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October 29, 2010

iPad Naming Once Again in the Crosshairs


A Chinese firm has accused Apple of trademark infringement over its use of the iPad name. They want $800 million to settle the dispute.
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Proview Technology Co, Ltd. claims to hold rights to the naming in China, where Apple has been selling the iPad for the last month.

In an odd twist of legal logic, Proview claims to hold the Chinese rights despite apparently transferring global rights to Apple in 2006 by selling the rights to a company called IP Application Development for a paltry $55,000 without realizing IP was probably an Apple avatar.

The acronym for IP Application Development, by the way, is IPAD.

"We will sue them for damages in China and in the US," Yang Rongshan, Proview's chairman, told the Financial Times.

Proview at one point sold a doomed tablet PC called an I-Pad and had registered the trademark in the EU, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Mexico.

I'm not sure about you, but I get the distinct whiff of sour grapes here. Very, very sour grapes. Millions and millions of lost sour grapes due to poor trademark management.

What is the lesson here?

If you own the worldwide trademark for a name that starts with "I" and a unknown company comes to you from California wanting that name for unspecified reasons, then maybe you should contact a good California trademark lawyer and do some serious Googling and drop an email to Steve Jobs.

This is another installment in the bitter naming saga around the iPad, which I have blogged about tirelessly since the name started to look like it would become a reality.


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October 28, 2010

Mango Growers Rock Some Kylie Minogue Naming

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It looks as if mango growers in Australia are getting set to name a new variety of mango after world famous Australian singer Kylie Minogue.

The mango would be called "The Kylie" and is the result of 16 years of research undertaken by Australia's National Mango Breeding Program (now there is an organization whose name makes you smile).

This would be one of three new mangos being introduced to Australia by the Northern Territory's Primary Industry Department. These mangos have a deeper "blush" and a longer harvesting period than the traditional mango.

Primary Industry Minister Kon Vatskalis says, "I think Kylie should be so lucky to have this mango variety named after her." He also wants to send a batch of the fruit to Kylie.

There doesn't seem to be any reason to name the fruit after Minogue except for the fact that she's famous, she's pretty and she's Australian.

She doesn't appear to have a special liking for the fruit nor does she have any association with mangos in general. None of her songs mention mangos either, as far as I can tell.

Maybe they should name one of the other other mangoes after the South African rock band Mango Groove.

They could name the other one after the band Phish, who actually have a tune out called "The Mango Song." Some good, mango friendly lyrics here: "Your hands and feet are mangos, You're gonna be a genius anyway."

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October 27, 2010

Do "Bama's" Cigarette Naming Trade on Obama's Brand?

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As if he doesn't have enough to worry about, Obama seems to have a cigarette covertly named after him.

The actual name is "Bama" but the maker has decided to put an "O" around the name, leading buyers to the inevitable conclusion.

Amazingly, this has been trademarked in the U.S.

According to one blogger, the maker calls these 'Bama's' (b-short a mas) or 'Bama's' (b-ahh-mas).

But according to another, "Reading the package the way most consumers would, "Bama's" becomes 'Obama's.'

I should add that the packaging looks very inexpensive and downscale.

There is no red white and blue coloring on the packaging and the President is not (obviously) endorsing this product. It does remind us of Obama's struggle with smoking and it is an interesting way to get almost instant brand recognition.

It's my impression that Obama, the first president to really run a branded campaign, seems to be attracting many small companies that are interested in exploiting his well-known name.

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October 26, 2010

A Name that Resonates: Vantera

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LipoScience, Inc., A Diagnostic Company, recently unveiled Vantera® Clinical Analyzer, the name for its new ground-breaking nuclear magnetic resonance blood testing platform, whose name was developed in partnership with Strategic Name Development.

Using a proprietary testing method, Vantera counts the number of lipoprotein particles in a blood sample - a tool that may alleviate cardiovascular and diabetic risk.

The name was created to be soft and approachable, yet technologically advanced. We focused on developing a friendly name that suggested technology with a new vantage point.

"The creativity and insight of Strategic Name Development was a key ingredient for creating the Vantera brand name for our new analyzer that highlights its advantage of giving the physician and patient more information that would otherwise take weeks of testing and cost thousands of dollars," said Paul Sanders, LipoScience Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

For more information about LipoScience, please visit www.liposcience.com.


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Will the Nook Make Tablet Brand Naming Yet More Complicated?

Just when you thought you knew what a tablet is (versus a slate, versus a pad) Barnes & Noble comes out with the Nook Color and throws a spinner in the already gummed up works.

nook_color.pngPeople are already calling the Nook Color an Android Tablet because it works off the Android operating system. And yet, it is an e-reader! Are you confused yet? This is an e-reader that thinks it's a tablet.

This product further blurs the distinction between what an
e-reader is and what a tablet is. The Android Nook offers us the opportunity to read e-books, but also to surf the web and download apps on a touchscreen.

This color e-reader - the Nook still thinks of itself an an e-reader - will probably do away with E-ink. But it also will probably erode the distinction between tablets and e-readers.

Right now it seems that the main distinction is one of price. The Nook Color is going to be just $249. Bloggers are having difficulty trying to figure out what it is with at least one blogger calling it an "Android-Based Reader/Tablet."

Crunchgear already calls this the "tablet tipping point" and this is for good reason. This really looks like the tablet for the e-reader crowd. And the price should make the Kindle very worried.

Products like this are going to probably put an end to the physical book reader category or at least Balkanize it. It also will further define what a tablet / pad / slate is. Or make it more confusing.

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October 25, 2010

Brand Naming That Says Too Much: HP Slate 500 Tablet PC

The HP Slate has been announced and the blogosphere seems to be a little confused, not least because many of us thought this was never gong to see the light of day.

HPSlate500TabletPC.jpgYes, this is a competitor to the iPad, in that it is an expensive, pad-like device that calls itself a "slate." I have blogged about the inevitable confusion that will grow up around "tablet," I mean "pad," I mean "slate" naming and this new product has just managed to make tings yet confusing.

Here is the full name in all it's glory:

HP Slate 500 Tablet PC

Yes, that's really the name.

A name that is trying to be everything to everyone, and some people are confused.

It's BOTH a "slate" AND a "tablet" but NOT a "pad" (despite rumors to the contrary last month).

Oh, yes, and it's also a PC.

The idea is to tell customers that while this is expensive (even more than an iPad, Steve Jobs really must be wondering who would be crazy enough to out price him) you get more.

You get a slate (read tablet) that thinks its a PC (runs Win 7).

Some bloggers are a little hesitant to claim that you could actually operate Windows--or any other full-on operating system with programs we usually use a keyboard and mouse for -- with your fingers but HP thinks business buyers will do so.

This kind of all-encompassing brand naming might be part of HP's strategy of building "brand ecosystems" where every facet of the user experience carries the HP brand name.

But right now, I'm a little confused. As are others.

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October 22, 2010

How Original is The Original Condom Company's Naming?

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A condom company in France is due to start selling its wares in the U.S.

The company's name is "The Original Condom Company" and it was recently started by two Frenchmen of aristocratic lineage: President His Royal Highness the Prince Charles Emmanuel de Bourbon Parme and the Count Gil de Bizemont.

Despite its name, this is a brand new company (founded in 2009) and their marketing approach is novel indeed:

The Original Condom recognizably differentiates itself from many household name condom brands with a package design in which you would normally expect to open and find a pair of diamond earrings, cufflinks or high end luxury gift item. The ingenuity behind the trendy condom packaging is to remove all embarrassment from the safe sex process. While other standard latex condom brands are left within the night table drawer, the chic new Original Condom packaging is designed to be displayed on the night stand.

This is pretty intriguing. More intriguing is the company's location in Condom, France.

This obviously would lead people to think that this is where condoms hail from (why else would they call themselves "The Original") and where the condom name originated. There is even a condom museum there.

But the name condom does not originate in France. It is in fact a mystery.

The use of condoms goes back into ancient times - the oldest use of them is seen in cave paintings (Grotte des Combarrelles) in France that are 12,000-15,000 years old.

They were in use through the Middle Ages across Europe. The name was long thought to hail from England, via a certain Earl of Condom or Dr. Condom who was an associate of King Charles II in the 18th century, but this has since been disproven by scholars.

The name might come from Latin: "condon" (receptacle) or "condamina" (house) or "cumdum" (scabbard or case) but scholars are not sure.

A fascinating 1985 article in the journal American Speech delves deep into medieval Latin to conclude that etymologically, condom/condum is most likely derived from con/cum (a morphene) + doma/duma (roof, house).

Chaucer used the term "condam" and Shakespeare after him used the term "quondam" (and "Venus Glove").

The association with words for "housing" with the sexual device is more logical when you think of how often these words were used in reference to a domicile as well as to " a casing in which a shaft revolves."

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October 21, 2010

With Lion OS Naming, Has Apple Run Out of Cats?

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Yesterday at his Back to the Mac event, Steve Jobs unleashed a Lion on us - the Lion OS X 10.7 that upgrades Snow Leopard.

This has some of us asking "What's next, Pussycat?"

Make no mistake about it, this OS looks pretty fierce. I'm sure that every Mac lover will be sharpening their claws and possibly putting in for an even lighter, thinner Mac Air.

But writers around the world are wondering whether or not Apple will run out of big cat names for their operating systems.

Techcrunch helpfully points out that

Apple began using big cat nicknames with initial release of OS X. 10.0 was "Cheetah," 10.1 was "Puma," 10.2 was "Jaguar," 10.3 was "Panther," 10.4 was "Tiger," 10.5 was "Leopard," and the current version, 10.6, is "Snow Leopard." Initially, these were internal code names at Apple, but they eventually became a part of the marketing for the OS.

There also was a "Tiger" operating system. Now, they have chosen the King of Beasts as the name for the new system.

How can they top that? Al Gibes asks, "I wonder what's next? Saber-toothed tiger? Ocelot? Lynx? Bobcat?"

CNN assures us that there are plenty more big cat names to chose from - they even went to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington and asked an expert.

Apple could go into cloud computing and use the Clouded Leopard name. Or move into a Latin naming scheme with Panthera and Tigrus. But what the company really should do is move toward smaller and smaller cats, like Bobcat and Lynx or the Jaguarundi.

I do hope they stay with feline naming. My mouse probably does not.

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October 20, 2010

Repetitive Sounding Naming and Branding a Must

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Time Magazine has picked up on new research by Jennifer Argo, Marketing professor at the University of Alberta, indicating that customers prefer repetitive sounding brand names.

The kicker is that the researchers had to actually say the test brand names aloud to subjects to get them to choose the repetitive brand names over other, less rhythmic naming choices.

This means that electronic media - radio, TV and now video on the internet - have an edge in motivating customers towards your brand name and staff should be encouraged to say the brand name of the place where they work to customers to encourage brand loyalty.

The audible elements or phonemes of a brand name is something that as naming professionals, we take very seriously.

How brand names sound has been producing academic research for some time. In 2004, an excellent article came out with similar results entitled "A Sound Idea: Phonetic Effects of Brand Names on Consumer Judgments" which went so far as to say that consumers attribute certain qualities to brand names based on individual sounds called "phonemes."

Only two years ago, one blogger picked up on the allure of repetitive sounding names in a blog called "How To Market Like a Rapper."
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What I find most interesting about this research, however, is that repetitive sounds are less effective if the consumer already has a good perception of the brand name.

The advice to shoppers who are likely to blow the budget doing some serious retail therapy: "Plug your ears; don't let anyone talk to you."

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October 19, 2010

The Emerus Brand Name A New Concept in Emergency Room Care

Strategic Name Development partnered with a group of board certified ER specialists and developed Emerus™, a new concept in emergency room care.

Emerus-Building.jpgEmerus is transforming the delivery of emergency care with the combination of compassionate physicians and free standing emergency care units. Years of experience working in traditional emergency departments, has enabled the Emerus specialists to streamline emergency solutions and processes.

The result is an unprecedented guarantee: Care within 15 minutes.

Like the service it provides, the name, Emerus, conveys the message of emergency room but in a shorter, more approachable manner. The roots of this brand name, Emergency care for all of us, evoke a feeling of sensitivity and compassion that we all want from emergency room care.

Want emergency care in 15 minutes? Want to be treated as a person and not a disease? Of course you do. We all do. Please visit www.emerus.com for more information.

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Naming and Branding Lessons Taken from The Gap

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The fallout from the Gap logo debacle has been pretty severe and I find it interesting to see that many industry watchers on the web seem taken aback by Gap's backtracking on its new logo thanks to the outcry in the blogosphere and various social media channels.

First of all, there can be no doubt people who were inclined to mention the new logo online really did despise it.

In fact, one neuroscience study in Australia "proved" that the logo was doomed by measuring customer brainwaves (I have no comment here).

Some say the entire episode was "genius" because it foregrounded a brand that had become fairly dull.

I am not sure about this. Yes, the new logo made an effect (a negative one), but the decision to actually change it might have been "bad business."

As one writer in the Financial Times suggests, "...what happened was not really good at all. It isn't progress when a company panics and surrenders when faced by an armchair army of protesters. It is feeble."

The "tweeting mob" shut down a campaign that obviously was aimed at people outside as well as inside the social media sphere, and mob rule of any kind is usually not a good thing.

More than that, the decision doesn't reflect the fact that any massive logo change takes time to sink in.

And nowadays, as one blogger points out, "The Internet has given anyone with a keyboard and an opinion the ability to broadcast in a second what used to take at least a trip to the local watering hole or a strongly worded letter."

More than that, it might have been wise if Gap had conducted logo research so it could fall back on the numbers if things went south on Facebook and Twitter.

Gap was slack here, and this means that the wave of scorn poured upon the logo by armchair experts was enough to deep six an expensive and ambitious and (probably) needed change.

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October 18, 2010

FAO Schwarz Has Witty New Naming and Branding


The FAO Schwarz brand name might be one of the biggest in the world of toys, certainly one of the biggest brand names in New York, and perhaps one of the most recognizable names period.
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So I was interested to see that FAO's owner, Toys 'R' Us, has revamped the logo as well as the website (www.fao.com) and is offering some new FAO Schwarz branded toys which will be available online.

These include the usual collectable ornament and bear plus other items in the new Legendary Christmas Collection.

The FAO Schwarz brand name has been integrated into that of Toys 'R' Us via permanent 230 square foot boutiques installed in Toys 'R' Us stores.

This is no small feat, given that FAO Schwarz is synonymous with high-end toys (like, say, the $19,000 playhouse, or the $250,000 keyboard from the movie "Big" or the $50,000 Ferrari Go-Cart) and Toys 'R' Us is a far more pedestrian brand.

FAO Teddy Bear.pngThe FAO Schwarz logo gets regularly updated. Toy soldiers, bears, blocks and of course a rocking horse have been standby images associated with the brand.

But the new character icon looks like a jester or old fashioned clown. In fact, his name is "Wit" and he adds an "element of fun and surprise to the imagery of the retailer - representing the spirit of what a visit to the store means to children" according to one exec.

Wit is gender neutral and the first totally made-up icon the store has used.

Says one Toys 'R' Us exec: "We began to look for something that would resonate with the notion of innocence, childhood, enchantment, and we came up with this spirit character."

FAO represents for Toys 'R' Us its ultra-high end offering, and as such it may become an even more exclusive name.

This year, for instance, you can buy your daughter (or son) a diamond Barbie Foosball Table by Bonzini for $25,000.

I'd say after a purchase like that, I'd need a little Wit to cheer me up....

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October 15, 2010

Doubletree Changes Brand Name to DoubleTree by Hilton

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Doubletree hotels are now going to be called "DoubleTree by Hilton".

Note the slight change in name (the small "t" is now a capital "T"). And the addition of "by Hilton."

The president of Hilton Worldwide is quoted in the PR release: "The introduction of our new DoubleTree by Hilton global identity communicates, with a new unified worldwide look, the brand's proud Hilton Worldwide affiliation and acts as a stronger symbol for current and future customers to associate today's DoubleTree by Hilton with its highly positive brand attributes."

I note that the current Doubletree logo on the website shows "DoubleTree" but everywhere else it's called "Doubletree."

I am glad that the new naming clears up this confusion. This is the first big revamp of the brand since 1995.

This is a logical move but I can't help noting how many blog posts call it Double Tree. And that "Doubletree" spelling is going to die hard.

The new logo is a sophisticated improvement over the old one. And represents

  • Introduction of a modern, sophisticated, stylized illustration of the brand's signature two trees
  • Integration of new, contemporary fonts and color palettes custom-designed for the brand

One blogger, Andrew Calvo, doesn't care for the new logo, noting that the brown color makes the trees look dead and further noting that it looks like the "South Carolina symbol of a tree and moon."
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He even protests the association with Hilton, suggesting that the company doesn't seem to have faith in their own sub-brands to stand alone.

But that DoubleTree brand has to go overseas, and the Hilton brand name will help clear the way.

Additionally, DoubleTree is attempting to enter a more sophisticated space. The new brand identity is a step forward.

But I have to say, it's now very hard to look at those trees and not imagine that they are dead....

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October 14, 2010

Otria Product Naming Favors Wholesome Greek Flavors

otria-packages.pngMarzetti®, one of the leaders in refrigerated salad dressing, recently introduced Otria™, a Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip whose brand name was developed in partnership with Strategic Name Development.

As a wholesome, everyday snacking option, the Otria product name communicates both the presence of Omega 3 in each delicious dip variety and the product's 'Greekness' in a short name that is easy to pronounce.

"Marzetti® Otria™ Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip offers a well-balanced, yet innovatively zesty, take on Greek yogurt," said Mary Beth Cowardin, senior marketing manager for Marzetti Dips. "We were excited to partner with Strategic Name Development to create a name that enhances the product's positioning."

Whether you're looking for a delectable snack without the downside or a tasty way to spice up a sandwich, Marzetti's Otria Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip can make it happen. For more recipe ideas and additional product information visit http://www.marzetti.com/Otria.

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Slogan Trademark News: Apple Trademarks There's an App for That

Apple has trademarked the phrase "There's an app for that," a slogan that has just abut entered common usage in reference to, well, just about anything.

iPhone.pngAs Cult of Mac points out, "There's an app for that" is the "Where's the beef?" or "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" of our generation.

The phrase is covered for retail store services in regard to computers so competing tech companies are going to have to think up another phrase. But it will still be fair play for bloggers, tweeters and writers.

This means that some of the vitriol out in the blogosphere today, "should a company as powerful as Apple be allowed to trademark common phrases just because they can and have the cash behind them to make sure it happens?" is a bit misdirected. Apple is not trying to change the way we speak, just the way competitors market similar devices.

This also means that slogans like Verizon's "There's a Map for That" are also going to go, obviously. I think this is a logical move. Apple has been shooting for this trademark since last year.

What is even more interesting to me is whether or not the word "app", which, conveniently, sounds like "apple," is necessarily associated in people's minds with Cupertino and iPhones. I think so. This trademark not only protects this phrase, it also seems to give Apple ownership of the word "app."

And that is very, very valuable.

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October 13, 2010

To Crowdsource or Not to Crowdsource? A Brand Change?

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The news that Gap has scrapped its logo allows us to draw a few lessons in naming and branding in the age of crowdsourcing.

First of all, we are quickly learning that a massive negative reaction to a branding initiative on the various social media channels can bring an entire campaign to a halt.

The power of the Internet seems to be growing daily. But I should add that almost every big initiative taken in the world of branding catches flak in the blogosphere, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Social media is the perfect vehicle for knee jerk criticisms and cheap sarcasm.

It is rare that people tweet good things about an ad campaign unless there is a humorous, viral aspect to it. Any large company who makes a big change in its brand is going to have to deal with negative feedback. People just do not take to the blogs and social media to flatter marketers and agencies alike.

This leads me to be somewhat skeptical about crowdsourcing. A blog up on 1 to 1 Media presents crowdsourcing as something companies have to adapt to in the face of "changing times."

This seems convincing at first blush: after all, even said companies like Unilever have embraced it.

But I'm not sure that this is entirely correct. Yes, there have been some dramatically successful crowdsourcing projects, like the DEWmocracy campaign. But right now companies seem to all too often try to use crowdsourcing to patch up a branding campaign that people online seem not to like.

Crowdsourcing a branding project throws the entire thing open to non-professionals. This is why there was a concerted movement on the part of some designers to not get involved in a Gap Do Over Attempt.

Mule Design put up a wonderful post that outlined all the things that the average Tweeter does not do, like talk to a client's customers, shop assistants, and marketers.

Or realistically thinking about where the new logo has appeared: "Online. Offline. From small print ads, to bus posters, billboards and corporate identity systems."

The average person visiting a website to kill time just doesn't do these things. They think about what looks cool. For about five minutes.

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October 12, 2010

New Gap Logo Scrapped, Naming and Branding Watchers Relieved

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So Gap scrapped its new logo.

They admitted on their website that they did not "go about this in the right way" and have decided to reintroduce the old logo "across all channels."

They also have decided to bag the idea of crowd sourcing a new logo, which they discussed on their Facebook page last week: "We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn't the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing."

Wow. So much for all publicity being good publicity.

Some industry observers say this is proof that Gap wasn't too crazy about the logo in the first place and the consumer outcry put paid to it.

TechCrunch has posted a list of all the online efforts to sabotage the logo that led to this reversal and offered a ridiculous alternative.

The online outcry has led to some cynical comments on The Village Voice, suggesting that all the outrage aimed at Gap could be used for "something other than ensuring the logo of a billion dollar corporation doesn't change, we'd be making some serious progress." This is, of course, what we would expect The Village Voice to say.

The company assures us that "There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we'll handle it in a different way." I'd say so.

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October 11, 2010

Gap Logo: A PR Victory for Crowd Sourced Branding?

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By now most of us have recovered from last week's firestorm over the new Gap logo.

Now, the retailer is looking to change what many perceive to be a mistake through crowd sourcing.

Late last Wednesday Gap posted on their Facebook page a coy message to the legions of irate consumers: "We love our version, but we'd like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project."

The old Gap Logo can be seen in the new movie The Social Network and frankly, it is time for a change. Gap needs to tear a page out of J. Crew's playbook and reinvigorate its offerings (although it should be noted that J. Crew didn't need to change it's logo or typography).

The new logo even spawned a site where you can make your own Gap logo. As well as two Twitter parody accounts: @GapLogo and @OldGapLogo.

Hmmm. It's hard to think of a logo that has ignited the web so quickly.

Yes, this new crowd sourcing idea seems like a "coping strategy." And graphic designers are urging each other to stay away from the temptation to donate a better logo in order to ensure their profession stays just that.

But a few bloggers like the logo, of course, while others are trying to fix it.

The fact is, here we are a week later and we are still talking about this logo and following its fate. And that's a victory for Gap.


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October 8, 2010

Panasonic Jungle Brand Name Reflects Handheld Gaming Dangers

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Panasonic looks set to offer us a new handheld game console called The Jungle.

It has been 15 years since their last attempt to take a bite out of the mobile gaming market failed with the demise of the 3DO.

The new handheld is built specifically for online gaming. It will access something called Panasonic Cloud Entertainment or PCENT, which is an acronym that Crunchgear thinks was not read aloud by anyone on the product naming team. Gamma Squad seems to agree that this acronym is particularly bad.

The WSJ notes that the handheld game market is very tough, with Nintendo and Sony both getting major competition from the iPhone - and both creating newer, slicker devices to take back lost market share.

In the meantime, somebody (cough, Panasonic, cough) has set up a website called, amusingly, http://welcometo.thejungle.com with some teaser material on it.

There is some cynicism out there about this move by Panasonic.

I'm amused to see this URL as well as the WSJ's blog headline "Panasonic, Welcome to the Jungle."

This is a reference to the old Guns N' Roses song by the same name. I wonder what the Gunners think about this?

I note that the URL uses the song's name, but it does not appear anywhere else. Good thing: I'd hate to get on the wrong side of snake collector GNR lead guitarist Slash.

Anyway, it's kind of fitting, because when it comes to handheld gaming, it's a jungle out there.


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October 7, 2010

MSNBC.com and the "Insanity" Of Naming and Branding

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MSNBC.com is tryng to "stop the insanity" by changing its name to reflect its difference from the affiliated cable channel.

The two sites have very different journalistic styles and mandates, so much so that the existing MSNBC cable channel news site is informally called "the Blue site" by people in the industry.

The plan might be to make a new MSNBC.com cable channel news site that is a true reflection of the cable channel and give the current (popular) MSNBC.com site a whole new name.

The MSNBC name itself is a holdover from a 1996 joint venture with Microsoft that ended in 2005 when NBC took the majority stake in the network.

Now "the cable brand is too entangled with a distinctive point of view and even if it could be changed, it still carries too much baggage for the site."

Should the MSNBC.com site simply call itself NBCNews.com? Possibly.

But moving around the very recognizable MSNBC.com name is "akin to a business closing a bustling storefront and posting a sign that asks customers to visit its new location." MSNBC.com is the third biggest news destination on the web.

The fact is, there is a logical disconnect between what we see on MSNBC cable channel and the MSNBC.com website of the same name. It's time for a change.


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Posted by William Lozito at 8:45 AM

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October 6, 2010

Google May Wind Up In Court to Protect Speedbook Naming and Branding

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Back in August Google trademarked the Speedbook name to put on its tablets that would run Chrome OS.

This name was greeted with a collective yawn across the blgospehere, with one blogger asking what "speed" meant: "A speedy notebook? A speedy eReader?"

This week a complaint was filed at the U.S. District Court in Oregon by tech company CollegeNet alleging that they own the trademark. They argue:

Google is hundreds of times the size of CollegeNet, and if it were to use the Speedbook mark on a new product aimed at the entire consumer market, with a highly visible public launch, the association of the trademark with Google would forever ruin CollegeNet's ability to use that mark to signify CollegeNet's own existing and future products.

Interestingly, the first trademark application Google filed was in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Google may win this one: CollegeNet's B2B offering seems far enough away from Google's planned tablet to avoid a likelihood of confusion.

I am more interested in the use of the word "book" in the name: is Google planning on offering us something that will make reading eBooks even easier?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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October 4, 2010

Rev 7 Gum Naming: Revolutionary But is It Worth It?

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Today a revolutionary new gum hits the market: Rev 7 from UK-based Revolymer.

This is a "high quality" gum with the added benefit that it is removable and degradable - making Rev 7 the world's first environmentally friendly gum. It comes in peppermint and spearmint with more flavors on the way.

The stuff does degrade but not instantly. It takes three months to disappear from a drain and up to two years to crack off a sidewalk.

But I guess in the gum world that makes it "degradable."

This is a good thing, as over 300,000 tons of chewing gum will be sold in the USA this year, leaving approx 120,000 tons of chewing gum "cuds" (yucky word of the day) in the environment each year. The wall of gum located in downtown Seattle is home to many of these chewing gum "cuds" - the brick wall is covered several inches thick, 15 feet high and for a stretch of 50 feet.

I'm sure many of us will rejoice to hear that a company is offering a product that helps make discarded gum less of a sticky mess. But will it sell?

We know that adding numbers to a gum name seems to work - witness Wrigley's "5."

But its the offering here that may be a problem. As one industry observer says, "Subway systems and school teachers would love this, but it's one of those benefits that's external. It's like cigarette butts. The average cigarette smoker isn't concerned about where that butt might wind up."

The gum market is robust and profitable. We're talking about a $24 billion worldwide market.

The recent industry focus, however, seems to be on non-traditional flavors and add-ons. Trident Vitality will offer Vitamin C in its gum, for instance, while Wrigley's Extra Dessert Delights offers flavors like chocolate chip and key lime pie.

Said one expert, "Gum is the new delivery system for benefits, whether it's breath freshening or teeth cleaning, relaxation or just excitement because of new, unusual or interesting flavors."

There is even a new gum being developed that can be given to soldiers who cannot brush their teeth while in the combat zone that promises to fight tooth decay.

All of these gums offer the consumer an immediate benefit. I am unsure if a biodegradable gum offers such an attractive option to consumers who might not really care where their gum ends up.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:10 AM

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October 1, 2010

Goldilocks and Gliese 581g: A Story Of Bad Naming

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The news that there is a potentially habitable planet out there that might be Earth 2.0 has been met with curiosity and applause across the blogosphere.

The news that it is named Gliese 581g has been met with guffaws, however.

The name is due to the fact that the planet is near a red dwarf star called Gliese 581.

But I think that some serious renaming is in order.

Cathal Kelly says in the Tornto Star that "No one's going to schlep all their stuff to a place called Gliese 581g."

The place needs a real name, like "Mars." And they are positively ranting about this at Helium: "What kind of name is Gliese 581g? Have they run out of Greek and Roman god names, such as Venus, Saturn, Mars and Mercury?" How is this even pronounced?

The planet is located in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" - an area where planets can support liquid water on their surface - making it a "Goldilocks planet."

That name seems to come from the idea that the area is "not too hot and not too cold."

Yes, this all is starting to sound a little childish.

The Washington Post Rough Sketch Blog suggests there may be books or TV about this planet, think "'Snow White and the Seven Red Dwarfs' or 'First Rock from the Red Dwarf' or just 'Red Dwarf'."

Gliese 581g is very far away so we will not be moving there soon, but I do think we need to get working on some new names ASAP.

Meanwhile, feel free to follow it on Twitter.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:16 AM

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