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

Category Archives: Writing

Athol Fugard – my accidental namesake

When my mother named me Athol, after a minister who was also an athlete, little did she know that my real namesake would be a very political playwright. Yes, Athol Fugard was honored at the recent Tony Awards with a lifetime achievement recognition. Apart from his work, I always admired how he managed to be such an outspoken critic of Apartheid without actually ending up in jail under that old bad regime. I suppose having a big public stage helped.

Anyway, when my name is known in the USA, it is always a surprise. When it is correctly spelled and pronounced it is usually thanks to Athol Fugard. Now if only I was half the writer that he is. Plus he is also a great actor. Next time your rent the movie Ghandi again, see the role he plays, for example.

The one man play highlight of my life was the night I saw Athol Fugard hold an enrapt audience as a poor, drunken, downtrodden colored man in the first half of the play. All alone on the stage by the way with no props. And then he returned in the second half as a clean well dressed man and told more stories. It took me weeks to get my head around the fact that it was the same actor, and secondly, that anyone could hold such a large audience for so long in his hand. No music, no antics, no dancing. Now that is a powerful story teller.

As for the real roots of the name Athol, see my take on this page of our Brighter Naming website.

Trademark accuracy in China

Even though they are overwhelmed at times, I do love the service the China Trademark office is providing the world. Despite all past criticism, China is properly registering and protecting trademarks nowadays. So check and register your name in China too.

Whenever we use foreign trademark databases, there tends to be some minor (or even major) problems on the English version of the site. However, China does one of the better jobs…  and it livens up my day when they tell me not to forget to “Login Out” after I have successfully “Login In”.

And since Google has spoiled the world with how quick they respond, they also tell me how long it took to do my search, even when nothing is found. Fine, but why to so many decimal places? Not sure I care about that.. but once again, it does get my attention and make me look at the number, so maybe there is a reason for the minor madness.

Salquin to the Rescue – Great name, great kid’s book.

Yesterday I was bemoaning fact that very old people do not readily accept new, unusual or coined words. Today I have the joy of talking about a kid’s book that really continues to push the limits of names and characters – for both people and critters.

Before this book I had never heard of the Salquin native people of Canada, now I too love the word. Same as I learned about Chimona in the first book in the series and from whence the series gets its name: The Chimona Chronicles.

Believe me, if I had grand kids I would be reading this to them from my laptop. It is so much easier to read to your kids, or along with them, if there is some intelligence in the story so you don’t get too bored. After all, you know you are going to have to read it over and over if it is any good.

And in addition, this book comes with an associated series website (www.chimona.com) where you and the kids can investigate more of the names and terms. Even adults will not know them all unless you have travelled in the same areas as Rosie Reay, the author.

Yes, I am biased because I helped bring this book to market, but I only put the effort in because I thought it was worthwhile. With the added extra of a full length poem (a trademark of Rosie’s stories) and Candice McMullan’s great illustrations, I expect this book will be very popular for Xmas and many a family will be learning new names and places together, apart from unraveling the simple parallel plots in the story line.

In the meantime, you can get an early copy via download to your computer from www.FodenPress.com.

Top 10 ways to find a free .com name in 2010

alphabetmansml1Every week someone cries on my shoulder about how hard it is becoming to find free .com domain names. Well they are disappearing at a rate of 1 million a month, and have been doing so for a while, so what do you expect if you are only waking up now?

Anyway, here are my professional suggestions. Let me know what you think or pass along the list, with due credit to Athol Foden of Brighter Naming.

  1. Use a number in your name. e.g. 3Com, 2Wire, Tack360, etc. Works best if name is mostly seen online and not used much on the phone.
  2. Use a different form of a verb.  e.g  Learning Spanish instead of Learn Spanish say. Or Brighter Naming instead of Bright Naming. Non-English languages often have lots of conjugations of their verbs providing even more options.
  3. Personalize or localize the name.  e.g.  iFly, MySpinnerTricks, YourBicycleTracks, OurFishingTrips, TexasBigGameSupporters, ScottishCurlingClub, CollegePaymentsUSA, etc.
  4. Coin new words from classic or other roots:  Miradiance  (Mira is Spanish/Latin for view), Frito Lay (Frito is Spanish for fried), Verantis (From verity = truth and Atlantis)
  5. Use initials as well:   PFChangs, PrintDNA, SugarCRM, NGMoco
  6. Combine parts of words: e.g. Solyndra from solar and cylinder, Sony from sonus and sonny, Transcera from transcend and era. Or even combine languages: e.g. NeuStar  (German + English words), Tambrio (English + Spanish).
  7. Go Hawaiian, or African, or …     Akamai, Wiki, Ubuntu, Zynga
  8. Squeeze vowels in (to make smoother pronunciations) like Avidasports, Affinaquest, or out (aka IM speak) to make for very short names like Flickr, Loopt, VCTRY.
  9. Go phonetic with something that just sounds good and create your own meanings:   Cisco, Kinkos, Zanitar, Jamba, Brivo, Ariba, Skype
  10. Work with a professional naming agency or consultant that tracks free domains and can also quickly implement one of the above techniques.

Number 10 is probably the least expensive solution when you consider the management time and legal headaches they also solve, especially now that competition has driven prices down to $6000 for corporate accounts, and much less for individuals or small businesses.

Invictus breaks through noise of film names

invictuspicI had the pleasure of spending Xmas dinner with a Hollywood insider who was pointing out to me how bland and descriptive the titles of movies had become. Even Avatar borrowed a popular online gaming term.

And then there is the exception: Invictus.  Fancy naming a movie after an old poem. But also how clever and inspiring. Because while this movie is about Mandela and his first days in office in South Africa, it is also about many other things as people wrestle with massive sociological change. So much more than a specific story. I especially liked all the little vignettes that Clint Eastwood added to the movie so you never get bored (I only just managed to stay awake in Avatar as it is so predictable).

Like many books, the title is taken from one small key episode in the whole work. Now don’t you forget the great last paragrah of William Ernest Henley’s epic poem:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Oh dear…TabletMac is such a heavy name!

madmactabletA year from now people will be so used to playing with their TabletMacs they will have forgotten what a heavy a name it has. Shouldn’t that word be reserved for companies taking their medicine? Who the heck came up with it anyway? (Probably Moses and his stone age friends).

Yes Apple, we know you have lots of brand power and marketing reach, but we are not accustomed to seeing such boring heavy names from you. It is time for a new category name, even if you have to cross over something like you did in moving iPod from internet kiosk usage.

This time you have Kindle and Nook giving you a run for your money on the book front too. Of course, we know you plan to become the standard for video reviewing too. So why not Vpad, or Vpod or VMac or PadMac… almost anything is better than the langourous Tablet name.

Emergency Golf released for all those facing their first rounds

egolffullcoverpic200Well this post is to announce a small book of my own, so I won’t be as egotistical as to try give myself a name award for the title. But I would appreciate any comments or feedback on whether the title grabbed you or not. One good thing about book titles is that you don’t have to check trademarks, because one bad thing about book titles is that you cannot protect them, and duplicates are allowed.

Since many sales, marketing and branding conferences include potentially a round of golf, and since many business deals are still done on the golf course, you may want to download a copy of Emergency Golf from FodenPress.com if you have never played before. I am trying to save you the heartache and angst I suffered on a number of occasions.

That is why I call myself the world’s worst beginner. But that is also why I have this unique viewpoint. I know first hand the little things that bedevilled me and lead to a number of false starts. You will probably save the complete cost of this book in lost golf balls the first month you are out there!

At very worst, you will enjoy the first few days more , especially if you have no time for lessons. Plus you will not hold up the rest of the group or make them mad at your basic ignorance of what they think of as a lovely game.

A big name award for the first kid’s book on naming

kelvyncanoeWell if we are going to issue name awards to names and their authors, then we had surely best also consider authors who write books for kids that are based on a naming story. Especially if it introduces kids to a simple naming process!

More importantly, it is a fun and educational and travel read for any young reader. It will also be enjoyed by the parents of younglings if you read it to them – at least the first few times!

Download a copy today from FodenPress.com and surprise them on the trip. Just when they get restless, pull it up on your laptop. Most adults with a young heart will also enjoy the story and see different overtones and places than the kids. But you can all enjoy the critters coming to life as well as the great illustrations.

On top of that, children can later go to the companion website (www.chimona.com) and look up more details on their favorite critters, as well as check the glossary for explanations of big or foreign words. If this sounds like a shameless plug for How Kelvyn Got His Name and the author Rosie Reay then it surely is… but I only do this when I really believe in the product, even when I am not an innocent bystander.

I am in awe of your story telling ability Rosie and can’t wait to help produce the rest of the Chimona Chronicles, along with our great editor Kyra Dawson of  The Brighter Scribe and our new favorite illustrator Candice McMullan. It will be fun to see even more critters come to life and start their travels around Lake Okenagan – or even around the world.

Concise and correct copy from Canada

bscribebloglogoOver the recent years I have encouraged a number of family and friends to start their own blogs. People I knew who could write – but people the world had not necessarily heard about – let alone hired for a writing gig. Then I finally got Kyra Dawson to blog – and she can’t stop. This is when you know you have hit a creative gusher!

Real artists just have to paint, real dancers have to dance, real singers have to sing, real namers have to name, and real writers have to write. It is in their soul and blood and must find release. The Brighter Scribe is one such person.

So if you are looking for a good copywriter, editor or blogger for your business, consider making a call to Canada where the air and writings are so clear – and the dollar goes further. The Scribe’s Desk may look a little messy – but elegant words flow fast and easy in this blog about books and movies. But Kyra can write well about most subjects, and is especially strong writing about books, sports, family, kids, pets, nature and health.

In addition, she has just done a great job editing my sister’s new book for children that will be out soon. Plus she is based in Vancouver, Canada, where so many Hollywood companies go to save a dollar – and more and more to employ the great Canadian resources available in British Columbia.

Now there is no need to deal with cultural and time zone issues to off-shore your writing projects, when you can near-shore them just north of the US border.