Naming and Branding Agency

Posts from: November 2006

Zune is tune with a Z

Microsoft’s “Zune” name is clearly “tune” with a “z”. But how much can you charge for that? Some naming companies are at their most creative when reverse engineering rationale for their creations. Landor can shovel pretty fast, but nobody can touch Lexicon.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, we give you the rationale behind the name “Zune”. Our comments in bold:

So Microsoft has come out with its iPod killer, er, competitor, the Zune. That raises a question: Why did they call it Zune?.

…”Additionally, the Lexicon Research Network of 60 Ph.D. linguists in 39 countries [“Zune” is “tune” with a “z”] was tapped to provide insights into the latest brands in music and video entertainment and to give us suggestions as to words, word parts, sounds and metaphors that might be applied to a ‘next generation entertainment system,’” Placek said…

…Because the device is small, Placek said, it needed a small name. Lexicon considered 3,500 candidates with seven or fewer letters. And sometimes rhymes work best: “Zune’s similar sound to ‘Tunes’ [“Zune” is “tune” with a “z”] made a great connection for us,” Placek said.

Lexicon also likes the buzz Zune gets from “z,” and that it’s a fun-sounding name [“Zune” is “tune” with a “z”] …

…Each has its own way of looking modern. IPod’s i- prefix links it to the Internet generation, while Zune is a newly coined word. Both are structurally simple. iPod is made of two elements, the prefix plus a common 3-letter word, adding up to a grand total of four letters. Zune has four letters also, is easy to pronounce, and is only one syllable long, comparing well even to iPod’s two syllables [“Zune” is “tune” with a “z”] …

Zune’s focus is liveliness and youth. The buzz of the sound “z” makes it one of the most energetic in the language. Lexicon’s studies of sound symbolism, conducted with hundreds of people in a variety of languages, have shown that word-initial “z” scores very high for communicating attributes like “lively,” “daring,” and “fast.” [“Zune” is “tune” with a “z”]

The letter z’s current popularity in respellings like “boyz” and “antz” lends a youthful irreverence. Even though it isn’t obviously derived from any real word, Zune could pass for a casual abbreviation, in the same way that ‘zza stood in for pizza with some people 10 years or so ago. Zune is clearly a fun kind of name.

[A slice of ‘zza?? wha..? “Zune” is “tune” with a “z” ]

The sounds of Zune also make a connection with music. After the highly audible z is the vowel u, made with the lips pursed as if one were whistling. The name ends with a musical ring, from the sound n. [“U” symbolizes whistling? Oh right, that’s why Igor named the other Microsoft music thingy Urge. Sorry, one forgets. But who can question the musicality of the letter “n” ? Is that an “n” sharp or flat?]

Give Lexicon credit, they are keeping a straight face throughout. Not easy.

Read more rationale behind Zune.

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The Golden Arches Bridge

The bridge that connects the town I live in to San Francisco may soon take the concept of “drive-thru” to new heights. Via CBS:

(AP) SAN FRANCISCO The famed Golden Gate Bridge is considering accepting corporate sponsorship.

Bridge officials say they’ve hired a company to explore the moneymaking potential of the world-famous span. They say any commercial deals would be done tastefully and sensitively.

The proposal was approved during a meeting of the bridge district’s Board of Directors.

A company is expected to spend six months researching how landmarks have boosted earnings by working with corporations.

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A Wetter Mousetrap

The Dewey Decimal System had a good run as a way of indexing and searching for information. Now the good Dewey name has been given a twist and leveraged by Ms. Dewey, a new kind of search engine experience. It’s a clever name that plays off of the legacy of the library index as well as the physicality of Ms. Dewey’s updated take on an Ask Jeeves-like character.

Ms. Dewey is a Microsoft initiative that tries to bring some humanity and humor to the world of search. Yes, it’s Microsoft’s attempt at stand-up, and they’re dying up there.

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It’s the worst of names, it’s the best of names

In food savvy San Francisco, just a block from the Igor office, is the restaurant with the worst name in town. It is also the restaurant with the best name in town. It’s called Medicine.

What makes it the worst name? Scatological references aside, nothing says “tastes bad” quite like “Medicine”. With merciless emotionally efficacy, Medicine powerfully projects a bevy of unsavory notions. The name is uninviting, antiseptic, impersonal, clinical, unpleasant, uptight, etc. Just in case you can get past all that, Medicine refers to itself as an “eatstation”. It’s the same idea as a gas station, a utilitarian environment in which to insert fuel into your body.

The funny thing is, it’s the perfect name. As a restaurant name Medicine is hard to beat for both stopping power and memorability. But what really makes the name sing for this highly successful eatstation is its pitch-perfect appeal to its target audience. It’s a mostly vegan menu which values the medicinal qualities of food beyond all else.

naming consultants

The name Medicine is brutally honest. We’ve eaten there a couple of times, and to us this is nasty, nasty stuff. But we can’t complain; they warned us in big, bold letters on a bright, shiny metal sign.

If you enjoy food solely for its curative properties and are intrigued by cuisine that seems to based on a dare, this is probably the place for you. But be warned, it’s always packed.

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