the product naming blog

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 5, 2012

IKEA Product Naming Faces Challenges in Thailand

IkeaStorefront.jpgIKEA is running into a problem in Thailand that many global companies encounter - their product naming translates, well, poorly.

As The Wall Street Journal reports today, "Is Redalen a) a town in Norway b) a bed sold by Swedish furniture chain IKEA or c) something that sounds uncomfortably close to getting to third base in Thailand?"

"The answer, it turns out, is all three."

IKEA's fifth largest superstore is in Thailand and the locals are finding the Swedish sounding product names pretty crazy. In addition to the Redalen bed, there is the J├Ąttebra plant pot which sounds like a crude term for sex in Thai.

Consequently, a team of Thai speakers has been hired to modify the product naming by evaluating each product name and carefully and slightly changing the names to avoid negative connotations.

The problem of global naming is of course, a subject I have written about before. In earlier blogs I noted that Mr. Muscle sounds like Mr. Chicken Meat in China, and Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" tagline translates to "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead" in Taiwan.

And the list of naming faux pas goes on and on.

Interestingly, IKEA intentionally goes out of its way to create unusual names.

Chairs and desks are men's names, dining tables and chairs are Finnish place names, garden furniture is named after Swedish islands, and the list goes on.

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May 25, 2012

Tide Faces a Poisonous Naming and Branding Issue That Many Other Companies Face

Pods.pngThe news that Tide Pods are being swallowed by children because they look like candy is a reminder that flashy packaging and naming can actually have a downside.

Tide has reacted quickly to this problem and is planning to release a childproof container for this summer.

For one, it doesn't seem logical that laundry detergent should have to come in a childproof container, but of course I laud the safety factor here.

I can see the problem, however. The product looks like candy.

Poison control centers are now telling parents to keep it out of reach, away from children. And now, of course, it will come in a hard to open package.

I might add that the word "pod" does have an alternate, edible meaning.

This is the kind of problem that can cause a branding and PR headache. If the product and name remains the same, but if they are put in a childproof mechanism, will this prevent people from buying the product? Will safety and ease of use trump the efficacy of the packets themselves?

Purex.pngNot surprisingly, Tide isn't alone. Purex also faces this problem. Purex UltraPacks come with a child warning, and one executive has said "This is a new form of laundry product and we will continue to join other manufacturers to safeguard and educate consumers on the correct storage and use of these products in the home."

I am sure that this will all come to a happy conclusion, but this is one of those times when safety becomes an unexpected issue.

There are a surprising number of household products that look like candy or food to little people.

Aspirin looks like Altoids. M & Ms look like all kinds of pills. So do Skittles. Mr. Clean looks like Gatorade, grape juice looks like Dimetapp and, if you're stretching it, Comet looks like Parmesan cheese.

These companies all rely on the good sense of customers to keep the product away from the kids.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 2, 2012

Private Label Naming and Branding Here to Stay

GroceryAisle.pngI wonder about the news that store brands may be losing their luster with consumers.

For the first time since 2008, consumers do not plan to increase their usage of store label brands. This does not mean that store brands are doomed, it may simply means that their usage has plateaued for the time being.

A new report entitled "The Evolution of Private Label - Does Brand Name Really Matter?" notes that U.S. private label brands represented only 18% of household purchases in 2000, and peaked at 27% in 2011.

But satisfaction with these products has dropped from 32% in 2009 to 24% in 2012. There is the specter of "frugal fatigue" on the part of consumers who want to splurge a bit after years of watching their pennies.

I have no quarrel with the report.

My point would be that private label is here to stay and that the rise in its popularity would logically be connected with a slight drop in satisfaction as consumers get use to the product, buy more, and expect more from them.

The report notes that two-thirds of respondents say store brand quality is better than it was five years ago. And, interestingly, many people are buying store brands that look so similar to the brand name products that they are unaware of the difference (Archer farms at Target; Kirkland at Costco and Great Value at Walmart are mentioned).

I wouldn't write private labels off just yet. It might just be that consumers have raised their expectations.

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February 27, 2012

Are We Comfortable With New Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep Systems Naming?

easy-rest-adjustable-sleep-system-85430431.jpegThe news that The Contour Adjustable Bed Company has changed its name to Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep Systems brought back fond memories of a blog I posted almost a year ago about the way the adjustable bed industry is slowly but surely trying to change its image through naming.

The problem? The product name itself conjures up images of hospital beds, and the product is seen as something you buy when a person in your family needs home care.

So companies have been trying to dodge the stodginess of the adjustable bed with better product naming.

Now, these beds are being named "ergo" or "power" beds. Some are naming them "lifestyle" beds and Leggett & Platt uses "power foundations" in their product naming.

So this new company name change moves the product towards "sleep systems," which is good, but it does not do away with that pesky word "adjustable."

I have to wonder if that is not a small mistake. Wouldn't Easy Rest Sleep Systems be just as effective?

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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