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

Category Archives: Trademarks

One Product, Many Names

The other day I went to the hardware store and asked the young assistant for some Perspex. He looked at me like I was crazy until I explained I wanted some acrylic sheets – that plastic glass-like stuff. “Oh, you mean Plexiglass,” he said.

Of course, we were both right, since generic acrylic sheets are sold under a different number of brand names, including Lucite, Acrylite, Oroglas, Altuglas, Optix, Plaskolite, in addition to the Perspex and Plexiglass names. And it is very interesting to me how a brand name bestows such value and quality and descriptive marketing help on an almost generic product. Most of these brand names are from different manufacturers on different continents and gives them a way to distinguish their products. This results in a little brand name warfare, but that sure beats trying to compete in a fully generic component marketplace like plain window glass manufacturers do daily.

In other cases, you may need different names for a very similar line of products as you take them into different industries. In the plastics world, once again, it is not unusual for a product to have a scientific name, a house brand name, a special name for the medical industry, and another special name for the aircraft industry say. This lets you sell different ‘flavors’ (e.g. purity) of the same product at different price points and through different channels. More than that, these brands help differentiate, separate and preserve products and product handling properly within your own company. It sure beats people running around asking “did you mean -782 or -xx type?” when only suffixes spell out the subtle differences.

If you want to see all the history behind this very interesting product family, including brief discussions of the chemistry, see the Acrylic Glass page on Wikipedia.

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SKYY is a great name, and it is not for cloud computing

Yesterday I was asking over on Brighter Naming where all the vowels had gone as I surveyed a lot of startup and popular mobile products and services. And, of course, the letter Y is the hybrid letter of our alphabet. Sometimes a vowel, sometimes a consonant. Add to that, we pronounce Sky, Skye and Skyy all the same, not making it easy for foreign English students at all.

drinks naming, branding alcohol Skyy could have been a great name for some cloud computing application or environment, but rather this smooth vodka may be helping some programmer do his or her cloud computing Python or Ruby on Rails dance. Interestingly enough – maybe even mind blowing – Skyy is a fairly recent San Francisco startup, just like many cloud and social media companies.

“SKYY began in 1992 the same way as most things in San Francisco — a tiny startup based on the vision of one entrepreneur and his dream to make something better. In this case, exceptionally smooth vodka. It was this exceptional smoothness that has made SKYY the leading domestic premium vodka in the U.S.”

Where the name came from, I have no idea, but I do like how they play up the twinning aspect in some of their marketing and social media dealings.

 
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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.

© 2013 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

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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Our take on the new e-currency Kwaba name

With all the news breaking about Alibaba’s impending big Chinese IPO, I was reminded of the name Kwaba, a planned new online currency and payment system. If these two companies had a connection that would be great, otherwise they both have interesting naming stories.

First of all, Alibaba is Chinese based and a colleague in Hong Kong that tracks these matters diligently says they are showing no signs of switching to, or adding, Chinese language domain names or portals over and above what they presently have. Of course, as the trading system between Asia and the world, they have to consider the world side. Plus they are also becoming a major player in Africa/World and other trade routes.

What western kid doesn’t know and love the story of Ali Baba and his magic phrase “Open Sesame“. I am just surprised that it is popular and known in the east too. But more power to them – it is magical and memorable. Since Alibaba Group Holdings, a Cayman Islands company that owns the business, has registered the trademark, I assume the old book and movie rights expired.

On the flip side of the coin we have a name so new no one knows it yet. The owners see Kwaba as a purely phonetic word that they can brand to be the next important digital currency. And yes, to most it is a purely phonetic word.  But even then, we are human and naturally strive to associate every name with something, if nothing else but to have a hook in our memory for  recall. As a result this style of branding has mostly been left to the big boys, like back in the days of Kodak, Exxon, Kinkos, etc.  Good sounding, meaningless words with sticky consonants for sharp recall.

kwabaOnly time and execution will tell if the Kwaba name works. No problem at all for youngsters immersed in modern online gaming worlds with their own complete vocabularies. Also no problem for anyone with a knowledge of Africa words as it has a common African language construction (one of the few places you see “kw” like the kwagga animal). For many others, they may think you are saying quaba just like kwik spells quick phonetically.
Certainly this name will go down better in England and English colonial countries where they use a softer a, as do most European languages. In America the a might get loud so the name sounds more like crab a and that would be very problematic.

Pity they couldn’t get their hands on the name Kwando instead…  just as abstract, although it has an implied Can Do, and a famous Kwando, kwando, kwando musical piece to go with it (or is it Quando, quando, quando?).

Caution: Just because a domain registrar or broker or trader rates a name premium, doesn’t mean it is a premium name at all – except if such listing helps them get an exorbitant fee for a pedantic name they can barely give away in a normal marketplace.

© 2013 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

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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Makings of a fab trademark fight. What a waste.

JustFabLogoOver on Tech Crunch Catherine Shu has layed out the full dirty mess of the Fab.com vs JustFab.com trademark lawsuit and countersuits. Wouldn’t you be mad if you were an investor in either of these because they are wasting so much money on lawyers airing their dirty laundry in public?

Who will blink first?  Is that a bomb by the JustFab logo?

Ridiculous. Neither of these sites get a name award from us. Makes me wish they would all be thrown out as being generic names so neither can have a registered trademark. Come on guys, there is not such a worldwide shortage of names. Just a shortage of creativity.

As one simple example, Gilt is apparently cleaning up and selling out on everything they offer. So my advice is don’t get confused by which Fab is billing your credit card unexpectedly, shop at Gilt or some other real brand name site.

 

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Raptr has my Raptor in Raptures

Oh how I do love to see a great name when I visit anywhere, and this is one I found in Silicon Valley earlier this week. Raptr is obviously a fun name for a social gaming site, but also a magic trick with languages when the abbreviation can be form two different words, both positive.

RaptrLogoAnd they didn’t stop there. A cool little logo makes all this so so much better than their old corporate name – the meaningless GXL Inc. And properly registered as a US Federal Trademark too.  I will be sending all my gaming friends over today – I am sure they will be in rapture playing with the little raptor.

 

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