Company Naming: July 2006 Archives

Links Du Jour 07-31-06

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  • Mastering New Marketing Practices - John Hagel writes about how Brands will become even more important and valuable in this new marketing world, and should make the transition to a new, customer-centric brand promise. This means that a new brand name that resonates with its target market should communicate this promise: “Buy from me because I know you as an individual customer better than anyone else and you can trust me to use that knowledge to configure the right bundle of products and services to meet your individual needs.”
  • Domain Names - Points To Consider When Choosing One - Simon L demonstrates in this post how careful one must be when choosing a domain name for your brand. He suggests a few ideas: incorporating the most searched for term in your market into your domain name, considering the memorable-brand route, and keeping your domain name short, for greater memorability. He also recommends you Stay Away From Hyphenated Domains!

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Links Du Jour 07-28-06

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  • Norman's World - Tom Peters shares that a recent L.L.Bean order of his was N.I.S. (not in store.) What's interesting is that Leon Leonwood Bean (L.L.Bean) has turned over the reins to his nephew, whose name happens to be Norman Ignatius Stephen Bean (N.I.S. Bean). I don't think Norman has any plans on changing the company name.
  • Concatenation of letter strings can get you into trouble - Geoffrey K. Pullum at Language Log reports on an interesting story regarding the embarassing intersection of linguistics, company naming, and domain names. Italian battery company Powergen Italia's website URL is www.powergenitalia.com. Yes, they have since changed their company name. Pen Island is a company selling customized pens, and really does have a current web site called www.penisland.com.
  • Pretentious names for trim - Jack Yan talks about those tricky car names and levels denoted by letters such as L, GL, and S, or a combination, like the Camaro Z-28. These letters or words following the brand name denote how well equipped a car was. Now, Jack says, auto makers are denoting extra levels of quality with created names such as Focus Platinum, Ford Zetec, Renault Scénic, or Commodore Omega. Do you think pretentious names inform the consumer?

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Brand Naming: A New Airline Brand Only A Click Away

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CatairIt's interesting to see the evolution of airline brand names that are place-oriented, such as Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, and USAir, to short, catchy, evocative, and easy-to-remember names such as Song, Ted, and Virgin (yes, I realize that Song was folded into its parent, Delta, primarily for financial reasons.)

There's a new kid on the block. Or, should I say a new, low-cost airline from Iberia Airlines in Spain.

It's called Clickair.

You might ask, why Clickair? It's that "the Internet will be its primary sales tool..."

Although this is a more interesting name than Northwest or USAir, it's probably not in the same league as Song, Ted, and Virgin.

But, there's something about it I like. It's different, irreverant, and stands out from all other airline brand names.

The blog reports that Clickair is going to be, possibly, the first airline that even before taking off will have its own unofficial fan site. It is (Catair as the provisional brand name that finally was not chosen.)

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What do you think of FEMA’s new name?

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FEMA logoI hadn’t given this question much thought until I was contacted by Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times and Southern California Public Radio.

During her live radio show on KPCC Radio, Monday, July 17th, here’s what I said about FEMA’s new name, Emergency Management Authority, or EMA:

  • If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck
  • The acronym EMA sounds too close to FEMA

Olay logoHowever, the broadened to re-branding in general and I thought I would share some interesting city and country name changes, some that may be familiar, some less familiar:

  • The Gold Coast is now Ghana
  • East Dutch Indies is now Indonesia
  • Bombay is now Mumbai, and of course has been in the news recently
  • Calcutta is now Kolkata
  • Bangalore is now Bengaluru, which by any name, is where many of the IT jobs are going

And do you recall the unsuccessful state name change effort from North Dakota to Dakota, to make the state seem a little less northern and cold?

Panera BreadSome successful brand name changes, in my opinion, are:

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, because they’re no longer just in Kentucky, sell only fried chicken, and sell only chicken
  • Boston Chicken to Boston Market, to reflect a broader menu
  • Oil of Olay to Olay, since most new Olay products have nothing to do with oil
  • St. Louis Bread to Panera Bread, from the Italian pane for bread

Finally, Atlanta Bread just changed their name to Zaria, which is Russian for sunrise. In my opinion, Zaria sounds more like a drug name than a restaurant name.

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Lee Gomes, of the Wall Street Journal, today published a on domain names.

The source of his information is Dennis Forbes, an analyst with Vastardis Capital Services, a New York mutual-fund service company.

Although, being a naming company, anecdotally, we are aware of many of these findings. But not to the degree and thoroughness that are reported in the Journal article.

Hats off to Dennis for analyzing this information and Lee reporting on it:

  • There are roughly 47 million domain names that end with ".com".
  • For every possible 2-character and 3-character combination, including both letters and numbers, all possible domains are taken.
  • The most common word, four letters or longer, is "home" - 719,000 domains have some sort of home in them.
  • "Sex" appears in 257,000 domains; "Imagine" appears in 3,700.
  • The average length of a domain name is 13 characters long - half are between 9 and 15.
  • A domain can have, at most, 63 characters, and there are 550 such domains.
  • Each of the 26 letters of the alphabet have a domain in which the letter is repeated 63 times.
  • Most people now search for Web sites using a descriptive word or phrase...

We especially understand that last point. We recognized, years ago, that potential clients were searching by a descriptive word or phrase. That's why we chose for our domain name.

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Brand Naming: Students Know Technology Not Branding

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Every year the collects some 1200 high school students in San Jose for an intensive series of site visits, seminars, workshops, labs, and presentations by representatives from major technology companies and universities.

And every year the students are divided into teams to work on Future Solutions projects to solve real-world dilemmas “through the creative use of existing or future technology.” Yesterday, judges from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and HP convened to award prizes in categories such as “Best Business Solution,” “Greatest Global Impact,” and “Best Expansion of Existing Technology,” with one overall winner out of the eleven category winners.

All of the projects were good, but some had better names than others. “Sewergy” and “LugEx” show a better grasp of the importance of branding in today's marketplace than “Implementation of Nanosensors in Regards to Insulin Control.”

The two top contenders for overall winner were both renewable energy solutions. Runner-up TerMight used termites and yard waste to create high-grade ethanol to fuel cars, while the winning project harvested wind power by putting turbines on floating frames tethered to oil derricks.

The name of this project? S.O.R.E.

That stands for Solutions of Renewable Energy, and with the gull-like logo the students drew, it was clear they wanted people to think of the homophone for their acronym: “soar.”

Unfortunately, if the judges are anything to go by, that wasn’t what came to mind. There were numerous “don’t get sore if we don’t vote for your project” remarks from the judges on other teams when it came time to choose the overall winner. If S.O.R.E. had been a real company, its name would have been a serious liability.

They would have done better just to call the project “Soar,” making up a new acronym if they felt they had to. (Acronyms are not the best choice for names, but are pretty common for non-profit and research institutions: think of SETI, or of NYLF for that matter.)

Fortunately for Team S.O.R.E., the project’s name was not one of the criteria the judges used to determine the best project.

These students understood the technology of what they submitted, but like many companies, they overlooked the importance of an appropriate brand name.

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Links Du Jour 07-18-06

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  • Aquapod Hits the Road - The packaging is certainly cool, but is the Aquapod brand name cool enough to convert kids?
  • How to Name a Web 2.0 Product or Company - Chris Tingom asks what makes an effective product name and lists a variety of name development techniques. Is created or descriptive the better communicative route to take? - That depends on the brand strategy...
  • Product name starting with an A: Good idea? - Johan Beyers discusses the considerations for naming a new product called Abbackup. Read the comments to this blog post for some insights and creative advice on product naming.

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