Automotive: September 2006 Archives

Links du Jour 09-28-06

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nike_store.jpgIs Flash-y E-commerce Always a Safe Bet? - Kelly Mooney brings up an interesting point about online commerce, in general inspired by Nike’s relaunch of its online store: secure web pages for checkout. She’s noticed that the all important page is “http” and not “https”, which means that she’s a tad worried about entering her credit card details on an open page.

She also points out that she’s not fooled by the “Verisign” logo on the page, because it probably isn’t being used - its just available to the Nike developers. She makes the point that trust online is crucial for shoppers who want to buy your product...and that tiny difference in the URL makes all the difference to the savvy shopper. If Nike is making this mistake, who else is?

rover_mercury.gifHow to bring Rover back quickly - Jack Yan has a great post up about how the Rover brand name might be given new life now that Ford owns it. For one, SAIC will have to drop the brand name.

But Jack asks us to think of this: could expanding the Rover product name to Mercury exports possibly work? The Mercury Milan is a great candidate for this, and with a little tweaking could be a great flagship for the ailing Rover brand, which still commands a great deal of loyalty for European buyers.

This is a pretty crafty idea, as the Mercury name is hardly known at all in Europe, and Rover is beloved.

virgin_ntl.gifNTL: Telewest and Virgin launch Quadplay - The package includes multi-channel TV with video-on-demand, broadband, home telephone and a mobile service. It’s the very first offering from the newly united NTL:Telewest and Virgin Mobile brands, which will be rebranded (and possibly renamed?) as a single communications/entertainment provider.

Looks like they beat Vodafone and BP to the punch - but as Vecosys points out, telcom companies have been merging across Europe all with the purpose of linking communications with entertainment, so look for more new brand names offering the same services.

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Branding and Kaizen: It's Not Just About the Batteries

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panasonic_logo.gifThe recent exploding battery issue faced by Sony, Dell, and Apple (and now Toshiba and Panasonic) is not helping the worldwide perception of Japanese brand names, while giving a serious boost to Asian competitors such as Samsung and LG.

The quality problems have spilled into the motor industry as well, with auto-giant Toyota also calling back millions of poorly made cars, (2.2 million of them in 2005 vs 200,000 in 2003) and even into the food industry.

samsung_logo_1.gifIndeed, Korea’s Samsung plans on taking Sony’s place as the second largest battery maker in the world within the next few months and Hyundai can barely conceal its delight at Toyota’s failings.

kaizen.gifThe Japanese conception of “kaizen” or “improvement” is so central to the Japanese national identity - and for years so well represented in the craftsmanship of Sony and Toyota products - that the recent damage done to these brand names has caused a national furor and a suspicion that “something is amiss in Japan.”

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There are 63 federal trademarks for the name "Fusion". Many of the Fusion brand names, it seems, are for innovative products that blend various features: Flavia Fusion drink maker, Maxtor Fusion drive, Ford Fusion, and Gillette Fusion razor are examples. Fusion can also communicate a neat "2-in-1" feature, like in the tagline of a restaurant nearby, "The fusion of Asian and Latin cuisine."

The Gizmodo blog, which reports on new techie gadgets and gizmos, created a special website showing all of the "Fusions" it has covered.

Ford FusionI suppose if a company was about to launch a new product, and the brand needed to convey innovation and a combination of features, in a segment not already over-crowded by other "Fusions", then I could understand Fusion as a product name candidate. But, in many cases, I don't think Fusion communicates the benefit to the consumer, nor does the name reflect a unique and ownable brand strategy.

Frankly, I can't help but feel like the Fusion name is a bit overused...and lazy.

gillette fusionP&G and Ford will have spent several million dollars on "packaging" their Fusion razor and Fusion car brands this year, and thereby successfully creating memorable brand names. But, I don't understand what fusion really means in those instances.

Unless there's a TV infomercial playing in the razor aisle at Target, I'm never going to remember what the Fusion razor does, and I don't have time to read the package. I'm into speed. Maybe that's why I've stuck with the Mach 3 Turbo. I'm always in a rush in the morning, and nothing says getting out the door fast like "Mach 3 Turbo".

In my opionion, Fusion is a better name for a juicer, since it "fuses" several veggies and fruits together to make one delicious drink.

I also think Fusion would be a great name for super glue. It "fuses" two different materials (like wood and metal, or plastic and fabric) together.

Elmer's Fusion - Now that's a name that sticks.

For some more thoughts on the Ford Fusion and the Gillette Fusion brands, check out Ford's "Bold Moves", courtesy of the Global Giants blog and this analysis of the Gillette Fusion, courtesy of the ThirdWay Advertising Blog.

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Links du Jour 09-21-06

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noise.jpgNoise Is Good - Greg Veerman at Fresh Glue writes about noise and asks if it could be beneficial in the marketing communications arena. He discusses the book, Noise, by Dr. Bart Kosko, and how noise, in all its formats - auditory, visual, informational, or neurological - affects how we perceive the world around us. Does the “noise” of competing brand names really impede your brand from being heard?

tundra_nascar.jpgMore "Americana" - this time from Toyota - Japanese giant Toyota is trying to be yet more American than GM in its promotion of the Tundra truck brand name by associating it with NASCAR, the uber-American name.

There is ferocious competition between pick-up brands in the U.S., and this news is likely to send waves of fury through this hugely macho industry. I would like to be a fly on the wall in Ford’s war room today, where you’re not even allowed to eat sushi, much less say the “T” word.

hard_rock_cafe.gifHard Luck - Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion brings us this news of the Hard Lox Café’s recent tussle with Hard Rock. The Hard Lox Cafe in Forsyth Park Festival will need to change its name. Unfortunately, this sound-alike name is a trademark infringement.

Here are some other examples of trademark infringement:

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Branding: Wrong Burger, Wrong Car

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in-n-outParis Hilton was recently arrested for DUI. She claimed she was on her way out for a burger. Alas, (who produced the hugely popular viral video of Paris washing her Bentley while eating one of their burgers) will be unhappy to hear she was not driving a and not on her way to Carl’s Jr.

As AdFreak points out, she was driving her to , another hamburger fast food restaurant. You have to wonder if either company will be on the ball enough to capitalize on Paris’s unwitting promotion of their brand names over their major competitors. Viral videos are on the way, methinks.

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Car Names as Comedy

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Mitsubishi MumCar names from overseas, especially from Asian countries, sometimes don’t translate. As Dave Legget points out on the Just Auto blog, the Japanese have offered some howlers in the past: Nissan Cedric, Isuzu Big Horn, Daihatsu Step-thru Pantry Boy, Mazda Bongo van, Nissan Stout pick-up. They have called trucks Big Thumb or a coach Super Dolphin.

The Japanese seem to have cleaned up their act but now that China is on the rise we can probably expect some more interesting brand naming faux pas — they already offer the Nanny Van and the Beauty Leopard Coupe.

The replies to this blog post are full of more ridiculous howlers: a Dutch car that shares its name with a margarine brand; a Fiat that was almost named after a sewing machine. One of the replies leads us to another hilarious link of names that just do not travel well — maybe it should be renamed "the work of errant name development companies." I suppose we in the West should not have too hearty a laugh at Asia’s expense: Chevy did try to sell the Nova in Spanish speaking countries, while being blissfully ignorant of the fact that no va in Spanish means "doesn’t go" or "no go."

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Links Du Jour 9-1-06

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MSN SearchMySpace driving more retail traffic than MSN search - It's amazing that MySpace is now a better place to promote a brand name than MSN. Who would have thought that social networking sites would have become such an effective media to promote a brand name?

It also shows that is basically where the game is online. According to the , there’s a shortage of expertise in utilizing MySpace in branding efforts. Interesting news for those of us in the naming business.

Toyota PhoneToyota developing integrated "carphone" with KDDI - Engadget thinks this new phone has a cute product name: TiMO (which reminds me of Latino-friendly “"). Guy Kawasaki gives Toyota for the way in which it is communicating complicated information about products to consumers - like the engineering behind its hybrid engine.

Toyota is a super brand name and its great products and excellent brand communication are a far cry from GM’s, Guy writes. To add insult to injury, GM just of Survivor for pretty suspicious reasons.

Starbucks CouponThe Iced Starbucks Coupon - Are coupons still an effective method of promoting your brand name at all anymore? Sure, and there are lots of different . They are certainly a good way to create among . But here’s a lesson learned from Starbucks - watch those expiration dates!

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