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

Category Archives: Education

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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Mooskys is a Great Name for Food Snack featuring Mickey Mouse

Packaged food naming firm, snack brand naming consultant, food naming guruJust when I was thinking about new food and packaged goods names for the current season, my partner in Europe sends me the attached photo from Spain. How could I resist not rating it for a three star award. What a corny name for a corn snack product!

Since Mickey D’s is street slang for McDonalds, a different name is needed for Mickey Mouse products, and what could be better on an international branding stage than Mooskys?

The interesting point is that this product’s trademark is properly registered with the OHIM database for E.U. trademarks, but is not registered in the USA, which is obviously the home of Disney Corp whose name and characters are so prominent on the packaging. In fact, this is not a Disney product at all! It is produced and licensed by a Spanish food manufacturer – presumably with a trademark name and character licensing agreement from Disney.

Now for you students of trademarks, what if I make a meat snack product from Canadian moose meat, say, and call it Mooskys in the USA? Am I safe and clear or tempting the wrath of Mickey and Pluto’s giant legal machine?

In the meantime, the domains Mooskys.com, Mooskys.es and others are available though I am not going to go there. However, Moosky.com is listed as for sale – though some services are calling it MooSky! Does that mean or imply heavenly milk?

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Infragistics Name wins Award for Being so Awkward

At the recent Silicon Valley Code Camp, Infragistics provided the registration lanInfragisticsToggleyards as shown in the photo here. The novel idea of a zipper wasn’t obvious to all of us at the first go around. More importantly, we saluted them for doing such sponsorship because their marketing team have a daily problem promoting anything with such an awkward name. I am sure they picked the name because they thought it was descriptive of what they do – but it can’t be that descriptive if they still needed a descriptive tagline: Design / Develop / Experience.

This reminds me a lot of the companies that tried to use the word Intranet to emphasize what they were involved in. Sure this is a valid technical word. Doesn’t mean it works in naming. Any linguist can explain to you why it is so awkward and not even close to being on a par with Internet. Oh the joys of the English language. A small subtle change can have a major effect – especially on brand names.

InfragisticsLogoWhy couldn’t they just have chosen examples like Fragistics or Infrastics instead? Still just names. A little more intellectual perhaps. A million times easier and shorter to brand.  AND as of this writing, the .com domain names are all clear and available.

 

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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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Red Hat names sure get your attention

RedHatLogoWhen the Unix Open Source movement started with Linx way back when, I immediately noticed all the companies springing up to commercialize it. That in itself was an interesting idea because how do you make money off “free” software was a big question in those days. Even then, before I transitioned into being a naming professional full time I noticed the names. Without doing some research I can’t tell what the others were, or even if they have survived. But I can tell you I remembered the name Red Hat from the outset, and it continues to jump out at me every time I see the name.

Interestingly enough, I have not seen (or noticed) the logo as much but I do have a vague recollection of once upon a time wondering why some guy was ambling around a trade show in a big trench coat and a red hat. This name is so simple, so evocative and so unusual, it really stands well by itself.

RedHatSocietyLogoCompare that with the Red Hat Society and their use of the name and logo. I had never heard of this name and had to research it when I did first encounter it. Of course, I am not a lady, and even if I was I am not sure I would have the personality to dress up to the hilt in red and purple to go to lunch with other ladies. But what do I know. You will recognize them at their own table somewhere someday, if you haven’t already, as they now they claim to be the world’s largest ladies social group. And yes, they wear big hats just like in their logo – and typically dress in red and purple too.

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Isn’t Nome an interesting name?

NomegoldpanAs I write this column the Iditarod is in full running – in fact the first mushers just passed the halfway point. I love their tagline “The Last Great Race” as well. When it is just human, dogs and sleds in Alaska in Winter, then it really is a great race, especially as most teams will take over 11 days to complete their run, and few will have all 16 dogs left by then.

The race goes from Anchorage to Nome, which brings us to the name Nome. First of all, easy to pronounce once you see it, and nothing to do with gnome if you don’t. And almost every article I see on the town devotes a sentence or two to where the name came from. Most people now agree it was an accident. Someone wrote ?Name on a form in the space for town name. Someone else misinterpreted this as Nome and the rest is history.

Except that for a while during their gold rush it was called Anvil City, but there was some confusion with Anvil Lake not far away. So the post office rejected the name and they switched back to Nome to make sure they got their mail.

But don’t try to look it up on Google Maps and see how to drive there. First time I have seen Google’s phenomenal map service choke – there are no roads to Nome. You have to fly in, boat in or visit by sled dog or snow machine of some sort. Do look it up and see the Iditarod trail as all teams have GPS transmissions this year so we don’t have to wait three days for the news.

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