This week I am working on a beer naming project, which is rather amusing because for weeks I have been thinking of putting up this posting about the Bass Ale name.
Have you ever sat in a bar and looked at the big red triangle in the Bass sign, and noticed that it says Trademark across it? They are a very special case in trademark law, as Bass is the first registered trademark ever issued anywhere in the world.
Yes, the British beat the USA to get their system going by a few months. And they selected Bass to be the first trademark. After all, what could be more British than a pint of ale?
So Bass has a name and trademark distinction no other beer will ever have. Of course, today it is a registered trademark around the world – and you do see the magic ® in the bottom right corner.
The dictionary defines Android as a robot with a human appearance. Isn’t it just the old word for Googlelite? And therefore very suitable for Google’s phone operating system development platform? So the much rumored “gphone” was just that – a rumor. But wait, the trademark filing is for hardware and software. And it seems like even their lawyers operate in the very minimalist interface world that has been Google’s signature all along. I doubt I have ever seen any other lawyer file a trademark application in category 9 and simple declare the description as “hardware, software”. This will be fun to watch as it progresses through the USPTO.. but for now.. Google’s lawyers win a 3 trophy award for simplicity. They obviously didn’t come from Intel where the Pentium trademark filing scrolls on for pages and pages of unintelligible fine print. You’d think they were defining each piece of a rocket ship!
As a lovely sideline to the Android story, many more people are discovering that for years they have been using phones with software based on the Symbian platform… a name that yours truly came up with about 8 years ago. There are millions and millions out there.. and finally my name sees the light of day. I had a fascination with the word symbiosis from when I first learned what it meant.. and finally found a great use for it in a naming project where we had NEC, Nokia and Motorola for a client.. simultaneously.
Just about when I was getting fired up about Firedog and similar names (see a few blogs below), Tom Pencek of Service For Profit was also getting excited about why people pay so little attention to properly naming and branding their service offerings. Since services can be so profitable, why don’t they get the same attention as products?
So now we are doing a joint one hour webinar to discuss the subject on Wed, Nov 14th at 10am PST. It is free to all. Listen in via an 800# and follow along via your internet browser. Registrants will also get a free download copy of my Creative Naming Supplement – to help you make up names when your own creative juices run dry. (Normally this is part of my Brighter Names: Naming for the Average Propeller Head book).
To register, visit https://www.gotomeeting.com/register/978507271
The November 12th issue of Business Week has a good article titled “What’s in a Name? Fatter Profits” wherein they discuss the move to branded lines of computer and tech products for Taiwan’s old line companies now that they are under such price siege in the OEM market from mainland China. This comes as no surprise. But if they are going to use their own brands on computers, then only Acer has got it right, even if they re-invent their logo and positioning every few years. (I hope their switch to a lower case logo doesn’t have the same negative effect it has had on other companies like SGI).
In the article, HTC are very proud of their initials.. wonder if anyone has told them they are not as famous as IBM? Nor do they have the same marketing budget. And there is another HTC (or more). The California one is recovering from a big management scandal which makes some of us very leery of any associations with those initials – that stand for nothing we know.
But the real disaster is Asustek… this is how Business Week spells it (and they are of the highest editorial repute). But the trademark is actually on the name Asus and their website is at Asus.com and not at any of the Asustek domains. And they claim their company name is ASUSTek Computer Inc. All these inconsistencies do not matter much in the OEM space but are tragic in building a consumer brand. Especially when the name is unpronounceable and so awkward to start with.. looks like a typo for Aussie Tech.. now there is a name with more hop in it.
All Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune fans know the value of a vowel. Now it seems like all the e-businesses have snapped up the “e”‘s. We know Apple has used a lot of “i’s and someone somewhere is hoarding the “o”s too.
How else do you explain popular new names like Flickr, Razr, Rokr, Rizr, Loopt (pronounced looped)? Of course, we don’t need those vowels – they were silent anyway. Everyone still knows how to pronounce these names… and so the English language continues to evolve. But speaking of letters not needed, so often I type in Flikr instead of Flickr or Flicker. Perhaps there is too much flickering going on for the Yahooligans… you’d think they would make these other spellings (for Germanic people and those who know good English respectively) point as well to Flickr! Heck, Yahoo is now a top level domain registrar.. does someone have to explain forwarding to them?
PS Motorola probably got tired of paying the original Razor for the name rights. We note with interest that the proper names are now Motorazr, Motorokr, Motorizr, etc.
If ever there was a product Microsoft copied off Apple that really was a me too, it is the Zune. Not to worry, new and improved versions are coming Nov 13th with more gigabytes! Yawn. Have you seen the boring new print ads? Double yawn.
I predict this product will zune be gone from the market, long before the zunni’s are gone from the middle east. (I have commented before in my name critic column about the problems with this name.)
In the meantime, for something musical that really is cool – and different from Apple’s offerings – check out the new Pacemaker.
Fun name, fun product. It’ll make your musical heart sing.
You could invent an internet browser and steal somebody else’s boring name and called it Internet Explorer (and later pay $7mill to settle the legal infraction), or you could stop being so pedantic and name it Firefox!
But what do you do when your direct competitor has scooped up the ultra cool Geek Squad.. and equipped them with a lot more decorated VW bugs?
Well, you set the dogs on fire.. and call it Firedog and get your service people jumping through hoops to be of assistance! Congratulations to Circuit City (a big company) to have the chutzpah to pick such a name. Sure beats old style names like Circuit Service Team.
I have previously written posts about names that cut through the noise, but in the domain name registration space there is one that stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Here are some of the boring sounding ones:
Register Fly (that turned out to be a bit of a Fly by night)
…and 50+ others starting with the word Domain!
And then there is GoDaddy! I have seen staid business people literally do a double-take when this name is mentioned, either because of the shock of the name for a very serious and important business, or because they have seen some of GoDaddy’s fun marketing campaigns.. and don’t realize it is a business site, not a consumer one.
This name obviously did not come from the boardroom. What magic one man can do (Bob Parsons), with the right personality… even though he is backed up by a staff of thousands, all of whom understand the concept of customer service – with a smile. Go Daddy Go – even if you are already number one!
When you are looking to market your event, isn’t it much easier with a catchy name? This week Online Market World was struggling in San Francisco – perhaps for many reasons. But when we have already had events like Web 2.0 Conference, Demo and TIE this year already in the Bay Area, perhaps it takes a catchy title to cut through the noise.
And they don’t all have to be fancy registered or trademarked or protected names. Peter Kellner’s upcoming Code Camp is a great example of this. Mention that name around Silicon Valley and see all the .NET programmers, and many others, nodding their heads in unison. And talking about Web 2.0, the whole affair is coordinated via blogs.
Look up Athol Foden’s session (that is me) if you want to join our discussion on how to turn an idea into a product into a company.
Receiving my fat copy of Wired magazine nowadays is quite a joy since so many others have fallen by the wayside or become leaflet size. And their Geekipedia supplement this month shows how they really pay for that size through these great advertising vehicles, even when they give it such a wierd name. Of course, they are owned by Conde Nast publications who know a thing or two about attracting classy advertisers.
But who are they trying to curry favor with when they rank Apple Corp (the Beetles record publishing company) as being smacked down by Apple Inc (who Think Different)? And conveniently forget that Apple Computers Inc (as it used to be) lost their trademark fight in UK High Court, and ended up paying $43 million for continued use of their name rights once they added music to their computers. On top of which, they lost the insurance claim too.. another $6 or $7 million (or more) in legal bills.
Apple is one of the megabrands of the world now, but the name rights alone cost it $50 million or so. Very interesting, especially when so many execs are reluctant to pay even $5,000 for their company name. Of course, a brand is a lot, lot more than a name. But as Al Ries and Jack Trout said a long time ago: “Your name is your primary weapon in the battle for the mind.“