Branding: February 2011 Archives

united-cont-plane1.jpgSo the new United Continental "interim" ad campaign prefaces the new signage that will appear on billboards and in stadiums bearing the new United typography and somewhat familiar logo. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the new ads will not have a tagline but will focus on the company's rosy new "outlook" as well as "low-fare guarantees and various product attributes, according to a review of six examples."

The new logo will be on all of the online and offline advertising and will mark the official end of United's "tulip" logo, which travelers have known since the 1970s. This has caused some consternation among tourists who remember the tulip fondly. old-united-logo.pngThere is even a Facebook group with 24,550 members devoted to saving it. At least United's theme song, Rhapsody in Blue, by Gershwin will remain.

United Continental has found prosperity in these hard times and the generally positive outlook of the airline seems to be rubbing off on industry watchers, who at first seemed skeptical about the awkward company naming (one blogger wondered if Continental "feels like the kid whose mom forces him to take his stepdad's last name").

I have watched this merger for some time and feel that the earlier proposed designs were not as good as what is now on the planes. The new design "combines the United brand in a new sans serif font across the fuselage with Continental's familiar globe on the tail."

As far as the demise of the tulip goes, I am impressed by how much emotion its loss has evoked in the blogosphere, but I am not surprised. That tulip really stood for the United Airlines of yesterday and the new design melds the two huge brands rather well. It was time to say good-bye.


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Apple Hints at iPad 2 Naming and Branding

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iPadMarch2.pngApple has confirmed that the new iPad will be launched on March 2nd in San Francisco. The invitation that was sent out to the media features a huge "2" in the center, which supposedly references the date of the Apple event as well as the introduction of the possible iPad 2 naming.

There's no doubt that an updated version of the iPad is going to come - only 11 months after the first incarnation - but it is certainly not a sure thing that this will be called the iPad 2.

In fact, leaked shots of the case suggest it will still be the iPad. The launch is obviously timed to blow the wind out of the sales of the Motorola Xoom, which launches today.

As one blogger says, "Knowing that Apple will probably announce a new iPad next week, how many would-be Xoom buyers will put off their purchase at least a week to see what Apple reveals? The mere announcement of this event could throw cold water on the Xoom's retail debut."

We know it will be thinner, more powerful, and possibly have a camera. It should also have an updated processor and support for various wireless networks.

But I think that the big "2" on the invitation is a little misleading. Would it be wise to consider the name iPad 2 on this new product? Apple has 90% of the tablet market and has sold 15 million iPads to date. The name iPad 2 would immediately make all of those tablets look outdated and send out a message that the cool product you bought a few months ago is already headed to the scrap yard.

I blogged about this back in December, noting that Apple has yet to call the second generation of any of their products "2".

The second iPhone was just an iPhone, the second iMac was just an iMac.

I'm still betting that the iPad name stays put, but the product gets even more innovative.

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RelaxingDrinks.pngIt had to happen, I suppose. We've had sports drinks. We've had energy drinks. Now we have anti-energy drinks.

I saw this coming with the slow rise of Drank - a slang term that immediately caught flack when it appeared on the shelves. But now we are seeing more and more of these drinks designed to calm you down - a good thing if you have been getting kind of crazy on Red Bull.

The game changer here is the addition of "melatonin, valerian root and - think turkey - tryptophan." The names are "apt" and include Unwind, iChill and Dream Water.

This news is especially timely as the U.S. prepares for National Sleep Awareness Week in March.

A small group of entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids have invented some stuff called "Take 10 to Sleep" and "Take 10 to Relax" that are two-ounce drinks meant to rival the two-ounce energy shots out there, a $750 million market.

Soda, or pop depending on what part of the country you live in, that help you relax are also doing well, and include names like "Mary Jane's, Simmer Down and Purple Stuff."

And if you really want to chill out, why not try Canna Cola, which is, I kid you not, a cannabis cola.

You can only get it in medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California if you are legally permitted to buy it, but if you do you are pretty much assured to get a good night's sleep.

I'm thinking that there is a trend here that will catch on. We're a nation that is amped up on Red Bull, Four Loko and mega coffees from Starbucks.

Surely it's time we all slow down a bit?

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BMW Enters the World of Eco Cars with "i" Sub-Brand Naming

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BMW has a new eco sub-brand called "i" as in BMW i.

The company's i range will "split the difference between an electric vehicle's zero tailpipe emissions and a plug-in hybrid's gasoline-extended range."

There are two cars slated for the sub-brand. The i3, which will be produced in 2013, will be a small "runabout" while the i8 will offer extended range with the help of a gasoline motor. (Renderings of the BMW i3 and i8 are pictured below)

BMW Renderings.png
These cars have been a long time coming but the official name was announced yesterday in Germany. BMW also has a company in the USA called i Ventures which will offer "vehicle independent services" like smart-phone apps.

One just has to wonder what they are saying in Cupertino about this.

There was a lot of talk that BMW would bring back the Isetta name, which was on their beloved 1955 super-mini. It was never released in the U.S., but you can see them at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The name would have been revamped to i-Setta, but it looks like the whole thing was scrapped. I would have thought that the i-Setta name would have been rather attractive, but obviously BMW does not want the car to appear like a revamped version of a car from yesteryear (like its Mini).

BMWi.pngThe more interesting thing to think about is how that "i" name will work in a world where we seem to put "i" in front of everything - and have been doing since the invention of the iPod.

I have to wonder just how long "i" naming will remain relevant. I also am curious to know how this brand will sit next to the various "i" brands that BMW already offers us. They have been using the lowercase "i" on their various models for years, to indicate they are fuel injected (BMW 318i). In addition, the BMW iDrive system is a new feature that has been getting the attention of many buyers (and iPod owners).

Six years ago Laura Ries argued that by offering so many different models - including a 4 x 4 - BMW was in danger of losing is claim to be the "Ultimate Driving Machine."

I do not doubt that eco-cars are going to be important in the future, but a small runabout and a car that competes with the Nissan Leaf is likely to dilute that image.

As Autoblog Green says, "We can't help but note that in the accompanying press release, there is almost no discussion of preserving BMW's reputation of being 'fun-to-drive' and a leader in dynamics, and 'sustainable vehicles and mobility solutions' certainly isn't terminology to set the enthusiast's heart alight."

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There is a real black hole in the world of naming and branding when it comes to home collections. It may be because the concept of an actual home collection is a little anathema to what most people think of when creating a living space.

Surely one builds a home using an assortment of brands, rather than simply going to a "collection" or even getting an entire house or apartment made in the image of one brand?

A recent article in Adweek entitled "The Branded Home: The Art Of the Brand Extension" makes me think that the derivative nature of a home collection is what makes 'slapping' a name on it so difficult.

HomeCollections.pngBrands ranging from Esquire Magazine to Paula Deen to Lily Pulitzer to, wait for it, Donald Trump, want to get into your living room.

These are not brands that scream "design" or "furniture." These are just well known brands. Westin and Sheraton also offer a home collection, which makes me think right away that there must be a large cohort of people who really like staying in hotels.

Martha Stewart's ill-fated Katonah Home Collection at least has the name of a recognized home goddess behind it. Donald Trump? Not so much.

That said, Martha's Living collection for Home Depot is not killing the competition.

I suppose living and home collections have become catch all brand extension projects. The golden chalice is that the home collection becomes a real boon to the brand - Laura Ashley now depends on the home lines - only 21% of its sales come from fashion items.

But brand extension failures are the butt of jokes in the industry, with real howlers like Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water and Colgate Kitchen Entrees being staple humor magnets.

My feeling is that people nowadays will shy away from home brand names that do not seem authentic.

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Ford Sues Ferrari Over F150 Naming and Branding

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Ford is suing Ferrari over the F150 brand name. This is not a joke. Ferrari has not gone into making trucks, but they did want to call their new Formula 1 racing car the F150 to celebrate the 150 anniversary of Italy's unification.

But the name is just too similar to Ford's F-150 truck series, arguably the company's most precious brand name. Ferrari has decided to rename the racing car the F150th Italia.

ferrarif150.pngFerrari initially pointed out to Ford that "Ferrari retains that there can be no way to confuse the one-seater... or even think that there would be a link with another brand," adding "It seems really difficult to understand what has been expressed by Ford."

Nevertheless, Ford has asked Ferrari to recall "all products, labels, tags, signs, prints, packages, videos, advertisements using the F-150 brand."

They also want damages for Ferrari's use of the www.ferrarif150.com web site.

Ford has been using that F-150 name since 1975 and has had a trademark on it since 1995.

But there is yet more bad blood here: back in the 1960s, Ford engineered a car specifically meant to beat Ferrari at Le Mans after the company decided not to be taken over by the U.S. giant. Ford broke the Italian winning streak on the course with its legendary GT40.

Ford is within its legal rights here. Ferrari is a highly visible brand name and Ford needs to keep any car company, anywhere, away from the F-150 product name.

I almost have to wonder how Ferrari could imagine it would be able to use the F150 name.

The Italian carmaker's hasty name change is evidence that they knew a grave and costly mistake was made.

I'd also add that the new name has a great deal more flair, and sounds more like a F1 race car and less like, well, a pick-up truck.

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Verizon Brand Naming Puts iPhone 4 First

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AT&TvsVerizon.pngAn interesting piece on Beatweek Magazine has me thinking about one of the trickier issues in naming and branding - how to order two partner brands.

The big news that Verizon iPhone 4 models are available has overshadowed the way these are advertised.

In a mass email, Apple proudly proclaims "iPhone 4 on Verizon. It's here." While Verizon advertising says "iPhone 4. Now on Verizon." Apple's online approach is similar with "iPhone 4 on Verizon."

What we see here is the iPhone 4 name always being first. This is obviously something Apple has demanded in yet another move to ensure that consumers think about their brand name and product before its carrier.

It seems to be working. Verizon's partnership with Apple has actually cut into the Droid market more than the AT&T iPhone market. The two networks are clashing in two different directions.

In its ads, AT&T is reminding customers that their network is swifter and carries data faster than Verizon, who is touting the clearness of its connection.

Think about how hard it is to create an ad that trashes the other carrier without trashing the iPhone or its brand name.

All of the ads show the iPhone as useful in different ways - weather you are making a last minute date or just looking at the phone's sleek lines and wondering who its carrier is.

One thing is sure. Verizon is making a killing on this, with pre-orders selling out in less than a day, and one commercial showing ticking clocks - underlining how long customers have waited for the carrier to link with Cupertino.

The only other thing that is certain is that the iPhone brand name is going to be the ultimate winner.

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In the naming and branding business, brand loyalty is almost a mantra. So it is with some chagrin that I reviewed two articles that seem to indicate that brand loyalty is quickly fading, especially among consumers who are 25-49.

The problem seems to be that these consumers are able to do hefty amounts of research online about products that they want. No longer can a strong, recognizable brand name swing the buy, it appears.

I am willing to agree that today's savvy consumer is not going to blindly buy products made by one brand name or another - but is brand loyalty actually dead? I think that reports of the death of brand loyalty have been greatly exaggerated.

Hyundai.pngThe fact is, we still see tremendous amounts of it. Hyundai, for instance, has been telling all about its second consecutive place at the head of the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI). Surely Hyundai buyers are between the age of 25-49?

Those same people are busy updating their Facebook pages, and giving further loyalty to a mighty brand name that is pulling ahead of Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn at a rapid rate -- while those same brands also retain a broad loyalty base.

Media brands of all types top the brand loyalty index - Netflix edged out Apple, which has been sitting there ever since the first generation iPod came to us. And again, the major users of these brands are that same demographic that supposedly does not have much customer loyalty.

Today's demanding consumer wants to be "delighted" by innovation, quality and performance. No longer will customers accept a sub par product bearing a well known name.

And, given the sheer amount of brands that we interact with on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, it seems unlikely that we will be loyal across the board. But should the brand name be married to a great, innovative, "delightful" product, loyalty will and does ensue. This is Brand Management 101.

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Icons.pngThe Huffington Post has an interesting article about how brand names are going to continue to get shorter as they begin to represent an "expansive experience" over a "particular product."

Amazon stands for many things, as does Apple and Kodak. Amazon Books, Apple Computer and Kodak Film are all past incarnations of these brands that outgrew their names.

I have been noticing a trend in naming where companies are almost forcing the shortening of their name.

The ultimate goal seems to be for the company to become an icon, with the logo having no name at all (think swoosh, apple, siren, spade).

Companies are risking much to make this happen. Starbucks and Kate Spade are great brands, but are they really iconic? The companies are gambling that icons can be made. Maybe Starbucks.

Case in point today is the possibility that Sony might actually scrap the PlayStation name (please do not spit coffee on your keyboard).

XperiaPlay.pngPSX Extreme points out that "most companies would sell their souls to the devil to have a brand name like PlayStation" and to actually turn away from it seems like a form of corporate hari-kari.

The idea is, ultimately, to use the Xperia name across a range of devices, and not have to tag the "PlayStation Certified" label on every gaming device and smartphone the company makes in the near future. This issue came to a head during the Super Bowl, when Sony appeared to give us a glimpse of the much-wanted PlayStation Phone called the Xperia Play.

Putting aside whether or not Sony can actually afford to do away with the PlayStation naming, one must consider why the company would move in this direction. The Xperia naming allows Sony to take a much wanted product (PlayStation Phone/Xperia Play) and use it to start to whittle down its naming into that "expansive experience."

The gamble is that customers will not understand that the Xperia Play is the PlayStation phone. But in today's wired world, this seems unlikely.

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Dropping the Naming and Branding and Going Bare

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I'm fascinated by a piece on POPSOP exploring "brands that dare to go bare."

KateSpadeStarbucks.pngGiven the recent moves by Starbucks and Kate Spade to drop their naming from their logos, are we seeing a trend where companies are pushing to remove their naming from their logos?

The trend is more common than we might think, and not restricted to Apple, Nike and Starbucks. In fact, last month a few bloggers asked that we stop criticizing Starbucks's move to a logo only scheme.

Still, 8 of the 10 top brands use word marks over icons, with 50% of the top 100 going for word marks. Obviously, the company name is still going to hold front and center with customers.

A quick look at some of the major company logos and their evolutions illustrates that a company's name has a great influence on its logo.

This is obviously one of the crucial parts of a naming and branding initiative - your name will ultimately also be your logo, so tread carefully.

On the other hand, the naysayers are not tremendous fans of the Starbucks logo.

The problem Starbucks may face is that they have a complex logo - versus the simple ones of Apple, McDonald's and Nike.

Consumers are unsure what a "siren" is (Starbucks prefers this name for the logo, taken from Greek mythology, while most coffee drinkers think of it as a mermaid). No such confusion exists over the golden arches or the swoosh.

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Naming and Branding Can Make You Drive Recklessly

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Two separate studies out now are pretty darn fascinating.

CrestJohnson.pngThe first is from Buyology and is entitled The Most Desired US Brands Report, which has found significant and startling differences between men and women when it comes to their favorite brands.

Women like Amazon, Sony and Target while men like car brands. No surprise there.

But guess what the all time favorite brand is for men... Crest toothpaste. This beat BMW!

Women, in turn, chose Johnson & Johnson as their favorite brand in spite of a year of repeated recalls and negative publicity.

I'd imagine this has a great deal to do with how ubiquitous these brand names
are in our lives.

The male love of car brands has also been good news to Ford, whose brand is now right near the top in consumer perception.

A separate survey shows that almost half of the respondents actually do not care about car brands at all. Can you guess which half of the population this is?

The second study is even more intriguing. Two Boston College professors have put out a report in the Journal of Consumer Psychology that has proven that Red Bull really does "give you wings."

RedBull.pngPeople playing a video game with the logos of Guinness, Tropicana, Coca-Cola and Red Bull adorning respective cars invariably drove the Red Bull car more recklessly.

The professors call this "non-conscious brand priming," which essentially means that we start to take on the personalities of the brands we interact with.

When we think of Red Bull, we tend to think of "speed... power... hyper... extreme," and drive accordingly.

Which leads to to say... please stay out of the automobile business, Red Bull!

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Is Kate Spade Going for Iconographic Naming and Branding?

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KateSpadeNewLogo.pngI'm interested to know more about the strategy around the Kate Spade logo, which has recently been revamped.

It now looks like a spade, and it seems as if the reaction on the blogosphere is a little mixed. Some love it and some say it is cliché.

At least one industry watcher says it is too simple but I'd also add that this looks like the company is going for icon status here a la Apple and Starbucks.

Where is the company name? Is Kate Spade really that well-known that it can just do away with its own name?

There is something here that bothers me. When I think about Kate Spade, I just do not think about spades in a card deck.

Frankly, at first I just did not get it.

That spade symbol has been used again and again to promote gambling. I wonder if it looks a little lowbrow and possibly too masculine for this very feminine, very New York brand.

But beyond this, I think the company is really taking a chance by promoting the word "spade." The word has a negative connotation, in my opinion, and the sound is harsh. As one researcher has found, this can be a real drawback.

I wonder if this move really reflects the cool sophistication of a brand we all know and love?

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Branding.pngYou have probably never heard of The Landlord's Game, but you know and have probably played Monopoly.

On February 7, 1935, Monopoly was invented after a redesign of a game called The Landlord's Game.

What inventor referred to their product as "... all about making women's butts look better...?" Spanx, a brand name for women's spandex underwear was born on February 15, 2000.

Diane Prange, our Chief Lingustics Officer, was surprised to learn that one of her favorite products was name after a failed product shape. What candy was named after a failed product shape? The Milk Duds brand name, registered on February 24, 1983, was derived from its failed product shape, which was not perfectly round, and the large amount of milk in the product.

You probably know the brand behind the "Just Do It" tagline; yes, it's the world's leading athletic brand, which became a registered trademark on February 19, 1974. You may not have known it was named after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike.

As a brand naming company, Strategic Name Development is keenly interested in significant branding events.

We have identified significant branding events that have occurred on every day of the month for February. For the February This Day in Branding report, click here.

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