the product naming blog

Rebranding Endeavor

June 29, 2013

Have you every tried to change the name on an existing airline reservation?

If you have, you know that it's vexatious, improbable and quite possibly the pinnacle of frustration.

In fact, it's much easier to change the name of the airline

And that's exactly what's happening to regional carrier Pinnacle. Again.

The brand that was also known as Express Airlines, Mesaba and Colgen, then Pinnacle, is now emerging from chapter 11 bankruptcy with a new brand and logo after Delta's investment of $52 million, creating a subsidiary.

The new name: Endeavor Air EndeavorAir2lr.png

Pinnacle chief executive Ryan Gumm told employees Endeavor Air was chosen as a name "because it evokes an image of innovation, excitement and the adventure of a journey."

Perhaps Mr. Gumm should also note, that the Latin root of the word, endeavor, is the verb, 'debere' which means 'to be in debt."

Posted by Diane Prange at 11:03 AM
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SAAB's New Owner Gets Everything But SAAB's Naming and Branding

June 28, 2012

The news that the beleaguered SAAB brand might see light again as an electric car brought a smile to my face. It seemed, well, genius.

saab-griffin-logo.gifSAAB was always a kind of off-beat car for American drivers and its reintroduction as an eco-vehicle made sense, sort of like the news that the DeLorean might make a similar comeback.

The brand looks set to be controlled by a group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden or NEVS (ironically owned by a Chinese-Japanese investment group). So, it seemed that after a few false starts, a new SAAB with (sort of) a Swedish connection would hit the road.

And then reality struck. NEVS seems to own everything related to SAAB including the Trollhattan production facility, but not the right to use the SAAB name or griffin logo we all know and love.

The SAAB name is shared by Swedish defense company SAAB AB and the logo is used by SAAB related truck company Scania. And thus the SAAB story gets another setback as the whole attraction of the new SAAB vehicle would be in the name.

saabphoenixconcept.jpegChalk this up to another company learning the hard way that you may buy another company but you don't automatically get the name. NEVS will need to work with SAAB AB and Scania to come to an agreement on use of the SAAB name.

I have followed the demise of SAAB for years now, and once called the name the ultimate "anti-brand." I meant it in a good way. The brand has the kind of individualistic, exotic cache that Apple used to have. And the Swedish connection makes it even more exotic, even if it has Chinese-Japanese owners.

SAAB has been around since the 1940s and it is one of those car brands we would hate to lose. But as Autoblog says, "Not to state the obvious, but if you're going to buy an automaker, it's probably advisable to secure rights to use the name."

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:30 AM
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Intel Embraces Xeon Phi Naming for Its New Chip

June 20, 2012

IntelXeonPhi.pngThe news that Intel has a new multi-processor chip and that it is going to be called Xeon Phi is pretty interesting.

This is a chip with "50 brains," which is probably the best way a non-technical person might think about its power.

Intel says "As we add Intel Xeon Phi products to our portfolio, scientists, engineers and IT professionals will experience breakthrough levels of performance to effectively address challenges ranging from climate change to risk management."

In other words, this is one impressive computer chip, and probably a big step forward for high performance computing.

Its code name was originally "Knight's Corner" and can do a trillion scientific calculations a second, a unit of computing charmingly called a "teraflop" (not to be confused with a "megaflop" and a "petaflop").

The Xeon Phi brand is set to be around for quite a while, partly because these chips can be integrated into equipment users already own.

This is the introduction of a new set of brands that will possibly usher in a new era of supercomputing, or "exascale" computing as the geeks call it.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:58 AM
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New gTLD Rush a Naming ".Fail"

June 15, 2012

ICANNgTLDS.pngThe blogosphere has had time to digest the domain name rush and there are very few words of encouragement for it.

GigaOm calls this whole thing a "train wreck" and gives us a compelling list of reasons why this will turn into a mess.

Are that many companies or individuals or organizations really going to register for a .gay domain name, or a .arab one? And what purpose would it serve to have a .beer domain name, or a .pizza domain? That doesn't seem to matter to ICANN -- it plans to hand out names by the thousands regardless of whether anyone wants them (although it's not clear what will happen with .porn or other suggestions).

The problem is, of course, that so much of this is frivolous, and that it looks like a blatant move by ICANN to make some quick cash off brand managers and domain registrars.

Washington lawmakers seem to be calling this a big ".fail," with nervous government watchers worrying that this will cause confusion on the Internet.

And while we are on the subject, what about domain names like ".sucks" and ".fail," which are certainly going to be used to criticize brand and political figures.

The "most applied for" brand name extensions look a little encouraging (".app," ".LLC," ".LLP," etc) but let's note that many companies are against the process and have signed a petition with the Association of National Advertisers.

Still, Wired has asked us why the new gTLDs are not a bit more amusing and have in fact produced a list of domain names we'd like to see but, will not, due to the cost and regulation of the process of registration.

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Posted by William Lozito at 9:35 AM
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Read'em and .Weep: New gTLD Branding and Naming Proposals are Out

June 14, 2012

We're all waking up today to the reality of the new ICANN top level domain name proposals. And despite the fact that this will add confusion to the Internet, we can be sure that things are changing.

The new gTLDs might change the character of the Internet altogether. Amazon wants ".joy" while Google wants ".love" and L'Oreal wants ".beauty." Google also went for ".hangout, .here, .inc, .kid, .lol and .music" just to add to the insanity.

newgtld.jpgBig technology names like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are the most active and appear to have big plans for new gTLDs.

Amazon also applied for a number of interesting gTLDs, including ".tunes, .app, .author, .aws, .book, .bot, .buy, .call, .circle, .cloud, .coupon, .deal, .dev, .fast, .free, .game and .play."

There turned out to be 1,930 proposals for 1,409 different suffixes. Most of the proposals came from North America and Europe with only a hundred or so in non-English characters.

Months remain before any of this will take hold and of course nay-sayers point out that while having an interesting suffix is quaint and cute, the fact is that users find stuff on the Internet using Google. They don't type in a suffix or company name into the URL line.

Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People For Internet Responsibility said, "One thing that's going to occur is a lot of money is going to get sucked out of the ecosystem... The cost is billions and billions of dollars with no value returned to people and an enormous capacity for confusion."

Big brands who own suffixes like ".app" will be able to say who gets to use the suffix, causing suffix owners to be essentially gatekeepers. Yet this might be a smidge overblown. Apple only wanted ".apple" and Facebook didn't want any: "It was Amazon that bid for '.like' - the famous button on Facebook that lets users recommend links and brands to friends."

This last piece of news is a relief for me. It shows that not every major company is going to drink this ridiculous .Kool-Aid.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:56 AM
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ICANN Releases List of TLDs Today - Naming Online is About to Get More Complicated

June 13, 2012

BrandTLDs.pngBrace yourself, world.

Today, Wednesday, June 13th, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN) will release 2,000 proposals for new Internet domain suffixes.

As you may recall, in January ICANN started accepting proposals for new domains.

Now, the mad rush has closed and we get to see who wants what. Those interested in applying for a new domain name had until the end of May to propose new domain suffixes and cough up $185,000.

So what happens next? Well, according to Businessweek:

THE CHALLENGES: The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposals. Someone can claim a trademark violation or argue that a proposed suffix is offensive.
THE LOGISTICS: Because of the high number of proposals, ICANN will review them in groups of about 500. There's a lottery-like system to determine which ones get to be considered first. It could take a few years to get to the final group.
THE REVIEW: ICANN will review each proposal to make sure that its financial plan is sound and that contingencies exist in case a company goes out of business. Bidders also must pass criminal background checks.

And there is more to the review process, of course. Months and months of it.

This is adding hundreds of hours of work for everyone who has a meaningful domain, and offering upstarts a chance to make the Internet that much more confusing.

Think about the headache Coke has, for instance. Every single permutation of its name and the word .cola now must be theirs.

Or, consider the hassle faced by Lady Gaga (or any other celebrity): they are all waking up today hoping that porn sites haven't lobbied for their names.

As I have said before, this might be a big disaster. Or a small one. But a disaster nonetheless.

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Posted by William Lozito at 7:58 AM
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When it Comes to Brand Naming, You Really Need to Know Sh#t from Shinola

June 8, 2012

I'm fascinated to see the arrival of Dallas-based company Bedrock manufacturing in Detroit.

They are setting up an upscale watch company at Detroit's College for Creative Studies A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in New Center.

Shinola-watch.jpgThe watches look great and they plan on making half a million of them a year. This may actually be the revival of the American watchmaking industry. But the thing that has really caught my attention is the brand name...

Shinola.

Now, some of you may recall that Shinola used to be a shoe polish that saw its heyday in the 1940s. The shoe polish has since disappeared (although it has a Facebook page) but a classic expression that incorporates the name has lived on: "He doesn't know sh+t from Shinola."

The phrase even made it to the big screen in Steve Martin's The Jerk.

Now, one might think that the people who chose the name overlooked this expression, but interestingly enough, they liked it so much it was the inspiration for the name. The expression came up in a "heated brainstorming debate" and it, well, stuck.

Made-in-Detroit-Logo.gifJust as interesting is the equity the Detroit name has. The company chose to set up production of the watches there because they found that "Made in Detroit" actually means something.

The car ads have obviously paid off and brought a certain gritty panache to the city. In fact, Detroit seems to be slowly becoming aware of the value of its name.

When consumers were given a choice between a $5 pen made in China, a $10 pen made is the US, and a $15 pen made in Detroit, they preferred the more expensive pen "Made in Detroit."

Behind all this strategic planning is the founder of the hugely successful Fossil Watches, Tom Kartsotis, so this is no stab in the dark. Apparently, people like Kartsotis really do know sh+t from Shinola.

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Posted by William Lozito at 8:04 AM
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