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April 29, 2011

Apple Naming Takes to the Sky with the iCloud Brand Name

icloud-logo.gifYesterday the rumor spread across the Internet that Apple had bought the domain name from Swedish company Xcerion for $4.5 million, something that TechCrunch previously reported as "certainly a possibility."

It was at least clear that iCloud had changed their name to CloudMe, but their reasons were nebulous to say the least. In fact, they told TechCrunch that the name change was "to better reflect our new focus on files and storage."

However, everyone assumed that if Apple wanted to get into cloud computing (a term that I have examined at some length), they would want the iCloud brand name.

Om Malik was the one who started the rumor mill churning on The Apple Blog, in an April 27 post that said he had a tip-off indicating that Apple had the name so they could change it from a storage-as-a-cloud service to a music service. This morning the rumors were confirmed on AppleInsider, although the $4.5 million purchase price remains "uncomfirmed."

I wouldn't be surprised if iCloud became an expanded, free version of the MobileMe offering for Apple users. It is not the most original brand name, but for Apple, it certainly is the most logical.

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April 28, 2011

Strategic Name Development Offers $2,500 Scholarship

Students.jpgStrategic Name Development is proud to announce we are once again offering a $2,500 naming scholarship for undergraduate college students majoring in Linguistics, English, Marketing or Mass Communications.

This unique scholarship was designed to provide those students interested in naming and branding with a rewarding opportunity to display their creative work.

Students interested are asked to develop five (5) new name candidates for an electric car innovation and write a 1,000 word essay supporting each of the name submissions.

We will award the student that submits the most creative and appropriate names a $2,500 scholarship for the fall 2011 semester.

We encourage any interested students to submit their essay by midnight EDT on August 15th, 2011.

More details can be found here.

We are excited to review the great name candidate submissions!

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"Thugs and Wackos" to Face New Naming of Raiders Stadium

OaklandStadium.pngYahoo! really says it best today: "The Oakland Raiders get a new, ridiculous stadium name."

The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority is going to rename the Raiders/Oakland A's stadium " Stadium" in a six year, $7.2 million deal. The stadium has formally been known as the Network Associates Coliseum and the McAfee Coliseum. is, ironically, in the process of renaming itself, so the final name may be stadium, leading Yahoo! writer Chris Chase to say the change will "inevitably lead to fledgling "SportsCenter" anchors saying stuff like 'Darren McFadden is making his O face.'"

The deal has paying $1.2 million annually for naming rights with half the money going to the Raiders and the other half being spilt between the city of Oakland and Alameda County.

Oakland city councilman Ignacio de la Fuente says the city and county are looking forward to the money as both have "budget shortfalls."

The name kicks into gear on Friday night when the A's play American League champions, the Texas Rangers.

The Huffington Post notes that there is "irony" here as the Raiders and the A's both had dismal attendance records last year, therefore wondering if the extra tickets will wind up on president Jonathan Johnson suggests we "Think of it as the three O's: Oakland, Oracle Arena and now Coliseum."

TheBlackHole;OaklandStadium.pngThe good news is that the infamous "Black Hole" within the stadium (Sections 104, 105, 106, and 107), where the rowdiest Raiders fans are to be found, has not been renamed, and it is doubtful it ever will be.

This would be because it is very hard to rename a place frequented by the likes of Darth Vader, King Kong and other members of the "Raider Nation," a group of hardcore fans that writer Hunter S. Thompson (himself a Raiders fan) dubbed "the sleaziest and rudest and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled."

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April 27, 2011

Condom Product Naming and Branding Faces Stiff Competition

The world of condom product naming and branding is highly competitive, as two developing news pieces point out. The battle between Meyer Laboratories (who owns the ultra-thin Kimono brand) and Church & Dwight (who owns Trojan) has escalated over the latter's use of "planograms."

Trojan has used these plans to entice retailers to promote Trojan condom displays over other brands in exchange for kickbacks on condom sales.

condom-shelves.jpgNot surprisingly, this has evolved into a legal issue, with Meyer labs arguing that this practice is anti-competitive (Trojan has grown from 64% of the market in 2001 to 75% in 2008). Meanwhile, Trojan's main competitor, Lifestyles, has deflated from 13% to 7.7% over the same period.

The lesson here, of course, is if customers can't see your brand name, they won't buy it. In an effort to fight back, Meyer filed 12 counter-claims against Trojan in 2009, "including violations of the Sherman Act, California professional and business codes, violations of California laws on exclusive dealing and secret rebates, tortious interference, unfair competition and trademark violations."

Meanwhile, Durex has plans for a new condom from Futura Medical that actually has a vascodilator (think Viagra) coating to help men who deflate while putting on condoms.

CSD500 is the current product name, but medGadget "imagine[s] that Durex, the manufacturing and distributing partner, will have a spicier nom de guerre when it goes on sale."

The magic ingredient is called Zanifil and is already being called "Viagra for condoms." Scheduled to be available in Europe with a new name by the end of the year, many believe that this will help "normalize" condoms and further promote safe sex.

Although, I doubt it will need its own display, since innovative products like this usually tend to sell themselves until the competitors create a copycat.

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April 26, 2011

How Product Naming and Branding Makes Dieters Fat

ChipsSmoothieFlavoredWater.pngA new study indicates that a name change for a food product may actually change our perception of its health benefits.

A piece in the The Journal of Consumer Research shows that consumers looking to make "healthy" choices can be easily misled into making unhealthy choices by focusing on the wrong names for foods.

Apples, for instance, are seen as more healthy than cupcakes. But what happens when we start calling milkshakes "smoothies?" Or potato chips turn into "veggie chips?" Or sugary drinks get called "flavored water?"

The study presented subjects with a "pre-prepared mixture of vegetables, pasta, salami, and cheese, served on a bed of romaine lettuce." When the dish was labeled "pasta" it was rated as being less healthy than when it was called a "salad." Dieters also choose candies that were called "fruit chews" over those called "candy chews" - and ate more of them.

The bottom line is that dieters try to avoid unhealthy foods rather than seek out healthy ones. They are "more sensitive to certain taboo food names - like pasta, ice cream, potato chips and candy - than people who aren't constantly watching their weight" and can actually wind up eating more junk food than those who don't have this bias.

Dieters focus on the name of the product they are eating over the ingredients, and this means that it is easy to deceive them. As one blogger points out, "The joke may be on us."

But of course, marketers know this. Organic food, for example, is often considered healthier than its non-organic counterpart - even when it's not.

The magic word "organic," which I have written about before is meaningless, benefits from the "halo-effect" that enables sub-par foods to be considered healthier than they really are.

This effect is best seen, as Walletpop points out, when we see a person wearing a pocket protector and glasses and assume he is intelligent, or judge a blonde person as having a "joie d' vivre."

Smoothies and salads are almost always seen as being better for you than chips and pasta... even when they are not. Changing the name on products that get the "horned effect" (my term) may actually increase sales among the very people who call themselves dieters.

I'm going to go have some cookies now... I mean organic oat cakes. :)

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April 25, 2011

Restaurant Naming and Branding Moves Away from the Sign Over the Door to Google

MichaelJordanOneSixtyBlue.pngYahoo! has an article regarding the top ten athlete-owned restaurants, noting that "the reality is that while a ballplayer's endorsement might bring you in the door, many of these restaurants don't have winning dishes." 

This is an interesting article, but what caught my eye was the comment at the end that says that many athlete-owned restaurants do not actually use the athlete's name. "Michael Jordan's first restaurant in Chicago, named after him, went belly-up. However, his second Windy City attempt, one sixtyblue, is buzzing. Go figure."

I think this may be because customers are better educated than ever before about the places they go to eat, and the leverage of a big name does not need to be blatant to be authentic. 

In fact, we might rather go to a restaurant that uses the athlete's name in a more low-key way.

Witness the rise of "celebrity-chef culture." Here, the person in the kitchen is drawing in the patrons.  The growth rate of this type of restaurant is phenomenal.

GordonRamsayRestaurant.pngThe UK sees celebrity chef naming (think Gordon Ramsay) as one of its biggest exports.

Also, look at the fact that celebrities who happen to own restaurants add an allure that is once removed from the restaurant itself.

I attribute this to Google and smartphones.  When people look for interesting places to eat, consumers are going to gravitate to places owned by celebs or chefs that have (an easily Googled) notoriety. 

The real sign for the restaurant is not over the door, it's in that phone that tells you at a glance who the popular owner or chef is. A glance at a smartphone shows you not only how many stars the joint has, but who owns it and who cooks the food.

Being able to leverage that is a meaningful advantage and obviously crucial.

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April 22, 2011

Happy Easter from Strategic Name Development

EasterEggs.pngNo matter how long your winter, spring has sprung and its time to start looking for those eggs!

We at Strategic Name Development hope you are able to enjoy some time this Easter Weekend with your friends and family.

Happy Easter from Strategic Name Development!

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Kate Moss Flaunts Addict Naming and Branding

DiorAddictLipstick.pngSo it is not exactly news that Kate Moss is the face of Dior's new "Addict" lipstick.

The news and the initial 30 second ad have been out for well over a month, but the short film is now out in all its decadent glory... as well as the lipsticks themselves.

The short film was created by Jonas Ackerlund (who did Lady Gaga's Paparazzi and Telephone videos) and runs with the voice over, "A girl can't make an entrance without her lipstick." The tagline? "Be iconic."

As one blogger says, the "Fashion Sphinx" speaks both these lines in a voice that is almost startlingly smooth and sexy.

Do we have a problem with a lipstick called "addict" being sold by a substance abuser? There is irony here, of course, that will be lost on no one.

The film is classic model glam, which could be seen as glamorizing the already glamorized world of drugs and fashion - the hotel room looks looks post launch party messy with Kate herself looking incredibly beautiful wearing Dior Addict Lipstick shade No. 578 "Dior Kiss," as she is whisked through Paris in a Rolls-Royce.

People may not approve of this whole naming and branding scheme but it is hard to take your eyes away from the screen. It's just brilliant.

What's not so brilliant? Kate's inadvertent connection with a website that is selling baby clothes that bear her famous credo, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

She reportedly is not behind it, and the website does not credit her with saying it on the shirts (She did, innocently, to Women's Wear Daily), but the association is still there.

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April 20, 2011

Toshiba, LG On Collision Course Over Thrive Product Naming?

toshiba-tablet.pngSo it looks as if the new Toshiba Honeycomb tablet is going to be called the Thrive.

It is currently referred to by its code name ANT, but it has been revealed that Toshiba recently applied for the Thrive trademark in the US.

This will pit the Thrive against the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom.

An assortment of URLs have also been registered including,, and

It is rumored that the tablet will be an Android 3.0 Honeycomb-powered tablet that was refereed to as the "Antares" at the Mobile World Congress back in February.

According to Inquisitr, it will boast "a 10.1 inch display with 1280 x 600 pixels of resolution with 720p upscaling, a two-megapixel front-facing camera and a primary camera with five-megapixels."

The device will retail at about $450, but there is no word yet on its US release.

Toshiba has been very coy about this of course, calling it at first "The unnamed Toshiba tablet." They even registered the URL called

Interestingly, Android Police points out that the LG Thrive smartphone was just announced a few days ago.

The LG Thrive is a Froyo-based smartphone that started shipping on Friday.

It will be interesting to see if LG can fend of Toshiba since the former apparently did not submit a trademark application, and Toshiba did on April 7th.

There is no word yet from either company if this is going to become a problem. But watch this space.

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April 18, 2011

How Much Would Your Town Charge to Change Its Name?

pom-movie-poster.gifThe small town of Altoona, PA will become "POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," but just for two months.

This odd and extremely lengthly renaming was inspired by Morgan Spurlock's new film of the same name, which is about (and funded by) product placement, hence the clever stunt.

And it only cost him a mere $25,000 to get the town of 50,000 people to change its name for 60 days, starting April 27. The money, according to Mayor William Schirf, will go to fund the police department.

The Sheetz convenience store, which is also based in Altoona, is one of the movie's major sponsors, offering up $100,000 for prime placement in the film.

Said Spurlock in a recent press release:

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the shifting tide of business in America than by purchasing the naming rights to Altoona. For the next 60 days, "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," Pennsylvania will be the most clever example of how an American city is marketing itself today.

Of course. renaming towns to make money is nothing new.

Back in 2005, I wrote about a deal from Colorado's EchoStar Communications Corporation that offered any town ten years of free satellite TV if it renamed itself DISH. The offer was taken up by Clarke, Texas.

Santa, Idaho changed its name to for a year for $20,000.

And last year Topeka, Kansas changed its name to "Google" for the month of March in order to attract ultra-fast broadband. The following April Fools' Day, Google changed its name to Topeka.

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April 15, 2011

Grey Goose Inventors Skate Close to the Edge of Vodka Product Naming

AmericanHarvestOrganicSpirit.pngVodka lovers can rejoice today.

Sydney Frank Importing - who brought us one of the most exclusive vodkas ever, Grey Goose - is now offering us a new concoction called
American Harvest Organic Spirit.

This is, on the face of it, an American vodka. Or should I say an American made "organic spirit" that tastes just like really good citrus-y vodka?

Why not just call it vodka, you ask?

The problem is that the company sold Grey Goose for a cool $2.2 billion to Bacardi in 2004 with the agreement they would stay out of the vodka business. But the "organic spirit" business was never mentioned, so here we are.

I was interested to see just how much work went into the naming and branding of Grey Goose: Sydney Frank had named it and gave it a country of origin (France) before making a single drop.

The new "organic spirit" comes in at $23.99 a bottle (cheaper than $30+ for Grey Goose) and they cheerily inform us how its made in Rigby, Idaho using water "distilled from aquifers deep beneath the Snake River plain."

This is a top end liquor for the frugal patriot. And it leverages the fact that it is "organic," a magic but possibly meaningless word in the world of naming and branding.

It even has a Coca-Cola-esque secret formula, or what the company calls "a proprietary blend of organic ingredients."

It's not vodka, they assure us (and maybe Bacardi's lawyers), but a "revolutionary look at the vodka category."

Sydney Frank Importing seems to be skating very close to the edge. Can they really create a new drink category? Will we actually order a martini made out of "organic spirit?" Hmm. Watch this space.

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April 14, 2011

Coach Wallops Jo-Ann For Branding Faux Pas

CoachvsJoAnne.pngCoach has sued Jo-Ann Fabrics over one of its Blizzard Fleece designs. Apparently, the elongated Os in the latter are too close to the well known Coach Cs, which form a valuable part of the company's brand name identity.

Coach claims that this has caused "consumer confusion."

According to Women's Wear Daily, "The complaint [also] charges the defendants with trade dress and copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting, false designation of origin, false advertising and trademark dilution." Ouch.

For the most part, the blogosphere does not seem to be impressed with Coach's actions, with one blogger writing, "Perso, we think if someone wants to walk around in a hand-made, head-to-toe, fleece ensemble (please remember, we're talking about the warmest fabric ever) vaguely resembling a brand last relevant in 2000, Coach should let him or her do so."

Coach, who deals with counterfeiters all the time, seems pretty fired up over this. They are seeking more than $2 Million "per counterfeit mark, per type of counterfeit good, punitive damages, attorneys fees and other costs."

Wasserman's Civil Procedure Blog is on the fence about whether a likelihood of confusion could be proved, but does think that the damages Coach is seeking is "excessive."

Other bloggers point out that Jo-Anne is the home of the crafter, "So any moms scheming to whip up a nice fleecey Halloween costume out of Coachish-looking fabric for their kids this year, consider yourselves warned." The point being, people who shop for Coach usually are not going to Jo-Ann's, so the customer confusion should be minimal.

On the other hand, Fasion etc points out that it "Looks like the 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' excuse isn't cutting it anymore."

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April 13, 2011

Apple Tops In Tech Naming and Branding? Not really.

MobilesBrands.pngI was fascinated to read that Apple might not be the top tech brand, according to the Harris Poll EquiTrend study.

Consumers picked Verizon as the top mobile carrier brand and Motorola was the top mobile phone brand. Yes, that's right, Motorola. Apple placed fifth behind HTC, SonyEricsson and Nokia.

I have to say this is surprising. As one Harris executive pointed out, "Apple may have the market cornered on technology enthusiasts, but Motorola satisfies a much wider audience... There is still a large audience of consumers that aren't interested in a smartphone running their life, and Apple doesn't have a product to meet that need."

Touche. Apple also didn't make the top ranking for personal computers - HP took that honor with Apple coming in as a close second. Sony was tops in consumer electronics, where Apple wasn't even ranked (odd).

According to the company's press release material:

This year's Harris Poll EquiTrend® study was conducted online among 25,099 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over between January 11 and 27, 2011. A total of 1,273 brands were rated in 53 separate categories. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings.

The results were deemed to be representative of the entire US population over the age of 15.

Does this mean that Apple is losing its touch? Doubtful.

The company still demands massive brand loyalty, but other brand names are snapping at its heels.

I find the research results questionable.

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April 11, 2011

Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos Not So Loco

TacoBellDoritosTacos.pngThe blogosphere's reaction to Taco Bell's new Doritos Locos Tacos - that the name sounds like it was dreamt up by "creative stoners" - has me smiling this morning.

There is general support today for this marrying of two big brand names. Doritos Locos Tacos allows you to get your "crunchy taco shell in a Doritos Nacho Cheese chip-shell form" and leverages the kind of branding synergy that one wonders why it has not occurred to anyone before.

On the other hand, some readers at Grub Grade are saying it sounds a little too gross for their taste, while one reader comments that "Taco Smell has crossed the line and gone too far with this one. The only thing worse would be nacho cheese Dorito shell with their Pacific shrimp nestled in there. Sprinkled with toe clippings."

Another blogger writes, in a more restrained posting, "This takes Taco Bell even further away from actual Mexican food."

Purists argue that the hard shell tacos violate the essence of tacos, and that Doritos Locos Tacos gets the Spanish wrong to boot.

Do we really see Taco Bell as the home of authentic Mexican cuisine? I am pretty sure that KFC is serving chicken that is unlike that of the chicken they serve in the backwoods of Kentucky and pizza and espresso have both strayed far, far away from their Italian roots via Starbucks and Pizza Hut.

This is about creating brand resonance in an established sphere. This is just good branding.

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April 8, 2011

Banane Bag Parody's Hermes Product Naming


Sometimes flagrant trademark infringement is just plain funny.

Take the Banane Taipei canvas tote, for instance that you can buy in Taiwan. Here is a tote bag that has luxury good giant Hermes up in arms.

Not only is Banane parodying its logo, it is making a canvas version of one of Hermes' best known products: the Birkin bag, favored by the rich and famous and every woman's dream according to one blogger.

The Banane logo, which has what looks like a deer or moose pulling a cart that looks like a banana on wheels, is an obvious nod to the unmistakable Hermes logo while the bag itself is pretty much an irreverent knock off.

One owner says it is "too cute to resist" and says that the bag is an "original concept" that is legal because, of course, people make posters of the Mona Lisa (this is some very lateral thinking about trademark law, let me tell you).

The Banane bag actually comes with a photo of the Birkin on it, which must be something of a nightmare for Hermes. The company argues that the image on the bag is not actually the Birkin, but a "local creation."

Hermes feels that their trademark and copyright are being violated as the Banane bag "imitates the Birkin bag's trapezoid shape, orange color and horse cart logo."

Banane retorts that "We have our own trademark that bears a banana to symbolize the spirit of Taiwan...Our tote is made of eco-friendly material and sold at an affordable price for everyone. We can hardly think that any consumer would mistake our tote for a Birkin bag" and just announced the launch of four new colors. You have to love the chutzpah.

I have no idea how this might turn out, but if Banane loses the fight it could prove rather expensive. They are being treated as counterfeiters, which is not really true. But the similarities between these products are are quite notable, even if the Banane bag is "eco-friendly."

In any event, this product is such a flagrant copy of the Birkin bag that it is hard to imagine that somebody hasn't looked into if there is a legal leg to stand on - at least in Taiwan.

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April 7, 2011

Australia Bans Product Naming and Branding on Cigarette Packs

Non-BrandedCigarettes.pngI'm pretty impressed to see Australia implement some really tough new cigarette packaging rules.

I had a feeling that this initiative was on the way since shops in Australia were already prohibited from displaying cigarette packs, but what Australia has now imposed is quite amazing.

Australia has decided that all cigarette packs will be colored olive green, and plastered with dire health warnings and images. More than that, all logos will be removed and the typography of the brand names will be made absolutely uniform.

The olive green color was chosen because research results showed that it is the least attractive color for smokers. The graphic health warnings and images will consist of "black, diseased gums, blinded eyes and children in hospital" which will cover 75% of the packaging surface.

New Zealand is likely to follow suit despite the fact that British American Tobacco Australia has already argued that these laws would constitute Trademark and international property infringement. We can expect Canada and Great Britain to give this serious thought as well.

One thing is for sure - a huge legal battle is in the making. Tobacco companies feel that this is
anti-competitive and the governments may be on shaky legal ground.

The Australian law is proposed to take effect in six months and is proof positive that product naming and branding and especially packaging have a major influence on consumers. Why else would the tobacco companies be prepared for such a massive legal battle?

Phillip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco Australia have all criticized the Australian announcement and are planning to "robustly challenge" the mandate.

Plain packaging, it is felt, will fuel the trade in counterfeit cigarettes and trash hundreds of millions of dollars of intellectual property.

Nonetheless, the move is said to most likely reduce smoking in Australia by 10% in less than 10 years. Currently, there are about 15,000 Australians who die every year because of tobacco related illnesses.

The tobacco companies point out that the same kind of severe legislation would never be imposed against our soda or fast food brands.

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April 6, 2011

Naming and Branding Lessons from Bieber and Trump

TrumpVodkaandHomeCollection.pngAn interesting article today by Denise Lee Yohn at Business Insider gives us branding and naming insights from none other than Justin Bieber and Donald Trump.

I have written about The Donald before, and I have to put his brand down as one that I love to hate. The man has his own vodka, for instance. And he has his own home collection - this from a person who is better known for hotels.

The Trump name is extremely recognizable now, and not as some kind of relic from the 80s. Trump has used his name in what Yohn calls an "exploitation" of his brand. He is essentially trying to get as much mileage off his celebrity as he can and moving in any direction to do so.

His one requirement is that whatever his name rests upon, it must be of the highest quality.

He has done such a good job that some say we may actually see Donald Trump as President.

His branding is what most would call, in-your-face, but it works.

JustinBeiberNailPolish.pngJustin Bieber, on the other hand, according to Yohn, is using his brand as an expression of himself. He focuses on partnering with other companies and offering things that he thinks his fans will like.

He doesn't build the brand around himself, like Trump does, but instead thinks of the people that listen to his music, and the products that they might like.

The case in point here is one of the great jokes of marketing - Justin Bieber's nail polish. You may laugh, but it has sold over one million bottles. It is hard to think of a male who could sell women (ok, girls) more nail polish outside of somebody in the fashion world.

This is a person who has carefully thought out the needs of his listeners and built an identity around it that transfers to numerous products.

There is certainly a message here worth noting.

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April 5, 2011

NYSE Naming Has People Working on Both Sides of the Atlantic

NYSEDBGroup.pngNYSE Eronext and Deutsche Börse AG are still struggling with what to name the "6,500-employee, $5.4 billion-revenue trans-Atlantic combination."

According to the Wall Street Journal, a committee of marketers and legal specialists will be looking at over 1000 names that have been crowdsourced.

The new name will have to satisfy New Yorkers, New York politicians, and regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. With that, there has already been a big push to have the name start with "NY" or "New York."

While Europeans would own the majority share of the company, the German CEO of the combined company is under pressure to give it a German sounding name, although he has already joked that "Oktoberfest" and "The Bog Borse" are out.

Many feel a "neutral name that doesn't scream apple pie or lederhosen" would be the best route. Thus, Global Exchange Inc. was suggested (but is taken already by a human rights group).

Also favored are NYSE DB or NYSE Deutsche Börse. Others want "The Exchange" or even "Thunderbird," which has references for both Germany and the USA.

Earlier blogs on the subject suggested that the name NYSE might get the heave-ho but these new developments make me think that it will stay.

There is simply too much equity in the name. My first thought is that NYSE DB looks pretty good, not least because most people will just call it the NYSE.

On April Fools' Day, of course, a proposed merger between Nasdaq and the NYSE birthed the name NASDAQ NYSE Euronext Group Inc. Frankly, that name is just a mouthful.

Should the Nasdaq bid be successful, however, all bets are off and this new name - or one like it - may prevail.

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April 4, 2011

Jay-Z in Another Product Naming Dilemma

I have written about Jay-Z before, most notably about his dissing Cristal champagne in favor of "Ace of Spades" Armand de Brignac."

I now note that his music publishing company, Roc Nation, is getting hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit because its logo looks too much like that of Volcom, a California clothing company.

VolcomRocNation.jpgVolcom notes that the Roc Nation diamond shaped logo looks too much like their "stone" which has been trademarked since 1991. Volcom claims to have spent north of $100 million in promoting the logo and takes exception to Jay-Z's ignoring their 2009 complaint.

The recent lawsuit was filed on March 31st and states "While Roc Nation appears to have initially used the diamond only in combination with the words 'Roc Nation' it is now using the diamond logo on its own, causing a likelihood of confusion among consumers."

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Volcom is a "streetwear" brand that sells it products in similar outlets to where we might find Jay-Z's offerings.

We do not know what monetary charges Volcom is seeking from Roc Nation, the label of Jay-Z, J. Cole and Willow Smith, but we do know that Jay-Z is being sued for "trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, unfair competition and other charges."

Jay-Z is also facing problems with the NBA for getting too friendly with some Kentucky Wildcats players. After a recent game he joined in a party despite the fact that as part owner of the Nets he is not allowed to chill with players who are not yet draft-eligible.

That logo looks incredibly similar to Volcom's, and unless he at least acknowledges the Volcom complaint, he might find himself in a sticky lawsuit.

The problem is that Roc Nation is starting to use the logo by itself on numerous items, and this is where a lawsuit could find real traction against Jay-Z.

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Posted by William Lozito at 11:30 AM

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April 1, 2011

A Canadian Tech School Learns That Apple Protects Its Branding

VSBTvsApple.pngA Canadian business school has finally buried the hatchet with Apple over its similar logo.

Apple and the Victoria School of Business and Technology have been at odds since 2008 over the business school's logo, which Cupertino feels is too similar to theirs.

One argument in favor of the school was that apple's have "always been a symbol of education." Nonetheless, Apple sent a letter on August 26th, 2008 to the school saying:

Your business logo... reproduces, without authority, our client's Apple design logo which it widely used. By doing so, you are infringing Apple's rights, and further, falsely suggesting that Apple has authorized your activities.

To which the school replied:

Our logo is unique and distinguishable in numerous aspects from the Apple logo including the acronym 'VSBT' being part of our logo. Are you suggesting that anyone using any variation of an apple for technology education is infringing on Apple's trademark?

This letter represented the disgust of many Canadians, who felt Apple was taking things a bit too far.

One of the more cautious criticisms came out on NetHackz, who said " It seems like Apple is getting a little too insecure about their logo cause it doesn't really seem like the School's logo is violating Apple's trademark logo in anyway."

Gizmodo, in its usual style, was a bit harsher: "Are students showing up at Apple stores demanding that the so-called "Genius Bar" reconsider their essays marks?"

I would say, however, that the school's design does seem to be based upon the Apple logo, in a case of "same but different."

This is not the case of Apple claiming that any apple logo is theirs, its a case of Apple simply gunning down any logo that looks like theirs. The designers of that logo should have known better.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:54 AM

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