Brand Naming: December 2007 Archives

Google Prevails with Gu Ge Brand Name in China

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GoogleWhat a difference a day makes. In life. And in trademark law.

Gu GeWe've blogged earlier in July of 2007 about the Chinese having difficulty pronouncing Google, which led the company to re-brand its search engine "Gu Ge."

In an earlier blog of April 2006 we acknowledged the conventional marketing wisdom of one brand globally. However, in the case of China, with four times the population of U.S., it was an appropriate trade off for Google to change its name there.

It turns out that Google registered the Gu Ge brand name in China only 7 days before another company, Gu Ge Technology did.

Gu Ge Technology tried to sue Google over Gu Ge, however, the Haidian People's Court in Beijing threw out the Gu Ge Technology's trademark suit since Google registered the Gu Ge name first.

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Fairmont Lends Its Brand Name to Legendary Norfolk Hotel

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NorfolkHotel_Kenya.gifSome people are not pleased that the legendary 103-year old Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya - where Teddy Roosevelt stayed before his famous safari and favorite of Karen Blixen of Out of Africa fame - is being renamed Fairmont The Norfolk after a multi-million dollar renovation.

Out_of_Africa.gifFairmont Raffles International has made no secret of its intention to spread its branding through Africa and the East. People often get upset when iconic hotels change their names, such as when Boston's Ritz-Carlton was renamed after being acquired by the Taj hotel chain.

The Fairmont name is well-known worldwide, unlike the name "Norfolk Hotel," which is only known by people who are into Africana or are intimately familiar with Kenya.

Kenya's drive to bring in new tourists will be greatly helped by the Fairmont name, which allows people to book with confidence.

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South Beach Living vs Dieting = Good Brand Naming

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SouthBeachDiet.gifKraft's decision to omit the word "diet" in its South Beach Diet brand name and replace it with South Beach Living will probably turn out to be an excellent marketing move.

The South Beach brand name is well entrenched - it is not only a food line, but a vending machine name and a diet bar.

CocaColaZero.gifOther brands also opt to omit the word "diet" in their product names as well. Take Coke Zero, for example. This brand is flourishing partly because it's gender neutral and doesn't describe itself as "diet."

According to the Diet Blog, the word diet often connotes to consumers bad tasting food aimed at an older demographic as well as, incredibly, "failure."

I'd rather talk about "living" than "dieting" any day of the week. Good move, Kraft.

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Tata_logo.gifYou probably have not heard of India's Tata Group, the country's largest automaker and possibly its biggest brand name, but you most certainly have heard of Jaguar and Land Rover.

Jaguar_Logo.gifThese two brands may soon be sold to Tata Group for around $2 billion.

Land-Rover.gifThis is leading many experts to wonder if the world is ready for Indian luxury brand naming. Much as Martin Lindstrom did when Louis Vuitton moved its production to India.

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Good Brand Name Awareness

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iPhoneA new study by the CMO Council suggests that good brand name awareness in the tech sector is not a guarantee of higher sales because customers are looking for "competence, quality service and support."

Some of the biggest tech brand names like HP, Dell and IBM take a back seat in terms of brand recognizability by people in the industry to lesser known names like NetApp, Juniper, InterSystems, Polycom and Synnex.

Wired has a great post up today that asks "Whatever Happened to the Other iPhone," a perfectly respectable Linksys product with a very recognizable name that people basically do not know about.

Building a good name means embracing every aspect of brand naming, which means, of course, backing up your marketing claims and making sure you satisfy customer needs once your name has attracted them.

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Nul Naming for Knol

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Google_Logo.gifMany bloggers are not reacting well to the new "Knol" by Google.

Knol stands for a "unit of knowledge" and is a "knowledge-sharing service," which is very close in nature to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia_Logo.gifSome feel that the name sounds "like a planet from a sci-fi novel," while Elliott Black has even harsher criticism.

In my opinion "knol" sounds too much like "nul" as in "nothing."

Google does many things right. But not this time.

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Ubiquipedia: Product Naming Now Available in Restaurants

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Wikipedia.gifWe've talked about the strange names that show up on Chinese menus before. Now Mark Liberman at Language Log has unearthed a distinctly indigestible dish: stir-fried Wikipedia, photographed by Jim Benson in Beijing this past October. Or you could try the eels with Wikipedia that "goodape" uploaded to Flickr in April.

Like everyone else online, we here at Strategic Name Development consult Wikipedia as well. But while it's available in many languages, including Cantonese, Wikipedia is not a translator. Google Translate would likely be more useful for those tasked with turning menus into English -- even though the results are likely to be just as hilarious as any of the strange dishes found on menus translated by humans, if not more so.

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Dim Name for a Bright Idea

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Dimdim.gifThere are times when a name can fit all your criteria and still be the wrong name for the product or service. Dimdim, a free web meeting tool aiming to compete with the likes of LiveMeeting, WebEx and GoToMeeting, is a prime example. According to founder D. D. Ganguly:

    We sat down with 18,000 domain names and promised ourselves that we would not leave without naming our company. We set 5 simple rules:
  • The dotcom domain name must be available
  • The name must have high recall
  • The name must be international
  • The sound of the name must translate without ambiguity to its spelling
  • The spelling must translate to unambiguously to its pronunciation

  • Five hours later we named the company Dimdim.

Eighteen thousand domain names and they picked Dimdim? Sure, it meets all their criteria: it's phonetic and the sounds are common to most languages. It may outdo the Wii in that department.

Like "Wii," "Dimdim" is a name that's just asking to be made fun of. And the Wii, at least, is for gamers. Dimdim is a business service. "Wii" also has Nintendo's marketing budget behind it.

Of course, lots of Web 2.0 products have silly names, and that doesn't stop them from succeeding. But "Flickr," "Twitter," and "Jaiku" all have names that relate to what their service does. Even ooVoo, which scores very high on the silliness scale, looks like "you view."

I can hear the slogans now: "Dim meetings for dim people."

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Brand Name Evaluation - The Importance of Context

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As naming professionals, we are always surprised with associations that people make with the name candidates we present.

I feel it tells us as much about the person and their view of the world as it does their opinion on the name candidate.

One very common response we hear is "That name reminds me of x."

AmericanEagles1.gifOur response is "You really have to evaluate the name candidates in context." Take the name American Eagle, for example.

  • American Eagle is the regional carrier for American Airlines.
  • American Eagle is also a retail clothing chain that is located in many shopping malls.

So, if our assignment were to name a clothing chain and we recommended American Eagle, it's very typical for client to say "It reminds me of an airline" and dismiss it for that reason.

Fusions1.gifWe say, "Wait a minute." How about the Ford Fusion and the Gillette Fusion razor and the V8 Fusion juice?

As you can see, the same name can co-exist in multiple categories and not be confusing since all of these brand names are presented in context.

When I go to a store to buy Gillette Fusion razors, I don't think automobiles or juice.

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Prescription drug packagingDennis Quaid’s upcoming lawsuit against a drug maker will bring a great deal of public focus on the kind of unclear packaging and labeling on pharmaceuticals that led to his newborn twins being administered an overdose of a blood thinner in a hospital. Two very different dosages were packaged in similar vials with blue backgrounds, leading to the near death of his children recently and the death of three children in Indianapolis hospitals last year.

Product naming and branding has a double duty when it comes to pharmaceuticals: not only do the names and packaging have to help sell the brand, but they also have to be clear enough to prevent confusion on the hospital floor. Over ten years ago the New England Journal of Medicine printed an article expressing concern over the similarities in the brand naming of Lanoxin and Levoxine. Other forums discuss the death of an eight year old who was given methadone instead of methylphenidate while a nineteen year old man showed "potentially fatal complications" after being given clozapine instead of olanzapine, two drugs used to treat schizophrenia...and the list goes on and on.

Pharmaceutical naming has many layers where mistakes can be made, not least at the testing level where most names are reduced simply to numbers. The problems expand when one considers how many prescriptions are written by doctors with bad handwriting, causing errors in differentiating brand names like "Lamisil and Lamictal, Cerebyx and Celebrex, Zyrtec and Zantac," and leading to 52 deaths in the five years between 1993-1998.

I have written before about the growing awareness of consumers about pharmaceutical brand naming and its safety implications. Dennis Quaid’s high profile case, it seems to me, is likely to bring more pressure to bear on drug makers to think extremely carefully about their product naming, and bring home to naming consultants the importance of each drug project they take on.

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Brand Naming Can Tattoo You

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Chanel_Tattoo.gifI've said it before and I'll say it again: If you want a sure way to get your brand naming under people's skin, think tattoos.

As the latest trend, companies are not only incorporating tattoo art into their brand names, but also creating brands that are designed to appeal to people with tattoos.

  • The convenience store chain 7-Eleven has a new energy drink called "Inked," which is "aimed at people who either have tattoos or those who want to think of themselves as the tattoo type."
  • Dunlop has offered free tires for years to anyone who will get their "Flying D" tattooed to their body.
  • General Mills is selling fruit roll-ups that allow kids to create "temporary tongue tattoos."
  • Christian Dior, Tag Heur, Aussiebum, Bling, Benefit Cosmetics are all looking into creating "tattoo logos" in India, because tattoos are a big part of Indian culture.
  • CAPTAIN-MORGAN-TATTOO.gifCaptain Morgan's new rum is called "Tattoo."

As you can imagine, people of all ages and nationalities wear tattoos, which means that you almost cannot lose by incorporating tattoo advertising into your brand.

What's next?

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Generic Domain Names Can Be Good for Your Brand

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It's true, at least according to domain name expert Jonathan Boswell of in his interview with Bill Sweetman in Marketing Martini Episode 33.

Of course, your brand name is important, but you don't just want to own the (and .biz, and .net, and .whatever) -- you want to own the words associated with your brand. Those, according to Boswell, are your real "domain assets," especially when dealing with prospective customers who don't know the leading brands in your industry by name:

    There's been a fundamental misunderstanding in advertising in the corporate world, in that they don't want to touch generics. They're not interested in them. What they fail to realize is that a lot of consumers interface with generics. If I'm looking for a copy machine, I want to see what's out there. I want to see what's on the Internet. I'm typing in "copy machine" because I may not know specific brands.

Barnes_&_Noble_logo.gifWhat you want to do for maximum exposure of your brand is to follow the example of Barnes & Noble as mentioned in our post on Findability vs. Brand Dilution: buy the generic domain name and redirect it to your branded website. You get to the same page whether you type "," "," or "" That way people begin to associate your brand name with the generic term for your products or services.

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