Name Awards Professional Commentary on Company Names, Product Brands and Business Names

Category Archives: Education

Listerine®. What a great timeless brand name.

When I was a kid, Listerine® dominated the mouthwash business. And they still do. Of course they have done steady advertising ever since they were founded, often educating the world about good dental hygiene.

Naming dental and medical productsIt struck me earlier this week that while Listerine is obviously a great name that just rolls off the tongue, I had no idea what it meant or where it came from. Some quick research has shed light on fact that it was actually named after Joseph Lister, who is better known as the father of sterilization of operating room instruments.

Thanks to their advertising and extensive promotions by dentists themselves, we all know the name is pronounced Lis ter een. Through the endless wonders of the English language, this give them a great new rhyming with their new product descriptor Ultraclean.

Such well formed names, with an associated brand that is properly managed, will live forever.

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FIFA shows how to properly use taglines

Well today the 2014 World Cup tournament is over and we have to wait another four years for this ultimate sports spectacular. Brazil did a great job of hosting the event, and FIFA did a great job of capturing that Brazilian spirit in all their promotional and communications materials. Did you notice how they used a particularly Brazilian tagline/slogan, in addition to Brazilian color, fonts and imagery?

Proper slogan and tagline for companies and events

Now FIFA is a big international operation, based in Switzerland but using its French initials as they are the catchiest. They are not about to change their name for the 2018 competition. But will they change the tagline for Russia? Of course they will. In fact they have already announced it will be “Ready to Inspire”.

And that is one of the beauties of taglines and slogans. They can easily be used and changed as needed every few years without changing the company or organization name at all. For major events like the World Cup they even trademark them, though that is not always needed.

Do take care, however, to carefully match up the slogan with the company or product name. In this case, everyone knows the World Cup, so the slogans are all inspirational. But when you are starting your new company or product line you may want something more descriptive or positional to help your initial launch.

 
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Damn Damballa name bugs me

Software security and consulting naming and brandingWhen I run naming projects, I always like to be fully aware of the company or founders’ personality traits. They usually don’t know this of course, but it shows up in the names they select. Now if you are going to be the company that figuratively (and sometimes literally) puts up a dam wall to keep out malware invasions on the corporate internet, then being the gatekeeper bad guy and naming your company Damballa might be appropriate. For the rest of this, such a name must surely be a heavy burden to bear at work unless you are a he-man, tough commando type guy.

But it sure isn’t my personality, regardless of what field I am currently working in. It just has such a negative feel for me…. at best a military sounding name.   And to be picky as a linguist, do you see that it also reads   damb alla     (where damb rhymes with lamb)? Oh no.

On the other hand, the company seems to be doing very well and one of only two leaders in this field. So a great example of the naming doesn’t always matter. After all, it is just short hand for the brand promise and at the end of the day, customers think of the experience they were implicitly promised and simply use the name to describe that interaction.

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Twilio name tries too hard.

When I first heard of this company, it was the name that caught my attention. That in turn made me concentrate hard to try to understand what they did. In due course I realized the potential of their tool kits and am happy to say it looks like they are really thriving well. Which brings me back to what they do and about that name and logo:

software tools naming, branding new software companies

Probably a more appropriate name for them would have been Twitter.  But if you take tweets and talks and quills and I/O and stir with the right will to succeed, you get Twilio. All in all, a clever name once you get it – but I shudder to think how most Asians will pronounce it.

But now do you understand the logo?  And what about that font they are using for their own name on the website? Even before my blogging software shrinks it a bit here, the i’s and l’s were morphing into each other. You know someone got the font style guide wrong whenever the corporate name itself is the first item to suffer on the web.

 

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X marks the spot – but it is not a name!

FlamingX

Image copyright FanPop

Often I write about naming trends here rather than about bestowing an award on any specific name, and today this lousy trend really has me hot under the collar.

  • Microsoft has the XBox.
  • IBM now has a line of X servers.
  • Xfinity from AT&T (or is it Comcast since they are undifferentiated) has the X1 platform.

Three megabig players who couldn’t find a name between them. So they use an X instead. Reminds me of the poor illiterate person who signs a form with an X.

Yes, I know there are a lot of internal politics surrounding a name choice, not to mention a lot of legal issues too. But you all have good marketing teams. Surely someone with a sense of branding and only a $5,000 spending authorization level can pick up the phone and call a naming consultant or agency to develop a unique name. Maybe not every exec will like the unique new name, but you can just X them off the list.

PS And then give your graphics designers something to work with too!

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Hibu is a what? Web tools or Ikea furniture model or rare breed of husky?

Every so often in my search for great names to write about, especially when I can compliment them on thinking outside the cubicle box, I come across a name that just makes me shake my head and ask what were they thinking. Ironically I never even noticed the name at first as I was trying to deal with the visual  shock of their butterfly ads yelling at me in prominent business publications while I was researching free website creation tools (see associated article in BrighterProducts.com). Really. Who are they targeting? Kindergarten teachers? Or just kindergarten kids themselves?

web design names, website naming, free domain names, trademark checksYes, this is an ad for supposedly great website software development tools. Behind the scenes Yell (the old parent company name) is a big UK magazine publishing company, best known for producing  versions of the Yellow Pages directories after they acquired Yellow Book USA back in 1999. Since then they have been through many name and directional changes.  Along the way they developed a Trusted Places brand to make websites, as well as Moon Fruit, another web tools company.

Anyway, I still don’t know why their UK shareholders approved the name change to Hibu and I still don’t have a clue what it means though I am sure it will work well at Ikea for one of those complex assembly projects. Moreover, it is supposed to be written Hibü – but umlauts are not yet supported on the internet, so don’t write it properly if you want to find their www.hibu.com domain name home page. And no, they are not a German or Scandinavian company – they are UK based where all the computers and typewriters do not have the ü character.

Worse still the tragedy does not end with the name. Firstly, only their trial versions are free and then they are way more expensive than any local consultant could do with WordPress and give you a built in blog too. Why would I hire a website design company when their own site has font problems on Firefox and IE browsers? See the ugly text on their main menu. (I suspect, but I am not a real expert at this, they have used Google fonts, because it works fine there, but have forgotten to load them otherwise). And as for their claim it works on smart phones etc., you be the judge of that. It does not produce responsive code and I sure can’t read the menus at all on my iPhone without a magnifying glass. Furthermore, I drilled down to “Our Brand” to learn more about this name. It doesn’t explain it at all. And now I am lost and can’t get back to the webdesign home page. I quit, very much doubting they have a good SEO plan at all, but enough is enough.
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GoPro has Great Taglines to go with Great Name and Product

GoProLogoSlogan

Example of a great consumer product name and slogan.

Recently the founder of GoPro was quoted in Business Week as knowing he had arrived when a spectator yelled out at him: “GoPro, Be a Hero”. That was after seeing him careening across a bumpy field with his camera strapped to the handle bars of his off-road bicycle. Wow.

When loyal fans or followers know your slogan (as I will call this) you know you are doing a great marketing job. And for those execs who this past week asked me what is the purpose of a tagline or slogan, I give you this example. See how it ties in the product model name and notice how it is used on the website too.

Usually, in the USA, we properly call the company positioning or aspirational phrase the tagline, and an advertising or promotional phrase for company or product the slogan. Here though it might be the other way around, as GoPro also has these taglines on their home page:

 GoPro_Taglines

I have written about the GoPro name itself before but this company continues to amaze me. In the face of all that Japanese megabrand technology and competitors they managed to cut into the video market big time. Great product yes. But backed up with great marketing and partners in action like Red Bull.

Visit their homepage at www.GoPro.com and do nothing except watch and listen (best done when the boss is not around). Enjoy one of the greatest four minute action reels of video you will ever see. Now I defy you to not be interested in the product!

 

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Elio is a great name for cool new little US car

EliocarWhen I look up Elio in Wikipedia, I get some Italian rock singer. When I look up Elio in a Google Search, most paths lead to Elio Motors, the exciting new 3 wheeler car company starting production as we speak in Louisiana.

Of course, by now I have learned that Elio is the last name of the founder, and not only some clever linguistic derivation of a three syllable word using only four letters of the alphabet. Paul Elio is taking some big hints from Elon Musk (of Tesla Motors fame), but on the other end of the automobile spectrum.

An impressive new car company deserves a great new name (done) plus a great new logo with witch to “badge” their designs. What do you think of their logo and tagline?

 

ElioLogo

Pretty good job I think, though if I want to be super-critical I could say the color scheme and sharp shapes of the E give it a slight Arabic origin look – but heck, most people won’t analyze it that carefully. Also, lots of what they say imply a “green” car, though they never come out and say that since it is a conventional gas powered car – albeit one that can go 600+miles on a 8 gallon tankful.

Stay tuned to see what model names (hopefully) rather than numbers they assign their first cute little family of three-wheelers.

 

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Scanadu is the Great Name of the Day

ScanaduLogoAs a namiac it isn’t often I get to discover a great new name while reading the morning paper. But today is one of those days when I saw the story and instantly knew what a great name they had – one minute after I read that yet another company was making a medical device hooked to your cell phone as the compute engine (what a great development and universally available platform).
Of course, Scanadu is from Scan and Xanadu. But think of the implied Scan and Do as well. Magnificent.

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Leatherhead Originals is a great name for a small outfit

Sometimes it seems to me we over think all these clever company names, and then along comes a very small business that shows us how a basic, but unique name, can do the job so well.

LeatherheadOriginalsIf you are looking for a jaw dropping great affect from your friends and family at the next Medieval Faire, fancy dress or Halloween, then seriously consider a leather hat or mask (or in my case helmet) from Leatherhead Originals. Beautiful soft, lined and often recycled leather in many colors are the materials of choice for this master craftsman. Yes, quality costs money, but ignore the price, you are going to keep it forever.
Plus Josh’s tagline is simple and direct: Unique Leather Hats & Masks.

And if the name and tagline haven’t hooked you yet, see the illustration logo on his business card here. Wow. If he can make that, what can this master craftsman make for you? See a lot more of his work on Etsy now that you know his name.

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