbucks stores has called for drastic action. The plan is to:frappuccino1.png


  • Customize Frappuccinos.

  • Sell Frappuccino ice cream.

  • Offer more bottled versions.

  • Test wacky ingredients.

  • Devise more products for the brand

The idea is to push the name as far as it will go. Interestingly, the Frappucino name is not a Starbucks creation. It is a holdover from The Coffee Connection, a Boston chain that Starbucks acquired in the 1990s.

The biggest change in the name will be the advent of the "However-you-want-it-Frappuccino" which rolls out today. The Lemonade Stand puts it this way: there are 87,000 ways to create your Frappuccino. And sometimes you don't even need to put coffee in it.

We may also being seeing the rise of vegan Frappuccinos.

Not all Frappuccino lovers are happy about this. Some feel that changing the classic Frappuccino recipe is a case of fixing something that isn't broken.

Others, who have been given a sneak tatse, say that the However-You-Want-it-Frappuccino is a "change for the better."

I am a major believer in the idea that a tried and tested brand can be marketed to a new target market. Starbucks is on to something here, and their recent profits prove it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:03 AM

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