Branding: April 2006 Archives

Brand Naming: Wii Wii Wii All the Way Home

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Wii LogoI have to add my voice to the coming from the gaming world over a new Nintendo brand name called Wii.

Nintendo has come out with a explaining the name, which is meant to be pronounced “we” (as in “we all play”). They claim the name reminds us that “this console is for everyone” and that "Wii" can "easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak".

But it could be mispronounced "why", or perhaps some would pronounce the two i's separately. If you do, you might get “Why I?”, a question many of us ask ourselves on Monday morning when some gamer is playing with one of these things in the next cubicle.

More likely, it could be mispronounced “wee”, which is just not an association you need with a hi-tech product name.

In some languages, like Welsh, where the “w” is a vowel pronounced “oo”, you might get oooh-eee, which for a game might be OK, but most of us are not Welsh and if you are not, that particular pronunciation sounds like a call for the pigs, another big no-no.

Nintendo says “together, Wii will change everything” but I’m thinking the first thing they should change is the name.

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  • - Some names just beg for controversy, and this one is no exception. I think these guys have done their branding research and are stirring up trouble just for its promotional value. For those of us who don't even like the IDEA of snakes on a plane, the likelihood of actually running into an airborne serpent is low.
  • - Here's a cool way to promote your company name: get it installed into people's GPS units. So, when folks are looking for some address, your logo pops up--presto!--just a block away from their intended destination. Dunkin' Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery have already embraced this technology...
  • - Or at least Steve Rubel predicts. Kind of a funny idea when you consider the product names iPod and Podcast are clearly linked, but with the introduction of BerryCast for the Blackberry, I have to admit I see some grim times ahead for the iPod version. Blackberrys will be easier to use. And you gotta love the name.

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Brand Naming: This Fragrance Was Made for Lovin' You

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KissThe 70's supergroup Kiss is back with a , joining ranks with the many other singers offering with their celebrity brand names.

It seems to me that very few blood spitting, make-up wearing heavy metal bands have the right name for a fragrance. Motley Crue and Def Leopard, for instance, are two difficult brand names to imagine as a cologne or perfume. But, Kiss just happens to have a scent-friendly brand name despite their pretty scary image.

The Kiss line will to include a fragrance, shower gels and body sprays. The ads will link the distinctive make up worn by the band (and its dragon-tongued lead singer, Gene Simmons) with, interestingly, Venetian masks (that’s some good brand research at work).

The slogan will read “You never forget your first…” with the traditional Kiss logo, followed by the tagline “Fragrances Made For Lovin’ You”, referencing the group’s hit song “I was made for Loving You”.

I think this is pure nostalgia branding at work, of course, but Kiss has always been a bit different and the scent will stand apart from the tamer offerings by such celebrities as .

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Brand Naming: Intel Picks vPro for Its Business Brand

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vProIntel is forging ahead with its strategy to lend its brand to PC functionality rather than simple power through the of its vPro brand platform.

In my post on January 2nd, I discussed how Intel moved away from the nebulous "Intel Inside" slogan towards a more integrative brand name by using the "Leap Ahead" slogan. The Intel strategy supports branded platforms and processor platforms.

Intel's Centrino platform combined a processor, mobile chipset and a wireless chip while Viiv is all about home entertainment on PCs. Intel's new strategy is clearly allowing the company's name to be all things to everyone and, more exciting, allowing it to use branded platforms to support a plethora of smaller, more technical brand names.

For instance, vPro will offer security solutions for business users through offering what Intel refers to as Active Management Technology (AMT) and Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) both of which offer IT departments PCs that are easy to manage and which is more energy efficient.

I haven't always been a fan of Intel's naming strategy, but what we are seeing now is a brand literally honing its personality and becoming much more defined. And what's more, it seems to be working.

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  • - Interesting blog on exactly what readers read when they pull up your web page. Crucial brand research for the web generation.
  • - This famous name from McDonald's past life is now gone. The Mayor's name was a sort of weird miracle of brand naming, and one of Ronald's best friends.
  • - The Pontiac Solstice takes center stage in a New Comic called "The Rush", a traditional and excellent way of placing a brand name among hip consumers.

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StoliTwo top vodka brands, Stolichnaya and Russian Standard, are fighting over who can legitimately claim to be . I think there's a subtle irony here, as the top accolade in vodka brand naming should be who gets to be Poland’s Best Vodka, since that is vodka's country of origin.

Nonetheless, worldwide consumers associate vodka with Russia and being named Russia’s best would mean to most of us that your brand name is at the top. claims that Stoli ships out the basic vodka mix to Latvia where it is bottled and sold worldwide, and that what we get is not the original Russian vodka.

The double irony is that the Stoli brand name is controlled by French outside of Russia, a group that angrily dismisses these allegations. The ancient (500 year-old) Stolichnya brand name has been under fire before, not least by the Russian government itself, which has gone to court over its use in the lucrative U.S. markets. Russian Standard, on the other hand, was introduced in 1998, but has a large share of the Russian market and, love it or hate it, is Russian through and through.

It seems to me that in a world where production of almost anything is outsourced at least in part, it will be harder and harder to claim what is truly a "home brand": over 50% of a Ford is made overseas, for example, and nowadays most Italian shoe brands - brand names that certainly gain equity through their association with Italy - are outsourced to less exotic places like Bulgaria and Romania.

Drinking Stoli at least makes one feel authentically Russian, even if the Russians themselves aren’t drinking it.

Matthew Barnett shares more insight into what makes a genuine Russian vodka brand name in a recent . Also check out the Irina posted on her blog that unravels the trademarking mystery behind Stolichnaya Vodka.

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  • - EchoStar may want to "tivo" this decision recently handed down by the courts. EchoStar says it is the "scapegoat" for similar products offering
    the same service.

  • Body Shop's popularity plunges after L'Oreal sale - Consumers are tougher and tougher about the authenticity of their socially responsible product names, and sales prove it.

  • - Marketing for Altoids and Lifesavers brand names is set to be pumped up by Wrigley's, who is also going to put some serious funding behind Creme Savers.

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China Is Developing Its Own Brand Names

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SAIC logoIf there are three things one can be sure about in the future, they are as follows: we will be taxed, we will die, and we will see new Chinese car brands in the next four years.

I found it interesting that state-controlled SAIC Motor Corp, which partners with VW and GM in China, is to launch its own auto brands. The new brand name is not out yet, but they already have a first run slated of 600,000 by 2010.

Ultimately, they plan on pumping out over 2 million cars per year shortly thereafter, and will probably need some brand architecture thinking. SAIC will be using technology purchased from MG Rover to make the new cars.

Watch this space, because whatever brand SAIC introduces is sure to be a winner.

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LenovoIn a recent blog post on , I mentioned how China's sounded strange at first, but its multi-million dollar media effort is quickly making the name as common as ThinkPad.

Now I know why I have so quickly embraced Lenovo's brand name. The New York Times is reporting that, while Lenovo had the right to continue to use the name for five years, they have quickly moved to remove it completely from their advertising (the IBM logo still appears on the laptop itself) and put all of their efforts into expanding the market's awareness of the Lenovo brand name.

The Times article indicates that there is a pretty wide range of opinions regarding this strategy.

For additional coverage of this story, have a look at:

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Busch Gardens: A Branding Experience That Describes

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Busch Gardens has made a wise name change, rebranding both theme parks by the experience each park offers, rather than the geographic locations of the parks.

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg is now Busch Gardens Europe to describe the experience.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa is now Busch Gardens Africa, again, to describe the experience.

The revitalized descriptive rebranding is a shrewd move by Busch. Vacationers don’t go to Busch Gardens because it’s in Tampa, for instance. They go for the experience. Nicely described with the new names.

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DurangoAt least one feels that we do in fact assign genders to products in the process of naming brands.

  • The Ford Bronco is clearly a masculine name while the Toyota Sequoia is more feminine.
  • The name Durango is also masculine (names ending in “o” in Spanish are masculine).

The article talks about the “leakage” of gendered words into English. Makita Power Tools - whose target market is predominately male but whose name sounds female - had a hurdle to overcome when they came to the U.S. I think that we in the product naming business have been purposely gendering products for years to appeal to the correct target market, and language leakage is only a part of this.

It is no secret that a car like the Jeep Wrangler is clearly designed for the male target market, while the Renault Clio is much more feminine and demure. My recent on HERO Honda’s motorcycle names also shows the increasing moodiness of the male mind when it comes to their favorite brands.

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Is Comcast's Smartplay a Smart Brand Naming Move?

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NameSmartplay might be the brand name for the .

Comcast's new quadruple-play telephone, Internet, television, and wireless business device is probably going to have its own product name, insiders report, after noting that the company has just trademarked the Smartplay name, which can be used for telecommunications and internet services, VOIP, wireless services, and broadcasting.

I think it's a smart and logical move to offer a new brand in this instance, because Smartplay will be co-offered with Sprint Nextel, meaning that it is unlikely that there will be a squabble over product naming.

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  • - Interesting thoughts on managing the most important brand name in your life: your own.
  • - This blog examines the interesting, forbidden relationship between PR people and journalists. I personally think people doing product naming, thereby trying to get product names mentioned in the media, need to cultivate this prickly relationship.

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Accoona LogoRecognize the name Accoona? I think you probably will, soon, and I’ll explain why.

Unless you sell seashells by the seashore or something, you’ve probably seriously considered the value of search engine marketing, or at least your business’s organic rankings within Google, Yahoo! or MSN Search. Driving your decisions about SEM, though, is knowing which search engines your customers are flocking to.

In my opinion, being a consumer and using a search engine go hand-in-hand. So I how search engines are branding themselves and uncovered a trend in .

With so many loyal customers of products with Microsoft branding throughout the world, only 11% of search engine users chose MSN Search last November, whereas 70% chose Yahoo! or Google. Why?

In large part, I think the search experience is about satisfying consumers’ curiosities and connecting them with businesses. And I think we have a growing affinity for coined, or created, words for brand names in the technology arena.

I found that search engines launched in the 90’s were much more descriptively named (WebCrawler, Infoseek, and AlltheWeb), since the technology was so new. Recently, however, search engine branding is getting more creative, using coined names such as Kosmix, FinQoo, Quaero, and Accoona.

With constant innovations in the dead-serious business of Internet search, and yet-undiscovered reasons to use search technology, companies are finding new ways to brand a customer’s search experience.

So, where does the brand name "Accoona" come from? Here's what the page says:

The name Accoona is derived from the Swahili phrase, Hakuna Matata, which means "don’t worry be happy." Accoona CEO Stuart Kauder says, "The company name was chosen specifically with the end user in mind. Our goal is to make our users happy by helping them find relevant results to their queries."

Now that's a user experience I'd like to have!

For more insight into the Accoona brand, visit Mark Scholl's . Luis Suarez wrote a nice , and Brian Morrissey at Adfreaks shows how . For more insight into competitor Google's brand, visit the page, this post, and this post by Diego Rodriguez.

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Wal-Mart has just announced a , designed by the and aimed at "young men with an urban flair." Its name? Exsto.

This is a fitting name (pun intended) for the image Wal-Mart wants to present. Exsto is Latin for "stand out, project, be conspicuous, be visible." Just what anyone looking for style wants to do.

Admittedly, not too many of Wal-Mart’s customers speak or read Latin. Many are Latin-American, however, and may think of the Spanish esto, meaning "this." As in "this is the one."

What do you think of the new Exsto brand name?

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Maytag Caught in a Brand Architecture Whirlpool

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whirlpool has just completed the of 115 year old and will immediately start integrating the companies. The hoary old Maytag name came with a $2.6 bil price tag, including Whirlpool’s assumption of Maytag’s debt.

maytagI’ll have more on this Monday, April 3rd. I do know that Maytag will continue to be sold as a Whirlpool brand. The ancillary Maytag brands, like and , will probably remain on under the Whirlpool banner.

Whirlpool has published a special section of their website containing information on the for customers, investors, employees, retirees, media and trade partners.

For more on the Maytag – Whirlpool merger check out Antitrust Review and Home-Tech Talk .

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