August 31, 2011
With the recent announcement of the 737 Max, Boeing is continuing an airplane product naming convention that moves it away from the alphanumeric nomenclature typically on display in the airline industry.
Back in the 1960's, airline passengers were riding around in 737-100 and 200 series jets, but with the 787 Dreamliner a few years ago, and now, the 737 MAX, we are seeing the use of more approachable product naming that reaches beyond B2B applications with names that are more relevant and engaging to passengers.
While the Dreamliner can be seen as metaphorical, the MAX is more direct with its benefits, by supporting the new product name with "MAX efficiency. MAX reliability. MAX passenger appeal."
The introduction of MAX also comes closely behind Airbus's debut of the A320neo, Boeing's main competition in this market.
Neo, from the Greek neos, actually means new, but Airbus has gone one step further by turning it into an acronym (New Engine Option), which may feel more comfortable for another aircraft family that is traditionally alphanumeric.
For sometime, its been clear that riding in a jet thousands of feet off the ground is more than just a means of transportation, its an experience. Perhaps the aircraft product naming is finally catching up to that notion.
August 29, 2011
Chances are if you live on the east coast of North America, Hurricane Irene has played a significant role in your activities over the past week.
This unfitting use for a beautiful, feminine name, led us to the thought that we may be more precise if we were to change the naming conventions for hurricanes to encompass similar guidelines to that of pet naming.
With pets, one is allowed a more flexibility to match a particular furry friend with a name that suits their personality.
For instance, Trouble may sound cute for a new puppy, but when he digs a hole under the fence, chews up the sofa and leaves a ripe present in the middle of the living room, his name seems much more appropriate.
Now when we apply this thinking to hurricanes, we may end up with something along the lines of Ulcer.
Think about it. As Hurricane Ulcer is tearing through the coast, it will leave behind backed up sewage systems, road damage and unthinkable repair costs, also leaving the governors of these unfortunate states with its namesake.
Another popular puppy name that also seems fitting for a hurricane is Radar. While it might work well for a hunting dog with a really good nose, it is also what bumps the ballgame and newest episode of How I Met Your Mother from our flat-screens during the onslaught.
When it comes down to it, its just not fair to all the people named Irene or Jose (the next Atlantic hurricane name in line for 2011) out there, when a name like Jolt seems much more consistent with a hurricane's character.
August 26, 2011
The Hells Angels Smack Down Amazon - And Anyone Else Who Gets in Their Way - Over Naming and Branding
There are few hard and fast rules in the world of naming and branding, but one of them is that you never, ever, do anything that makes the Hells Angels upset. Even if you're Amazon.Com.
The online retailer just pulled a t-shirt that read "My boyfriend's a Hells Angel" (pictured at right) because the famous outlaw biker gang threatened to, well, sue the living daylights out of them for trademark infringement.
It seems that the name "Hells Angels" is not generic and thus it can't be used as a fashion statement.
The gang's attorney notes that "Hells Angels is a membership mark, and it denotes membership in the organization. Even the Hells Angels do not put it on T-shirts they sell to the public."
The shirts also have wings on the back that are a clear rip-off of the club's "death head" logo.
The Hells Angels have sued many other organizations for using their marks in the past, including Saks, Zappos, Disney and Marvel Comics. They managed to convince fashion house Alexander McQueen not to use the death head insignia on his offerings and got their name written out of the script for the film "Wild Hogs."
Never mind that this is an outlaw motorcycle gang (according to the US Department of Justice) of 800 members on six continents that has been prosecuted for everything from motorcycle theft to drug dealing, a trademark is a trademark.
But it really does seem to me that getting a cease and desist letter from a trademark attorney representing the Hells Angels makes one think very carefully before taking the matter much further. As in, you'd be crazy to even contemplate it. Even if you're Amazon.Com. As one blogger puts it: "Go ahead and steal, just not from the Hells Angels."
August 25, 2011
Toucan jokes are flying around the blogosphere this morning since Kellogg's has decided to take action to defend its Toucan Sam (of Froot Loops fame) from infringement by the new toucan logo for the Maya Archeology Institute.
In a post entitled "Two Can Too Toucan, or Can They? Kelloggs v. MAI", Brand Geek shows us the offending toucans and notes "Not only do the two organizations appear to have no overlapping products or services, the Toucans don't look anything alike." We do not know exactly what Kellogg's is claiming here, so Brand Geek supposes this is "our first exposure to a Big Cereal plot to rule through a puppet toucan."
Well, the people at MAI have decided that toucan play at this game (sorry) and are defending themselves in the press with some color, with one rep saying: "MAI's trademark is made up of iconic images. It's toucan is based upon a realistic toucan endemic to Mesoamerica. Kellogg provides sugary cereal and entertainment through Toucan Sam, his cousins and a make-believe world that pretends to reflect something real." Toucan Sam has been with us since 1963 on the famous Kellogg's cereal, while the MAI logo is being used on gifts for donors, like mugs.
One look at the logos makes me wonder if we are really facing a likelihood of confusion. One legal observer notes that the toucans do not look alike and the MAI toucan is based on a bird that actually exists. Toucan Sam and his talking buddies are more like caricatures.
Sarah Mott went further to study the depictions of toucans on the Kellogg's web site and the games therein and found not much. More than that, "Disturbingly, the villain in this Kellogg Adventure and its related games - and the only character who is of color [other than the birds] - is a "witch doctor" with a cackling screech. Apparently, he is supposed to be a Maya. At best, this is culturally insensitive. I would characterize it as a demeaning caricature of an advanced and ancient civilization about which your game developers know nothing."
Another MAI person put it more bluntly (if possible), saying that this suit was "a bit like the Washington Redskins claiming trademark infringement against the National Congress of American Indians."
The MAI spokesperson says "The goal of the initiative is to help both indigenous Maya culture and the children who share that heritage... It's a small NGO [nongovernmental organization] doing good in the world. Our logo has absolutely nothing to do with Kellogg. So I just think it's beyond the pale for Kellogg to say it has the sole trademark on all images of toucans."
The MAI is dealing with a major corporation that takes protection of the toucan very seriously: in 1995 they sued a steel drum band called The Toucans for trying to trademark this name.
Look for an out of court settlement on this one.
August 24, 2011
This is really ghoulish product naming that makes me want to tear my hair out. Even energy drink product naming doesn't cross this line.
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has called the brand naming around this wine "grotesque, exploitative" and "vomit inducing," and he's right.
Never mind that Lieb Cellars is giving a portion of the proceeds to the National September 11 Museum.
They have the bad taste to sell their red and white abominations at $19.11 a bottle.
One Twitter user has captured my thoughts exactly, "9/11 wine. The dominant flavors are reminiscent of fresh green apples with underlying hints of VULTURES."
This outfit has also been flogging September Mission Merlot at $9.11 a bottle, and claim to have already raised $25,000 for the cause.
I mean, $9.11 a bottle? Really, Lieb Cellars?
This is the "wine you never asked for" says Jezebel.
Perez Hilton puts it best, "WTF?" He calls this "tacky" and posted the following tweet: "@NoReservations - 911 Wine?!!? Are you out your f*@%ing MIND?!! EPIC FAIL."
Congratulations, Lieb Cellars. You now hold the award for worst product naming ever.
You have inherited this prestigious mantle from Cocaine Energy Drink.
Here's to hoping your product and its execrable name go right down the drain.
August 23, 2011
Product naming rumors are thick and heavy today on the Internet.
First of all, there is the news that Apple may have a new computer heading our way that is so radically different from their current offerings that it will get a new name.
There is also evidence - and more concrete evidence - that Amazon's Kindle may have a new version that comes with a stylus. Why do we think this? Because they have registered the domain names "kindlescribe.com" and "kindlescribes.com."
This could mean that you may be able to write in the margins of books you buy on Kindle, and use the Kindle for other writing related activities. PC World states it best:
In the past, the word "scribe" has been used to describe devices that use styluses rather than fingers for navigation and writing. For example, the HTC Flyer, a 7-inch Android tablet introduced in February, lets you draw and write on the slate with a stylus called the Magic Pen and an app called Scribe.
It appears that the idea is to position the Kindle Scribe as the upscale version and the regular Kindle as the student version. At the same time, we know that Amazon is working on a much-rumored tablet... might they introduce it under the Kindle name?
Geek Wire throws a little cold water on the idea by pointing out that here are, as of yet, filings with the USPTO for the KindleScribe name. And Amazon, for some reason, also has a KindleAir.com domain. I doubt they want to compete with the Apple's MacBook Air brand name and product line.
But I am always interested in purported naming conventions.
A "scribe" is a writer, a clerk, and a copyist of manuscripts. It is a word that comes to us from Middle English, hearkening to Latin's "scriba." It is used frequently in the tech world, of course.
It's appearance brings back memories of the purported Apple iSlate, the once purposed name for the iPad. The term "slate" versus the the word "pad" conjures up visions of kids in 19th century classrooms writing with chalk on slates.
The "pad" as a thing connected to writing, of course, is more modern, but also connotes bandages and feminine hygiene products, as many people pointed out when the product name was released.
Will Kindle use the scribe product naming, assuming it won't face a trademark issue? It could be. The word Kindle itself is an old one, as in to "kindle" a fire - or perhaps one's imagination (it also means to "give birth to" and comes to us from Old Norse "kynda").
An old time scribe would need to kindle a fire to read by. So, the two names fit. But I would be surprised if Amazon can get use of it.
August 22, 2011
Walgreens has a new store brand! And it's called "Nice!". They tell us that "The new brand will include more than 400 high quality grocery and household products at prices up to 30 percent below other national brands."
This means that this is the launch of a juggernaut. Expect to see the brand in early 2012. The company has big plans here, telling us the packaging is "easily recognizable" and "Nice!" products will push out current in store brands like Cafe W and Deerfield Farms.
This is a good move. Walgreens notes that AC Nielsen has seen store brands go from $64.9 billion in sales in 2005 to $88.5 billion in 2010.
Store brands, as anyone who reads this blog knows, are an interest of mine. Everyone from Walmart to 7-Eleven has them and they are now a sophisticated, mature part of the branding world.
Said one exec connected to the brand: "Of all the names (we considered), this was different, catchy and the exclamation point added an emphasis...you can play with the word nice.'' But many bloggers point out this is a risky move, despite Walgreen's claims that this could be a billion dollar brand name. Sure, launching a new brand is difficult, but sample products have already sold briskly.
But what I want to talk about is that exclamation mark! Do you see how an exclamation mark gets overused it gets to be annoying?! Imagine a store filled with products branded with exclamation marks! Might that not start to get kind of annoying?! An exclamation mark on a brand name adds "energy" but it can also be a mixed blessing. It works well on "Chips Ahoy!" cookies, but the point is that most of us would not know offhand if the exclamation mark was there if asked to guess.
Duets Blog has a whole list of exclamation mark brand names... and some include question marks, light bulbs and even an exclamation mark within a wolf head design interwoven with a serpent. The interesting thing here is that the USPTO does not see adding an exclamation point as enough of a move to avoid "mere descriptiveness" (America's Favorite Popcorn!).
So, the word "nice" is the ultimate descriptive word. The exclamation mark's design probably helps. But I'm fascinated because "nice" is such a vanilla term. Who wants to be known as a "nice guy" - since "nice guys finish last?"
Surely the addition of the exclamation point moves us from the traditional understanding of "nice" to the common use of "nice" as an exclamation of pleasure. Here we move from "It's a nice day outside" to "Free donuts in the cafeteria today? Nice!" In this case, it seems like the brand name's punctuation works... but this usage is very much of the minute. Will it last?
August 19, 2011
You may be aware that many of the early contributions to the English language can be attributed to a single writer, William Shakespeare. Many credit him with coining over 2,000 English words.
However, you may be surprised to learn to we owe our thanks to the likes of Twitter and Facebook for the continued growth of our beloved lexicon.
Well, not just Twitter and Facebook, but a wide variety of technology-based resources that continue to mold and shape our means of communication.
In fact, BBC News reported that the newest Concise Oxford English Dictionary includes a list of 400 new words that are technology-inspired, including sexting, retweet and woot.
The addition of 400 new words over 400 years after Shakespeare's death is a perfect example of how the English language continues to expand and evolve.
One just has to wonder, how would the play have ended if Romeo could have tweeted Juliet...
I have been watching with interest the, er, situation that has been brewing between Abercrombie & Fitch and The Jersey Shore cast after Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino wore an
A & F shirt in one show.
A & F have apparently now asked the cast members not to wear its products - and offered a monetary incentive to boot. It seems that
A & F sees itself as an aspirational brand and the raunchy characters of Jersey Shore will be hurting its image. They issued the following appeal:
We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.
We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.
Seems The Situation is "not brand appropriate."
However, the blogosphere is full of spite for this move, not least because A & F put out a shirt that read "The Fitchuation." Says The Situation, who is often seen wearing A & F underwear: "Abercrombie & Fitch, their most popular shirt, they told me, is 'Fitchuation.' I mean, where did they get that from? Obviously from myself."
The company's stocks fell a whopping 9% soon after it made its appeal, though industry watchers say this was due to bad sales and not bad brand name management. Says one blogger, "Of course the stock fell. When your target demographic is absolute shitheads, alienating the most prominent one on the planet is like McDonald's issuing a press release saying they hate fat people."
The venom on the blogosphere continues: "First off, Aspirational Abercrombie? Should I aspire to be a 14 year-old half-clothed anorexic model? Or should I aspire to be topless and wrapped around a guy with pecs bigger than my boobs? Perhaps I should just aspire to asphyxiate someone with my horribly cloying perfume."
The problem here is that when a brand tries to discourage a celebrity from using it in an entertainment medium, there is usually a bitter backlash from the legions of fans who see their hero get dissed. When Jay-Z was asked not to use Cristal by the champagne maker, he made sure to turn his back on the brand in his next video and opt for Ace of Spades, by competitor Armand de Brignac.
The New York Times sees this as a publicity stunt, noting that if A & F really wanted its brand name off the air they could have called a lawyer. And this move does come just as kids are shopping for clothes to wear back to school.
It still makes me wonder if A & F is for or against The Situation - if they think at one level they are making lemonade out of a six-pack of lemons.
Big name, elite brands like BMW, Rolex, and Armani are often used in movies and TV. The exposure is invaluable.
It is almost always a bad idea to try and disassociate yourself from a celebrity. It makes the brand look small minded and irrelevant, even to those people who do not buy it. A brand name's relevance can handle any Situation, I say.
August 18, 2011
The good people over at The Gothamist put it best: "Okay, raise your hand if you thought you would see the words 'Jane Goodall,' 'Tyler Florence,' 'baby food' and 'lawsuit' in the same sentence today."
Well, today you will, since the Jane Goodall Institute has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against celebrity chef Tyler Florence's Sprout brand of baby food.
Why would a famous primate conservationist sue a baby food brand, you ask?
Well, because Sprout licensed the Jane Goodhall name to launch its "Janey Baby" line of baby food, that's why. And didn't pay the $720,000 they are accused of owing because the baby food never made it to market.
Jane Goodall says she even went to Oregon to help promote the doomed line of organic baby food, which they thought would rack up $5.5 million in sales.
Sprout argues that "the contract signed by the institute's agent isn't even valid since the CEO was apparently not 'authorized to negotiate it.'"
Now, just wait a doggone minute.
What we have here is a baby food company that thought it would be a good idea to associate the name of famed primatologist Jane Goodhall with strained peas. Even weirder, the famous primatologist in question thought this would be a good idea.
This is because, surprisingly, the Jane Goodall Institute drives a significant portion of its funding from licensing the "'famous and highly regarded names and trademarks of Jane Goodall.'"
So, anyway, the The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation has filed suit in Manhattan court against Sprout Foods, which was "co-founded by chef Tyler Florence of the Food Network."
Sprout claims they will "defend itself vigorously" against the "chimp champ."
The Goodall institute claims that the $720,000 is for "unpaid royalties," but royalties usually come from sales, and Janey Baby never went to market. It seems that Jane's people were smart enough to negotiate payment even if the product did not sell at all (a wise move). Would it have sold?
One blogger puts it best "Seriously though, what baby isn't eating organic non-pesticide over-priced eco-friendly food these days? Organic baby food with Jane's name tied to it with a cute picture of a little chimp on the label would've been a hit; I would've even eaten it. Too bad it never sprouted."
I just have to wonder - How on earth would they have forced that association? "Chimp expert Jane Goodall thinks this organic food is good for your baby?" Were they trying to say babies are like chimps? Or that Goodall knows something about organic food we do not know?
This is yet another example of just how diluted the "organic" market has become.
August 17, 2011
"Let the wiener wars begin" intoned a judge as Sara Lee, owner of Ball Park franks and Kraft, owner of Oscar Mayer started to "grill" one another in court.
At issue are the claims made on the packaging and in the advertising.
For instance, Oscar Mayer beat Ball Park in a taste test - but were the Ball Park dogs prepared properly?
Can Oscar Mayer really claim their dogs are 100% Pure Beef? But there's other ingredients too, like "water, salt, corn syrup, paprika, dried garlic, spices and other ingredients."
It's the "other ingredients" that sound ominous.
Ball Park says this is all part of a "massive and unprecedented" campaign to mislead us. They claim that it is driven by Kraft's fear that Ball Park franks might actually unseat Oscar Mayer as the top dog in America.
Ball Park is fudging it, too, says Oscar Mayer. They say, for example, that they are "America's best" indicating that "others aren't even in the same league." But how is "best" measured? And is there a hot dog league? And are we being too literal?
The bigger question: can the claims made on a hot dog package and in an ad stand up in court?
The rivalry between Ball Park and Oscar Mayer is being compared to that of Pepsi and Coke as well as Microsoft and Apple.
Lawsuits like this, where one company questions another's comparison tests, are common, according to one law professor. A company can be sued if it makes a claim that is "literally false or implicitly false."
Because the word "best" is so nebulous - it might "refer to the hot dog's appearance, taste, price, or any other number of non-objective qualities" - the court usually discards it.
But the other stuff is up for grabs.
August 16, 2011
Life in the world of domain naming just seems to be getting messier.
First of all, there's the news that US businesses are complaining of a .xxx "shakedown."
Companies are desperate not to have their brand names attached to the seamy side of the Internet.
ICM Registery, who controls the .xxx domain, reports that they have 900,000 "expressions of interest" from companies that want to either preregister their trademarks with plans to use the domain, or "block others from snapping them up."
The idea is to prevent a barbie.xxx or coke.xxx, for obvious reasons. Reuters reports that "Porn and mainstream businesses alike complain they are being forced to buy domain names they don't want, don't need and won't use -- and compare the process to a hold-up."
It is reported that 80% of the registrations are from owners of brand names that have nothing to do with the porn industry. The $200 cost may not sound like much, but a company like Mattel has literally tens of thousands of domain names for its product names, so protecting these names from being given the xxx moniker is a major cost.
Some companies have embraced the shakedown - PETA will launch peta.xxx as a pornography site drawing people's attention to the ethical treatment of animals (how they plan on doing this is, thankfully, unclear).
The irony here is that porn sites themselves are not required to get the .xxx domain name, and most probably will not bother.
The domain hassles do not end there.
ICANN is now sorting trough the problems related to top level domains like .coke and .soda.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has asked that the plan be scrapped altogether, as protecting domain names like ".coke, .jetblue, .cnn, .facebook or .verizon" would be hard enough, but what about wiseacres who register domains like "coke.soda?"
This may have the potential to create an online "disaster" for brands.
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which is made up of 400 companies holding 10,000 brand names, has come out against this as well, saying it's "economically unsupportable, and likely to cause irreparable harm and damage."
At the very least, this will introduce confusion in the marketplace.
August 15, 2011
They have divided their Galaxy line into five classes in descending order: 'S', 'R', 'W', 'M', 'Y'. All "S" models will continue to represent the top of the line flagship devices as Samsung reccently updated the Galaxy S II.
The other four class letters stand for:
- R - Premium (Royal, refined)
- W - High-Tier (Wonder)
- M - Mid-Tier (Magical)
- Y - Entry Level (Young Minded)
Samsung will add numbers to these, plus additional indicators such as "Plus" for extra spec models, "Pro" for smartphones, and "LTE" for handsets that offer LTE support.
Samsung's Bada phone will also be realigned with the top spec phone called "Wave" with a number, and the rest getting M and Y labels.
The Bada phone has already come under fire for being a bad idea with a b-a-d name... get it?
The amusing part here, of course, is that Samsung is embracing letters for their product naming, just as Nokia has moved away from letters, in favor of numbers.
Vincent Messina at AndroidGuys takes issue with the idea of a "Young-minded" phone, "I'm all for a simplified naming scheme but once you start branding a certain device "Young-minded" or anything specific to an age, you have committed sales suicide. Sure it's great for parents to know that the Samsung Galaxy Y is designed for the "Young-minded" but what "Young-minded" kid is going to want to walk around with a smartphone that basically labels them a child."
Or is AndroidGuys missing the point? Is "Young-minded" more an attitude and less a chronological age?
Someone could be in their sixties, for instance, and be "Young-minded" while someone in their forties could think more like the typical retired person.
What do you think?
August 12, 2011
Chrysler is moving the acronym SRT (Street Racing Technology) from a model name to a brand name.
The SRT badge has already outgrown the Viper and the RAM trucks; it was on the Neon, now the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger. Get ready to see it on Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat branded automobiles as well.
A Chrysler 300 with Street Racing Technology? Oh, never mind, lets go with this...
Dan Heyman at Car Pages points out that this is the first time an American company has done what the Germans have been doing for years - offering "bespoke, highly powered and advanced versions of the cars their parent companies provide them with, and they are treated as brands unto themselves" (think Mercedes/AMG and BMW/M branding).
Ralph Giles, the President and CEO of SRT had this to say about the move, "Being a separate brand will allow our team to expand the dedicated engineering and marketing resources for specific performance vehicles. We strive to never lose focus on driver involvement and vehicle character while maintaining each of the vehicle brand's key design differentiators."
He also says that this is a brand that will go right to the people. "I see it in a more accessible viral and Web-based media world, and the number-one area will be grassroots, ground-level events. The company says all SRT vehicles henceforth will reflect five engineering imperatives: high horsepower and torque ratings; high-end handling dynamics; high-end braking systems; an exterior paint, function, and aesthetic strategy that makes SRT both visually identifiable and aerodynamically slippery and road-hugging."
There is already a media advisory that the newly formed brand is kicking off its High Performance Tour at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum today and 2 PM. You can see the new SRT lineup and meet Giles himself. The press is already saying that the SRT brand has "underpromised and overdelivered" on the new models. And a "supercharged" package might be in the offing for 2013, says the rumor mill.
I like this move.
It is leveraging Chrysler's legendary muscle car image, and letting the halo spill over into trucks and smaller vehicles. The racing stripes on the Dodge logo, for instance, do the same thing.
Is Chrysler trying to revamp the muscle car itself, which many feel died with Pontiac? Sure.
August 11, 2011
A recent article about new words being coined in a "rapidly changing era" got my attention.
It covers a wide variety of the "virtual words" that author Jonathan Keats of Jargon Watch magazine writes about in his book.
Think "tweet" and "spam," of course, as well as stranger ones like "microbiome," which "combines 'microbe,' the smallest form of life, and 'genome,' which is the totality of genes and genetic information in a living organism."
The book also offers us "fantasy words," or words we do not need just yet, like "exopolitics", which refers to political dealing with aliens, or "in vitro meat" which refers to steaks and chops grown from "cultured muscle cells."
Word Spy also has some great new coined words up that are actually in use, including "juvenoia," which is "The baseless and exaggerated fear that the Internet and current social trends are having negative effects on children. [Juvenile + paranoia.]"
Or how about "omega male," which is the opposite of alpha male.
My favorite? "Bacn," which is "Non-personal, non-spam email messages that you have signed up for, but do not necessarily want or have time to read."
New Words in English talks about "affluenza" as "A social disease resulting from extreme materialism and excessive consumerism: earning more money and consuming more, which can lead to overwork, debt, waste, stress, anxiety, etc."
There is also "breadcrumbing," a noun that means "A navigation technique which helps users by displaying a list of links to the pages they have visited when exploring a website."
The worst new word of the day comes from a person whose name is a lamentable new word itself. The Situation from the Jersey Shore has given us "smushing" (having sex) as well as "twinning." The latter is an actual word, but he uses it to mean smushing with twins. Yuck.
August 10, 2011
Thanks to all the interest and inquires we've received about our America's Next Top Namer Scholarship, we've decided to extend the deadline for submissions one month to 12am EDT (midnight) on September 15, 2011.
To this point we've received a number of very imaginative and intriguing name candidates for our new car concept involving a wind powered electric engine that recharges itself while you drive.
However, we would like to reminder those of you on the fence that the scholarship is for $2,500, so we would encourage you to give naming a try or pass it along to someone you know who might find it of interest.
August 9, 2011
Smartphone product naming is getting easier and boring.
Nokia's plan to simplify its product naming scheme and make it strictly numerically based is partly to tell consumers what they are getting.
As Xbit points out:
Back in the good-old days Nokia used to have pretty clear number-based model numbering methodology that allowed to clearly distinguish between models and their positioning (3 - for mainstream users, 5/6 - for business users, 7 - experimental phones with new innovative technologies and/or in new form-factors, 8 - stylish and luxury handsets, 9 - communicators).
Then in the mid-2000s, the company added letters to their smartphone names and things became confused, not least because modern smartphones are so similar to one another. The new product naming scheme, however, simplified everything with a three digit number.
Nokia really says it best:
People understand the logic behind 'the bigger the number, the more you get' philosophy. Theoretically speaking, if we were announcing a Nokia 890, but it's a bit out of your price range, you'll know that the Nokia 790 might be a more affordable option. Also, used consistently over time, people learn to know roughly what to expect from a model using its number as a reference.
The short term effect of this may be to create a bit of confusion in the marketplace, but ultimately this seems like it brings clarity where there is confusion. Or does it?
GottaBeMobile wonders if this is "consumer enough," when they say, "In an age where we store numbers and contacts and speed-dial on our smartphones, numbers are forgettable, and it would be unfortunate if Nokia's excellent hardware don't gain more market traction in light of the company's recent change to Windows Phone 7 to become more aggressive in the smartphone sector."
They are, after all, going up against the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S with what is essentially BMW naming.
Numbers are not a brand. Numbers are not a product name.
Numbers are cold, emotionless and difficult to remember.
For B2B maybe. For B2C boring.
Posted by William Lozito at 10:08 AM
Posted to Brand Architecture | Brand Naming | Branding | Consumer Electronics | Industry | Marketing | Naming | Product Naming | Technology | Telecommunications
Comments (0) | TrackBack
August 8, 2011
One of best things about a coined name is its extendibility.
A coined name can take a product line places you never expected to go. Think about the extendibility of a cookie brand like Oreo®, for example. Now compare that with Golden Grahams®. You get the picture.
Even when a coined name has some inherent meaning, it can still be given license to extend.
Originally created for a Greek Yogurt Dip, the name, Otria™, in context, semantically reinforces the Omega 3 ingredients while phonetically conveying Greco-Latin heritage.
The good news is that Otria can also be broader than Greek. Granted, we wouldn't recommend it for a German cheese, but there is an exotic cadence typical of Mediterranean cuisine - and one staple of the Mediterranean is hummus. (Hummus is a transliteration of the Arabic word: حمّص or chickpea - it's a dip or spread made from crushed chickpeas, olive oil, tahini and spices).
So it makes sense, then, that when Marzetti® spread its Greek yogurt veggie dip line to hummus dips, it took Otria along for the magnificent ride.
August 5, 2011
Some new energy drink product names leave you scratching your head.
Whether we are talking about a drink called "Cocaine" or an anti-energy drink called "Drank," energy drink product names are just wacky. But the new product out there has moved from weird to plain old frightening. It's called "Sheets Energy Strips."
These are consumable energy sheets you stick on your tongue to get an instant jolt of energy, "each serving contains caffeine comparable to a cup of premium coffee plus vitamins E, B12 and B6."
Just imagine the possibilities. Why, you don't even need to drink anything to get the caffeine rush that keeps us all going. Just apply some of this stuff to your tongue and whammo.
This product, which comes in an assortment of flavors, was voted Best New Product of the Year at the 2011 ECRM Diet, Vitamin and Sports Nutrition Show.
LeBron James is involved with this new product. There are other celebrity endorsements from "fellow NBA superstar (and Florida native) Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks; NFL running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens; and recording artists Pitbull, DMC and Doug E. Fresh."
The idea is to convince us that hits of caffeine can make you a better athlete.
LeBron does not have his image on the product (which one blogger says is a good idea). In regards to the packaging, "The happy face with the tongue sticking out is reminiscent of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy mascot, only for a block of red on the tongue."
Make no mistake about it, this is feeding right into the rise of caffeine addiction among kids and the packaging makes it look more like a product related to recreational drug use than an athletic performance enhancer.
This simply cannot be a coincidence.
Neither can the name. Sheets. As in, maybe, sheets of acid? Because the only other sheet you put on your tongue contains LSD, and these guys must also be aware of this. "Scoring sheets" is slang for buying small pieces of paper with drops of LSD on them, also called "blotter." It's been that way since Woodstock.
Like I said, this product name leaves you scratching your head.
August 4, 2011
There are two stories in the news recently that have me wondering how celebrities negotiate contracts with major networks in regard to merchandising, and of course naming and branding.
David Cassidy of the Partridge Family fame is now going after Sony Corp. for merchandising royalties.
Yes, the show ended 37 years ago, but Cassidy claims to have a contract where he is promised 15% of the proceeds from royalty payments. And things related to the Partridge family are actually for sale out there. It started years ago with "lunchboxes, Colorforms' David Cassidy dress-up sets, pins and board games," and in the last few years you could even get a Partridge Family toy bus and a toy hamster that sings "I Think I Love You."
Cassidy is still singing (he's 61) and he wants his share of the action. He has "no idea" how much Sony has made from merchandising related to the show (and his image and voice) but I suppose it could be a sizable amount.
As do, interestingly, some of the main cast members of Happy Days.
Happy Days ran from 1974-1984. Ansom Williams (Potsie) is joined in a lawsuit against Sony by "Don Most (who played Ralph Malph), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham, wife of Bosley's Howard Cunningham and mother of Richie and Joanie) and Erin Moran (Joannie). Bosley died in October."
The suit argues breach of contract as "The actors' likenesses have been used by comic books T-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunch boxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards and DVD covers."
More than that, Marion Ross notes that there are slot machines in Las Vegas bearing her image, where you can win the jackpot with "five Marions."
Happy Days and the Partridge Family are recognizable brand names - are they entitled to some of that equity? And their images clearly have some value, but surely this was also negotiated long ago?
August 3, 2011
A Federal court just ruled that corporations can patent genes, and where there are patents there are brand names.
It seems that Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt lake City was "entitled to two breast cancer gene patents used to predict whether women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer." The head of the company released a statement saying "This decision is in the best interests of the agriculture, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the hundreds of millions of people whose lives are bettered by the products these industries develop based on the promise of strong patent protection."
A judge in New York had previously ruled that pieces of DNA were not patentable because they were "products of nature." The American Civil Liberties Union backs this, saying "Human DNA is not a manufactured invention, but a natural entity like air or water. To claim ownership of genetic information is to unnecessarily block the free exchange of ideas."
Hmmm. I have to wonder what this means for the "puppet master genes that control the spread of prostrate cancer. I'd love to name them, and assure you I'd start with the names of demons, although "puppet master" sounds pretty awful.
The reason Myriad prevailed here is due to the fact that DNA isolated from the body is "markedly different" than the stuff in a real chromosome. But the catch is that the process to isolate the gene is not patentable. That's like saying Coke is patentable but bottling it is not, in my opinion.
The fact is, thousands of human genes have already been patented. The problem is the development of the tests, and Myriad feels that without the entire process being patented, they will have wasted their money and research dollars.
Once they have the patent, they can prevent others from researching the gene. That means, in real terms that they can help call the shots on things like the test for breast cancer, which at one point cost a cool $1,000 and now is three times as much.
Right now, the genes in question are called BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are really pretty uninspiring names.
August 2, 2011
A debate is raging over the new NBC show that seems to be a racier Mad Men.
It's called The Playboy Club and it's a 1960's drama about the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago and it appears to be geared at the family audience.
Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, admits that "The brand name is polarizing."
One Salt lake city station has already refused to air it, despite the fact that the show's producer assures us that "In terms of content, it will be mild."
The idea is to show women struggling to succeed, reminding viewers that Playboy bunnies went to school, built businesses and started families. In fact, it will be "full of girl power": "This show is all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be," we are assured.
Ok, but we are talking about women in bunny costumes.
The Parents Television Council wants NBC to drop it and is ready to file complaints with the FCC if things get too risqué. Their first objection was with NBC for airing a pilot with "Playboy in the name." They also note that the actors have signed a nudity clause.
The Playboy name does not connote family entertainment, so it seems logical that this kind of backlash would occur.
Call me cynical, but this kind of indignation is only going to make people more curious about the show. And possibly help the beleaguered Playboy brand name, headed by the aged and somewhat ridiculous Hef.
August 1, 2011
In an interesting turn of events, Mitch Winehouse, father of recently deceased singer Amy Winehouse, wants to set up a drug rehabilitation center in the UK in his daughter's name.
Now, we do not know for sure that the famously addicted singer died of an overdose but it seems like a pretty clear bet that drugs played a role in her untimely demise at 27.
Mr. Winehouse's heart is in the right place. He wants to create a center where people of limited income can get help and this is to be applauded.
But the question becomes whether the British government should fund a such a center under the Amy Winehouse name.
As one blogger writes, "What a difference a few weeks (and a death) make. The public narrative of Winehouse's story was reframed so that she is now a victim and martyr to a life of success, excess, and addiction."
This news comes hot on the heels of the news that Aberdeen City in Washington State just voted down an idea to rename a local bridge after Kurt Cobain who, in life, really had no fondness for his hometown, which can be heard in the lyrics to one of his songs that mentions the bridge.
There is also a large electric guitar sculpture in a nearby park and a plaque near the bridge that reads "Drugs are bad for you, they will f--- you up."
This is obviously one of Cobain's sentiments that he himself ignored before committing suicide in 1994. Since the idea was voted down, the bridge will stay the Young Street Bridge, after the person who built the area's first saw mill.
One writer argues that we generally name places to reward people "for good behavior" and that the people behind the names of places usually fade into obscurity.
In Winehouse's case, it might be argued that there is the Betty Ford clinic, named after a woman who battled addiction. But Betty Ford won her fight and went on to help others win their own. Amy Winehouse (and Kurt Cobain) did neither.