Marketing: January 2010 Archives

It's Official: iPad Naming Makes Women Cringe

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OK, I've already apologized for predicting Steve Jobs would name his new gadget the iSlate.

It is indeed the iPad, a name I would not have chosen for two reasons. First, as I wrote a week before the announcement, it looks like "iPod" and second, that word "iPad" already has been mocked on Mad TV as sounding too much like the Maxi Pad feminine hygiene product.
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It seemed impossible that Apple would choose it, because they know full well how viral humor on the Internet can sway customer perception about a product.

I'm not alone in this, it seems.

This morning there is a backlash against the name that is pretty intense. CNET calls it "cringe-worthy", Gizmodo predicts a slew of Maxi-Pad jokes, and The New York Times says that it makes women "cringe" (there's that word again), reporting that the word "iTampon" is making the rounds across Twitter.
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Fast Company is even more succinct: "Apple's iPad Name Not the First Choice for Women. Period." PC World is already counting the "sneers and jeers" on the Internet, wondering if this is a "Venus vs. Mars" issue.

Blogger Anne Althouse, wonders if Apple bothered to check with any women about this one.

Or men. Let's face it, what guy wants to buy a product that sounds like it's a Wi-Fi sanitary napkin?

It also seems that Apple doesn't have any iPad-related domain names yet, either.

As if that was not bad enough, the name also may lead to a big fight with Fujitsu, because the Japanese company has sought a trademark on the name since 2003.

Since 2002, Fujitsu has been manufacturing a handheld computer called the iPad. Although Fujitsu lost its trademark rights last year, Masahiro Yamane, the PR head of Fujitsu, still believes they have the rights to the iPad name.

All in all, it is really hard to believe that Apple could not have seen this coming. I have rarely seen such quick, vitriolic backlash against a product name. I have never, ever seen such intense mockery aimed at Apple.

And while I am an Apple fan and we are a Mac shop, I might add that their past naming mistakes (cough, Lisa, ahem, Newton) perhaps not coincidentally were attached to doomed products.

Steve, what were you thinking?

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Oops! Looks Like it's an iPad!

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I speculated earlier today that the new Apple device would be called an iSlate.
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Well, if I had gotten it right, I'd be on the first flight to Atlantic City. However, I was wrong. At an 'invite-only' press conference in San Francisco, Steve Jobs just announced the new name: iPad.

It looks like an inflated iPhone, and apparently acts like one With a 9.7" screen, and at a miniscule 0.5 pounds, this "truly magical and revolutionary" device will sweep the nation.

The iPad has all the same functionality as an iPhone. Jobs ran apps, as well as showed a portion of the Disney Pixar movie Up during the conference.

With the e-reader market poised to flourish this year, the iPad, with all its capabilities, should jump to the head of the class.

If used to its full potential, there is speculation that this device could single-handedly save the struggling newspaper and publishing industries. It would be a shot in of adrenaline for publishers around the country, and possibly the globe.

The iPad looks like a blast. It's priced reasonably well too. Look for the iPad to launch the Year of the Tablet in 2010.

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So today is the big day.

At 10 AM Pacific time we will finally get to know what on earth Apple plans on calling it's new tablet computer at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center.

I am still betting on iSlate, as is the iSlate.us site, which yesterday asked the horrible question: What if there is no iSlate? And even if there is one, what if it's not called iSlate?

Gizmodo leads us through the myriad of rumors around the device, reminding us that the device is generally being referred to as a "tablet" although the code name is K48.

Engadget tried to sell us all on the idea that iTablet is the obvious name by showing an email supposedly sent out by Apple with an iTablet file heading, but has since recanted.

Wired has just published a fascinating article suggesting that the event might not be about tablets at all but instead about content management.

I'm are really wondering what this is going to be called.

I am standing by iSlate, as are the bookies (yes, people are betting on this, I am not one of them).
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I am also rejecting Doonesbury's suggestion that this will be called the "Jesus Tablet". Steve Jobs doesn't walk on water. Yet.

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They do things differently over in Europe.

For example, they decided to rename Charmin bathroom tissue. The new name? Cushelle. This comes after the takeover of P&G's European tissue operations by SCA, Europe's largest private forest owner. The Cushelle brand comes with a koala bear mascot and the assurance that this is "Formerly Charmin" and the "Same Great Product."
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Before you laugh, consider that SCA changed the name of Bounty, another recently acquired P&G brand name, to "Plenty" and grew its European market penetration from 26.5% to 34.7%.
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Most people in the USA can still recall Mr. Whipple admonishing customers not to squeeze the Charmin, making this an iconic name in household branding in this country.

However, the same associations do not transfer overseas, where soft bathroom tissue was a relative novelty back in Whipple's day.

Also consider that the name "Charmin", to some, is almost synonymous with wasteful rainforest destruction.

According to Marketing Magazine , "The name Cushelle was selected for its sound, which reflects the product's softness," an SCA statement said. The company describes its new koala icon as a 'softness magnet'."

The new brand is meant to retain Charmin's "friendly, fun, family image." The challenge, according to one blogger, is turning this into a "must have" product. P&G did this years ago in the US, but will it work as well across the pond? We will have to wait and see.

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Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, and Saint Louis Park are just three of the numerous city names in Minnesota that contain the word 'Saint.' Or do they?

With the state in a frenzy over the upcoming NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, the local sports radio station, KFAN, suggested these cities be called "The Paul," "The Cloud," and "Louis Park," during the week leading up to the game on Sunday. Not having the intention to be taken seriously in their renaming efforts, they may have gotten more than they wished for.

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Despite opening day being nearly 4 months away for the Saint Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team in Minnesota, they are temporarily changing their name to "The Paul" to show their hometown support. In addition, it is possible they will be wearing jerseys with the name "The Paul" for a game in the upcoming season.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few "The Paul" t-shirts around the Twin Cities this weekend.

Skol Vikes!

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Is Apple's iSlate Naming Changing to iPad?

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Okay, the new iSlate from Apple may actually be an iPad.

islate.pngIt is looking less like becoming an iTablet by the minute. And the iGuide looks less and less like a possibility, as the new trademark filing for the iPad has the blogosphere all agog.

It seems that last month the name iPad name was snagged by a company called IP Application Development, which might be a dummy for Apple just as Slate Computing, which trademarked iSlate, seems to have been.

Already there are doubts about the iPad name, which was ripped off back in 2006 on Mad TV, according to Wired; a poll on the same page has people loving the iSlate name by a pretty large margin.

Still, don't count out iTablet. As of yesterday Boy Genius is still using the name.

As for me, I am betting on iSlate. Why?

Call it judgement, or call gut feeling. Think about it. They have the iPhone, iMac and iPod. Why suddenly have the iTablet?

Apple goes for one syllable after the lowercase "i" and iPad looks a heck of a lot like iPod. I'm thinking this filing was just to stir up hype for the Jan 27 Event at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.

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Sometimes a brand name is not a brand name. Instead, it's a placeholder or an internal code name for another brand new product. It's an approach used when a company does not want to tip off the competition.

Take for instance, the MacGuffin that Apple seems set to release on Jan 27. We are all wondering if it will be called an iSlate, but Apple is keeping mum.

However, in a recent 'Save the Date' release to information starved journalists, Apple asks invites writers to, "Come see our latest creation," which just sounds downright creepy. It's like some kind of techno speak for a new baby.

What is it? What will it be called? We have no idea. They have dropped a few hints, though. The invitation is decorated with bright ink splotches, suggesting that "colour may be an important feature of the new product."

Coke, another brand we all know and love, is busy testing out a 90 calorie version. Well, sort of. They are offering us a 7.5 oz can, as opposed to the the regular 12 oz can. You get less, so you consume less calories.

So this is sort of a new name but sort of not. It certainly doesn't seem to come with a new price.

One blogger jokingly calls it "Wee-Coke," while Amy Brightfield wonders if we really will drink less of it, or just crack open two cans, making for a 15 oz, 180 calorie Coke drinking experience.

If that happens, Jennifer LaRue Huget asks "whose fault is that?"

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Sometimes the names of people and the names of brands go together beautifully. Think about Apple and Steve Jobs, or Microsoft and Bill Gates. The people behind the brand name often drive the brand itself through the sheer force of their personality and celebrity.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fashion world, where the names of designers are the brand. Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Joseph Abboud: these are people whose names are also labels.

One brand that seems to be learning this the hard way is Halston. Yeah, that's right, Halston, as in the mega-seventies brand that Billy Joel mentions in "Big Shot". Back when disco was the thing, Halston made the must-have dresses for anyone who wanted to be fashionable.

Its larger than life founder, Roy Halston Frowick, who died in 1990 after being tossed out of Halston in 1984 partly due to his excessive drug use, led the kind of flamboyant lifestyle we have come to expect from high-end designers.

Even after twenty years, the name still is well known and there have been six attempts to bring it back , all of them failures. This, even though seventies era-style seems to be making a comeback. As the New York Times reported at the start of 2008, the brand has "a lot of believers" but loses millions of dollars.

In 1993 one writer said that bringing back Halston would be "the fashion equivalent of reuniting the Beatles." Some really slick designers have done their best since then to make the brand work.

Now, the task of bringing Halston back has fallen to Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker, who will take a design role in the Halston Heritage collection affordable dresses that are "updated archival Halston pieces."

SJP may be able to do this, not least because this is Halston Lite: affordable wear with a big name attached. She is wearing the dresses in Sex and the City and doing all she can to retain her status as celebrity fashionista.

But her name is not Halston. This is still just a deep endorsement. After all, she is flogging us dresses out of the company's vaults. It seems to me that the fashion brand name needs the actual person behind it or it flounders.

The people that remember Halston are all getting to the age when wearing one piece minidresses is rather a challenge. If history is any teacher, if this works it will be on the back of SJP and not the Halston brand name.

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Midwest Airlines Naming and Branding Should Be Scrapped

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It looks as if the Midwest Airlines name is going the way of the Dodo.

Indy-based Republic Airlines, owner of the Midwest and Frontier Airlines brands, says it is looking at what "makes the most sense" and this includes scrapping the Midwest name in favor of Frontier's. This would be a logical outgrowth of the consolidation of the two brands.

Midwest has been known for its high-end amenities, attracting business travelers willing to pay a little more for things like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Now, fliers like the Cranky Flier say the brand differentiation is all but gone, saying (crankily) "Midwest isn't even a brand anymore - it's just a name they seem to use for selling purposes but that's it these days" and reporting that his Midwest flight was quite Frontier-like.

Given that Frontier flights include leather seats and LiveTV, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but the Midwest level of luxury is gone.

The CEO of AirTran recently said pretty much the same thing, "You can call it what you want, but any business traveler in that part of the country knows that what used to be Midwest doesn't exist."

Last November, when Midwest ceased to exist as a company, it was clear that the planes were being sold off and there was not much remaining at all.

Back in June Dave Reid predicted the end of Midwest, saying that the Republic buyout would "accelerate their slow transition from a luxury first class airline, to an inexpensive low cost carrier."

The airfare wars have indeed hit Milwaukee and it seems logical for the Midwest name to finally be put to rest. Travelers still expect first class service for reasonable rates from the Midwest brand name, and that is just not possible anymore. Plus, the name is too localized in Milwaukee.

It's a shame to suggest that the Midwest name be put out of its misery, but the time has come.

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Lady Gaga Helps Revamp Polaroid's Yesteryear Branding

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0417_lady_gaga_pcn.jpgI have written about Polaroid before, and the news that they have recruited Lady Gaga to help resurrect its brand is pretty earth shattering. `It's unclear what exactly she's going to do for the iconic brand as its new "creative director" , but she's now indelibly associated with it.

Some investors who bought Polaroid plan to bring back the Instamatic, as well as some other interesting gadgets. The idea is to gain as much leverage from the Polaroid name as possible.

For her part, Lady Gaga says "The Haus of Gaga [her management team] has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion, technology, and photography innovation - blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era - and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand." Um, OK.

She'll also be on the social networks and plastering the Polaroid name up at her concerts.

The idea, obviously, is to keep the Polaroid name as relevant as possible. She also has stressed that this is not a simple endorsement deal: "I'm working on bringing the instant film camera back as part of the future," she claims.

Polaroid is clearly trying to make its name more relevant and not so indelibly associated with nostalgia tech, and Lady Gaga will certainly help do this.

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I think it is only proper we begin the year with a look at the banned words for 2010 that have come from Lake Superior University.

They have just released their 35th annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness" and - no surprise - techie terms take the biggest beating.

dictionary.jpgThese are words that one really should not even think about using in a branding and naming campaign. "Tweet" is history (OK, I doubt it), as is "App" (please) and some economic terms like "In these economic times," "toxic assets" and "too big to fail."

Also "czar" as it applies to government posts (Drug Czar, Jobs Czar, Car Czar etc), a word I looked at with some curiosity at the end of 2008.

Not to be outdone, Twitter has banned a whole slew of words that you can no longer use as PASSWORDS - because they are too obvious. Included in the list is the word password itself, as is 123456. Duh.

AskMen has put out the top ten "Most Overused Words," and these include "love," "hate," "literally" and "seriously."

Yahoo HotJobs! has the most "annoying, overused words in the workplace" up and these include some that I have been longing to see get led to the trash heap of slang, "leverage" being number one as well as "reach out" and "disconnect"... thank you, Yahoo.

The Frisky has come out with a pretty good list of 25 words and phrases that are the most overused of the decade. These are pretty good, and include obvious howlers like "wardrobe malfunction" and less obvious ones that still, I must say, deserve to be put out of their misery... like "date night" and "status update."

You have been warned, people.

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