Brand Naming: October 2010 Archives

Just when you thought you knew what a tablet is (versus a slate, versus a pad) Barnes & Noble comes out with the Nook Color and throws a spinner in the already gummed up works.

nook_color.pngPeople are already calling the Nook Color an Android Tablet because it works off the Android operating system. And yet, it is an e-reader! Are you confused yet? This is an e-reader that thinks it's a tablet.

This product further blurs the distinction between what an
e-reader is and what a tablet is. The Android Nook offers us the opportunity to read e-books, but also to surf the web and download apps on a touchscreen.

This color e-reader - the Nook still thinks of itself an an e-reader - will probably do away with E-ink. But it also will probably erode the distinction between tablets and e-readers.

Right now it seems that the main distinction is one of price. The Nook Color is going to be just $249. Bloggers are having difficulty trying to figure out what it is with at least one blogger calling it an "Android-Based Reader/Tablet."

Crunchgear already calls this the "tablet tipping point" and this is for good reason. This really looks like the tablet for the e-reader crowd. And the price should make the Kindle very worried.

Products like this are going to probably put an end to the physical book reader category or at least Balkanize it. It also will further define what a tablet / pad / slate is. Or make it more confusing.

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Brand Naming That Says Too Much: HP Slate 500 Tablet PC

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The HP Slate has been announced and the blogosphere seems to be a little confused, not least because many of us thought this was never gong to see the light of day.

HPSlate500TabletPC.jpgYes, this is a competitor to the iPad, in that it is an expensive, pad-like device that calls itself a "slate." I have blogged about the inevitable confusion that will grow up around "tablet," I mean "pad," I mean "slate" naming and this new product has just managed to make tings yet confusing.

Here is the full name in all it's glory:

HP Slate 500 Tablet PC

Yes, that's really the name.

A name that is trying to be everything to everyone, and some people are confused.

It's BOTH a "slate" AND a "tablet" but NOT a "pad" (despite rumors to the contrary last month).

Oh, yes, and it's also a PC.

The idea is to tell customers that while this is expensive (even more than an iPad, Steve Jobs really must be wondering who would be crazy enough to out price him) you get more.

You get a slate (read tablet) that thinks its a PC (runs Win 7).

Some bloggers are a little hesitant to claim that you could actually operate Windows--or any other full-on operating system with programs we usually use a keyboard and mouse for -- with your fingers but HP thinks business buyers will do so.

This kind of all-encompassing brand naming might be part of HP's strategy of building "brand ecosystems" where every facet of the user experience carries the HP brand name.

But right now, I'm a little confused. As are others.

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With Lion OS Naming, Has Apple Run Out of Cats?

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OS Lion.png


Yesterday at his Back to the Mac event, Steve Jobs unleashed a Lion on us - the Lion OS X 10.7 that upgrades Snow Leopard.

This has some of us asking "What's next, Pussycat?"

Make no mistake about it, this OS looks pretty fierce. I'm sure that every Mac lover will be sharpening their claws and possibly putting in for an even lighter, thinner Mac Air.

But writers around the world are wondering whether or not Apple will run out of big cat names for their operating systems.

Techcrunch helpfully points out that

Apple began using big cat nicknames with initial release of OS X. 10.0 was "Cheetah," 10.1 was "Puma," 10.2 was "Jaguar," 10.3 was "Panther," 10.4 was "Tiger," 10.5 was "Leopard," and the current version, 10.6, is "Snow Leopard." Initially, these were internal code names at Apple, but they eventually became a part of the marketing for the OS.

There also was a "Tiger" operating system. Now, they have chosen the King of Beasts as the name for the new system.

How can they top that? Al Gibes asks, "I wonder what's next? Saber-toothed tiger? Ocelot? Lynx? Bobcat?"

CNN assures us that there are plenty more big cat names to chose from - they even went to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington and asked an expert.

Apple could go into cloud computing and use the Clouded Leopard name. Or move into a Latin naming scheme with Panthera and Tigrus. But what the company really should do is move toward smaller and smaller cats, like Bobcat and Lynx or the Jaguarundi.

I do hope they stay with feline naming. My mouse probably does not.

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The Emerus Brand Name A New Concept in Emergency Room Care

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Strategic Name Development partnered with a group of board certified ER specialists and developed Emerus™, a new concept in emergency room care.

Emerus-Building.jpgEmerus is transforming the delivery of emergency care with the combination of compassionate physicians and free standing emergency care units. Years of experience working in traditional emergency departments, has enabled the Emerus specialists to streamline emergency solutions and processes.

The result is an unprecedented guarantee: Care within 15 minutes.

Like the service it provides, the name, Emerus, conveys the message of emergency room but in a shorter, more approachable manner. The roots of this brand name, Emergency care for all of us, evoke a feeling of sensitivity and compassion that we all want from emergency room care.

Want emergency care in 15 minutes? Want to be treated as a person and not a disease? Of course you do. We all do. Please visit www.emerus.com for more information.

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FAO Schwarz Has Witty New Naming and Branding

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The FAO Schwarz brand name might be one of the biggest in the world of toys, certainly one of the biggest brand names in New York, and perhaps one of the most recognizable names period.
FAO Schwarz.png
So I was interested to see that FAO's owner, Toys 'R' Us, has revamped the logo as well as the website (www.fao.com) and is offering some new FAO Schwarz branded toys which will be available online.

These include the usual collectable ornament and bear plus other items in the new Legendary Christmas Collection.

The FAO Schwarz brand name has been integrated into that of Toys 'R' Us via permanent 230 square foot boutiques installed in Toys 'R' Us stores.

This is no small feat, given that FAO Schwarz is synonymous with high-end toys (like, say, the $19,000 playhouse, or the $250,000 keyboard from the movie "Big" or the $50,000 Ferrari Go-Cart) and Toys 'R' Us is a far more pedestrian brand.

FAO Teddy Bear.pngThe FAO Schwarz logo gets regularly updated. Toy soldiers, bears, blocks and of course a rocking horse have been standby images associated with the brand.

But the new character icon looks like a jester or old fashioned clown. In fact, his name is "Wit" and he adds an "element of fun and surprise to the imagery of the retailer - representing the spirit of what a visit to the store means to children" according to one exec.

Wit is gender neutral and the first totally made-up icon the store has used.

Says one Toys 'R' Us exec: "We began to look for something that would resonate with the notion of innocence, childhood, enchantment, and we came up with this spirit character."

FAO represents for Toys 'R' Us its ultra-high end offering, and as such it may become an even more exclusive name.

This year, for instance, you can buy your daughter (or son) a diamond Barbie Foosball Table by Bonzini for $25,000.

I'd say after a purchase like that, I'd need a little Wit to cheer me up....

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Otria Product Naming Favors Wholesome Greek Flavors

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otria-packages.pngMarzetti®, one of the leaders in refrigerated salad dressing, recently introduced Otria™, a Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip whose brand name was developed in partnership with Strategic Name Development.

As a wholesome, everyday snacking option, the Otria product name communicates both the presence of Omega 3 in each delicious dip variety and the product's 'Greekness' in a short name that is easy to pronounce.

"Marzetti® Otria™ Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip offers a well-balanced, yet innovatively zesty, take on Greek yogurt," said Mary Beth Cowardin, senior marketing manager for Marzetti Dips. "We were excited to partner with Strategic Name Development to create a name that enhances the product's positioning."

Whether you're looking for a delectable snack without the downside or a tasty way to spice up a sandwich, Marzetti's Otria Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip can make it happen. For more recipe ideas and additional product information visit http://www.marzetti.com/Otria.

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The Jungle .png


Panasonic looks set to offer us a new handheld game console called The Jungle.

It has been 15 years since their last attempt to take a bite out of the mobile gaming market failed with the demise of the 3DO.

The new handheld is built specifically for online gaming. It will access something called Panasonic Cloud Entertainment or PCENT, which is an acronym that Crunchgear thinks was not read aloud by anyone on the product naming team. Gamma Squad seems to agree that this acronym is particularly bad.

The WSJ notes that the handheld game market is very tough, with Nintendo and Sony both getting major competition from the iPhone - and both creating newer, slicker devices to take back lost market share.

In the meantime, somebody (cough, Panasonic, cough) has set up a website called, amusingly, http://welcometo.thejungle.com with some teaser material on it.

There is some cynicism out there about this move by Panasonic.

I'm amused to see this URL as well as the WSJ's blog headline "Panasonic, Welcome to the Jungle."

This is a reference to the old Guns N' Roses song by the same name. I wonder what the Gunners think about this?

I note that the URL uses the song's name, but it does not appear anywhere else. Good thing: I'd hate to get on the wrong side of snake collector GNR lead guitarist Slash.

Anyway, it's kind of fitting, because when it comes to handheld gaming, it's a jungle out there.


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MSNBC.com and the "Insanity" Of Naming and Branding

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MSNBC.com and MSNBC TV.png


MSNBC.com is tryng to "stop the insanity" by changing its name to reflect its difference from the affiliated cable channel.

The two sites have very different journalistic styles and mandates, so much so that the existing MSNBC cable channel news site is informally called "the Blue site" by people in the industry.

The plan might be to make a new MSNBC.com cable channel news site that is a true reflection of the cable channel and give the current (popular) MSNBC.com site a whole new name.

The MSNBC name itself is a holdover from a 1996 joint venture with Microsoft that ended in 2005 when NBC took the majority stake in the network.

Now "the cable brand is too entangled with a distinctive point of view and even if it could be changed, it still carries too much baggage for the site."

Should the MSNBC.com site simply call itself NBCNews.com? Possibly.

But moving around the very recognizable MSNBC.com name is "akin to a business closing a bustling storefront and posting a sign that asks customers to visit its new location." MSNBC.com is the third biggest news destination on the web.

The fact is, there is a logical disconnect between what we see on MSNBC cable channel and the MSNBC.com website of the same name. It's time for a change.


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