Marketing: April 2007 Archives

How Is This for a Product Name – Can Sleep?

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Can SleepDenmark’s organizers and introduced the , an interesting branded accommodation for festival attendees, sober or not.

In what I’d say is a great example of creating a brand space, the Can Sleep features a lockable door, a can-shaped refrigerator and an 11.5’ high roof that can be partially opened to let in light and air. A ladder leads to the lofted mattress, which cozily sleeps two.

Can SleepAll Can Sleep furnishings are provided by , although we won’t go into names, and include a table and chairs, shelves, pegs and a mirror.

Reservations for the 121 Can Sleeps at the Smukkeste Festival sold out online in just 40 seconds, so it seems the new product is getting some attention.

And although Royal Unibrew holds exclusive rights to the item for the next five years in Denmark, Can Sleeps can be purchased elsewhere in orders of 54, or 9 six-packs. Each accommodation costs about $4,000, excluding delivery charges.

Can SleepI can’t help but think that this idea is so clever it is going to attract other beer marketers that are keen on the idea of their target market getting cozy with their brand name like this.

The Springwise blog reports that "Can Sleep is a great example of how meeting just the right customer need with a little creativity can pay big dividends in brand recognition." That is right on the money.

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Durable Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name

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Buena-VistaFilmDistribution.jpgWalt Disney is set to change the Buena Vista brand name to Disney in an effort to “simplify the company's marketing and reduce costs.”

Disney wants to focus on their core brands: Disney, ESPN and ABC. Two months ago, Disney CEO Robert Iger changed Touchstone Television production company to ABC Television Studio and Buena Vista Games to Disney Interactive Studios.

The Buena Vista name has plenty of brand equity: it dates from 1953 and is taken from the street name in Burbank, CA where the Disney brothers created a studio and corporate headquarters for film distribution.

Interestingly, the Pixar, Touchstone and Mirimax studio names, which are also owned by Disney, will stay, possibly because there is strong brand equity and differentiation among these: the Pixar name is synonymous with animation, Touchstone with big budget, mainstream films, and Mirimax with art house.

The_Walt_Disney_Company.gifIger believes that the Disney brand is a “durable brand” and can easily be stretched over even more of its businesses to create a strong brand architecture.

I support this move by Disney: today’s consumers are aware that Disney is more than Mickey Mouse and Orlando. And as one analyst pointed out, most people are not even aware that Buena Vista is owned by Disney, I agree with that as well. It seems crazy for the average moviegoer to watch a Disney film under the impression that it has been distributed by another company.

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Brand Name Authenticity: When Bad is Good

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It seems to me that the concept of authenticity is the branding idea du jour these days. Sometimes it makes sense to me and sometimes it sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo.

You decide.

Much has been written on brand authenticity, including a very thoughtful and resourceful article by Bill Breen in the May issues of Fast Company entitled Who Do You Love, about the appeal and risks of brand authenticity.

haagendazs.gifJohn Moore, author of What Starbucks Must Do, says the article a must-read for every marketer.

An authentic brand, with an authentic brand name, of course, is becoming a magic chalice for marketers. A recent article on NJ.Com frets that “Starbucks’ Growth May Threaten Brands’ Authenticity,” while another pundit posits that Anna Nicole was a brand name that we loved “because she lived her life with authenticity.”

Breen reminds us that the word authentic comes from the Greek authentikós, which means "original." And unfortunately, there's no recipe for originality.” He quotes Seth Godin, who quips in his Permission Marketing, "If you can fake authenticity, the rest will take care of itself."

pointer_shoes.gifWhen it comes to developing of an authentic-sounding product or company name, however, I think Breen’s assertion that “A brand doesn't feel real when it overtly tries to make itself real” is right on the money.

What does that mean to a naming company who wants their client to wind up with a truly authentic-sounding name? Does it really mean that you might contemplate creating a brand that looks so unlikely that consumers will believe in its authenticity?

I think Bathys watches is an illustration of this concept. I love these watches but using the word “Bathys” as a watch name, even if it is Greek for “deep,” is a risky: it sounds like “bath.” Yet it works, perhaps because consumers feel it’s so wrong that it must be right.

Another new company name seems authentic because it seems so unlikely: Pointer, a small shoe company that is highly influenced by skateboarder fashion, perhaps one of the fields that simply demands authenticity.

orville_movie_butter.gifAnother brand name that was just profiled in Adweek really piqued my interest: Dickel, as in, The Dickel Tennessee Whisky Distillery. Although it’s a bit difficult to pronounce, and sounds kind of weird, brand fanatics are loyal to it. A brand name like Dickel or Bathys or Pointer is easy to remember and sounds so off the beaten track that customers will seek it out.

And what could be a more authentic brand name than Orville Redenbacher?

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Product Naming: Is BPA Free the New Buzzword for Babies?

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born_free.jpgAn article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about Boca Raton-based Born Free LLC, which sells baby bottles that do not contain bisphenol A (BPA), caught my attention this morning.

Bisphenol A is found in most plastic baby bottles and has been found to cause abnormalities in lab animals. And while most brand name baby bottle manufacturers have assured customers that their bottles are safe, there has been a sudden spike in Born Free bottle sales, which are made in Israel of a form of nylon rather than plastic.

The company name of course, reminds me of the Born Free Foundation as well as the famous film, both of which are all about saving life.

evenflo-logo.gifAccording to this useful blog post about BPA by Omar Shahine, brands that contain polypropylene are getting a shot in the arm as well, including Snappies and Madela. It has also, interestingly, created a resurgence in glass baby bottles. Evenflo is a brand that is taking advantage of the shift in preferences.

About a month ago, my barber was lamenting the fact that his wife could not find any glass baby bottles for their newborn. I went home that Saturday morning, did an Internet search, and found that Evenflo glass bottles were available on Amazon.com. Needless to say, my barber's wife ordered two dozen.

bottles.gifIn fact, glass baby bottle use has surged, with the San Francisco Chronicle citing Environment California's “Toxic Baby Bottles” report. Yesterday’s Times Argus in Vermont reports that this sudden fear of BPA might be partly a marketing ploy: over 95% of us have it in our urine, it seems. BPA is found in almost anything made of plastic, and most items children come into contact with - plates, utensils, feeding chairs and toys - are made of it.

It seems to me that now would be a great time for some new product names to appear on the horizon and for glass and polypropylene baby bottle makers to feature “BPA Free” stickers to their packaging.

I have a feeling that “BPA Free” will be the next phrase all parents are looking for when they buy most anything for their children.

Are you listening, wooden toymakers?

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The Brand Name Tattoo Aesthetic, Or Is It?

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tattoo adThere’s an interesting article today in the New York Times magazine describing the "," or how tattoo art and imagery is slowly but surely being co-opted by everyone from well known NBA stars to big names in rock and fashion.

Today, it seems just as easy to find, for example, the Colonel on somebody's arm in the form of a as on a billboard.

This is not , where you gauge the value of a brand name by how many people are willing to have it indelibly printed on their bodies (think bikers and Harley Davidson or William H Macy and his hilarious in ).

No, this is the transformation of tattoo art into advertising.

Now, tattoos have become so ubiquitous in our culture that advertisers are literally hiring real tattoo artists to represent their company name or brand name — tattoo-fashion — in their ads and promotional material. There is still an authenticity and romance to the tattoo and its artistry that lends a mystique to brands, especially iconic brands.

It’s interesting to see how in the age of hi-tech art and computer graphics, marketers seem to want to promote their brand names using an art form that has been around for centuries.

Personally, I have never nor will I ever consider a tattoo. But many others will and do. How do you feel about tattooing in advertising and marketing?

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Howling Good Bloody Mary Brand Naming

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Howling Helga logoI was interested to read about fellow Minnesota resident Pat Dibble’s efforts to name and create a seasoning business, an idea that was urged upon her by her husband, who loved her Bloody Mary mix.

Pat is marketing it under the brand name . I note that some people refer to it as Howling Helga’s Robust Mixes and Dressings, and they sure do seem to be robust.

I love the name, Ms. Dibble!

I also think that the startup seasoning and mix companies do quite well with offbeat names. The Howling Helga’s brand naming reminds me of another company name I wrote about last year: Dippy Chick, which offers some pretty revolutionary-sounding product names for an assortment of dips, including Gettin' Piggy Widdit, Crabby ol' Beach Seafood Mix, Kamikaze Wasabi, and Parmesan Pesto Manifesto, to name a few.

Maybe Howling Helga and Dippy Chick should co-brand on a cocktail package? You do the Bloody Marys and she’ll bring chips n’ dip.

Might work!

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Does Being Made In China Matter for Brand Names?

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China logoThe recent news that China has surpassed the US as the world’s second largest exporter — now making more cars than Detroit — has got me thinking about what "Made in China" means to US consumers.

Nowadays, "Made in China" on a brand name product no longer means cheap and cheerful, according to the Washington Times. Even Nokia Phones are being made in China. When it comes to fashion brands, however, "Made in Spain" and "Made in Italy" have a certain cachet, but this may be waning.

An Asian Times Online article "China’s Global Luxury Brand Workshop" notes that high end luxury brand names like Prada, Armani and Burberry are outsourcing to China.

By 2009, 60% of the world’s luxury brand names will have their products made there.

China logoDon’t believe me? French fashion brand Louis Vuitton is putting up a factory in China this year. Prada, for its part, outsources its products to so many countries that they are considering putting "Made by Prada" on their labels.

China now makes high end , , and .

GE is producing wind turbine blades there and Chinese made are the top selling autos in China last month, for the first time ever.

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Google’s Website Optimizer Not Optimal Product Naming

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OnlineMediaDaily_Google.jpgAn excellent article by Mike Levin in Online Media Daily describes the frustration some users feel with Google’s new Website Optimizer tool which might not actually be a Website Optimizer at all. Instead, says Levine, “What Google's doing is called multivariate testing, or A/B switching.”

Levine’s carefully written article points out that Google is either naive or ignorant of the fact that by naming this new, important tool a Website Optimizer, admittedly a much more attractive sounding product name than, say, a "Multivariate Tester”, they are suggesting that this is a marketing tool. Instead, it is essentially a means through which Google ensures that users use AdWords to drive traffic to their site.

Site optimization, argues Levine, should actually give marketers far more flexibility.

Google_Website_Optimizer.jpgThis means Google is giving a new meaning to common terminology, and rewriting it in its own image and that of AdWords. Because Google’s products are becoming ubiquitous, it does seem that the entire definition of the name “Website Optimizer” is likely to change into the one that fits into Google’s “walled garden.”

It is distressing to see Google not resisting temptation here. Andrew Girdwood at e-Consultancy called it a stormy teacup yesterday, leading Ben Robison to declare that the product actually “conflicts at a very basic level with the things you should be doing for your long-term SEO.”

Google’s alliance with AdWords and AdBot leads to some embarrassing mistakes on another side of the Internet, notes Violet Blue at SF Blue. Essentially, some fairly tame words cannot be named on the conservative AdWords, inadvertently marginalizing transgender and fetish sites and searchers. There’s also concern over display ad placement of concurrent advertising campaigns that use similar names.

Google has numerous reasons to stick close to AdWords, many of them designed to protect the company from fraudsters. But introducing misnamed software that pushes Google customers into the same relationship is a different matter, and harder to support.

Google knows better.

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Branding: Ghost Rider Creator is Flaming Mad

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News broke early this morning that Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, is suing Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures and “several entities” over their “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize" the Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider names and concepts.

ghostrider.jpgThe picture has already taken in close to a quarter billion dollars worldwide. Friedrich says the Ghost Rider copyright reverted to him in 2001 after Marvel Entertainment failed to register the trademarks with the copyright office after holding them since 1971.

He has chosen this time to make clear his dissatisfaction with Marvel’s use of the Ghost Rider character and brand, alleging that he has not received compensation for various endeavors such as games, toys and novels.

This news comes just as Sony announces the forthcoming June 12th release of a new Ghost Rider Blu-ray DVD with an impressive array of extra features.

Friedrich accuses Marvel of copyright infringement and also accuses the company of “waste” for failing "to properly utilize and capitalize” on the Ghost Rider name and its related copyrights, which he feels damages the value of his work. He also thinks that Hasbro and video game maker Take-Two Interactive improperly created merchandise for the characters.

Apparently Friedrich is not thrilled with what these companies are offering and feels Marvel took “inadequate” royalties from them.

It’s an interesting legal battle because it seems as if Friedrich waited too long to give notice that his rights were being infringed (it's been known the Ghost Rider was on the way for months now). What seems to shine through is that his real problem is that he, along with many critics, doesn’t like the movie or its related products, and thus feels, somehow, that the Ghost Rider brand name is being lessened.

ghost_rider.gifThe proof is in the pudding, however: the Ghost Rider movie seems to be a genuine success and Sony’s handling of the brand, therefore, seems to be in order. Friedrich’s claim of “tortuous interference with prospective business expectancy” seems to be pretty wild.

But whether Marvel has infringed on his copyrights, well, that’s a whole different story. According to Wikipedia, Friedrich claimed in 2001 that he would sue Marvel if they made a movie out of Ghost Rider, and now he’s following through, and it is indeed worthy to note that Marvel only sporadically offered Ghost Rider comics since 2001.

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Company Name Wrangle a Short Fuse

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Ad Age reported earlier this week that an independent marketing company in Vermont called is suing ’s new Fuse Sports & Entertainment for . The Vermont Fuse worked on the Mountain Dew campaign as well as the winter X-Games and is naturally concerned that a newly merged division of the $11 billion Omnicom behemoth has decided to use the same company name.

David Burn at AdPulp has been following this story as Omnicom announced the ignition of its own Fuse at the end of March, and answers Ad Age’s observation that Fuse LLC has not initiated litigation against two similarly named companies in St. Louis and California because the former has signed a licensing agreement with Fuse and the latter is not a competitor in the marketplace.

Mediaweek points out that that may be true, but there is also a cable music channel that uses the Fuse name (not to be confused with hi def video site with the newly announced brand name, as well as "an Internet unit of Cincinnati Bell." Another marketing entity uses the Fuse name: the .

Customers are not about to confuse any of these brand names with Fuse LLC, however. On the other hand, any small marketer (Fuse LLC has 35 employees), has to take notice when a branding company the size of Omnicom decides to share the same name. Yes, the name "Fuse" may be rather common, but not as common as "", and even there the product names tend to stay out of each other's territories.

Bill Carter, a partner at Fuse LLC, says that "We will never allow Omnicom to use our name, no matter what the cost, and no matter how long this takes, we will defend ourselves from them as if our professional lives are at stake because, in fact, they are."

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Japanese Denim Brand Name Returns to the Source

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evisu_store.gifThe company behind the iconic Japanese jeans brand name, Evisu, is opening its first store in Soho, New York City. I think it’s interesting to see a foreign fashion brand come back to the original source of its inspiration, Levi's.

3Yen, the Japanese Fashion blog, notes that these are often called the “Rolls Royce of Jeans,” and the company was founded in 1988 in Osaka by Hidehiko Yamane. The brand name was originally “Evis” but was changed to the much more Japanese-sounding and much less Elvis sounding “Evisu” in 1991, “though the pronunciation and phonetic representation in Japanese has never changed.”

evisu-jeans.gifThe logo is a stylized gull but looking at the pictures of the jeans on 3Yen I have to wonder if some less than fashion-conscious Americans might see a tipped over McDonald’s logo? I suppose one person’s gull is another’s golden arches.

The stores will not be retail outlets but centers of Asian culture and art and will offer customers the chance to “personalize their own denim”.

evisu_levis.gifI thought it was interesting that the Deluxe and Heritage offerings are made on “old shuttle looms” from the 1950s. (I wonder if Levi’s sold them to the company?)

It seems that personalizing the jeans means letting an artist in the store hand paint the logo, either a small one on the back pocket or an immense one that covers the entire garment. I think this is a great example of a company engaging the consumer with their brand.

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COOL Laws Set To Create Cool Brand Naming

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oysters.jpgA recent statement from the Food Marketing Institute on country of origin labeling (COOL) has food marketers curious to find ways to communicate where food is produced in an imaginative way.

Compare “USA Fish” with “Wild Alaskan Salmon," or “American Peaches” with “Georgia Peaches" or “North American Onions” with "Vidalia Onions," and you get the idea. Country of Origin laws, which are not yet mandatory, cost retailers thousands of dollars without, some argue, giving them a proportional increase in sales.

Nonetheless, next year they will come into effect and those in the product naming industry who can help supermarkets and producers turn this legislation into good brand names are likely to carve out a decent niche for themselves.

Designers, by the way, seem to hate COOL laws, routinely ignoring FTC recommendations in this regard. This might be because so much of our clothing is made in Asia.

Country of origin labels make a distinct branding statement, according to Jack Trout and Brad VanAuken: I’d rather buy a car from Germany than from Greece, or salmon from Alaska than Africa. But as a consumer, I am open to suggestions when it comes to other products, including food.

Why not think outside of the box? How about a campaign promoting California tomatoes, the way California grapes were promoted a decade or so ago? And while we all love Florida oranges, how about Coorg oranges or Shimla apples from overseas, getting the same kind of brand name differentiation as New Zealand kiwi fruit.

At least one catfish brand has taken things to the next level: Uncle Cat Marketing, owned by former catfish producer James E. Popejoy Sr., has decided to go so far as to ask the FDA to help him literally mark catfish filets with red white and blue lines. The press release reads: “hopefully the ink approved would be viewable to the consumer after cooking, much like a counterfeiting mark on US currency.”

Seafood producers are especially sensitive to the COOL laws, as they are the only food industry faced with the reality of country of origin labeling. Hey, I’m all for buying American fish - I just do not know if I want red, white and blue sushi.

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