May 31, 2011
The debate continues today about whether or not is is a good thing if your brand name is used as a verb.
Duncan Stewart at The Globe and Mail says that "We've known for years that when a specific consumer brand name becomes the generic equivalent for the entire category (Kleenex, Xerox, Aspirin) that it was worth a lot of money. Products so honoured sell for premium prices and generate premium margins."
He contends that the fact Skype is used as a verb by millions of people (as in "Skype me"), the company was sold for $8.5 billion despite running at a loss with revenues of only $860 milion.
I have slowly come around to the idea that getting your trademark verbed is a good thing, not least because "verbing delights our brains."
We know that companies try hard to prevent it from happening. In 2006, I wrote that "if your product does something new and not easily described, like TiVo or Skype, you can pretty much count on getting verbified."
Stewart's point is that consumers choose what gets verbed, and the brand name that gets verbed often gets absorbed into industry use. A brand name has been truly verbed if we stop using capitals in its verb form. Think about how we "fedex" something rather than "Fedex" it or "facebook" rather than "Facebook" each other.
Skype, I would say, has not been de-capitalized in its verb form, but its just a matter of time.
A good article on Brand Matters notes that when Microsoft gave the world "Bing," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said the name could potentially "verb up." This, he thought, would be a good thing.
The article then goes on to show us how to prevent a verbed brand from being a generic one:
1. Make clear to consumers that the action suggested by the brandverb (eg "Googling") cannot be made without using the branded product or service (eg Google).
2. Build the verbed brand into taglines, slogans, and/or logos to reinforce the above point (eg "Googling is Impossible Without Google")
3. Register the form of the brand name being used as a brandverb.
4. Incorporate appropriate usage into brand guidelines.
May 27, 2011
It's time for summer fun, sun and hot dog buns and thankfully we have Memorial Day to kick it off right every year!
We can't wait to fire up the grill and unplug for just a little while, but please don't forget to raise a glass and salute the men and women of our armed forces who make it all possible.
Our best wishes and sincerest thanks to all the U.S. military personnel currently serving as well as all those who have bravely stood in harm's way to protect our freedom and way of life!
Happy Memorial Day everyone, from the entire crew at Strategic Name Development!
May 25, 2011
The federal lawsuit that The Hershey Co. filed last year, contended that the new packaging color for Mars' line of Dove peanut butter chocolate candies was too similar to its famous Reese's Peanut Butter Cups orange packaging design.
Mars originally argued that orange has become the color used "industry wide" to designate peanut butter flavors.
Both companies are now keeping mum on why the case was dropped.
The Hershey Co. has always closely guarded everything associated with the Reese's brand. Just two weeks ago they sued Mark Reese, a Lancaster sheriff candidate, for creating signs that looked too similar to the typography on the Reese's packaging, with a company spokesman primly saying "We believe this is an unauthorized use of our trademark... The Hershey Company does not endorse political candidates."
Still, this attack on Mars has been seen as another part of enmity surrounding the two companies.
A quick glance at the different packagings (pictured above) do not seem thatsimilar.
Interestingly, the newer Reese's Select products (pictured at right), look more similar to the Mars offering.
Ken Odza, at the Food Liability Law Blog , says that
These lawsuits bring up a couple of important points. First, color alone can be a trademark. Therefore, designers and marketers should be careful not to tread on any well-known colors used by competitors. Second, companies should consider developing trademark or trade dress rights in colors that are important components of the brand. A manufacturer can add a powerful element to its overall brand identity and trademark rights by selecting a unique shade of color and sticking with it over time.
True, but it seems that The Hershey Co., the nation's largest marker of chocolate candies, is going to allow Mars, the second largest, to move forward with the Dove packaging color.
May 24, 2011
No matter how wonderful your brand name is, it is pretty useless if people cannot remember it. This is why people in our industry are so interested in the study of memory.
Now, new research tells us that vivid ads can create false memories.
"Exposing consumers to imagery-evoking advertising increases the likelihood that a consumer mistakenly believes he/she has experienced the advertised product, and subsequently produces attitudes that are as strong as attitudes based on genuine product experience," say two authors of a new research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The research shows us that people who see vivid ads coupled with an experience with the product (in this case popcorn), felt sure they had tried the brand described even if they had not. The more vivid and suggestive the ad, the more confident participants were that they had tried the brand.
The caveat is that the "false memories" dissipated when the time between viewing the ad and reporting evaluations was shortened. But the authors are adamant that high-imagery ads prompt us to not only think we have seen the brand name, but to believe we had tried it.
In 2006, a writer in New Scientist magazine predicted that in the next 50 years we would "further master the ability to create false memories." It sounds rather dystopian, but then again, it must be that brand name recall would best be heightened if we could get consumers to truly believe they had experienced a product in the past, and that it was already part of their personal narrative.
There have been journal articles that have already indicated that some media is easier for people to remember than others depending on the message.
This is not exactly new territory. In 2002 an article was published in Psychology and Marketing entitled "Make My Memory: How Advertising Can Change Our Memories of the Past." Here, consumers were shown ads that suggested they had shaken hands with Mickey Mouse as a child. These ads actually increased people's confidence that they had met Mickey at a Disney resort, and stayed effective even when people were shown ads of "impossible characters" at Disney resorts like Bugs Bunny.
The key here was "autobiographical referencing," where ads are made to cause consumers to see themselves "in an imagined event."
Kevin Lane Keller, a virtual guru in the world of branding, published an article back in 1989 that demonstrated how images are easier for us to remember than words when it comes to brand name retention.
This new research shifts things slightly, suggesting that truly vivid ads can do the trick as well... and faster.
May 23, 2011
Sometimes, product naming gives me a headache.
Take, for example, the news that Bayer Aspirin is giving us a faster-acting aspirin in hopes of taking back lost sales in the over-the-counter pain-reliever sector, and attracting younger buyers.
The Washington Post solemnly informs us that "expanding the demographic of users is key to budging Bayer's 14.6 percent market share" and consumers' number one complaint is that the stuff just does not work fast enough.
How fast is fast? Well, the average dose of regular Bayer Aspirin starts working in 100 minutes and the new formulation, called Bayer Advanced Aspirin, starts working in just 16 minutes.
Never mind that the real culprit as far as lagging sales are concerned, seems to be the rise in generics (Aspirin is a double generic: you can sell it under any name, as it has become genericized).
A glance at the box of Bayer Advanced Aspirin has me scratching my head. Where, may I ask, do we learn about the astounding fast acting qualities of this new product?
It is called "Advanced," and we are then told it is "Extra Strength" and that it has "Pro-Release Technology" behind it.
Now, doesn't "Pro-Release" sound alot like "Slow-Release?" Like you see on some allergy medications? And don't we know that this would completely defeat the purpose of the new product?
Yes, it does say "Fast, Safe Pain Relief" but really, shouldn't we add that this new formulation works up to five times faster?
Faster is the magic word here, not fast!
Aspirin in any form is the mildest over-the-counter pain reliever you can buy. Aleve or Motrin 800 are far more powerful. Consumers know this. Aspirin is seen as an old-school pain reliever. This is why consumers seem to be taking it more to prevent stroke and heart attacks than to kill headaches.
A recent Bayer campaign even suggested that some of the great minds of history would not have been as effective without Aspirin, a campaign that only underlines the fact that aspirin is pretty retro pain relief.
Some bloggers feel that the Bayer brand is too diluted, and is not tightly associated with pain relief.
I disagree. Bayer Aspirin is the gold standard of aspirin brands. And studies have shown that while consumers may happily buy generics to save money, they believe that the branded remedy is more effective.
Bayer's major means of revamping the brand and the product materialized when it became clear that it could start working in sixteen minutes.
Why are they not banging that drum harder? Why call it "Advanced" when you could call it "Faster?" (Regulatory reasons, I guess).
May 20, 2011
I am very excited, and yet intrigued, by the new watch we might all be wearing in the near future.
Jointly developed by Texas Instruments and Fossil, the watches look pretty interesting.
GigaOm tells us that it is "Using low-powered wireless technology such as Bluetooth, these watches can show text messages, caller ID information, important emails and calendar event reminders." It sports "3 ATM water resistance, an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, a rechargeable battery, a stainless steel case, and a leather strap."
One thing is for sure, this may bring back the wristwatch. As ZDNet says, "The Meta Watch may be the first attempt at bringing wireless information to the wrist that actually has benefit to the wearer."
This product targets anyone with a Smartphone, which is essentially anyone who wants a high-end watch, and it costs $200. Rolex and Omega, and even Casio, must be watching with interest.
Ah, but what do we call it? What IS it? GigaOm alternates between calling it a "wearable computer" and "intelligent watch." That's kind of clunky.
The applications for the Meta Watch are being called "connected-watch applications," also very clunky, but named since Fossil has (sort of) named the category "Connected Watch."
The Meta Watch website boasts that "hands freedom starts here," which is great, but then we get "Meta Watch is an advanced development group exploring technology-based opportunities for watches."
Um, say again?
In the press release they also call it "wearable technology."
People, there has to be a better category name.
When the iPad was introduced, we knew what it was, a Tablet computer. For years we wondered when a mobile phone was a Smartphone.
This new watch technology has to have a really cool category name. Forgive me if I suggest iWatches (whch I am sure is covered by Apple).
While we are on the subject of Apple, they technically have the Nano Watch, which is nowhere near as interesting as this new watch. Even the conversion kits looks awkward, but note that the conversion kit actually exists.
Please give this new category a name.
May 18, 2011
It had to happen.
A couple has decided to name their baby "Like," taking inspiration from the popular social networking site, Facebook.
An Israeli couple who prides themselves on giving their kids "unique, creative and totally new" names decided to use the "Like" button as the inspiration for their daughter's name, feeling it gave her an international flair.
It is reported however, that the couple did not necessarily name the child after the button we press on Facebook to express interest or approval for a posting - the mother says they chose the name because it is "short and sweet" and, in any event, the other two kids were named Dvash (Hebrew for "honey") and Pie (as in apple pie).
They have assured us that Facebook did not pay them to use the name, and the baby's father admits that he only has about 120 friends on the networking site.
It could be weirder - as PC World points out, an Egyptian father decided to go to the extreme and name his child "Facebook."
The good thing here is that little Like already has hundreds of comments on her own Facebook page.
CIO has decided that there are ten tech-inspired names that are better than Like. Topping the list at number one is Perl, followed by Mac, Ruby and Linus, with PC rounding out the list at number ten (which has to be better than JR).
We may be on to a trend but I have to say that Pascal is not a bad name either... it certainly beats calling your daughter "Twitter."
May 17, 2011
It had to happen, of course.
Disney has gone ahead and capitalized on the public's fascination with 'SEAL Team 6' - the elusive commando group that took down Osama Bin Laden - by attempting to trademark the name two days after the master terrorist's death.
The mark application covers "clothing, footwear, headwear, toys, games and 'entertainment and education services,' among other things," reports Fishbowl NY.
This has led to snorts of contempt across the blogosphere, with The Gawker pointing out that Disney has also trademarked the name "Christmas tree ornaments."
The interest is the Navy SEALs has even propelled a rise in sales of romance novels featuring the tough commandos in, er, action.
The Navy SEALs are now being looked at as celebrities and sex symbols despite their low profile status and the deadly work they are trained to carry out.
I would imagine that the SEALs will become the new GI Joe, not least because of the massive public interest in the men who carried out such a daring raid.
The trademark seems to have been applied for before - previous owner NovaLogic Inc. abandoned two associated trademarks in 2006 that were meant for gaming. I am sure Disney will make short work of these.
There is no doubt that the name SEAL now has valuable equity and will be commercially exploited.
A wrong headed situation, I think.
May 16, 2011
So Nokia is going to scrap its Ovi naming platform.
Four years ago when the name was announced I expressed severe misgivings.
The name in Finnish means "door," but to those of who speak English, the word "ovi" reminds us of eggs and ovaries (ovi and ovum are both Greek and Latin prefixes meaning "egg"). And OVI, at least as far as the Ohio DMV is concerned, means "operating a vehicle while impaired."
Nokia is going to replace the Ovi naming with Nokia Services. You can expect to see the change begin in July with full completion by the end of 2012. Those who already own Nokia phones and use Ovi services will see the new naming via device updates.
A Nokia marketing executive explained the name change: "We have made the decision to change our service branding from Ovi to Nokia. By centralizing our services identity under one brand, not two, we will reinforce the powerful master brand of Nokia and unify our brand architecture - while continuing to deliver compelling opportunities and experiences for partners and consumers alike."
The Ovi name has appeared on a range of Nokia services. In a recent Nokia blog post, the move was further discussed: "The reasons for this decision includes the fact that Nokia is a well-known and highly-loved brand the world over. Our mobile experiences are tightly integrated with our devices - there is no longer a differentiation. For example, if consumers want the best mobile navigation experience, they know it's a Nokia that they can rely on."
There are also a few rumors that Nokia's potential new owner, Microsoft, might have also been confused by the name, which could be translated as "door store."
Others say that this was a "service that even Nokia never fully understood." This was supposed to be the name attached to "services for just about everything - email, maps, picture hosting etc." Ovi was supposed to crush Google, Facebook and Flickr in one blow.
Jonathan Morris at What Mobile says it best: "The problem is that Ovi meant nothing to most people, while anyone that owned a Nokia phone could relate to services like Nokia Mail and Nokia Maps. Why fix what wasn't broken?"
May 13, 2011
We here at SND do not use this blog to make political statements, but I have watched the Trump brand over the years with some interest.
There can be no doubt that his recent foray into politics will certainly have an effect on our perceptions of the Trump name. But it is, of course, the personality of the man himself that drives the brand.
The 60 Second Marketer asks a difficult question: "Is Donald Trump a super-successful businessman who has created a powerful brand around his name? Or is he an egomaniacal boor who has permanently damaged a brand that took decades to create?"
I am not going to say yay or nay. I am simply going to point out that this is a brand with massive equity that seems to even translate from real estate to hand sanitizer (at least as far as Vanity Fair is concerned).
The actual value of the brand seems unclear - Forbes values it at around $200 million, while The Donald has it as $3-6 billion.
It's hard to say how his presidential aspirations have affected the Trump brand name. His real estate seems to be selling at its usual prices, but his clothing seems to be much more in demand.
Still, experts say that if he does run for president, the Trump business brand could suffer.
Douglas Hanks in The Columbus Dispatch suggests that the people who buy Trump products usually do not vote conservatively. On the other hand, he quotes one Trump executive as saying ""What's his commodity? It's not his real-estate expertise. It's not his capital. It's his name... exposure is exposure."
True, but the fact that he has licensed his name to some real estate debacles is really not the kind of exposure he needs.
To me, this kind of failure will, er, trump, anything good that comes from his political showmanship.
May 11, 2011
VW and Chinese car company First Automobile Works (FAW) have announced that they are entering into a joint venture to produce an electronic car named Kaili.
This will be part of VW-FAW's effort to produce "attractive and affordable electric vehicles for Chinese consumers" and VW is set to invest about $15.2 billion in the project by 2015.
China is currently VW's largest single market - they delivered a whopping 578,200 cars to the country in the first quarter of this year, a 17% rise over the 494,000 vehicles delivered last year.
The Chinese government is encouraging the use of electronic cars, according to China Car Times, "Major cities such as Beijing have slowed the auto market down by limiting car purchases to just 20,000 units per month with license plates being given out by a lottery system - unless of course you buy an electric car in which you can skip the lottery process and receive a good subsidy in the process."
Kaili is a Hawaiian god although I am not sure if this is what is being referenced in this name.
The brand name is being called Kai Li in the Chinese press.
Kai Li in English, it seems, is "best translated as 'carrier'" according to one enthusiast.
Hmmm. I kind of liked Kali....
May 10, 2011
Kim Kardashian has a new perfume named "Kim Kardashian Gold," which is fitting, some say, because everything she touches turns to gold.
Her first perfume, launched last year, was simply called Kim Kardashian.
She launched her new offering at the Macy's Fashion show in Las Vegas last night, explaining that "Gold is a luxury that stands the test of time, a universal symbol of sophistication and glamour... like a stunning piece of precious jewelry, Gold lends everyday style a surge of seductive sparkle and timeless beauty."
The perfume is sold exclusively at Macy's, and positioned as "a little sexier, a little blingier, just more gold."
The Kardashians are really a "brading machine" according to the LA Times, recently noting that "there are Kardashian boutiques, fragrances, jewelry, apparel, bikinis, self-tanner, skin-care products, candles - even bottled water, if you're willing to shell out $10 for it."
Kardashian Inc. raked in over $65 million last year and we can expect more products bearing the Kardashian name soon. How about a "glam pack" of Silly Bands? Or Kardashian Khaos, a retail store in the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel?
Khloe and her Laker husband recently released a unisex fragrance called "Unbreakable" as well. In addition, the Kardashian Kollection, a "shop within a shop" concept will be hitting Sears stores soon.
Now the question is, has the Kardashian name become overexposed?
Not so long as they retain their star power and don't become fodder for too much negative gossip.
This seems to me like good old fashioned brand management (Kim's mother, Kris Jenner, is in charge of this empire). The name is being aligned with fashion and luxury and the sisters are the natural faces for it.
But can we really kontinue seeing brand's starting with "k?" It might drive us all krazy. Or not.
May 9, 2011
The news that Apple has overtaken Google to be the world's most valuable brand is sending shockwaves of joy and surprise through the Internet.
The Cupertino company's brand name is now the Big Kahuna with the estimated brand value of $153bn, according to the BrandZ Top 100 ranking.
The ranking covered everything from "cars to clothing" and the success of the iPhone and iPad seem to have given Apple the leverage it needed to surpass Google.
Since 2006, Apple has increased its brand value by a gargantuan $137bn or 859%.
Eric Jackson at Forbes, calls this the "most useless stat of the day," noting other interesting tidbits in the BrandZ report - like the fact that Facebook saw its brand value increase 256% year-over-year to become the 25th most valuable brand in the world at $19.1bn - are "completely meaningless."
He argues that brand rankings are just "mumbo jumbo." He asks, rhetorically, "Did Apple become a great company because they sat around in the late 90s when Steve Jobs came back and said 'we've really got to get our brand back in shape?"
It could easily be argued that there is simply no company on earth, Coke and Google included, who is more brand conscious than Apple.
This is a company that really uses social media to its advantage to spread the word about its brand, is very secretive and strategic abut its product launches and brand naming, and whose brands have become icons due to savvy marketing and beautiful and simple to use designs.
The BrandZ survey combines the company's own market cap and brand valuation with the perceptions of over 2 million consumers over a 12 year period.
The perception of Apple as both an utterly high-tech company as well as a luxury brand is one that has been carefully built by Apple over a decade, helping position the brand as the "must have" for both computer aficionados and fashionistas alike.
I have spilled much ink over many pages enthralled by Apple's ability to keep its brand both relevant and exciting.
It is impossible to argue that this achievement is not the result of years and years of careful planning and great expense that Apple has incurred to become not only the best known tech brand in the world, but the best known brand period.
Well done, Apple.
May 6, 2011
The news of Intel's new technology,
3D Tri-Gate transistors, is sending waves of excitement through the blogosphere.
The new line is being referred to as "Ivy Bridge" and will replace the current "Sandy Bridge" line of processors. This may indeed be a "breakthrough" in semi-conductor design.
It seems Ivy Bridge is right now just a codename. Sandy Bridge was the internal name for its Second Generation Core processors.
The Ivy Bridge chips will go into a variety of devices, but the important market for Intel lies in mobile processors - think iPhones and iPads. This puts Intel on a collision course with ARM, who already supplies to most smartphone and tablet manufacturers.
PC World is saying this is a breakthrough. Calling this kind of chip the "future of computing," and they go on to say that, "With 3D transistors, Intel may finally have the ammunition it needs to do battle in the smartphone and tablet markets." We'll see the new chips in laptops first, and then they are sure to migrate into the mobile markets.
What will it be named?
The Sandy Bridge code name has endured and is regularly used in the press. It has an interesting history - the chip was originally called "Gesher," which means "bridge" in Hebrew, but was eliminated when it was discovered that Gesher is also the name of a former unsuccessful political party in Israel.
The Sandy Bridge name does not reference an actual geographical place on a map, which is Intel's usual code naming process. In the past, they have used public places that cannot be trademarked and do not have any risk of lawsuits. The Sandy Bridge name was a result of a suggestion from upper management for a switch.
In any event, expect to see the Ivy Bridge name endure, at least in the world of geekdom.
They will almost certainly call this the "Third Generation Core" processor, but after that, it gets complicated.
May 4, 2011
One of the biggest developments on the East Coast is going from the poetic to the ridiculous - at least as far as its naming goes.
The Xanadu mall in the Meadowlands, right off the New Jersey Turnpike, is a "monstrosity" that has never been finished.
Think 2.4 million feet of shopping, a faux ski-slope and the world's biggest Ferris wheel - all of which was halted in mid-construction. Instead, the good people of New Jersey have had reason to complain that the scenery on the Jersey Turnpike is actually scarred by the motley colored, half-finished building.
The project has been taken over by Triple 5, the same company that owns the world's two largest shopping malls (Mall of America here in Minneapolis and West Edmonton Mall in Canada). They are dropping a cool billion in hopes of building a 3 million square foot pleasure dome of shops, restaurants, nightclubs, amusement park rides, and theaters that would awe even Kubla Khan.
Do you remember Xanadu the Coledridge poem from high school? Here's a refresher:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Xanadu was a doomed name, just as the mall was doomed... truly a dream built on air that developers should "beware." The name was also an ancient city in Inner Mongolia, and the name of a terrible movie starring Olivia Newton-John.
Ironically, the song Xanadu by ABBA starts with "A place where nobody dared to go."
One blogger calls it the "Ishtar of names" and is glad it is gone, but notes that the new name, American Dream @ Meadowlands, is hardly an improvement. He notes that there are at least 107 other New Jersey businesses with the name "American Dream" or some "variation of that." This includes a custom cycle outfit, a limousine service and numerous food shops as well as American Dream travel agents, green card services and houseware shops, and a limited liability corporation called American Dreamz, which may or may not be named after the Hugh Grant movie from 2006.
Brian Donohue at the Star-Ledger posted a report on the name entitled "The American Dream Redefined: Pigging Out at an Ugly Mall in a New Jersey Swamp" complete with a video showing him pulling a book entitled The Epic of America by James Adams from the library and researching the roots of the name. This book talks about an American utopia that is "more than material plenty," which gives Donohue room to call the name "blasphemy."
As for me, I am not sure about the "@." Isn't this just a little dated?
Rapper Ghostface Killah has a new, limited edition beer out there that is inspired by his name (sort of, not really).
Twisted Pine beer has a new, spicy beer out called Ghost Face Killah, which was partly inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan member. They even claim to have "reached out" to Mr., er, Killah, in an effort to co-brand the beer with him, but he was unavailable.
So why do they get the product name? Because the name itself comes from the Ghost Face Killer character seen in the 1979 kung-fu movie "Mystery of Chessboxing." Ghostface has co-opted that title as well, in his single "Da Mystery Of Chessboxin."
This is a pepper-infused wheat beer with the charming tagline "The Hottest Beer This Side of Hell" that includes what is purportedly the world's hottest pepper, the so-called "ghost pepper" or Bhut Jolokia. This stuff is so hot, you could use it as a weapon. The graphics on the bottle feature a skull engulfed in flames holding a pepper.
Some blogs say that a beer named after Ghostface ought to be called "Ghost's Nutmeg" or "Shakey Dog" or even "The Grain." These reference songs sung by the man.
Ghostface still has no comment on the beer or its name. I'd imagine that by the time he does get around to saying something, this limited edition product will be a ghost - only 100 bottles were brewed, just in time for Cinco de Mayo (May 5).