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November 30, 2010

Porsche Goes For Some Spicy Cajun Brand Naming, Purists Gag

PorscheLoho.pngPorsche has confirmed that they are creating a new compact SUV called the "Cajun," which one blogger says "evokes not only a people originating from Acadia (hey, that's a GMC!) and the rustic cuisine they imported from Canada to Louisiana, but also serves as a contraction of  'Cayenne Junior.'"

This "working title" may not actually be the name of the model that hits the US, but chances are Porsche will stay with it.

Some Porsche lovers are ambivalent about the Cayenne - the first four-door Porsche introduced in 2003 - believing that Porsche has tarnished its good name by going for the SUV crowd, but the fact is that the Cayenne outsells the Boxter, the company's entry level sports car.

CajunPorsche.pngPorsche is depending on American car buyers to snap up this car, as the Cajun (rendering pictured at right) joins the Porsche Panamera as a supersized rich man's toy aimed at the West Coast.

These names are meant to appeal to us, and they obviously strike a chord.

I would be curious to know your thoughts on the Cayenne, Panamera and the Cajun logical additions to the storied Porsche lines, or aberrations that must be endured?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:54 AM

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November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday: A Brief Linguistic History

Is the term cyber becoming dated like the World Wide Web?

I don't know the answer to this question, but I do know that Cyber Monday has grown in leaps and bounds.

CyberMonday.gifThe Cyber Monday site is run by, which was responsible for coining the term a few years ago after retailers noticed a trend of people shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

But where the heck did this term really mean?

I think cyber is derived from the abbreviation of cybernetics, a term coined in the 1980's to define, "the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things."

Cyber has also become shorthand for "computer," "computer network," or "virtual reality."

However, the Greek origin of cyber is kyperbetes, which literally means "steersman," or one who steers a boat or a ship.

And now I would like to steer you to a few sites that aggregate many Cyber Monday deals. Of course, you can look to, but some others that do a good job of rounding-up the deals are, and

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:23 AM

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November 26, 2010

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday - The Meaning Behind the Retail Holiday Naming

75MacysonBlackFriday.gifThere is something odd about looking forward to Black Friday, the day when retailers get back in "the black," due to a surge in shopping following Thanksgiving.

The name Black Friday itself is full of misery. The first Black Friday occurred when Jay Gould, James Fisk, and others sought to corner the gold market on September 24, 1869. The second was on October 28, 1929, when the stock market collapsed and signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.

In addition, the Philadelphia Police Department gave this name in 1966 to the particular day that signaled the start of Christmas season traffic jams.

Now, Black Friday generally refers to the sales on the day after Thanksgiving that prompt one of the biggest shopping days of the year, although contrary to popular belief it is not the biggest shopping day of the year. That title is reserved for Christmas Eve, naturally.

CyberMonday.gifFor those who prefer to stay at home and avoid the masses of shoppers, the online shopping bonanza will start Monday, on what is now referred to as Cyber Monday.

The Cyber Monday site is run by, which is responsible for coining the term a few years ago. And much like Black Friday, it is not actually the most popular Internet shopping day of the year, but it definitely is a biggie.

green-monday-advertising.gifThe biggest online shopping day is Green Monday, which is the second Monday in December, when people place their last Christmas orders online. Green simply refers to all the money that is spent.

Regardless of what the day is called, retailers are willing to offer sales, in order to entice consumers into spending a little cash.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:42 AM

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November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving - From Your Friends at Strategic Name Development

Turkeys, Pumpkin Pie, Football, Black Friday... it is that time of year again.

Here's wishing all of our readers a happy and prosperous Thanksgiving.


Chomsky and Pushkin, Canine Linguists

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by William Lozito at 10:00 AM

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November 24, 2010

Asus New Eee Note EA800 Brand Naming Looks Nothing like iPad. Not Even a Little.

Eee Note.pngHere is some news that will make Apple happy.

The new tablet from Asus has gone through some pretty radical naming metamorphoses since May and the result sounds and looks nothing like the word iPad.

As was uncovered earlier this month in my blog about the doomed nPad, that first Asus wanted to give us an Eee Pad, and then some writers presented that as an EeePad.

This name unofficially morphed into an Eee Tablet on other blogs.

But that word "Tablet" was confusing (as we will learn).

So the new official name is... wait for it... drumroll please... Eee Note EA800

Which, I repeat, looks nothing like iPad. Not even a little.

This new product will help you take notes, and among other things, take pictures and read eBooks. The name "better reflects the product you actually are buying." says Gadget Venue.

The core of the problem is that Asus originally "called their tablets Pads and their digital notepads Tablets, which lead to confusion in the marketplace."

This is a tablet that helps you take written notes - it captures real writing and adjusts to the pressure you apply to the stylus. This makes it definitely and without a doubt... a... um.


I always thought you wrote on tablets. But not anymore. You press your fingers on tablets that are actually pads if you are in the world of Apple. But I guess you actually write notes on a "Note" when you are in the world of Asus.

One thing is certain: You do not write on pads, because pads are computers. Or tablets. Or whatever.

Just as a total coincidence, I came across a blog on Gearlog entilted "They Sounded Stupid Once: Tech Names That Are Now Household Words."

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:59 AM

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November 23, 2010

GM's Baojun 630 Brand Naming Aims to be a Treasured Horse for First Time Chinese Buyers

GM has started producing the first Baojun passenger vehicles in a joint venture with SAIC Motor in China.

Baojun360.gifThe Baojun 630 sedan is meant to compete with other affordable vehicles in China including those from Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and BYD Co.

This comes on the heels of the success of the new Sail vehicle which is the cheapest foreign brand car in China with the base model starting around US $8,600.

The launch positions GM as one of the top importers into the country and the name is, importantly, a Chinese word meaning "treasured horse."

Each digit in the "630" of the name holds significance. The first digit, 6, refers to the model series, the 3 refers to the body type and the last digit refers to the generation, which in this is case 0.

This car will be more expensive than the Sail but still relatively cheap, selling somewhere under US $15,000.

It is interesting to note that GM is aiming to expand its reach beyond the large coastal cities into the smaller cities and towns on Mainland China.

This, in part, explains the Chinese name. Chinese car buyers are very loyal to local brands... this is clearly a move to make imports accessible to entry level buyers.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:50 AM

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November 22, 2010

One Week Old Philippines Tourism Campaign Drops Naming, Tagline and URL

Pilipinas.pngAfter a troubled start a week ago today, it appears the new Philippines tourism campaign, logo and tagline have all been scrapped.

Last week the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" (Philippines What a Beauty) tagline launched almost universal condemnation in the country.

Critics said it might be unwise to make the country's tagline impossible to understand for people who do not speak the language and, furthermore, the logo looked like it has been cribbed from Poland's campaign (pictured below).

Polska.pngOne Pilipino senator said on Wednesday that she thought the brand "is just ignorant, and ignorance is boring."

The phrase itself had no creativity and was hardly an improvement on the former nine year old tagline: "WOW, Philippines" (pictured below) which at least was capable of being understood by people thinking of visiting.

WowPhilippines.pngTo make matters even worse, the new website had to be shut down because its URL is too similar to the name of a popular porn site.

The advertising agency in charge of the project blames the government for coming up with the idea and further states that the Department of Tourism wanted them to turn to the Polish logo "for inspiration."

This has led to the Tourism chief being summoned to the President's office to explain the mess (ouch).

One local writer pointed out last week that aside from quite a few design and strategy flaws, Philippines is presented as "Pilipinas," a move that is a nod to local language but was sure to confound everyone else's spell checkers.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:05 AM

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November 19, 2010

Is a brand name music or noise? It depends on who's pronouncing it.

When naming a new product or service, one must keep in mind that how a name sounds can be almost as important as what it means. And how a name sounds can vary significantly based on regional accents.

Speaking.pngAn article in today's New York Times, Unlearning to Tawk Like a New Yorker, reminds us that some regional accenting of brand names is more deleterious than others.

Because New Yorkers favor a strong vocalization of liquids (consonants R and L for example) - an unsightly 'R' sound is often added to the end of an otherwise balanced and feminine brand. So GODIVA becomes GODIVER. AVEDA becomes AVEDER.

And, since the traditional New York area accent is non-rhotic, the letter 'R' sound is often skipped within a word, so consumers would pronounce two brands like DRYEL and DIAL almost the same. This is also the case for ZEBA and ZEBRA

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Four Loko Brand Naming Downgraded to One Loko While Brooklyn Coffee Shop Goes for Ten Loko

It appears that the Four Loko alcoholic energy drink has gotten a letter from the FDA stating that their beverage - called "blackout in a can" by college kids - poses a health risk.

Four_Loko.pngAlong with Four Loko, three other beverage companies - Charge Beverages, United Brands and New Century Brewing - have received letters from the FDA.

Four Loko has responded by dropping the caffeine from its drink, as well as the guarana and the taurine, which represent three of the four in the name Four Loko.

This makes the drink now One Loko, technically. You'd still have to be pretty loco to drink it because one can still has the same amount of alcohol as a six pack of light beer.

The company still holds that the drink is safe, despite a rash of lawsuits that have been brought against it, and the product being banned at New York State, Washington State and numerous college campuses.

I'm interested to note that the Four Loko folks feel that removing caffeine from the drink will make it safer.

ThePulpandTheBean.gifIt seems Americans thrive on caffeine, as witnessed by a new coffee drink you can order in Brooklyn, New York called the "Dieci" which is... wait for it... ten shots of espresso in one 20 once cup. "Dieci" means "ten" in Italian and is pronounced (dee-eh-chi).

This ridiculous and probably dangerous drink costs $8 and has been dubbed "Porn in a Cup" for reasons known only by the patrons of the Crown Heights coffee shop The Pulp & The Bean.

Bloggers have dubbed it "scorn in a cup" and "10 Loko."

The owner of the shop won't sell the Dieci to anyone over 40... which may make this the first beverage to have an actual maximum age limit on it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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November 18, 2010

Lamebook and Facebook Enter Into First Amendment Naming Dispute

Facebook his filed a suit against parody site Lamebook in federal court.

Facebook vs. Lambook.pngLamebook has already gone to court in Texas seeking declaration that it does not infringe upon Facebook's trademarks.

They are claiming that they are not competing with Facebook and are instead creating a parody of the social network giant, and thus they are protected by the First Amendment.

This comes after months of discussions between the two companies where execs from Facebook tried to "amicably resolve what we believe is an improper attempt to build a brand that trades off Facebook's popularity and fame."

Lambook showcases some of the more ridiculous postings on Facebook and have painted themselves as the victim in this dispute, going so far as to solicit donations from readers on their site for their defense fund.

As we know, Facebook is protective of its name, and have already filed suit against companies for using the suffix "book" and the prefix "face."

Despite the blogosphere's support of Lamebook, they are doomed.

Many different brand names have come and gone trying to hide behind the First Amendment's protection of parody (many of them say they are "tributes" to more well known brands). This will not be perceived by the court as a First Amendment matter but instead as the workings of a brand that is clearly creating a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace.

The Lamebook logo looks exactly like Facebook's and this might lead people to believe that the company is associated with Facebook.

More than that, the Lamebook brand is clearly bolstered by this forced association with Facebook. They profit from this, and that will ultimately push the court into deciding in Facebook's favor.

The best Lamebook can hope for is a court order forcing them to change their mark and possibly their name.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:01 AM

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November 17, 2010

Isis Brand Naming: Inspired, Confusing

Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have a new financial venture that will allow people to pay bills using their mobile phone brand named Isis.

PayWithISIS.pngThis might fundamentally change the way we pay for goods and services, and we can expect the roll out to occur over the next 18 months.

Using a mobile phone to pay for things is a practice that is common in other countries like South Korea and Japan, but in the U.S., we are not quite used to it yet.

Engadget, in a typically glum note, says this arrives "Just in time for the total economic collapse of Europe and the rise of the cyber-nomadic tribes."

The press release indicates that we can expect great things.

According to one exec, "While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start. We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes."

Isis-Goddess.pngAs a metaphor, the Isis brand name is a good one, but it may cause some confusion on how to pronounce it.

Isis was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs (pictured at right) whose name meant "throne" and, among other things, she was the "matron of nature and magic" (surely this payment scheme will seem rather magical).

She is also known as the goddess of simplicity, which is good because this payment scheme will have to be simple for people to use it.

Alas there seems to be some additional confusion about the name. The press release presents it as both "ISIS™" - all caps - and "Isis" and most of the blogosphere seems to prefer the latter.

The website also shows us "Isis™" but respected business resource Barron's presents it as ISIS.

I think that this initial confusion has come from the press release as well as from the logo itself, which shows us the name "Isis" in what looks like all-caps.

Yikes. People, this is the goddess of simplicity - let's not make this too complicated right from the start!

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:08 AM

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November 16, 2010

Top Words of 2010 Includes Name of Most Annoying Horn in History

The Global Language Monitor has released the list of 2010's most used words.

This is a list gleaned from tracking "billions" of Web pages, blogs and social media sites and tens of thousands of electronic and print media publications throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers.

Spillcam.pngThe most used word of 2010 was...


As in, BP Spillcam.

Also on the list was the non-word "refudiate," which Sarah Palin introduced to us by mashing up "repudiate" with "refute." The words "Simplexity" and "the Narrative" and "Snowmaggeddon" and Guido," also made the list.

Another new word was "Vuvuzela," which is the name of the South African horn that was blown endlessly at the World Cup games this year.

The top phrase on the list was "Anger and Rage," and the top leader's name was Hu Jintao of China.

Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor, had this to say

Our top words this year come from an environmental disaster, the World Cup, political malapropisms, new senses to ancient words, a booming economic colossus, and a heroic rescue that captivated the world for days on end.  This is fitting for a relentlessly growing global language that is being taken up by thousands of new speakers each and every day.

The top words of the decade include number one "Global Warming," "Google," "9/11," "Subprime," "Twitter," "Y2K" and rounding out the list at 25 was "Truthiness."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:56 AM

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November 15, 2010

AOL's Project Phoenix Brand Naming Might Be A Failed Covert Op

Sometimes it is hard not to be dumbfounded by the names that companies choose from major projects that make tremendous news headlines.

AOL's new e-mail program has been codenamed, unbelievably, Project Phoenix. This is not an in-house codename that is some kind of crazy joke, no, this is a real name that has been released to the public: you can even go to to explore the new AOL e-mail.

Product Naming_Project Phoenix.pngNever mind that actually owning an AOL e-mail address dates you, the name Project Phoenix is the problem.

Don't get me wrong. The new e-mail looks pretty interesting and represents AOL's return to the world of e-mail and frankly the world of the Internet.

We all can vividly remember when AOL seemed to rule this market, but those days are gone.

They obviously have chosen the name Phoenix to represent the return of the company - the Phoenix from the ashes, as it were. In that sense, the name is all right. AOL has a lot of work to do to revive its flagging brand.

There are also interesting features here. You can have an assortment of suffixes added to your address. The blog at says:

Users can sign up for one of five domain names to bookend their address. "" was my suffix of choice, but still available were, (an abbreviation of the phrase forever linked to Aol, 'You've got mail'),, and the standby for those not wanting to make a switch,

The problem comes when one considers the way the term Phoenix has been used.

Project Phoenix is right now the name for a small project looking for extra terrestrial intelligence.

But the Phoenix Program in Vietnam and later in Cuba orchestrated by the CIA has a very negative connotation. I am surely not the only person who sees a name like this and immediately thinks of the Phoenix Program which often has been called the Phoenix Project in the press.

The name Phoenix Project has also been used by the Pentagon as part of its rebuilding program after the tragic events of 9/11.

Naming a big initiative such as Phoenix brings up bad memories of the CIA and immediately makes me wonder if AOL checked first with its target market.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:46 AM

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November 12, 2010

French Wine Naming Finally Gets Real With THE Brand Name

THE.gifA new series of wine brand naming from France is on its way to the USA. It is called THE Wines and they should be here next month.

French wines have an interesting problem. Both serious wine drinkers and casual buyers agree that wines from France are worthy of respect.

According to a recent survey, 72% of respondents held a "positive" image of French wines and, possibly damningly, 81% agreed they should be reserved for special occasions.

Americans perception of French wines is that they are "consumed less frequently, being more complex to understand and to taste, and commanding a higher price."

BrandNameWines.pngThis is partly due to the complexity of the naming. In a world where we get "Big Ass" brand names for wine as well as "Fat Bastard," "Monkey Bay" and "Smoking Loon," French names reek of exclusivity and stuffiness.

How can you sell Châteauneuf-du-Pape to people who drink "Goats-Do-Roam" from South Africa?

French wine is still important even if being French and things related to France is not as fashionable as they once were. A blogger at Notre Bordeaux argues that Armani has done more for Italian wine than anyone else.

The secret has always been to create more au courant packaging for the Two Buck Chuck brigade.

THE wines do just that. Each wine is labaled with a nickname related to the vineyard where the wine was grown: "Vacqueyras: "THE VAC"; Gigondas: "THE GIG"; Chateauneuf du Pape: "THE CHATO9," nine pronounced "neuf" in French".

Never mind that this is a 300 year old winery, the naming is modern and easy and accessible to people who want a little French flair on the table.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:27 AM

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November 11, 2010

Yo! Russia Opts For Some Weird Car Brand Naming

The Russians have a new hybrid car that is selling for under $10,000. It looks sort of like a Honda and might be a real shot in the arm for an auto industry that is almost synonymous with horrible cars. A naming contest was held to give this a brand and the winner is ... "ё."

e.pngThis is a letter that only appears in the Russian alphabet. It is the seventh letter in the alphabet and references the way Russians show excitement, which is by exclaiming "ё-ё-ё!"

The letter is also associated with good luck, some say. The head of the naming group feels that this brand may bring the "ё" into the West, and "not only on the Russian keyboards."

But what is more interesting is how contentious the letter is used in Russia, where some editors refuse to use it, preferring instead to use a simple "e."

One town in Russia actually had a small movement to bring back the usage of the letter with the umlaut.

Apparently, "ё" is the beginning of a few words that "are swear words that would make a sailor blush, while another is yorsh, a ruff fish or a slang term for a drink mixing beer and vodka."

In fact, there are only eight words that are "clean" that begin with the letter in the Russian language. So, it has a rather bad rap in its country of origin.

Even worse, Russians usually exclaim "ё-ё-ё!" to "express surprise with regard to some bad or unexpected news."

This is very similar to the expression yo-yo-yo that is used in Africa to express beweilderment. Plus, it is pronounced "jou" and will be understood over here as "Yo!" As in, well, yo-yo.

That is, if the car is actually exported out of Russia.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:43 AM

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November 10, 2010

Groggle Drops Googlish Naming for Drinkle

An Australian entrepreneur has lost his fight against Google to name his website "Groggle."

Cameron Collie wanted to name his alcohol comparison site after the slang word for the product in his country, "grog." Google has been fighting him for six months and the man has finally relented, deciding to instead call his site "Drinkle."

Drinkle.pngWe don't know if Google paid him off or simply frightened him away. His quote on the matter is, "I still maintain that I don't think that there would have been any confusion in the marketplace."

This is actually more of a case of brand dilution. Google can hardly afford to have its brand name linked to drinking.

More than that, the word "grog" has some negative connotations. It originally referred to a weak beer and rum drink that was served to sailors in the British Navy as far back as 1740, who referred to it as "Old Grog."

The name "grog" probably comes from the nickname of British Admiral Vernon, who was known as "Old Grog" because he wore a grogram, a silk and wool blend cloak.

It has numerous meanings around the world, but only in Australia has it become a pejorative for any alcoholic drink. In Ireland, however, it refers to a person's vices. Adding alcohol to water on a sea voyage created numerous problems onboard ship but it was a necessary evil as freshwater spoiled easily.

I doubt that the guys at Drinkle are crying in their beer over this. As IT Wire points out,

After all, whether "Groggle" ever expected to keep its name is in question - either way, the company is far more well-known now, and if it's retail alcohol price comparison service works as advertised with accuracy when it launches next year (despite a hoped-for pre-Christmas 2010 launch), all the pre-publicity certainly helps to establish as big a user base as possible.

This all seems very friendly, anyway. The Drinkle folks tweeted that they will be celebrating the end of the case with a high-end beer, and one Australian site says, "Google and Groggle finally agree to have a Drinkle."

And Collie promises us that "The site will be exactly as it was before but just with a new brand name. It's the same typeface with a 'D' instead of a 'G'."

I note that this logo and typography looks nothing like Google's, which probably would drive the Google guys to the grog.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:12 AM

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November 9, 2010

Iconic Mr. Goodwrench Naming, Character Gets Pink Slip from GM

Alas, poor Mr. Goodwrench is getting laid off after 36 years of working for for GM.
The company is doing away with the iconic brand name and character to focus on its four more "prosiac" brands: "Buick Certified Service, Cadillac Certified Service, Chevrolet Certified Service and GMC Certified Service."

This does away with what Automotive News has called GM's "brand clutter."

Mr. Goodwrench was so well known that NASA astronauts repairing the Hubble telescope compared themselves to him and Jay Leno's show featured an evil doppelganger character called "Mr. Badwrench."

Dealerships were not using the name and service in recent years, despite its association with NASCAR by being featured on Dale Earnhardt's car.

Over a decade ago Mr. Goodwrench was changed to the less sexist "Goodwrench Service" and that might have been the beginning of the end. The old ads really built up the character of Mr. Goodwrench as a blue collar, swarthy mechanic with "hands that care."

But it seems that his presence started to remind customers that GM cars needed a hands on mechanic more than their Asian competitors.

His demise has been long in coming. GM shelved the name around 2000, only to bring it back in 2003 in commercials starring Stephen Colbert.

Now, as GM simplifies its naming strategy - doing away with Hummer and Saab, for instance - Mr. Goodwrench has to go, too.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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November 8, 2010

Does Equity in Brand Naming All Come Down to Pricing Power?

Last Friday Aswath Damodaran, Professor of Finance at NYU's Stern School of Business, made a very interesting statement about brand names at the L2 Innovation Forum in New York.

In his opinion, many of the intangibles we associate with brand equity (quality, style, leadership in category, reliability, etc) are irrelevant when it comes to a brand's value. The real question, in his opinion, is "pricing power."

His statement to this effect was pretty bald, "If you as a company tell me that you have a brand name, I'm going to ask you a question: 'Do you have the power to charge a higher price for the same product?'"

This has led to some weekend speculation on the Internet, not least a blog entry at the Financial Times entitled "NYU Prof says luxury makes suckers feel smart."
His argument that a true luxury brand lets you feel good about being bamboozled has raised eyebrows among the well heeled and among brand managers.

His assertion has led one blogger to ask if there actually is such thing as "luxury."

Damodaran likes to use Coke as an example (here is an excerpt from his lecture on Brand Name valuation) of a company that can charge a premium thanks to a hundred years of "playing with your mind."

This is heady stuff but I do feel that the argument is a chicken and egg situation.

A brand name accrues value because the product behind it is in demand and stays in demand. The power of Word of Mouth helps build brand names - consumers who buy premium goods can be the brand's biggest proponents, and they don't have to play with your mind to convince you of the value of a premium brand (Apple comes to mind, as usual).

When we buy a high-end product, we tend to feel remorseful only if the product does not live up to expectations.

Luxury brands like BMW, Rolex and Hermes offer us products that simply outperform the competition. A BMW is fast and sleek; a Rolex actually does work deep underwater; a Hermes Bag is always in fashion and is always relatively durable.

People love owning these products and are loyal to them. These attributes, as well as careful management of the brand name itself allow for the brand name to sell at a premium.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:36 AM

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November 5, 2010

Twitter's Fledgling: An Example of Socially Conscious Wine Brand Naming

Twitter is branching out... into wine.

The social networking site has teamed up with a Napa Valley wine producer called Crushpad (yes, that's the name of the company) to give us "Fledgling Wine" that comes in a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.
This is not really a brand extension for the social networking giant.

A few weeks ago TechCrunch said it would be logical to ask if "1. Is this the new Twitter business model? 2. Is Twitter completely insane?"

It turns out they are neither. This is a charitable effort. From each sale, $5 will go to a non-profit educational organization called Room to Read.

The Twitter founders have made the following announcement about this:

The Fledgling Initiative embodies two things that are at the core of Twitter's mission: providing access to information and highlighting the power of open communication to bring about positive change. This initiative is just one piece of that approach. Take part in this mission and pre-buy our limited bottles of the wine

I note that the name "Fledgling" is quite apt. It hearkens back to the bird motif of Twitter itself, and the word "fledgling" means both "new" and "baby bird."

Wine is a good thing for a social network to explore: after all, what could be more social than sharing wine?

This news has been coming for some time. Early reviews of the wine itself are very positive.

Slashfood describes the Fledgling 2009 Pinot Noir, California like this: "Its smoky nose and intense bright cherry notes are fantastic; its tannins are soft and silky. And each time you order a bottle, you're teaching people how to read. What's not to like?"

You can of course follow the wine on Twitter @fledgling.

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Posted by William Lozito at 10:11 AM

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November 4, 2010

NPad and nPad Naming Raises Red Flag with Apple

Writing blogs about the iPad is becoming something of a habit around here.

NPad-China.pngBack in June the world was introduced to the NPad (image on right) which is a total knockoff of the iPad. This is a tablet based on the "MeeGo" operating system, which in my opinion is also an Apple naming knockoff.

Now it looks as if the NPad has been taken off the market by its maker in China, a company called, ironically, Red Flag.

They seem to have witnessed what Apple did to an iPhone competitor and chose to scuttle back into the woodwork with their cloned product.

Now, this week, we learned that a Dutch tablet manufacturer is looking for a new name for its nPad (image below). Note the lower case "n." This is a Windows 7 device that also would compete directly with the iPad.

Ridiculously, the Dutch tablet makers CEO says, "I'm sure the name 'pad' is not protected, it was used back in 1996 in Star Trek. Furthermore, several companies, amongst whom Asus, use that name for their tablets."

Really? Is this all they do in the Netherlands when it comes to naming a product that goes head-to-head against one of the biggest software powers in history? Go back to old Star Trek reruns? If there ever was a name development emergency, it is this one.

Surely the CEO of the company would not launch a product on such shaky legal ground. Surely there is some other strategy at work here. When a Chinese company tries to knock off on Apple product and name, we figure this is par for the course. Some Chinese companies have a reputation for disregarding intellectual property rights and trademarks.

But when a European company tries to do the same thing, one must wonder if some other kind of corporate negligence is being practiced.

I should also note that Asus was planning an Eee Pad (note the separation of the two words) that some writers presented to us as an EeePad.

This must be what the nPad's creator was lamenting. It has now been changed to an Eee Tablet in other blogs, but the Asus site mentions nothing about a pad or a tablet.

npad-Notebooks.pngIt should be noted that the name npad is actually alive and well as the brand name for a notebook. You know, the paper kind. This is pretty much the limit of what I suppose Apple will tolerate.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:46 AM

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November 3, 2010

What Wet Name Describes This Year's Mid-Term Election Results?

There was a flood of inquiries about the Naming the Mid-Term Election Results: Just Add Water and Stir blog post.

So we decided to ask voters what they thought of this years damp political outlook and terminology.

Posted by Diane Prange at 4:51 PM

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Dodgers Naming and Branding a Curse on Brooklyn?

Dem Bums just can't stop kickin' Brooklyn.
More than fifty years after leaving the borough for LA, the Dodgers have come back to pick on a burger joint for using the retired iconic Brooklyn typography in their logo.

The owner of Brooklyn Burger probably wants to put a curse on the club for suing him over his use of their old logo with the Brooklyn bridge in the background. Even though the USPTO approved the logo in April, the Dodgers filed their compliant last week.

Said the owner, "There is no Brooklyn Dodgers; they don't exist anymore. They left Brooklyn... You can't keep everything forever."

The Dodgers argue that the logo could mislead consumers into thinking the restaurant is associated with the club instead of, well, Brooklyn. The restaurant owner's lawyer says that the Dodgers' trademark applies only to apparel. And points out that plenty of Brooklyn establishments use the typography and font.

The blogosphere is laughing over the reaction by one store owner over the Dodger's claim to the name, "Oh, f-- them! What do they have to do with Brooklyn?... They left Brooklyn years ago. We don't let nobody push us around. Change our logo? Oh, fuhgeddaboudit. Tell them to come down here, we'll straighten it all out."

An LA Times update to the story has it that the the complaint was filed by Major League Baseball on behalf of the Dodgers.

They say that "we are obligated by law to protect our trademarks or we are at risk of losing them. We filed the notice of opposition with the trademark office in order to keep our options open. We are continuing to examine the situation."

I'm thinking that this is one fight MLB will lose. People in Brooklyn are still pretty bitter over losing the Dodgers in 1957. The name still has bittersweet resonance.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:33 AM

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November 2, 2010

Naming the Mid-Term Election Results: Just Add Water and Stir

Have you noticed that the majority of names used to describe the possible Republican outcome of today's Mid-Term Elections are metaphors involving wet weather?

From washouts to tsunamis, we took a look at some of the wetter words making recent headlines.

From a purely linguistic perspective, of course.


  • A wave is a movement by which sea water rises above its normal level and then subsides
  • Wave's first two letters inherently connect it to the concept of water, washing and wading. The letter W even looks like a wave
  • A wave is inherently gentle and friendly (thus its metaphorical use of waving one's hand to say hello)

  • Translation: Democrats walk on water, preserving both majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans wave goodbye to The Pledge to America

Republican Wave.png
  • Surge is defined as a high rolling swell of water; a large, heavy, or violent wave
  • Surges are more urgent and intense than waves
  • The verb root 'urge' and the low and long back vowel 'u' portend something bigger, something stronger, something high rolling

  • Translation: Drip by drop, Democrats narrowly preserve both majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans send an urgent, but ineffective, message to America

Bad Storm

  • A storm is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere. It's manifested by high winds and often accompanied by heavy falls of rain, hail, or snow, thunder and lightning
  • At sea, a storm is defined by the turbulence of waves
  • The word, storm, like wave, has Teutonic roots, and while a wave swings or vibrates, a storm stirs things up and damages them

  • Translation: Democrats hold on to the Senate majority but their House does not survive the storm damage. Nancy Pelosi is dead in the water


  • The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines washout as the removal by flood of a portion of a hillside
  • But a washout is also defined as a disappointing failure
  • The implication of a washout is significant action, and destructive action
  • Not surprisingly, the term shares its first syllable with Washington D.C. and its final with the Bailout

  • Translation: Democrats hang on to both the Senate and House majorities, but Harry Reid washes out

Tidal Wave

  • Tidal waves are high water waves caused by the movement of the tide
  • They are erroneously interchanged with the term, Tsunami, which is a series of high speed waves
  • Tidal is a powerful plosive packed word suggesting a profound change

  • Translation: The tide turns with Republicans transforming both the House and Senate into their personal watering holes


  • Tsunamis are wave series that travel at great speed and often with sufficient force to inundate the land. They are caused by underwater disturbances, most commonly by earthquakes
  • Once you learn to skip the T, tsunami (rhymes with origami) is fun to say and rolls off the tongue
  • And if you don't skip the T, its easy to transform the word to 'Teanami'

  • Translation: Every single Tea Party candidate floats to the surface and gains elected office


  • Built on the Old Norse words for stream and mill, maelstrom combines the destructive notion of water and the powerful grinding action of a mill
  • Mael is also a character out of Ann Rice's Vampire Chronicles
  • And Strom, of course, reminds us of the fabled segregationist Senator and Presidential Candidate from South Carolina
  • The OED defines maelstrom as a powerful whirlpool which sucks in and destroys all vessels within a wide radius

  • Translation: Republicans gain the House, the Senate and a hefty share of gubernatorial offices- standing ready to suck in and grind to pieces all vestiges of the current progressive agenda.

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Posted by Diane Prange at 3:59 PM

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Four Loko's Naming and Branding Just Plain Loco

The Halloween hangover has brought focus upon something called "liquid cocaine" and "blackout in the can."
I am talking about a drink called Four Loko which is swiftly becoming one of the nastiest drinks of a fairly nasty lot. This is a combo of caffeine, sugar and alcohol that seems to be sending college students to the hospital at an alarming rate.

There is even a movement to have the FDA take a look at the stuff. Students at Skidmore College in upstate New York were recently admitted to the hospital after drinking too many of these.

The problem is that the sugar and caffeine helps hide the alcohol in the drink, making it easier to down three or four of these before the effects kick in. The drink is being banned on many college campuses as a matter of public safety.

The name comes from its four main ingredients: alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana. One can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as a six pack of light beer and as much caffeine as two cups of coffee.

This is obviously the kind of drink that attracts the attention of younger drinkers and this is where the danger lies. I think that it is obvious to anyone looking at the design on the can, and the way this stuff is marketed, that what we have here is a product that is aimed specifically at underage drinkers.

It also seems to taste awful. One blogger quotes a Four Loko drinker as saying it tastes like "Thor's piss after the Norse god has just chugged some Dimetapp." The same blogger points out that the can and the drink are both ugly; the taste is bad and the caffeine makes it almost poison.

I think that the argument that caffeine drinks like Red Bull have been mixed with alcohol for some time, in this case, does not hold water.

This is a drink that looks just like a non-alcoholic beverage. It also looks like something a kid on a skateboard would buy, not something you would consume over the age of 21.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:37 AM

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Renaming a Company? 9 Principles for Company Name Changes

Ever heard of Datsun or Lucky Goldstar? How about the company previously known as BackRub?

datsun-nissan.gifWhile one or two of the company names above might just sound familiar, I would bet you've heard of Nissan, LG and Google.

Yep, the first three somewhat nebulous names listed were once the company names for the second three listed, respectively of course.

Now there are many reasons why a company changes their name, but some of the most frequent are:

  1. Recombination - A merger or acquisition often creates the motivation for a new company name.
  2. Expansion - Extending product lines or entering the global market can cause a company to outgrow its original name.
  3. Spectacular Success - Sometimes a company offers one brand that is such a winner that it takes over the entire focus of the company - including its name.
  4. Revolution - Some companies will decide on a completely new business direction. Changing their name becomes a necessary part of the process.

The question then becomes, how do you go from Recombination or Expansion to the success of Nissan, LG or Google.

Well, we've developed a list of 9 Principles for Company Name Changes that is designed to you get you there.

For one, you have to come to the conclusion that naming is emotional and sensitivity is vital. When moving away from one name to another you can expect people to be emotionally attached to the company's existing name and heritage. The important thing is to remember why the name change is on the docket and know that it will be a lot easier to let the old name go once everyone has something to go to.

Another one of our 9 Principles for Company Name Changes is to be persistent. We've all heard or thought of clever names that we think would be absolutely perfect for a specific product or company, but the unfortunate truth is that someone has probably already thought of your first, second and even third idea. Don't give up.

And when you're coming up with more and more ideas, be careful to think about compatibility. Farwinkle may sound cool, but does it have anything to do with what your company is, what it's going to be or who your target market is evolving into? Think both creatively and strategically and be prepared to explain the how and the why.

The truth is that there is no easy way to find a new company name that is trademarkable, available as a '.com' domain name and fits the future of your company. But, by setting the right guidelines and shooting for the right goals from the start, you can find a memorable, ownable and marketable new company name.

If you are interested in learning more, please go to our full list of 9 Principles for Company Name Changes here.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:10 AM

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November 1, 2010

Names matter. Names really matter. Even Saddam Hussein.

Just ask Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein.pngNot the notorious Saddam Hussein who was the president of Iraq, but the hundreds, if not thousands of Saddam Hussein namesakes in Iraq.


In the Arab world, a name is often a word that has another meaning, like Falcon or Gazelle or a certain type of flower. In Iraq, a few generations ago, a man might be named Flood on a day that the banks of the Tigris River had burst. His son might have been named after a certain dictator.

To reiterate, names do matter. They often communicate relevant information about a product, service, or company.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:15 AM

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Holiday Inn and Palm Refresh and Reintroduce Naming and Branding

Some classic brand names have been revamped.

The new Holiday Inn redesign is an honest effort to refresh what one writer calls a "tired brand."

Holiday Inn_Logo.pngBy the end of this year, franchisees who did not buy into the massive overhaul that Holiday Inn announced in October 2007 will no longer be able to call themselves Holiday Inn.

The new, more contemporary logo, which will find its way on to signage and marketing materials, is an obvious attempt to make Holiday Inn more modern and relevant.

Even Holiday Inn admits that they have been lax. Said one exec, "We just hadn't kept up with the brand. We hadn't made it contemporary."

They also will be creating "social hubs" in their bars to make them more lively. It seems that according to extensive research, Holiday Inn people are "social animals" and want to meet other guests in a convivial atmosphere.

They have updated and upgraded the rooms and bathrooms as well, hoping to lure in business travelers who are trying to economize during the recession. This may work.

HP Palm_Logo.pngAs if this news isn't enough, it looks like Palm will be back - with the HP logo endorsing it. This hybrid logo is good news for those of us who fondly recall the Palm and have been following its convoluted naming history.

HP bought Palm earlier this year for $1.2 billion and now it seems some nifty new products are on the way.

There is still a weird kind of mystique about the Palm name and I hope that HP has plans to exploit it.

Surely this hugely expensive and lucrative name could be re-introduced to the market in a more savvy fashion? HP has done some really interesting things with much less on the line.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:04 AM

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