Naming: April 2006 Archives

Google Brand Name Change: Much Ado About Gu Ge

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GoogleConventional marketing wisdom and common sense dictate using one global brand name for a company doing business globally.

However, "when in China, do as the Chinese do" might apply. Google may have sold part of its soul with the name change in China to Gu Ge (which means something to the effect of "Song of the Harvest of Grain").

But there's another way to look at this: China has four times the population of the US, and its economy is growing three times faster. You do the math.

Gu GeThere's a lot of noise on the internet these days about a backlash over the Gu Ge name in China. According to an article from Deutsche Presse-Agentur, reprinted by Tech Monsters and Critics, about 10,000 Chinese consumers have suggested up to 50 alternative names for Gu Ge, with about half of them favoring keeping the "Google" name.

These 10,000 consumers, as a percent of China's 1,307,000,000 population, is equivalent to comparing the population of Three Fork, Montana or Elk Point, South Dakota with the total population of the United States (299,000,000).

Never heard of Three Fork or Elk Point? That's my point. A New Coke debacle it's not. It's barely a whisper. Google is wise not to take legal action against the site. Doing so would only make the site a cause célèbre.

Who knows? With the center of gravity shifting to China and India, it's not incomprehensible that Google's global brand name may someday be changed to Gu Ge.

Here are some other perspectives on the Gu Ge brand name:

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Links Du Jour - Wii Brand Name Edition

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Nintendo's choice of "Wii" for the brand name of their next gaming console, which I wrote about yesterday, is being talked about all over the web. Here are some of the opinions I found to be of interest:

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Brand Naming: Wii Wii Wii All the Way Home

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Wii LogoI have to add my voice to the coming from the gaming world over a new Nintendo brand name called Wii.

Nintendo has come out with a explaining the name, which is meant to be pronounced “we” (as in “we all play”). They claim the name reminds us that “this console is for everyone” and that "Wii" can "easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak".

But it could be mispronounced "why", or perhaps some would pronounce the two i's separately. If you do, you might get “Why I?”, a question many of us ask ourselves on Monday morning when some gamer is playing with one of these things in the next cubicle.

More likely, it could be mispronounced “wee”, which is just not an association you need with a hi-tech product name.

In some languages, like Welsh, where the “w” is a vowel pronounced “oo”, you might get oooh-eee, which for a game might be OK, but most of us are not Welsh and if you are not, that particular pronunciation sounds like a call for the pigs, another big no-no.

Nintendo says “together, Wii will change everything” but I’m thinking the first thing they should change is the name.

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Brand Naming: This Fragrance Was Made for Lovin' You

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KissThe 70's supergroup Kiss is back with a , joining ranks with the many other singers offering with their celebrity brand names.

It seems to me that very few blood spitting, make-up wearing heavy metal bands have the right name for a fragrance. Motley Crue and Def Leopard, for instance, are two difficult brand names to imagine as a cologne or perfume. But, Kiss just happens to have a scent-friendly brand name despite their pretty scary image.

The Kiss line will to include a fragrance, shower gels and body sprays. The ads will link the distinctive make up worn by the band (and its dragon-tongued lead singer, Gene Simmons) with, interestingly, Venetian masks (that’s some good brand research at work).

The slogan will read “You never forget your first…” with the traditional Kiss logo, followed by the tagline “Fragrances Made For Lovin’ You”, referencing the group’s hit song “I was made for Loving You”.

I think this is pure nostalgia branding at work, of course, but Kiss has always been a bit different and the scent will stand apart from the tamer offerings by such celebrities as .

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What To Do When Your Name Is Mud

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SiltSometimes what a small (or big) town needs is a name change.

For instance, what do you do when the name of your town is ?

A whole bunch of residents are unhappy about the name, which dates back to the nineteenth century when trains used to kick up clouds of silt around the fledgling town, leading locals to post a sign by the tracks that warned, “Watch Out For Silt."

Fast forward to 1989 when someone slapped a bumper sticker on his car that proclaimed “Silt Happens”. This was pretty embarrassing, so in 1992 a number of residents tried to get the name changed, which led to a slogan contest in 1999, in which the winner was “Where the Sun Rises with a Smile and Sets in Your Heart."

I think that may be a nice slogan, but people still hate the name. Proposed changes are Ferguson or Ferguson's Crossing, Cactus Valley, Grand View and Grand River.

The town residents vote on it on May 8th. I think Grand River sounds just...grand.

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Windstream - This Brand Name is a Winner

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NameCommunications stalwart Alltel has changed its name to and will trade on the NYSE as “WIN”, allowing it to ‘win’ with customers (or so the new CEO Keith Paglusch hopes).

The company will be formed through the spin-off of Alltel’s communications business and its with VALOR communications, forming a formidable voice, broadband and entertainment brand for the rural USA.

The Windstream name, I feel, is an attractive one and perfectly placed, as the company will function in the “windstream” of this huge merger and of what remains of Alltel itself, which will be a pure-play wireless service for about 11 million customers across 34 states.

I also must say that having a ticker name like ‘WIN” is pretty nifty - it is surprising that it wasn't snapped up years ago following some brand name research by another company.

The typography and fonts, as well as its Web site, look fresh and new, and the green Windstream logo recalls wind, electrical communication and long distance - not to mention the green hills of Southeast America.

Well done and good luck, Windstream.

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Brand Naming: Intel Picks vPro for Its Business Brand

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vProIntel is forging ahead with its strategy to lend its brand to PC functionality rather than simple power through the of its vPro brand platform.

In my post on January 2nd, I discussed how Intel moved away from the nebulous "Intel Inside" slogan towards a more integrative brand name by using the "Leap Ahead" slogan. The Intel strategy supports branded platforms and processor platforms.

Intel's Centrino platform combined a processor, mobile chipset and a wireless chip while Viiv is all about home entertainment on PCs. Intel's new strategy is clearly allowing the company's name to be all things to everyone and, more exciting, allowing it to use branded platforms to support a plethora of smaller, more technical brand names.

For instance, vPro will offer security solutions for business users through offering what Intel refers to as Active Management Technology (AMT) and Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) both of which offer IT departments PCs that are easy to manage and which is more energy efficient.

I haven't always been a fan of Intel's naming strategy, but what we are seeing now is a brand literally honing its personality and becoming much more defined. And what's more, it seems to be working.

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EarthApril 22nd was , which puts into focus Earth-friendly products and brand names for today.

I think that the people at Coolhunting have found an interesting array of Earth-friendly that appeal to those of us interested in saving the planet; they also have directed us to the “” range of disposable plates.

There can be no doubt that social activism and concerns should have a direct link to brand naming and brand name research. At least one has made its entire focus on environmentally friendly products, including, amazingly, and “” from the amusingly and forthrightly named Goodkind Pen Company.

I think the company name is OK, but the product name “woody pen”...may need some work.

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Links Du Jour

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  • - You gotta love the guys at Owens Corning who have given the Pink Panther, their insulation brand icon, his own blog. The Pink Panther, despite the fact he cannot talk, is practically a brand name unto himself and---surprise, surprise---when he starts blogging, he has LOTS to say. I want to see if his arch nemesis, Inspector Clouseau, gets HIS own blog.
  • - A new social site with an interesting name to help women socialize safely is set to be a direct marketing tool for advertisers looking to reach the 30-50 year old female demographic.
  • - These guys are serious. With names like “Big OX” and “OGO” is seems like some brand name research in order. Right now you can get products with names like “Mountain Breeze”, or “Mint Escape” or “Tropical Breeze”.

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StoliTwo top vodka brands, Stolichnaya and Russian Standard, are fighting over who can legitimately claim to be . I think there's a subtle irony here, as the top accolade in vodka brand naming should be who gets to be Poland’s Best Vodka, since that is vodka's country of origin.

Nonetheless, worldwide consumers associate vodka with Russia and being named Russia’s best would mean to most of us that your brand name is at the top. claims that Stoli ships out the basic vodka mix to Latvia where it is bottled and sold worldwide, and that what we get is not the original Russian vodka.

The double irony is that the Stoli brand name is controlled by French outside of Russia, a group that angrily dismisses these allegations. The ancient (500 year-old) Stolichnya brand name has been under fire before, not least by the Russian government itself, which has gone to court over its use in the lucrative U.S. markets. Russian Standard, on the other hand, was introduced in 1998, but has a large share of the Russian market and, love it or hate it, is Russian through and through.

It seems to me that in a world where production of almost anything is outsourced at least in part, it will be harder and harder to claim what is truly a "home brand": over 50% of a Ford is made overseas, for example, and nowadays most Italian shoe brands - brand names that certainly gain equity through their association with Italy - are outsourced to less exotic places like Bulgaria and Romania.

Drinking Stoli at least makes one feel authentically Russian, even if the Russians themselves aren’t drinking it.

Matthew Barnett shares more insight into what makes a genuine Russian vodka brand name in a recent . Also check out the Irina posted on her blog that unravels the trademarking mystery behind Stolichnaya Vodka.

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Links Du Jour

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  • - EchoStar may want to "tivo" this decision recently handed down by the courts. EchoStar says it is the "scapegoat" for similar products offering
    the same service.

  • Body Shop's popularity plunges after L'Oreal sale - Consumers are tougher and tougher about the authenticity of their socially responsible product names, and sales prove it.

  • - Marketing for Altoids and Lifesavers brand names is set to be pumped up by Wrigley's, who is also going to put some serious funding behind Creme Savers.

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Links Du Jour

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Busch Gardens: A Branding Experience That Describes

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Busch Gardens has made a wise name change, rebranding both theme parks by the experience each park offers, rather than the geographic locations of the parks.

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg is now Busch Gardens Europe to describe the experience.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa is now Busch Gardens Africa, again, to describe the experience.

The revitalized descriptive rebranding is a shrewd move by Busch. Vacationers don’t go to Busch Gardens because it’s in Tampa, for instance. They go for the experience. Nicely described with the new names.

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Virgin ExpressI have high expectations for this new airline brand name. Anything Virgin touches turns to gold. I expect the same to happen here. Virgin Express and SN Brussels Airlines are set to jointly a new brand name in the coming months.

SN BrusselsThe new brand name will be positioned as the "modified traditional" segment of airline carriers with two types of classes: Comfort 1 and Comfort 2, with each class offered under different brand names that have yet to be announced.

This will be an interesting naming challenge, because the comfort category will be further segmented to different target markets, allowing the carrier to expand its horizons.

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Links Du Jour

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Want to Name the Newest Goodyear Blimp?

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blimpHere’s your chance to make history by naming Goodyear’s newest blimp. The blimp is an American icon of sorts.

To enter the contest, just go to this site. The site also has tips for naming the blimp under the "What’s in a Name" section, with information on tradition, symbolism, company personality, christenings and a few more hints for those who are still stumped after all that help.

The grand prize? Use of the Goodyear blimp for a day.

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Future Naming Trends and Techniques

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Bruce Stevens and Colin McEnroe of WTIC NewsTalk 1080 in Hartford, CT interviewed Diane Prange, Chief Linguistics Officer, about future naming trends and techniques.

I thought you’d find the with Diane both informative and humorous. It sounds like NPR’s radio show, but on the subject of naming.

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Recognizable Product Names and Company Names

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There seems to be a great deal of interest in the business press regarding product names and company names.

The press appears intrigued by the name development process and I’m more than happy to demystify the process in a recent article.

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DurangoAt least one feels that we do in fact assign genders to products in the process of naming brands.

  • The Ford Bronco is clearly a masculine name while the Toyota Sequoia is more feminine.
  • The name Durango is also masculine (names ending in “o” in Spanish are masculine).

The article talks about the “leakage” of gendered words into English. Makita Power Tools - whose target market is predominately male but whose name sounds female - had a hurdle to overcome when they came to the U.S. I think that we in the product naming business have been purposely gendering products for years to appeal to the correct target market, and language leakage is only a part of this.

It is no secret that a car like the Jeep Wrangler is clearly designed for the male target market, while the Renault Clio is much more feminine and demure. My recent on HERO Honda’s motorcycle names also shows the increasing moodiness of the male mind when it comes to their favorite brands.

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Is Comcast's Smartplay a Smart Brand Naming Move?

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NameSmartplay might be the brand name for the .

Comcast's new quadruple-play telephone, Internet, television, and wireless business device is probably going to have its own product name, insiders report, after noting that the company has just trademarked the Smartplay name, which can be used for telecommunications and internet services, VOIP, wireless services, and broadcasting.

I think it's a smart and logical move to offer a new brand in this instance, because Smartplay will be co-offered with Sprint Nextel, meaning that it is unlikely that there will be a squabble over product naming.

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Links Du Jour

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Arbeit Macht Fries

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auschwitzIn addition to Poland wanting to of the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to be politically correct, the reverse is happening in Bavaria.

Welcome to Dachau shows an image of a McDonald's subway sign that says Willkommen in Dachau (Welcome to Dachau).

I understand that times have changed, but I think it's reasonable to say that after World War II, no one would imagine that there would be a sign saying Welcome to Dachau.

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NameI learned that Northwest Airlines recently announced the launch of a new regional carrier, Compass.

The airline says it hopes to have its new regional jet subsidiary in the air as early as June and could have as many as 36 small jets flying within five years.

Compass will begin flying between Washington Dulles and Minneapolis in June with one 50-seat airplane. The new subsidiary will eventually fly 76-seat airplanes during its first year, and plans to add at least 36 of the small jets within five years.

Magnetic CompassThere’s a lot to like about the product name, Compass.

  • Short – just two sweet syllables
  • Easy to pronounce, natural English
  • An excellent fit for the travel category
  • Nice tie to the parent brand (Northwest covers two points on a Compass)
  • Plenty of positive visual imagery to make it memorable
  • Perhaps even some emotional bonding (A compass keeps us from getting lost in the proverbial big bad woods)
  • It’s trademarkable – (Actually the registration is still pending, but Northwest’s legal team wouldn’t dare introduce a new brand name they couldn’t bank on, Right?)

There’s so much product name magnetism surrounding Northwest’s Compass, it almost seems to good to be true. But there is one big chink in the armor: differentiation. In other words, the Compass brand name really lacks an identity of its own.

Even though there are no other specific airlines named ‘Compass’ there are 83 other active marks for the exact same name in the U.S. Federal database.

For instance:

  • You can drive to the airport in your Jeep Compass
  • Next, check your Compass Luggage and go through the Compass metal detector at security.
  • (Hopefully you didn’t pack your Compass hunting knife)
  • Then board the Compass flight and take your seat (which has a Compass Life Jacket stored beneath)
  • Sit back and relax in your J.C. Penny Compass suit
  • And after take-off, order a glass of Compass Merlot

I could go on, but out of Compassion for you, dear reader, I will end it now.

For more about this story, check out , and .

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Consonants Are Key To Brand Naming

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We conducted proprietary research on all the consonants in the English language to determine consumers’ associations with each consonant.

Some of our research findings were published in a recent issue of . I think you may find our research results interesting and revealing.

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Links Du Jour

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Accoona LogoRecognize the name Accoona? I think you probably will, soon, and I’ll explain why.

Unless you sell seashells by the seashore or something, you’ve probably seriously considered the value of search engine marketing, or at least your business’s organic rankings within Google, Yahoo! or MSN Search. Driving your decisions about SEM, though, is knowing which search engines your customers are flocking to.

In my opinion, being a consumer and using a search engine go hand-in-hand. So I how search engines are branding themselves and uncovered a trend in .

With so many loyal customers of products with Microsoft branding throughout the world, only 11% of search engine users chose MSN Search last November, whereas 70% chose Yahoo! or Google. Why?

In large part, I think the search experience is about satisfying consumers’ curiosities and connecting them with businesses. And I think we have a growing affinity for coined, or created, words for brand names in the technology arena.

I found that search engines launched in the 90’s were much more descriptively named (WebCrawler, Infoseek, and AlltheWeb), since the technology was so new. Recently, however, search engine branding is getting more creative, using coined names such as Kosmix, FinQoo, Quaero, and Accoona.

With constant innovations in the dead-serious business of Internet search, and yet-undiscovered reasons to use search technology, companies are finding new ways to brand a customer’s search experience.

So, where does the brand name "Accoona" come from? Here's what the page says:

The name Accoona is derived from the Swahili phrase, Hakuna Matata, which means "don’t worry be happy." Accoona CEO Stuart Kauder says, "The company name was chosen specifically with the end user in mind. Our goal is to make our users happy by helping them find relevant results to their queries."

Now that's a user experience I'd like to have!

For more insight into the Accoona brand, visit Mark Scholl's . Luis Suarez wrote a nice , and Brian Morrissey at Adfreaks shows how . For more insight into competitor Google's brand, visit the page, this post, and this post by Diego Rodriguez.

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Links Du Jour

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Wal-Mart has just announced a , designed by the and aimed at "young men with an urban flair." Its name? Exsto.

This is a fitting name (pun intended) for the image Wal-Mart wants to present. Exsto is Latin for "stand out, project, be conspicuous, be visible." Just what anyone looking for style wants to do.

Admittedly, not too many of Wal-Mart’s customers speak or read Latin. Many are Latin-American, however, and may think of the Spanish esto, meaning "this." As in "this is the one."

What do you think of the new Exsto brand name?

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auschwitzI just read that Poland is petitioning UNESCO to change the name of the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to .

The move apparently comes in reaction to recent German media references to the camp as a "Polish concentration camp". It’s no surprise that the government in Warsaw is anxious to disassociate itself with the most memorable symbol of the Holocaust, but to me, this name change request is little more than finger-pointing as well as an inaccurate use of nomenclature.

Here are just a few reasons for resisting the name change to "Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau":

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau are a pair of Polish towns and not German towns.
  • Adding "former" to the name is meaningless. Tourists don’t say "I’m going to visit the former Graceland" or the "former Versailles" — I’m sure they’re smart enough to know that this is a former concentration camp or they wouldn’t risk the visit.
  • The phrase Nazi German gives me pause. It is possible to be a German and not be a Nazi. It’s also possible to be Polish and be a Nazi. So Nazi alone suffices.
  • Last, the length of this name is simply unbearable. Even for a German attraction.

Here’s my petition. Keep it short. Most people just call it Auschwitz anyway.

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