Naming: November 2006 Archives

michael-richards.jpgIn light of the recent debacle involving comedian Michael Richards and his offensive outbursts at an LA nightclub, I watched a few Seinfeld episodes last weekend to see if I could identify anything that was overtly or even tangentially racist about Richards’ "Kramer" character.

In so doing, I uncovered nothing that was inappropriate, and if something seemed risqué, it surely resided in the realms of satire and good taste. However, as a byproduct of this exercise, something significant popped up.

Though its title was a less-than-inspiring eponym, Seinfeld became a highly memorable brand name due largely to its cultural impact on the American language. More specifically, it penetrated America’s cultural DNA and embedded within it numerous coined words and terms often used today.

Case in point: “shrinkage”; “regifting”; “double dipping”; “master of my domain”; “yadda yadda yadda”; “no soup for you!”; “Serenity now”; et al.

These words, phrases and ideas, also known as memes, have infiltrated the public consciousness so effectively that DVD sales of the show continue to do well. This remains to be true despite the fact that Seinfeld is played in syndication ad nauseum nearly 8 years after it went off the air!

seinfeldlogo.gifWhy is this so? Although no extensive market research has been done on this, one can conclude that the show’s memes have been so heavily adopted by American culture that, in many ways, to live without the show is to deprive oneself of the cultural validation that those memes provide.

In other words, because the show had such an imprint on American culture, fans of the TV series want to show their sense of ownership over it by adopting its memes as their own. This is why DVD sales of the series and the Seinfeld brand name will remain strong, even despite the Michael Richards setback.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

This Is Your Brain on Brands

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Brain.jpgThe blogosphere is heated this week over a couple of great posts on that picked up a press release from the Radiological Society of North America confirming what we in the product naming business have always suspected: brand names we know and recognize activate different areas of our brains than those that we do not.

swoosh.jpgGoogle was awash with related posts including a good one entitled Brain Branding - Coke Is It that mentions that Coke and Pepsi are both equally recognized but the Coke brand name has stronger “functional magnetic resonance imaging results.” IndianPad breaks down the findings, quoting from the report that “a benchmark test for strong vs. weaker brands is possible,” but, frustratingly, finding how to scientifically increase that resonance of brands upon our brains is still elusive.

Kyle Flaherty linked to the results on his Engage in PR Blog, pointing out that now PR people are building “brands” rather than simply promoting companies (something they have been doing for years anyway), and that the entire PR industry will be “shifting from customer satisfaction to customer advocacy.”

brain_on_brands.jpgI would add that branding is deeply rooted in the way we use language, which is why we at SND place a strong emphasis on our linguistic expertise. Branding shows its face in the literary study of structuralism and in the myths we create about ourselves, as delineated in the writings of Claude Levi Strauss.

There's an excellent post on the subject that references Google’s struggles to “deverb” its name, and points out that “Brands are about what consumers think - their perception is what counts, not what the company wants”.

Now we have proof.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Links du Jour 11-30-06

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Jimmy-Buffett-Margaritaville.jpgJimmy Buffett Protects Integrity of Margaritaville Brand Name - Madison, at the Glitter and Gold blog, reports that Jimmy Buffett has prevailed against Robert Akard for illegally selling Buffett’s trademarked items over the Internet. Akard has been illegally merchandising Margaritaville brand name merchandise for some time.

martha-brand.jpgMartha Stewart: The Brand - Ted Mininni at Marketing Profs has a great post up analyzing the current state of the Martha Stewart brand name. His verdict? She’s baaaack - with a new TV show, numerous licensing deals, and an agreement with KB Home to build Martha Stewart themed houses in planned communities. Her “aura transcends the woman,” states the CEO of Macy’s who just signed her for a line of home store products, further assuring us that her “brand will prosper in any situation.” Seems like it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

The End of Television, Cell Phones, Car Phones?

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

Today, we will put to rest three outdated technology device names that have to finally be considered outdated: "television," "cell phone," and "car phone."

classic-carphone.gifTake a look at this blog on Funny Business that will bring you back to 1988, when Radio Shack could charge $1,499 for a cellular phone (I can’t remember when I used that name) and watch an ad for a car phone from the same year. If you must refer to a mobile phone that is especially for use in a car, the term to use, in my opinion, is “in-car phone” such as the Motorola M710 or a “handsfree” set - although you really cannot ask somebody to call you on your "handsfree.” has a nice post linking to a recent Business Week article, Time To Rename the Cell Phone?, reminding us that Nokia already refers to their units as “multimedia computers” and Samsung calls them “mobile information terminals.” The name cellphone or cell phone or, most egregiously, cell-phone, is just plain outdated, like the term “icebox.”

classic-radio.gifAt one point, the fridge was a box with ice in it, hence the term icebox. At one point, analog mobile phones used “cells” of coverage in cities, hence the term “cellular phone”, which was shortened to “cell phone.” Those cells are no longer really used in the digital age.

With the advent of WiFi and WiMax and broadband phones, Time magazine has come out and asked its European readers what to do about the “New Wireless Tangle” - you need a glossary just to keep up with what is available. MocoNews points out that Motorola CEO Ed Zander refers to them as “the device formerly known as the cell phone.” And are people out there asking others to call them on their “broadband phone”?

classic-tv.gifThis leaves us with the term “television” and even the term “radio,” both which the BBC thinks are obsolete. The BBC (Britain’s largest TV network) now refers to its video content as “Vision” and the name “radio” has been dropped in favor of “Audio and Music.” This, thinks David Deans, is the beginning of the end for these old, achingly analog terms.

I have to agree. While we in the U.S., the ones who came up with the term “cell phone” in the first place, while the Brits skipped happily to “mobiles”, will probably still stubbornly use the terms “television”, and “radio” for some years to come, their days are now officially numbered.

My prediction is that “television” will go first, and the term “TV” will linger on (think HDTV and 2DTV). “Radio” will also stay just long enough to go out when the last TV is switched off. And you read here first.

What do you think?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Links du Jour 11-29-06

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Jaguar XF: S-Type replacement gets new name - Leftlane News reports that Jag is dropping the “S-Type” series in favor of “XF”. The new name creates a more consistent brand architecture, as Jag already offers the XJ and XK. Jag chief Bibiana Boerio says the new XF name will "challenge people to think again about Jaguar as daring and different." What do you think? Leftlane News reader Piablo says this: "I think they should really lay off challenging others and challenge themselves to come out with a car worthy of carrying the Jaguar name."

Intelligence Amplification - Great blog up by Brad Feld on the name “Web 3.0." In short, he prefers the phrase “Intelligence Amplification” which echoes the older name “Artificial Intelligence.” Some names that fit into this theme: Me.dium, Lijit, Collective Intellect, and HiveLive. Great read, and nice looking new site, Brad.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Brand Naming: The Power of the "-Ex" Suffix

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Richard Lederer of the KPBS show A Way with Words describes “–ex” as “The killer advertising suffix.”

The US Patent and Trademark Office agrees with him: a search for terms ending in “-ex” yields 46,779 results. Even allowing for a company trademarking the same name in several different classes, and subtracting words that end in “–plex,” "–flex,” and the like, that’s a shed-load of brand names.

And unlike such endings as “–ium” and “–ion,” which are associated primarily with product names in the high tech and science industries, or "-one," "-ol," and "-in(e)," which are usually used for pharmaceuticals and chemical compounds, names for products in any category at all can end in “–ex.” Here are just a few examples:

Brand Names with “ex” Suffix

Even the popular abbreviations “AmEx” and “FedEx” may have come about in part because of the power of this suffix.

What other examples of brand names ending in "ex" can you think of?

Technorati Tags: ,

Links du Jour 11-27-06

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Dippy Chick - Here's a link to Marie's WAHM Spotlight blog, which profiles the Dippy Chick Company, which has come up with equally irreverant product names: Gettin' Piggy Widdit, Crabby ol' Beach Seafood Mix, Kamikaze Wasabi, and Parmesan Pesto Manifesto, to name a few. The Dippy Chick's original business name was SerenDIPity Gourmet Specialties.

DC Aims at Teenage Girls - Johanna Draper Carlson writes about DC Comics creating a graphic novel for teenage girls with the name "Minx". Tim Leong at Comic Foundry points out that DC had to take legal action to protect the brand name Minx. What do you think of the name Minx other comics aimed at girls: Paradox, WildStorm, CMX, Helix?

The Value of a Brand Name - Would you go to the theater to see "James Bond 21"? How about "Casino Royale"? Interesting post by Frank Cimatu on the naming strategies studios employ in marketing sequels.

The 69-word Name Change - A James Bond fan changed his name to all the Bond movie titles. You have to read this blog post by Adam Ash to believe it.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

TV Show Naming: Justice Has Its Predators

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Justice TV ShowJust two months into the new television season and already networks are announcing their cancellations, for example, Jerry Bruckheimer's show, Justice. Given Bruckheimer’s track record of creating such well-known TV brand names as CSI and Without a Trace, Justice seemed that it was bound for success.

Perhaps the reason that Justice was cancelled had something to do with its name. Is the word “justice” enticing enough to motivate a viewer to actually tune in?

American Crime might have been better. That was the show's original name, but due to the impending release of the 2007 film An American Crime, a name change had to be made. The word “crime” would have instantly infused suspense and mayhem into the show’s brand.

The only other freshman legal drama that had a chance of making it was CBS’s Shark, starring James Woods.

Shark TV ShowShark is a success, even though it suffers from seen-before storylines and a remarkably boring cast, with the exception of Woods, who already has a high level of brand recognition and identity. That’s the main reason why the show got better ratings and ultimately survived longer than Justice.

However, if you were to level the playing ground by eliminating Woods from the equation and just pitted the two shows Shark and Justice against one another on paper (say, in TV Guide, where the name of the show really matters), Shark would still prevail.

Why? Because it has a much more interesting and powerful brand name:

  • A shark is a predator, devouring its prey with reckless abandon, and therefore evokes images associated with conflict, danger, perhaps even survival
  • When used as a metaphor, the word “shark” describes highly competitive, ethically challenged business people, attorneys, politicians, agents, and other positions of power (Woods is a hotshot defense attorney who defects to the other side)
  • ”Shark” helps deliver on the brand promise of providing excitement in a dangerous world (in this case, the world of criminal law)

Although Justice reached a more satisfying result per episode, it undermined itself from the outset with a title that was too vague and exhausted to deliver an accessible brand promise.

And that’s why it’s not surprising that Shark, as simple and as concrete as it sounds, devoured its freshmen competition.

For more information on this subject, check out these insightful blog posts: A Tale of Two Law Shows, Fox benches Justice, and Justice: FOX Throws Out Court Drama.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Naming Rights for College Buildings, Lockers, and More

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

One of the interesting elements of being in the naming business is how educational institutions work out naming rights to buildings on campus. We all know that serious donors get the first chance, but there can often be more to simply putting down money for a building and getting your name over the door.

VCU LogoRecently, a blog posted on the Commonwealth Times, the online portal for Virginia Commonwealth University, looked at the issue of corporate naming rights at institutions of higher learning. The new Business School building there is selling name rights starting from $5,000 and going all the way to $2.5 million.

Once a donor has given money to the University, they are presented with a correspondingly long list of naming opportunities - $5,000 can give you the right to name a faculty office, $200,000 gets your name over a 200 seat classroom. Once you get up to the $2+ million level, you start to be able to name entire facilities.

The Un-Zone blog has discussed this trend, pointing out that smaller elements of buildings have been overlooked: what about clocks? Floor tiles? HVAC Systems? Bathrooms?

Penn State LogoBut this is not quite as crazy as one would think. Penn State’s new Lorenzo Wrestling Complex offered donors the right (at $5,000 a pop) to put their names above lockers. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism (named after a big donor) has recently named a new building after James L Knight, the founder of Knight Ridder.

Harvard LogoBill Gates gave $25 million to a computer center at Harvard that he did not visit for ten years, while another Harvard dropout, Edwin Land, gave funds for the science center to be shaped like a giant Polaroid camera, something that the university has tried to forget.

Yale University LogoYale University, for its part, has owned up to the slave holding past of John C. Calhoun, whose name is on one of their residential colleges.

Shaping buildings after the inventions of large donors is nothing new, however. The Library Pariah points out that Bayside University has agreed to install a massive Chutes and Ladders style slide from the top of the library to the quad to recognize the gift of a “distant heir to the Bradley side of the famous Milton Bradley gaming empire.” The slide will also serve as an emergency exit.

Well, not really...

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Indian Motorcycle Brand Name Rides Again!

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Indian MotorcyclesI am absolutely thrilled to link to Custom Motorcycle Talk today, where Jason hart has posted an article written by Eugenia Lawson at Fortune magazine about the revival of two classic brand names: Indian Motorcycles and Chris-Craft boats.

Two Harvard B-School classmates, Stephen Julius and Steve Heese already brought back the classic boat brand after years of neglect, and they have now turned their considerable expertise towards bringing back Indian Motorcycles, which once upon a time was just as big and popular as Harley.

Featured in the classic Anthony Hopkins movie The Worlds Fastest Indian, the Indian brand name is legendary among motorcycle enthusiasts and has exactly the kind of cachet among the rest of us to work.

Chris CraftSince the bikes will be made in America, they will have the same resonance as Harley. Chris-Craft is just as admired in the smaller, more rarified boating community: people lovingly restore old Chris Craft boats and keep them afloat for generations.

My feeling is that some brand names, like Chris-Craft and Indian, seem to have a mystique and allure that never dies.

If Chris-Craft can be revived, than Indian Motorcycles certainly can be. The new plant is certainly ambitious, and moreover the management has carefully studied rival Harley’s success and has committed itself to “remaining true to the rich heritage of this incredible brand” by creating heavy cruiser bikes along the same line as those we remember from decades ago.

Welcome back, Indian.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

KLMFollowing rumors earlier this week that Air France and KLM are getting ready to launch a new brand name low budget airline comes news that Air France KLM and Alitalia are seriously considering at a merger, prompting Air France shares to drop and Alitalia’s to rise.

The question is, what would ultimately happen to the Alitalia brand?

Mark Pilling at Flight International points out that a kind of merger mania is sweeping the airline industry, pointing at the potential takeover of Quantas by a partnership of Macquarie Bank and the Texas Pacific Group equity firm.

Pilling notes that investors are very weary of mergers within an industry that seems to be hardly flying high nowadays, but Air France’s acquisition of Alitalia really would make a lot of sense.

AlitaliaAlitalia is an unprofitable, state-run airline that has huge brand name recognition, but very few happy customers. Earlier this week, the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, pointed out that “aside from Greece, only Italy still has an airline that hasn’t been privatized” and was highly critical of the Italian government's involvement with the ailing airline. David Williams noted last month that things have gotten so bad at Alitalia that they are starting to sell ad space on barf bags.

In a very in-depth article, Andrea Rothman notes that the CEO of Air France, Jean Cyril Spinetta, wants to see a “common vision” shared by the two airlines as well as “financial strength” - a good thing since Alitalia has not posted a profit since 2002.

Ms. Spinetta also profiles other recent takeover bids, including US Airways move on Delta, which I wrote about last week. A post yesterday on quotes the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as wondering whether such a merger would “create a big European air transport group in which Italy has also its place, or simply grab the Italian air transport market, which is big and very rich?"

Air FranceMy view is that the acquisition of Alitalia by Air France will make it no less Italian in spirit - I have flown KLM many times and find it to be quintessentially Dutch, just as Air France is suitably refined and French, especially the First Class, which, with its down comforters and Christian Lacroix pajamas, is magnifique.

I would expect the Alitalia brand name would retain its Italian flair and values, should the takeover happen.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Happy Thanksgiving from Strategic Name Development

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Here’s wishing all of our readers a happy and prosperous Thanksgiving.

ThanksgivingEver wonder about the name, Thanksgiving? Manhattan Chowder has an excellent post up that tells us who, exactly, we can thank for the modern Thanksgiving holiday: a woman named Sarah Joseph Hale, who created the official name of the holiday, on and off, in different guises, ever since 1541.

That's when Coronado’s expedition held a friendly meal with Teya Indians in West Texas...almost a hundred years before the Pilgrims enjoyed their harvest feast in Plymouth.

Before you sit down to your traditional turkey dinner, you might also enjoy reading about the origins of Thanksgiving, on Susie’s wonderful blog. You'll find some surprising facts revealed: Ben Franklin’s wish that the Turkey, and not the Bald Eagle, be the national symbol of America; and the difference between a “fryer” and a “roaster.” Great blog, Susie.

ThanksgivingAnd if you're interested in finding out where, precisely, your meal comes from, why not visit the Geography Matters blog. You can track each and every element of your meal - you may know where the potatoes in your meal were grown (Idaho), but what about the pecans? And the celery?

Lastly, have fun with Google's Thanksgiving holiday logo change, which will combine an image of, probably a turkey, into Google's logo. Like for many other holidays celebrated in the U.S. and around the world, Google's homepage will again temporarily change to reflect a unique Google visual identity.

The fun part is seeing how the holiday image is weaved into the Google name. Last year's logo on Thanksgiving replaced the o's with popular Thanksgiving dishes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Technorati Tags:

Positioning: Helio, Helio, Thou Doth Protest Too Much

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Helio Billboard 7-Up won by being the un-cola. Nintendo Wii hopes to be the un-gaming system. And it seems Helio just might win by being an un-phone.

Helio aims to catch the public’s attention by an un-positioning campaign. The company’s billboards show pictures of devices that look like cell phones, with captions like “Friendar” and “Conversation Starter” and the tagline “Don’t call us a phone company.”

The tactic is working, at least in terms of getting attention. The obvious question is “Well, if it’s not a phone, what is it?” That provokes people to find out more. On the other hand, hiding its own name in small print left me looking “Friendar” up on Google.

Helio BillboardIt’s unlikely that Helio will succeed in getting people to refer to their devices as “devices” rather than phones. Even Helio owners posting pictures on Flickr use the tag “cellphone” as well as “helio.”

What really matters to the wireless company, however, is not eliminating the word “phone” from the vocabulary of its users, but rather getting people to switch from other services to theirs. By rejecting the term “phone” and emphasizing features like MySpace Mobile and the Buddy Beacon, Helio turns its position as a newcomer into an advantage.

Thomas Sherman writes about Helio's "This is not your father's Oldsmobile" approach on his blog, The Sherman Foundation. Check it out for further insights into the campaign's approach, and for a couple links to the Helio TV spots which cleverly deliver the tagline as a punchline.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Branding Naming: Starbucks May Get Scalded

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

The disagreement that I have written about before between Starbucks and Ethiopia over the coffee giant’s trademarking of the country’s Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harar bean names is about to boil over.

Starbucks and OxfamStarbucks wants Ethiopian sellers of these beans to abandon efforts to trademark the names (after prompting the USPTO to call the names “generic”) and instead use a geographic certification model (think Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Florida Orange Juice, Napa Valley Wines) to protect their names.

There is also a fight over who wanted to trademark the names first. The green LA girl blog has started a nifty little timeline to help track Ethiopia’s effort to trademark some of its coffee names.

The risks here are enormous and go right to the heart of brand naming. If Ethiopia gets its trademark, it risks pricing itself out of the market; if it goes for regional certification, it risks losing brand name equity and an important card in negotiations with coffee sellers. But in this case, Ethiopia cannot risk losing Starbucks, its biggest buyer, and is offering a licensing agreement to the Seattle-based coffee company free of charge.

At the same time, it should be noted that Ethiopia is becoming a steamy matter for Starbucks - bloggers are frustrated over what they see as a clear case of corporate exploitation.

IWWIt is within Starbucks' best interest to come to a public, amicable agreement with the growers before the Starbucks brand name suffers serious harm. Already radical Starbucks baristas have declared November 24-25 the “Global Day of Action Against Starbucks”. This is exactly the kind of brand name nightmare that Nike and Apple have both managed to put behind them.

The fact is that the National Coffee Association is on Starbucks' side, stating that a trademark move on the part of Ethiopia is a scheme that “is going to hurt the Ethiopian coffee farmers economically”. It seems to me that Starbucks could put its weight behind a regional certification program, which would protect the interests of Ethiopian farmers as well as the company name.

Starbucks should also go on the offensive and take the extra effort to prove to suspicious activists that they are not engaging in exploitative behavior with Ethiopian growers or any other growers. Nobody likes to buy coffee from a rapacious corporate monolith, even one that is in the right, at least not the kind of people who frequent Starbucks.

Ethiopia, for its part, should tread carefully. The fact is, very few people have heard of these brand names (unlike, say, Blue Mountain or Kona) and if Starbucks is forced to stop selling them, you can bet that nobody will hear much about them in the future.

By the way, I hope my apostrophe use with the name Starbucks was correct.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Branding: Yahoo! Peanut Butter

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Yahoo! Peanut ButterMichael Parekh's wrote a great post on his blog Saturday, giving some very insightful observations on Yahoo!'s multiple overlapping services, and other "Yahoo 2.0" considerations. It's a great read... and might make you start craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The news is all about the The Wall Street Journal story on Yahoo!’s amusingly named “Peanut Butter Manifesto”, penned by a senior executive which is an insight into the strife that has beset that Internet giant. Brad Garlinghouse, the writer of manifesto memo, claims that Yahoo! is trying be all things to everybody, and thus has spread itself too thin over a variety of business ventures.

Jim Benson suggests that when “life gives you peanut butter, make peanut butter cookies", and that Yahoo! has "open sourced their business strategy." Matt Asay at AC/OS has an excellent post up entitled “Yahoo! High in Fat”. Maybe so, but analysts remain bullish on Yahoo!, even if things are a little sticky over there.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Company Naming: Does Bigger Equal Better?

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

Muara Teweh points out the following today on her Education Information blog:

US Airways“If US Airways succeeds in buying Delta Air Lines, the giant that would emerge would retain the Delta name and be the largest airline in the country, with annual revenues of about $28 billion and service to 350 cities on five continents.”

Her blog post elegantly points out that in the airline business, bigger is not always better for either passengers or staff. In fact, there is much glumness out there about the merger. The Airline Bulletin has an interesting post up today entitled The Messy Mechanics of the US Airways-Delta Merger.

DeltaIn short, there is a fear that this will create an “East Coast powerhouse” that will force higher fares and employee lay-offs. US Airways and America West Airlines pilot groups picketed in Charlotte and Phoenix against the creation of a juggernaut company that some are saying will be the world’s “largest bankrupt airline.”

If the merger does go through, it is sure to be met with suspicion by travellers and workers alike, not to mention potential shareholders.

But mergers seem to be so popular today.

MotorolaMotorola, for instance, has announced that it will snap up Good Technology, which produces software that allows companies to “push” email to mobile devices.

Neil Thompson at ITPro applauds this move, which “makes absolute sense to both parties” and is further proof that Motorola is shooting to be a major player in the mobile technology world. As Thompson points out, their recent buyout of Symbol Technologies was the precursor to this yet bolder transaction.

Symbol TechnologiesBut a few people have noted that the Motorola-Symbol Technologies merger has led to some interesting naming dilemmas - specifically, how to rename executive bonuses so they do not rankle so much with beleaguered shareholders. They are now to be referred to as “separation payments” or else “transaction bonuses.”

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Brand Naming: Casio G'zOne is a Tongue-Twister

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Casio G'zOneTechnology names, in general, are some of the more interesting, unusual, and cool recently minted brand names.

Jan Freeman, of the Boston Globe recently wrote an interesting article on some unusual technology brand names.

Prior to this article, one name in particular, Casio's G'zOne, caught our attention, as it did Ms. Freeman's. We conducted independent research of this technology name and nine others among males and females 25-44 years old.

Among both genders, not surprisingly, it left consumers scratching their heads. Or, as Ms. Freeman put it, "G'zOne is cleverly designed for maximum bafflement." I was also quoted in the Boston Globe article, "Tongue-twisting Technology", which is posted on our In the News page, if you'd like to read it.

By the way, what do you think is the correct way to pronounce G'zOne? Vote below...

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Links du Jour 11-15-06

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Intel Quad CoreIntel Ignites Quad-Core Era - The Geeks are Sexy blog announces that Intel launched the Quad-Core brand name processors yesterday. They look pretty powerful, and are becoming the flagship of the new Intel Core brand architecture. Sure, the specs on these are incredible, but I hope "quad", "duo", and "solo" gain the proper recognition. It's a unique nomenclature to own.

Jimmy BuffettTrademark Infringement Lawsuit filed by Singer Jimmy Buffett - Online “businessman” Robert Akard has been accused, once again, of violating the famous singer’s trademarks via his web site, which flogs unauthorized Jimmy Buffett trademarked items. It falsely tells browsers that it is “Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Online Store for Merchandise” while marking up these items exorbitantly. A federal judge has already shut down Akard’s last web site, named

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Brand Naming: Paris Hilton Launches New "Heiress" Fragrance

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

Paris Hilton's new fragranceParis Hilton just launched a new fragrance named “Heiress” and the blogosphere has been very vocal about it. Check out the comments on Haute Gossip's blog for some creative names people are suggesting the new fragrance should really be called.

After the launch of two frangrances in March, Paris has again seized the opportunity her very well-known name has given her, despite the fact that she is hardly a model of virtue. The new book that profiles Paris and her family, entitled “House of Hilton”, attempts to cast light on how Paris became a bigger brand than the hotel chain started by her forebears.

Love her or hate her, she has an immense effect on fashion and style today. She even has made it into the realm of political debate and has her own brand channel on YouTube.

According to the book, Paris is not quite as rich as she makes out to be, and if she wants to live the lifestyle we all associate with her, she has to work. Sometimes even hire lookalikes to do her work for her. And work she has, by tirelessly branding herself.

What's your opinion on the name of Paris Hilton's new fragrance? Vote below:

Technorati Tags: , ,

Links du Jour 11-14-06

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Carrera too common? Rename your Porsche - If you are getting tired of your Porsche’s name, why not rename it? You can give yourself “Targa” status or even put Porsche lettering on your old jalopy. If you can’t afford to own a Porsche, you can at least have the brand name.

Allentown franchise unveils new name: IronPigs - The Philadelphia Phillies’ AAA franchise has a new name, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, after fans submitted 3,500 entries in a naming contest. The winner was “the weirdest one out there”, according to its creator, Ron Steele. It refers to the area’s steel-making history (immortalized in the Billy Joel song of the same name) with its primary ingredient being pig iron.

Technorati Tags: ,

Links du Jour 11-13-06

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

QdobaAnd What is a Burrito? - Sandwich chain Panera Bread and a Mexican restaurant called The Qdoba Mexican Grill recently went to court in Massachusetts over whether or not a burrito is legally a sandwich. If the judge were to discover that burritos were sandwiches, Qdoba would have been barred from opening a restaurant in the same Worcester mall as Panera. Luckily for Qdoba, the judge consulted culinary historians and ruled against Panera, confirming what we all know: burritos are not sandwiches. They should have asked Chef Kevin, who has declared the case closed.

Arizona Company Unveils Revolutionary Approach to Internet Domain Speculation - An interesting post here about domain name investing and how “investors and businesses alike are probably passing on the best and most undervalued domain names”, or what are called “sleepers”. It comes down to buying a domain name that has branding vs. “natural” search engine marketing potential.

ProvistaBiofuel watchers, get ready to learn a new name: Provista - Biofuels have interesting names, like “Panda Ethanol” and now “Provista Renewable Fuels Marketing”, a joint venture between CHS Inc and US BioEnergy which is set to make 400 million gallons of ethanol/petroleum. John Litterio, director of Renewable Fuels Wholesale Marketing for Provista, says the name “captures our professional, proactive commitment to responding to change in the renewable fuels marketplace.” Sebastian Blanco at AutoblogGreen points out there are in fact a few other Provistas already out there.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Naming: Some People are Genetically Smurfy

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

HUGOThe (HUGO) has found that there are ten genes that have been offensively named and are "inappropriate, demeaning and pejorative." These include "LFNG – lunatic fringe homolog (Drosophila)" and “MFNG – manic fringe homolog (Drosophila)," as well as "IHH – Indian Hedgehog homolog (Drosophila)." They also include "headcase" and "one-eyed pinhead." Some gene names, I think, are drawing unnecessary flak: what's wrong with "tribbles" (the furry creatures from Star Trek) or "smurf" and "groucho"? As Dr. Chris Doe at University of Oregon points out, we are talking about names linked to human development — I suppose nobody wants to be known as a genetic "tribble." The Neurophilosopher has a list of very that will probably be changed sooner or later, and you can read an interesting article on the subject from JAMA Medical News (PDF file).

Scientists in other fields have been known to be a little careless when naming, leading to some interesting dilemmas. For instance, who can forget the outcry over the terms "master" and "slave" in reference to computer hardware? Los Angeles officials found last month that such terms are "unacceptable and offensive."

Library of CongressAnd certain other names are being phased out, according to Barbara Tillett, the chief of the the . The office is getting rid of the following terms and replacing them with more acceptable alternatives in their searches:


  • Australian aborigines to Aboriginal Australians (in 2003)
  • Cripples to Handicapped to People with disabilities (with the latter change in 2002)
  • Gypsies to Romanies (in 2001)
  • Negroes to Afro-Americans to African Americans (the latter change in 2000)
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 to Vietnam War, 1961-1975 (2006)

Perhaps most troubling of all is the careless naming practices of some renegade insect researchers, who tried to name several new beetles after George Bush’s cabinet.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Brand Naming: Bye-Bye Mac Guy

| 4 Comments | No TrackBacks

Mac guy PC guyApple is nixing Justin Long, better known as "The Mac Guy” in the “I’m a Mac” television advertising campaign. Why? Because people seem to like the nerdy PC Guy more that the smug, unshaven, hoodie wearing Mac Guy.

Tech filter finds this “hilarious”. Darryl Ohrt feels that this might be because the PC Guy, played by humorist John Hodgman is the “likable underdog” and Long’s Mac Guy was just a little too arrogant. Jeff Bercovici takes this a step further in Radar, stating that Mac Guy makes you want to push him under a bus.

I’m sure Microsoft would agree with Lance Mannion that its nice to try and be cool and smooth but “in our hearts” we’re all PC Guys.

Gizmodo is actually running a poll to find the new Mac Guy, who they earlier agreed was a “smug little twit.” Nobody is sure what the new Mac ads will be like, they are only sure that Hodgeman will be back. Bob Sassone thinks that maybe PC Guy should morph into the new Mac Guy, to show that a “PC Guy can become a Mac Guy.”

I wonder if Microsoft has grasped just what an incredible breakthrough this is for their brand name - Apple has had to register the fact that very few Apple people want to talk about, and it’s this: Apple users are irritating to the rest of us and even to other Mac users.

Microsoft, are you listening? Here’s a chance to reframe your name. Just don’t get smug about it. Be cool. For once.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Brand Naming: The Zune and Microsoft

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

ZuneThere is a lot of discussion about how seems to be trying to distance the brand name Zune from its own corporate name.

Why? Microsoft knows that it has to appeal to the 18-24 hipster market with these devices and (possibly correctly) feels that its own name is too nerdy to promote effectively to the cool kids.

Meanwhile, the player is also being shoved aside at point of sale, where and its myriad of accessories reign supreme. Apple lovers are having a field day tearing apart Zune, but maybe, just maybe, they should hold their fire.

The introduction of and its fairly earthy, interesting promotion of indie art could, in the long run, make the Zune an alternative name in entertainment — and in this world, alternative culture often gets to be the mainstream leaders. Just ask Apple. And maybe it's a good strategy.

For the time being, however, I will go out on a limb and say that nobody can out-Apple Apple.

Apple simply owns the cool and funky mp3 player space and pretending to be like Apple is an uphill battle. It is also self defeating: the Mac Daily News (with some smugness) notes that it seems illogical for Microsoft to build so much into the Vista name, which is obviously music-friendly.

So maybe Microsoft should embrace the fact that everyone knows their name.

Maybe they should embrace their inner geek and the hundreds of millions of geeks who use their products daily.

Yes, Microsoft does tend to silo its projects and they are probably right when they say that each brand name should have its own personality. But they seem to be trying to pigeon hole the Zune name alongside the "" of Xbox 360.

Their advertising is also mostly an effort to differentiate Zune from iPod and to create a campaign that ties in nicely with the entertainment factor of and .

3 zunesMeanwhile, they have a juggernaut brand name that is being ignored. The 800 pound gorilla in this room is . There are many, many Windows lovers out there and the Zune could add value to that.

If Microsoft can create a synergy between Windows, , Soapbox, X-Box 360 and Zune, then the ball will be in Apple's court. If they can bring the same cool factor that I'm seeing on and make an all in one computing/communication/entertainment package out of it under a name we all know, well, then I’d be interested.

Until they do it, though, I think many will remain loyal to their iPods.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Links du Jour 11-8-06

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Turkish Cosmetics Company Changes French Name in Protest - The company changed their 24 year-old name from” François Patrick” to “MW” in protest of a French bill that makes it a punishable crime to deny the Armenian genocide.

Karmaloop Kazbah: What's Next in Streetwear - The interestingly named Karmaloop Kazbah is aggressively promoting little known brand names in an attempt to become a “"global underground marketplace”. Edgy company names like Greedy Genius and Buff Monster will be getting some play here and it has issued a call from brand submissions.

More Funky Brand Names - Los Folsom had an entertaining post on his blog yesterday. He mentions a clothing brand called “Big Yanks” for men and defunct sneaker brand names like “Copa 83” and “Nado Super Primo”. These pale in comparison, he says, to kids’ pants with product names such as “Smacks” and “Uncle Charlie’s”.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Naming: “Camps” Taking Over from Conferences

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Once upon a time, those who wished to engage in professional development and share their discoveries with their colleagues went to conferences, seminars, and workshops. Today you’re just as likely to find them headed to “boot camp” or “bar camp.”

Boot camps are crash courses offered by experts in a field such as copywriting or computer programming. The emphasis is on hands-on hard work, and those who complete the course may come away with a certificate. The name, of course, comes from the age-old nickname of military basic training.

BarcampA bar camp is a different animal. Lest you be imagining a group of professionals roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around the fireplace in a pub, however, you should know that the term “BarCamp” was created on the basis of “Foo Camp.” Foo Camp was a one-off, invitation-only un-conference (The term "un-conference" dates all the way back to 1998.) Both “foo” and “bar” are metasyntactic variables in computer programming, placeholders like “thingamajig” and “whatsit,” so a “bar camp” is semantically equivalent to a “foo camp”.

Whereas boot camps are highly structured and presented by one or two authorities, the participants decide on and present the contents of BarCamps. If you want to give a presentation, just sign up on the wiki. While bars of the alcoholic kind are an important part of all conferences, they had nothing to do with this name.

PodcampSomehow these informal, collectively-organized un-conferences have been so successful that they not only developed into an international phenomenon, but have generated linguistic spin-offs of their own, the latest of which is “PodCamp”, a portmanteau of “podcasting” (itself a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcasting”) and “BarCamp.”

Another year or two, and unpacking the names of events like this will be even harder than finding a schedule ahead of time.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Links du Jour 11-07-06

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Imelda MarcosImelda Marcos - brand name for new fashion line - This link is to Steve Portigal's blog, who reported yesterday that Imelda has given her name to a new line of jewelry designed by her kids called “The Imelda Collection”. You would have thought that she’d give her name for a shoe brand name. But, Portigal has an insightful thought on the new brand name: that Imelda Marcos was viewed as an icon of class and grace, but also a high-couture scavenger who spent nights designing fashion.

So that created a fashion-meets-function image association with Imelda. And this new brand, tied to Imelda's name, will indeed conjure that same association in the minds of her potential jewelry customers. And you need only visit your local Target to know the enormous potential of fashion-meets-function attitude.

Rogue AmoebaThe Delicious Generation - Rogue Amoeba, the company that brought us the highly memorable and effective product name, Audio Hijack Pro, has a pretty interesting blog. It's named “Under The Microscope.” Yesterday Paul Kafasis, Rogue Amoeba CEO, wrote about what he's calling “The Delicious Generation”, a term he coined to describe the new crew of Mac OSX designers. Why are they “delicious”? Read the post. The comments that follow are insightful.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

India Has Its Own Beantown Today

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Bangalore Utility BuildingYesterday, India's city of Bangalore was renamed , which historically means, "a town of boiled beans" (are you listening, Boston?)

Bengalooru is India’s tech centre, home to 1500 computer-related firms and traditionally the favorite summer spot for Colonial British rulers who enjoyed its temperate weather. Now, this ultra-hip city is returning to its 14th century namesake in an effort to promote the local Kannada language. City name changes are nothing new in India — this one was preceded by Bombay when it became Mumbai and when Madras became Chennai.

The name is part of a larger effort to reclaim numerous Indian place names from their colonial origins. Bangalore's original, precolonial name was Bendakalooru, and today's updated version is a nod to the Kannada language and to the city's history, it seems.

More cities are slated to have their names changed as well to the Kannada origins: Mysooru (Mysore), Mangalooru (Mangalore), Chikmagalooru (Chikmagalur), Shivamogga (Shimoga), Belagaavi (Belgaum), Kalburgi (Gulbarga), Hubballi (Hubli), Hosapete (Hospet) and Tumakooru (Tumkur).

But Bangalore is India’s IT face and many Indians are worried that the strange sounding name — and its odd meaning — may hurt the city’s valuable techie brand name overseas. In fact, some Indians are very much against these name changes, calling them a "home-grown folly."

At least one Bengaloorian blogger predicts the city will lose millions of dollars by adopting this unpronounceable name.

The debate seems to be raging over whether this will affect the image of the city overseas, or if it will make any difference at all.

What do you think?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Links du Jour 11-02-06

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Mozilla OgioPiggyback Power: How Big Brands Can Help Your Brand - I enjoyed this post describing an interesting way to promote your brand name: by piggybacking it with an equally or better known brand name through promotional gifts. It creates a kind of symbiosis between the two brand names as well as a discreet “under the table” endorsement for your company name.

Linux penguinProphetic: Oracle to Fork Linux Kernel, Ellison taking over from Darl McBride - This post from the Open ICT Hacks predicts that Oracle’s use and support of the Red Hat version of Linux might mean that Oracle chief, Larry Ellison, will rename his company’s recommended version of Linux, “Larrix,” and go after the popular open-source Linux. Interesting post.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Branding: Is Starbucks Your “Third Place”?

| No Comments | 1 TrackBack

StarbucksStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz has gone on record with the New York Times saying that he wants Starbucks to become a “third place” in people’s lives - a sort of link between home and work where you can read the paper, download some tunes, buy a book or two, and either prepare for the day or wind down from it.

Daniel Goldin looks into the “third place” and whether or not it holds water (or latte, as the case may be). Goldin points out that it will be a rather bland artistic hub - it just rejected the new Springsteen album, entitled Devils and Dust, because one song was too racy.

Others have tried to claim the “third place” title with less success, and I must say that if there really is room for a “third place” in our lives, Starbucks is it.

Because each Starbucks tries to reflect the neighborhood culture around it, the Coffee Klatch thinks entering into a new store for the first time “offers the hint of adventure”. Even The China Expat believes that the store has certainly become a “third place” in China thanks to the location of the stores, their accessibility, their service, design, good coffee and Wi-Fi. Starbucks’ coffee culture seems to fit in exactly with the way Chinese do business.

I have always been curious about the Starbucks name - the chain was christened after the first mate of Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, after the founders flirted with calling the store “Starbo” or “Pequod.” My question is why is there no possessive?

Lands' EndWould it not seem logical to call the place “Starbuck’s” if it is named after a character named “Starbuck”? I am reminded of another product name, Lands’ End stores, which really should be “Land’s End” after the geographical place, but the owners simply made a mistake when printing the name and Lands’ End it has stayed. It wouldn't be the first time people at Starbucks misused the apostrophe, according to the Apostrophe abuse blog.

Is Starbucks YOUR “third place”?

Technorati Tags: ,

Links du Jour 11-01-06

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Intel LogoIntel Intros New Core 2 Duo T5200 Processor Silently - Looks like Intel has quietly introduced a new Core Duo processor named T5200. It’s cheaper than the previous T5500 owing to its reduced front side bus, reports Laptop Blog.

This also explains the lower numerical product name. I’m sure this introduction has occurred “under the radar” to avoid brand name dilution with the better known T5500 model - laptops being sold online already have the T5200 included.

Ruby TuesdayGoodbye, Ruby Tuesday, Who Could Hang a Name on You? - Ruby Tuesday has lent its name to Iron Chef America on the Food Network, and Design Star on Home & Garden Television.

Mike at says this seems to be a new trend: chain restaurants sponsoring food shows, even when the menus on each are a little off kilter.

Seems like a great way to build the Ruby Tuesday name among a target market of food lovers.

FlowserNew Graphical Search From Amazon - It’s named “Flowser” because the results come back to you in the form of a flower. The Stalwart calls this “one small step for Amazon, one giant leap for graphical search.” I think it’s a pretty funky Web 2.0-ish product name for a pretty nifty browser.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Verbification: It’s Not Just for Brand Names

| No Comments | 1 TrackBack

We’ve written before about the frustration companies like Google experience with “genericide” and the losing battle to prevent the public from using their trademarked product names as verbs.

XeroxHaving your product name turned into a verb is a sign of market penetration, a price paid for success - but “verbification” is not restricted to brand names. The fact is, English speakers like shortcuts. It just takes too long to say “Look that up on the Google™ search engine” or “photocopy this on the Xerox® machine.”

Everywhere you turn, people are converting previously self-respecting, law-abiding nouns, adjectives, and adverbs into verbs. Computer programmers use “obsolete” as a transitive verb. Gay rights activists “out” public figures who try to hide their homosexuality.

We hardly even notice anymore when we hear a businessperson talk about how a particular action will “impact” the bottom line. And then there’s the particularly cringeworthy use of “text” to mean “send an SMS text message.” It’s especially painful in the past tense: “Oh, yeah, he texted me about that yesterday.”

TiVoNo matter how we feel about it, the phenomenon of verbification is here to stay. If there’s already a quick, easy way to describe using your product or service, then your brand name might be safe. But if your product does something new and not easily described, like TiVo or Skype, you can pretty much count on getting verbified.

Technorati Tags: ,