the product naming blog

June 8, 2012

When it Comes to Brand Naming, You Really Need to Know Sh#t from Shinola

I'm fascinated to see the arrival of Dallas-based company Bedrock manufacturing in Detroit.

They are setting up an upscale watch company at Detroit's College for Creative Studies A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in New Center.

Shinola-watch.jpgThe watches look great and they plan on making half a million of them a year. This may actually be the revival of the American watchmaking industry. But the thing that has really caught my attention is the brand name...


Now, some of you may recall that Shinola used to be a shoe polish that saw its heyday in the 1940s. The shoe polish has since disappeared (although it has a Facebook page) but a classic expression that incorporates the name has lived on: "He doesn't know sh+t from Shinola."

The phrase even made it to the big screen in Steve Martin's The Jerk.

Now, one might think that the people who chose the name overlooked this expression, but interestingly enough, they liked it so much it was the inspiration for the name. The expression came up in a "heated brainstorming debate" and it, well, stuck.

Made-in-Detroit-Logo.gifJust as interesting is the equity the Detroit name has. The company chose to set up production of the watches there because they found that "Made in Detroit" actually means something.

The car ads have obviously paid off and brought a certain gritty panache to the city. In fact, Detroit seems to be slowly becoming aware of the value of its name.

When consumers were given a choice between a $5 pen made in China, a $10 pen made is the US, and a $15 pen made in Detroit, they preferred the more expensive pen "Made in Detroit."

Behind all this strategic planning is the founder of the hugely successful Fossil Watches, Tom Kartsotis, so this is no stab in the dark. Apparently, people like Kartsotis really do know sh+t from Shinola.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2012

End of an Era: Sara Lee Brand Naming Changes to Hillshire Brands

After renaming their international coffee and tea division D.E. Master Blenders 1753, Sara Lee has now renamed its North American business Hillshire Brands Co., which will trade on the NYSE as HSH.

The name comes from the Hillshire Farm brand that was acquired in 1971, which Sara Lee says represents the company's "ambitions for growing our portfolio of iconic brands in the future."

Meanwhile, the name Sara Lee will be maintained for the food service division as Sara Lee Foodservice.

As one would expect, the company will have a new visual identity for its "meat-centric brand and snack solutions."

Obviously the Sara Lee name meant "bakery" to many people, but the Hillshire Brands portfolio includes meat brands, such as Jummy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and State Fair as well as two "artisan" brands: Aidells and Gallo.

Hillshire Farm was established in Wisconsin in 1934 by Friedrich (Fritz) Bernegger in New London, just northwest of Appleton. The name still stands for "quality, integrity and superior taste" according to Sara Lee.

This is not the first time Sara Lee has embraced a name change. The Sara Lee name dates back to 1939, but the name itself was changed in 1954 to Consolidated Foods, only to switch back in 1985 to Sara Lee.

I think this marks the beginning of the end for the Sara Lee name as we know it, ushering in a far more streamlined approach to a greatly transformed company. Yet, I am glad the Sara Lee name will remain in some capacity even if I am not expecting to see it on retail shelves anymore.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 4, 2012

Will We Ever Understand Wii U Product Naming?

WiiULogo.pngIt's probably not a surprise to most gamers, but the Wii U product name will remain on Nintendo's upcoming home console.

This is a source of disappointment for some bloggers who are quick to point out that this product naming decision caused much confusion when it was announced in 2011.

By only tacking on the "U," many people thought is was just a tweak on the base unit, "like the DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL launched in previous years" suggests IGN, who already lambasted the Wii U name in an editorial as "too clever for its own good" because it doesn't differentiate the hardware from previous incarnations.

This may lead to a similar situation as the Nintendo 3DS where the company was forced to put red stickers on the boxes to differentiate them from the DS system while also reminding the people watching their TV advertising that "This is not DS. This is Nintendo 3DS."

I blogged about this earlier this year, pointing out that you really have to dig hard to figure out that Wii U is a whole new console. But Nintendo is adamantly sticking to the name, probably assuming we've figured it out by now.

As one blogger put it last month when it looked like the name was sticking around, "The Wii U Name is Final, Deal With It." I probably couldn't have put it better myself.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2012

Social Media Might Help Country Time Put Arnold Palmer Naming in a Sand Trap


The drink recipe of half lemonade and half iced tea was created by the famous golfer Arnold Palmer, he has a licensing deal to market this product, using his name and image on packaging.

Marketing Daily presents an interesting naming dilemma to the world today, as Country Time promotes its new lemonade and iced tea mix.

So how do they name their new drink?

By enlisting celebrities such as Drew Brees, Kristen Chenoweth and Michael Waltrip to push for their own name using social media and crowd sourcing.

It's called the "Campaign for the Name."

Consumers are asked to help campaign for the name they like best. And by the end of the summer, a new brand, for Country Time's version of the drink, will be born.

There are videos galore that add an emotional, funny angle to the whole thing.

What we have here is a move to make celebrities' fans into consumers.

This may work for Country Time, as the relevance of Arnold Palmer is fading.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2012

Churchkey Beer Product Naming Has Gone Retro

churchkey.jpgHere's an interesting name for a beer - Churchkey.

Hollywood star Adrian Grenier unveiled his new Seatle-brewed beer yesterday in New York. Churchkey comes from the name of a can opener that is used to punch holes in an old-school can of beer. You know, the ones that are just flat on top.

Those flat topped cans went extinct when the pull tab came along in the 1960s.

But here is where it gets interesting - church key may be a variation on "tchotchke," which essentially is a word for any unusual trinket.

The old tchotchke openers were given away at gas stations and at breweries as an advertising gimmick, and over time the name changed to church key.

Ironically, "tchotchke" is originally a Yiddish word.

Churchkey Can Co. feels "The name was then adopted to all tools used to open beer - with an ironic twist - for it is said if you used a church key opener (i.e. if you drank beer), you would be less likely to open the door of a church to attend service."

Similarly, MillerCoors has recently introduced the "Punch Top Can," which is designed with the normal pop top as well as an extra tab to puncture. This tab helps increase airflow and allows for a smoother pour.

Controversy has surrounded the design of the can as it is similar to shotgunning - the act of puncturing an extra hole in the can and consuming the beer at a high rate of speed.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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