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

Category Archives: Name Origins

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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Fly the rough (I mean rouge) skies of Canada

Naming Canadian new products, branding products in CanadaOK folks, some of you may be very fluent with French words or used to putting rouge something or other on your face. But for the less educated in worldly languages, and for those of us who speed read, do you really want to fly an airline that looks rough, or maybe even a rogue?

Will everyone know it is pronounced roooge and not a rhyming word with gouge?  Isn’t English fun? Will Canadians take to having their sacred red maple leaf flag and logo in a new shade?
I still meet a lot of people who don’t know that Montreal is the second biggest French speaking city in the world. But even I didn’t stop to think that Montreal is the Canadian airline capital. But so what? One hour after take off and they are out of French Canadian airspace!

naming german products, german product branding servicesI am told by reliable sources that chicken wings are often called Buffalo wings in the USA because they were invented in Buffalo New York.  Only took me about 20 years to learn this basic fact! So now will they be served on German Wings when they are up against Rouge?

Notice: German Wings, not Deutsch Flügeln even though it may take 3 or 4 hours of flying to be outside of Deutschland airspace.

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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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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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Late July is a great fresh packaged food name

I have been meaning to blog here for weeks but kept running into only bad names – and I have been reluctant to put my black hat on too many of them. Then this morning I was served in the bank by a lovely lady named April and was very tempted to ask her if her sisters were called May and June. Thereafter I went to the supermarket and found Late July new organic chips on an end cap shelf and I broke down and bought a bag as my treat of the week.

Whenever naming packaged food products I encourage customers to please think outside the bag. Doesn’t always work because they are so enamored by what they have concocted in the kitchen (or lab) they just want to describe it somehow. Others, like Nicole Dawes here, realize a new brand name, which will subsequently have many products or flavors, is really needed. Since she gets so many questions about the name, she has made up a great feel good story about that being the perfect time in summer for family relaxation. Well maybe, but the cynic in me wants to say, hang on, what about those people in mid winter in Australia? Or the people burning up in a long, hot summer in Phoenix?

LateJuly_Packaged_Food_NamesAnd, of course, the fact that her birthday is on July 31st is purely coincidental :) Anyway she has some great product names and packaging as you can see here.

I wonder if there is no vinegar in her sea salt flavored chips because her kids are a key part of the taste and flavor development process? This is my only disappointment since though her chips are all super healthy and have no sugar, all those carb heavy snacks turn to sugar fast in my diabetic system. And sour ingredients, like vinegar, mitigate the sweetness dramatically. I can even see the difference in my blood sugar readings. But the kick of vinegar is an adult taste unfortunately.  Hmm vinegar and sea salt… fond memories of fish and chips.

 

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Having a Cadenza over the name

When one of the kids in my family were getting stirred up, my mother often used to say “Now son, don’t have a cadenza.” So I did a double take when I saw the commercials for the new KIA luxury sedan. Did they really call it Cadenza?

CadenzaLogoWell yes, they did, so I looked up Cadenza in the dictionary and found all the musical usages. Then I read the urban slang dictionary – which looked like they were quoting my mother!

Usually KIA does a great job of giving good, practical, unique names to their various models, but this time something got missed in Korea. Perhaps it doesn’t matter except to a handful of people and the rest will see it as an elegant name to go with a classy, affordable sedan.

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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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Xooming to new heights

XoomLogoThis past Friday Xoom executed on the ultimate branding event – going public on the stock exchange. As a regular user of the Xoom service, which beats the competitors by a mile, I feel remiss for not commenting on their name earlier.

Much as I like the name, I am surprised how many people hesitate over the pronunciation. Even though they know how to say xylophone and Xerox, for some reason they don’t immediately get that this name is simply Zoom with an X.

After many, many years in the naming business I continue to be pleasantly surprised about how the change of one letter in a name can make a big difference. Zoom is pedantic and common, but Xoom is unique and interesting. It doesn’t say “transfer money” like Moneygram implies, but then again it is a lot more appropriate a name than Western Union – as long as you haven’t grown up with Western Union as the brand for sending money.

And for all you software houses out there, don’t think of Xoom as just a way to send money to relatives. Think of it as a way to send money to off-shore contractors and vendors, especially those not wed to Paypal.

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

Yoga is a great name for Lenovo’s limber laptop.

Great name for a laptop computerLenovo has not done much new and different in the way of branding and promotion since their now long ago separation from IBM. This may have been intentional. Certainly the IBM cachet brand equity is a big base to springboard off.. and keeping it implicitly around may not have been a bad strategy (or accident).

However, the minute I saw the new ads for their Yoga multipurpose laptop/touchpad I knew they had nailed a great new name. You can tell this whenever you sense the ad and pr marketing people (even outside agencies) are having fun with the name. Such natural enthusiasm spills over into their creative work and consumers naturally sense it too – often making them natural participants or message carriers too. Just like me in this case.

Some of the engineers at Lenovo must have been having heartburn over the choice of such a consumer name, but luckily marketing prevailed. A cross over name that hits all the right notes is usually magic. And when they are trying to show how flexible, limber and stretchable a product is, what better name than Yoga could they possibly have come up with?

Now that I see the written materials, I see the full name is Ideapad Yoga. Booo is all I can say. Be brave, call it the Yoga like in the ads. Sure you have had the ThinkPad for so long the name is rusty.. and yes that was long before Apple had an iPad… but are you really a bunch of sheep? Aren’t you big enough to not have to follow Apple along?

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