Product Naming: January 2011 Archives

Sara Lee Cooks Up a Great Naming and Branding Strategy

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Sara Lee Corporation.pngB2C Marketing Insider points out that Motley Fool has called 2011 The Year of the Spin-Off.

They note that Sara Lee is "doing it right" by keeping its core food business under the Sara Lee name and spinning the beverages into a new unnamed company.

This means that Sara Lee will stand for what we know it for: cakes, rolls, pastries and meats.

The brand name's equity will remain where it started, and its other interests will be renamed so as not to dilute the mother brand, which is that of a "simple bakery."

sara-lee.pngThe beverage company will be pretty substantial, carrying brands like Douwe Egberts, Senseo and Pickwick. Beverages brought in $4.6 billion last year to the company, and these brands obviously deserve to be supported.

But the Sara Lee name needs to be separated from these to retain its meaning to customers. This is a case when "less is more."

Sara Lee has been careful to keep the food brands apart as well. The rapid success of Ball Park brand hot dogs to, er, top dog, has been a case in point.

Sara Lee, according to Brandweek, is highly consumer-centric in the management of its brand names.

The Ball Park name gets the spotlight, because the target market of moms and teenage boys does not associate coffee cakes with hot dogs.

Sara Lee has learned that while its brand name is almost synonymous with success, too much of a good thing can be harmful.

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McDonaldsOatmeal.pngA couple weeks ago I watched with interest as the Vermont Agency of Agriculture decided to take on McDonald's over the use of their use of the word "maple" in its new Fruit and Maple Oatmeal.

It seems that this offering only has maple flavoring and not real maple syrup. State law in Vermont demands that the name therefore be removed from the product.

This of course immediately caught the imagination of the blogosphere, who jumped on the fact that McDonald's offers "natural maple flavoring" but not "natural maple."

McDonald's market in Vermont is small, but Vermont's interest in maple syrup is huge because it gives the USA 46% of its maple syrup - that's 710,000 gallons of the sticky stuff.

Vermont is therefore very touchy about the use of that word "maple" - last year I discussed their spat with Log Cabin, who claimed to offer All Natural Maple syrup that just wasn't that natural.

According to FitPerez, this is a Maple Mess.

Not to worry, the mess has been sorted out. Yesterday the press announced that customers in Vermont would get pure maple syrup or sugar to add to their oatmeal if they so desired starting February 1.

The Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, has promised to stop by one of the state's 28 McDonald's outlets on that day to get a bowl. How sweet.

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iced_coffee_starbucks.pngStarbucks now offers us the "Trenta," which is a whopping 31 ounces.

This, as one blogger notes, is one measly ounce away from being a Big Gulp.

"Trenta" is Italian for 30 and it weighs in at 10 ounces more than the "Venti," which is the next biggest coffee offered by the chain.

This massive cup of coffee actually is bigger than your stomach, and the new offering is bringing down (yet more) rage from nutritionists and Starbucks haters everywhere.

Over in the UK, a blogger for the Guardian calls this a "bucket" of coffee.

We should note here that the Trenta is meant for the iced coffee, iced tea and iced lemonade offered by the company, but the fact that it is there will prompt a few jokers to try scaling a few mega-cappuccinos.

At least this isn't the "Porn in A Cup," a 10 shot espresso monster served by a renegade coffee shop in Brooklyn that still only comes in at 20 ounces.

StarbucksLogo.pngFilling a Trenta cup with espresso simply does not bear thinking about.

This news comes to us just as more and more bloggers are lining up to bash the new Starbucks nameless logo which features only the mermaid. This is the company's attempt to go iconic à la Apple and Nike.

Now, many writers are defending the new logo as a logical progression in the company's representation to customers.

The PSFK has a list of branding experts who approve of the new logo now, positing that it creates a "different bond" with consumers," it is "well-executed" and the timing of its release - Starbucks' 40th birthday - is excellent.

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Naming and Branding Crucial for Tablets in 2011

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An new academic article out of Australia in Marketing Letters is worth noting today in conjunction with industry worries that the flood of tablets in the market is going to make consumers turn to brand names they know and trust.

Tablets.pngAt this month's CES in Las Vegas, a whopping 80 new tablets were introduced.

This means that Apple has some serious competition. Common sense would indicate that the iPad brand has an edge with First Mover Advantage.

The prediction is for about 55 million tablets to be shipped this year, with 10-15 million of these not coming from Apple. This is transformative and a big moment for marketers.

Apple, for all intensive purposes, gave us this product a year ago, and a year later we have 80+ imitators.

AppleiPad.pngWill Apple lose massive market share?

The article indicated that packaging on the shelf - purely visual indicators - does not draw customers. Verbal cues and brand names seem to have much more weight.

This means that no matter how flashy the new tablets are, unless we know and trust the brand behind it, they are going to struggle. All the more important for companies to hitch their tablets to a memorable name.

Right now, only three names stand out for me; the PlayBook from BlackBerry, anything bearing the Droid label, and the target="_blank"iPad.

Watch this space.

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Hipster Naming and Branding Not Cool

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I have been stewing over this post for two days, ever since I learned that a mysterious start up wants to name itself Hipster.

Hipster.pngNever mind that I thought Hipster was one of the banned words for 2011. There are a number of things that we need to consider.

First of all, I think that it can be universally agreed that the term "hipster" connotes somebody who we have almost universal dislike for. To call somebody a hipster is, in fact, to insult them.

A new book entitled "What Was the Hipster" not only ridicules the hipster, but posits that it is a dying breed. This is obvious; that even hipsters don't like being laughed at by the rest of us.

Granted, the word has been with us for some time (Norman Mailer wrote a 1957 essay on the hipster, but had it in an utterly different context), but the scorn we have piled upon today's pale and hairy slacker version has ruined the term.

Even the term hipster as it applies to a cut of blue jeans gets its fair share of flack on the Internet.

The additional problem is that the word as we use it is a meme.

The founder of the company says this:

"I feel that the term 'Hipster' has been used so frequently in recently years, that it seems to have lost virtually all meaning - its kind of like a blank slate to project whatever 'Hipster' image you want.  We're now left with an easy to spell, memorable name that makes most people laugh."

I beg to disagree.

The word hipster is simply not a blank slate. Yes, we laugh when we hear it, but we are laughing at a type of person who is most times easy to mock. The word is loaded with meaning, and all of it is negative.

It is a good word for a thing most people don't like or want to be.

It also, by its very nature, will go the way of all memes. It's core reason for being will disappear. It will, however, continue to have a certain vibe, the way the word "hippy" still is emotive but is rarely used simply because the flower children grew up.

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It is always hard to see what the next big thing will be in social media and marketing, but it might be a good idea for anyone interested in promoting their brand name online to check out Quora.

Quora1.pngIt's a simple question and answer site that looks like a mashup of Yahoo! Answers, Twitter and Facebook (in fact, four
ex-Facebook staff work for the company).

Or, as one blogger put it, it's a mix of Twitter and Wikipedia.

The name Quora is the plural of the Latin word "quorum," which means "the minimum number of people needed to make a decision." One of the founders quips that Quora was "the only name where the guy would sell us the domain."

Membership has surged lately with some sites positing that it might become a great digital marketing platform because a heavy presence on Quora allows your brand name to become a thought leader in its field.

Some writers are a little skeptical about Quora, saying that crowdsourcing answers to questions is nothing new (Reddit and Digg do something similar).

Still, the sudden popularity makes one think. One respondent on Quora itself joked that the reason the company suddenly has so much attention this week is because "people are Googling the character Quorra from Tron and misspelling her name."

This is obviously not the case - the Quorra character's relationship to the site is purely coincidental, according to Quorra's co-founder Charlie Cheever in a great how-to blog from Pocket Lint.

Scott Goodson in Forbes says that now Quora has no "overarching brand name" and yet now the floodgates are open.

This is a way for a brand to really connect with consumers by giving them answers to questions specific to their industry.

It might be the next place your brand name needs to be, or not.

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CES Offers Good, Bad, Ugly Tablet Naming

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CES.pngThe Consumer Electronics Show seems to be all about tablets that are designed to steal market share from the iPad.

Some, like Toshiba's Tegra powered tablet, have yet to be named but are still being shown to an eager press.

Fujitsu also has an unnamed tablet coming out soon.

But there is a cavalcade of new names to add to the tablet list.

Dell's Streak is an Android Tablet that bears a decent name, although one does not want streaks on the tablet's face. Nor should one go streaking with a tablet.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is actually not a book (or an eReader, although you could read eBooks on it), it's a tablet.

Panasonic, for its part, has given us the VIERA Tablet which is not to be confused with its similarly named televisions.

Tablets.pngIn fact, Panasonic calls this a "tablet-type terminal" that makes it primarily a touchscreen controller and screen for software associated with a TV.

The name that seems to be getting the most attention this far is the Darwin-inspired Galapagos tablet from Sharp, but some bloggers say its technology needs to adapt to the needs of US consumers.

The Motorola Xoom, which I have written about before, seems to be getting the vote for the worst name in the show.

But there is also a tablet with a name that may even be worse: the Zood from a Korean company called iStation offers 3D viewing, but its likely to make Steve Jobs see red.

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Naming and Branding Words That Will Fail in 2011

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2010 was a big year for naming and branding.

BigTen.pngCustomer Think has already listed the top five brand identity and logo changes in 2010; They include CNN's Spanish channel, Girl Scouts, Continental-United Airlines, Seattle's Best, and the Big Ten Conference.

I wrote about many of these changes and am inclined to agree that these changes made the most impact in 2010.

TigerBP.pngFox News, for its part, has selected the Top Brand winners and losers of 2010, which includes Tiger Woods and Sarah Palin who get the thumbs up; while BP and Mark Zuckerberg, not so much.

If you believe the Tiger Woods brand deserves a thumbs up for the year 2010, then I have a bridge I want to sell you (Brooklyn Bridge).

But things change and as we look to 2011, and we should remember that some words and names will invariably fall by the wayside.

Forbes has a great list of the "worst words" on diet, exercise and body image for example, that will have to be excised from marketing speak this year ("cellulite" is up there, as is "shaping").

On the other hand, we also now have a pretty good idea of what words work in the world of social networking and which ones do not.

According to CNN, 2010 was a great year for coined words like "Obamacare," "WikiLeaks," "lamestream," and "sexting." My favorite was "Snowmageddon." We can't forget about "Refudiate," which was up there as well.

These neologisms have what one linguist has called a "low life expectancy" mainly because their social relevance seems doomed.

Finally, we have words that need to be banished in 2011.

Lake Superior State University, as per usual, has a definitive list for us which includes; "Viral" as in "viral video," "epic" as in "great," and "fail" used as a noun or adjective.

I agree.

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