Naming and Branding Agency

Category: company names

How To Name A Startup

An important first step when naming a business, product or service is to figure out just what it is that your new name should be doing for you. The most common decision is that a name should explain to the world what business you are in or what your product does. Intuition dictates that this will save you the time and money of explaining it, which actually turns out not to be true. Why not?

The notion of describing your business in the name assumes that the name will exist at some point without contextual support, which, when you think about it, is impossible. The name will appear on a website, a store front, in a news article or press release, on a business card, on the product itself, in advertisements, or, at its most naked, in a conversation.

There is simply no imaginable circumstance in which a name will have to explain itself. This is fortunate, because having a descriptive name is actually a counterproductive marketing move which requires an enormous amount of effort to overcome. A descriptive naming strategy overlooks the fact that the whole point of marketing is to separate yourself from the pack. It actually works against you, causing you to fade into the background, indistinguishable from the bulk of your competitors.

The following is a list of companies in the naming and branding arena. While each of their names describes what they do, you can clearly see the heavy marketing price they pay for such a shortcut:

Brand-DNA (.com)
Brand-DNA (.net)
DNA Brand Mechanics
Brand 2.0
Brand Doctors
Brand Equity
Brand Evolve
Brand Fidelity
Brand Institute
Brand Mechanics
BrandForward
Brandico
Brandjuice Consulting
BrandLadder
BrandLink
BrandLogic
BrandMaverick
BrandPeople
Brandscope
Brandslinger
BrandSolutions
Brandtrust
Name Development
Name Sharks
Namebase
Nameit
Namexpress
Namelab
Namington
Naming Systems
Namerazor
NameSale
Namestormers
Nametag
Nametrade
NameQuest
Namix
Naming Workshop
Nomen
Namepharm
Nomenon
Medibrand
Absolute Brand
Interbrand
Building Brands
Real Branding
Core Brand
Futurebrand
The Branding Iron
Spherical Branding
I.D.ENTITY Identity 3.0
Idiom
Brighter Naming
Corporate Icon
Metaphor
Megalonamia
Wise Name
Creating New Names
The Name Works
ABC Namebank
The Naming Company
Ivarson Brand Vision Strategic Name Development
The Brand Consultancy Lexicon Branding
Independent Branding TradingBrands
The Better Branding Company Not Just Any Branding

There are three pieces of advice that will serve you well in avoiding a similar dilemma:

  1. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: There are competitors–the idea is to distinguish yourself. Business is a competitive sport.
  2. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: The notion of describing your business in the name assumes that the name will exist at some point without contextual support. This is never true for any business or product.
  3. Names don’t exist in a vacuum: When judged without the context of a clear positioning platform and an intimate understanding of how names work and what they can do, the best solutions are either never considered or quickly dismissed.

For example, any one of the following intuitive concerns could have been enough to keep these powerful names from ever seeing the light of day:

Virgin Airlines

  • Says “we’re new at this”
  • Public wants airlines to be experienced, safe and professional
  • Investors won’t take us seriously
  • Religious people will be offended

Caterpillar

  • Tiny, creepy-crawly bug
  • Not macho enough – easy to squash
  • Why not “bull” or “workhorse”?
  • Destroys trees, crops, responsible for famine

Banana Republic

  • Derogatory cultural slur
  • You’ll be picketed by people from small, hot countries

Yahoo!

  • Yahoo!! It’s Mountain Dew!
  • Yoohoo! It’s a chocolate drink in a can!
  • Nobody will take stock quotes and world news seriously from a bunch of “Yahoos”

Oracle

  • Unscientific
  • Unreliable
  • Only foretold death and destruction
  • Only fools put their faith in an Oracle
  • Sounds like “orifice”–people will make fun of us

The Gap

  • Means something is missing
  • The Generation Gap is a bad thing – we want to sell clothes to all generations
  • In need of repair
  • Incomplete
  • Negative

Stingray

  • A slow, ugly, and dangerous fish–slow, ugly and dangerous are the last qualities we want to associate with our fast, powerful, sexy sports car
  • The “bottom feeding fish” part isn’t helping either

Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac

  • I don’t want hillbilly residents of Dogpatch handling my finances.
  • They don’t sound serious, and this is about a very serious matter.

As you can well imagine, this kind of negative deconstruction is at the root of why a committee can’t agree on a non-descriptive name that has any meaning. It’s also what gave birth to the second major school of bad naming: the “unique empty vessel” that “can become whatever you want.” Here are some of the victims:

Acquient, Agilent, Alliant, Aquent, Aspirient, Aviant, Axent, Axient, Bizient, Candescent, Cendant, Cerent, Chordiant, Clarent, Comergent, Conexant, Consilient, Cotelligent, Equant, Ixtant, Livent, Luminant, Mergent, Mirant, Navigant, Naviant, Noviant, Novient, Omnient, Ravisent, Sapient, Scient, Sequant, Spirent, Taligent, Teligent, Thrivent, Versant, Versent, Viant, Vitalent and Vivient.

As with the descriptive list, these names are not part of an elegant solution, they are the seeds of a branding nightmare. This type of name is arrived at because of the lust for a domain name, consensus building and as a shortcut to trademark approval. At some point in the process marketing left the room, and nobody seemed to notice. And while they may technically be unique, it’s at the level of a snow flake in a snow bank.

The third type of name is the evocative name. These include the aforementioned Apple, Stingray, Oracle, Virgin, Yahoo etc. While everyone respects evocative naming when done well, most corporations don’t go down this road because it’s the toughest to understand and execute.

On a very fundamental level, here are the basic ingredients of the best evocative names:

Differentiate

A competitive analysis is an essential first step. How are your competitors positioning themselves? What types of names are common among them? Are they all projecting a similar attitude? Do their similarities offer you a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd?

Apple needed to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by the other computer companies at the time who had names like IBM, NEC, DEC, ADPAC, Cincom, Dylakor, Input, Integral Systems, Sperry Rand, SAP, PSDI, Syncsort, and Tesseract.

They needed to reverse the entrenched view of computers in order to get people to use them at home. They were looking for a name that was not like a traditional computer company, and supported a Positioning Strategy that was to be perceived as simple, warm, human, approachable and different.

Positioning

The next step is to carefully define your positioning. The idea is to position yourself in a way that rings true in a fresh way–that cuts through all of the noise out there. The goal is to have your audience personalize the experience of your brand, to make an emotional connection with it, and ultimately to take you in. To redefine and own the territory.

One of most important things that the best of the best brands accomplish is to be thought of as greater than the goods and services offered, to create an aspiration. Nike’s “Just Do It’ helps them rise above selling sneakers. Apple’s “Think Different” is bigger than computers. Fannie Mae’s “We’re in the American Dream Business” elevates them from mere mortgage brokers.

On a product level, Velveeta, Slinky, Mustang, Snapple, etc., are tapping into something outside of the narrow definition of what it is they do, and are allowing the consumer to make the connection, to personalize the experience. This type of active engagement created by playing off of images that everyone is already carrying around in their heads is an essential ingredient in creating a great name.

From there, a name should contain as many of the following qualities as possible. The more of them that are present, the more powerful the name:

SELF-PROPELLING

  • A name that people will talk about.
  • A name that works its way through the world on its own.
  • A name that’s a story in itself, whether it’s at the local bar, on the job, or on CNBC.

EMOTIONAL CONNECTION

  • What does the name suggest?
  • Does it make you feel good?
  • Does it make you smile?
  • Does it lock into your brain?
  • Does it make you want to know more?

POETRY

  • How does the name physically look and sound?
  • How does it roll off the tongue?
  • How much internal electricity does it have?
  • How does it sound the millionth time?
  • Will people remember it?

PERSONALITY

  • Does the name have attitude?
  • Does it exude qualities like confidence, mystery, presence, warmth, and a sense of humor?
  • Is it provocative, engaging?
  • Is it a tough act to follow?

DEEP WELL

  • Is the name a constant source of inspiration for advertising and marketing?
  • Does it have “legs”?
  • Does it work on a lot of different levels?

The key is to step outside the box that the industry – any industry – has drawn for itself, and to do it in a fresh way that hits home with the audience. To accomplish this, it is necessary to think about names in this fashion:

Virgin

  • Positioning: different, confident, exciting, alive human, provocative, fun. The innovative name forces people to create a separate box in their head to put it in.
  • Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.

Oracle

  • Positioning: different, confident, superhuman, evocative, powerful, forward thinking.
  • Qualities: Self-propelling, Connects Emotionally, Personality, Deep Well.

As an exercise, go back and see how the other names deconstructed above–Apple, Caterpillar, Banana Republic, Yahoo!, Palm Pilot, The Gap, Stingray, and Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac–stand up when held to these high standards. These are the qualities that separate a potent, evocative name from a useless one that is built without a considered positioning platform, such as BlueMartini or FatBrain. Random names like these disallow audience engagement, because there are no pathways between the image and the product–there is no connection to be made.

Want more? Download our Naming Guide PDF.

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Food Substitute “Soylent”, Named for Cannibalistic “Soylent Green”, raises 1 million

Via TechCrunch:

Fascinated by inefficiencies in the industrial food system, Rhinehart designed and then started living off a meal replacement he cheekily named Soylent — after the dystopian movie Soylent Green where Charlton Heston discovers that society has been living off rations made of humans [rations called "Soylent Green"].

This Soylent, thankfully, is not made of humans.

However this Soylent most definitely is:

They were only trying to raise 100k. More on how and why names with negative associations work

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Double Dutch

When you are in Holland you are always in The Netherlands, but when you are in The Netherlands you are only in Holland about half of the time. Most people use the two names interchangeably – but not you, not anymore. Besides, using the names incorrectly is considered an insult to the locals, depending on the circumstance, as is clearly explained here:

Calling the Netherlands “Holland” is like calling Great Britain “England”. Holland is the old name of the western provinces North-Holland, South-Holland and the small province of Utrecht. About half of the Dutch population lives in this region, where you can find the “four big cities” Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

In summary, Holland is a “Nether Region“, not a country. It’s an area within the country of The Netherlands. Next time we’ll let you know where all things Dutch fit into the naming architecture, including, but certainly not limited to:

dutch-elm, dutch-elm beetle, dutch-kentucky syndrome, dutch-process cocoa powder, dutch-processed cocoa, dutch-type, dutch 200, dutch and flemish literature, dutch antique marble, dutch arch, dutch art, dutch auction, dutch auction preferred stock, dutch barn, dutch belted, dutch binding, dutch bob, dutch bond, dutch borneo, dutch boy, dutch cap, dutch capital, dutch case-knife bean, dutch case knife bean, dutch chair, dutch cheese, dutch chile, dutch clinker, dutch clover, dutch cocoa powder, dutch colonial, dutch colonial style, dutch colonization of the americas, dutch comfort, dutch concert, dutch corner, dutch courage, dutch cupboard, dutch curacao, dutch cut, dutch disease, dutch doll, dutch door, dutch door bolt, dutch east india company, dutch east indies, dutch elm, dutch elm beetle, dutch elm disease, dutch elm fungus, dutch euro coins, dutch famine of 1944, dutch flat, dutch florin, dutch foil, dutch football league, dutch football league teams, dutch genever gin, dutch gilt papers, dutch gleek, dutch gold, dutch golden age, dutch government in exile, dutch guiana, dutch harbor, dutch harbor–unalaska, dutch hip hop, dutch hip roof, dutch hoe, dutch iris, dutch island, dutch john, dutch kentucky syndrome, dutch language, dutch lap, dutch leaf, dutch leonard, dutch limburg, dutch liquid, dutch literature, dutch lunch, dutch marble, dutch master, dutch metal, dutch mineral, dutch monarchy, dutch monetary unit, dutch music, dutch myrtle, dutch national flag, dutch nazi party, dutch new guinea, dutch nightingales, dutch oil, dutch oven, dutch oven furnace, dutch paper, dutch parliament, dutch people, dutch pink, dutch politics, dutch process cocoa, dutch process cocoa powder, dutch processed cocoa, dutch pudding, dutch railways, dutch reformed, dutch reformed church, dutch republic, dutch revolt, dutch roll, dutch royal marines, dutch rush, dutch school, dutch schultz, dutch settle, dutch sewing, dutch shepherd dog, dutch terms using, dutch tile, dutch tilt, dutch treat, dutch type, dutch uncle, dutch war, dutch war of independence, dutch wars, dutch west india company, dutch west indies, dutch wife, early dutch renaissance, east India company dutch, fancy dutch marble, first anglo-dutch war, first anglo dutch war, fourth anglo-dutch war, fourth anglo dutch war, german or dutch brass, go dutch, going dutch, high dutch, hope dutch, in dutch, isle of hope-dutch island, isle of hope dutch island, kitchen dutch, klm royal dutch airlines, low dutch, middle dutch, my old dutch, old dutch, old dutch marble, pennsylvania dutch, pennsylvania dutch language, royal dutch shell, second anglo dutch war, south african dutch, the dutch monarchy, third anglo dutch war, united dutch provinces, upsee dutch…etc.

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Give the ladies what they want

The marketing geniuses at Neutrogena, realizing how crowded the women’s skin care product sector is, have been selling vibrators. But not just any vibrator, a vibrator that a woman can, with head held high, take through airport security, buy at the drugstore, and leave in plain sight for the kids to find. Brilliant.

It’s the Neutrogena Wave, a sex toy with plausible deniability built-in.

Here’s to wiggle room:

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Top secret Landor process document revealed

landor process

“Insert the proprietary Landor Naming Process Tool into the anal canal and twist until it grabs the membrane. Continue twisting another half turn, then steadily pull the proprietary Landor Naming Process Tool out of the canal. Extract 10 inches of membrane, tie the membrane off and cut.”

As with any process, the only true measure of success is what comes out the other end.

Blandor Says Blandor the Imponderable: “Oh deer! Perhaps I should butt out….No! My auricular has been opened, laid bare for all to observe! This time, no amount of blandiloquence will assuage this insolent corporate sabotage! And furthermore, we use a much larger mammal in our current work”
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Company & Product Naming Workshops

We offer full & half-day naming workshops, onsite at your offices. Whether you need help to kick-start a project, are stuck in the middle of a naming exercise, or need assistance choosing a final name and getting approval and buy-in, we will customize a workshop to ensure the most powerful results for your naming needs.

A proven, logical and transparent process is essential to ensure the strongest, most effective results for any naming project. It is essential to establish agreed upon criteria within your organization on what your new name needs to do for you and provide a shared set of tools for your team to best create & evaluate names with.

These workshops are designed to assist you in the hands-on process of naming via the best practices outlined in our definitive Igor Naming Guide.

Our intensive workshop will take you in-depth through:

• Competitive Name Analysis
• Positioning
• Name Generation
• Name Evaluation
• Trademark pre-screening
• Naming Architecture Design
• Naming Process Design

And of course, the naming experts of Igor will be able to answer any and all of your questions about naming.

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Igor’s Naming Guide status elevated to “Optional” !

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business lists the Igor Naming Guide as “optional” reading this semester. Here it is in black and white, but beware, a PDF from UCB may open automatically.

“Optional” as in ancillary, extraneous, needless, redundant, superfluous, unnecessary & unneeded.

Perfect.

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Hotpoint ad from the 70′s targets the Irish

Click on image to engorge

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The Igor-named Gogo inflight WiFi service launches national TV commercial campaign

Igor’s Gogo naming case study here.

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Branding versus Advertising

We are often asked what the difference between branding and advertising is, as our work of positioning and naming companies and products is an essential component of branding.

Branding is demonstrating, advertising is explaining. What you fail to demonstrate you are forced to explain. In business, as in all aspects of life, it is more powerful and effective to demonstrate rather than to explain.

Advertising is shouting, branding is a whisper. When you whisper, people lean forward.

Here is a perfect example, while technically in the form of an ad, this is branding. No explanation, just demonstration

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The Art of the Engaging Company Name

Spotted this one in Mill Valley, CA this morning. Clever, but not too obvious, it causes you to think about it, to roll it around in you head, meaning you will never forget it. Job well done.

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Focus Groups & Naming

We have always insisted that focus grouping names has a negative effect on the outcome. Our favorite Steve Jobs quote conveys the same idea in terms of product creation.

Via the May 25, 1998, issue of Business Week:

…it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why a lot of people at Apple get paid a lot of money, because they’re supposed to be on top of these things.

It’s true, you either know what you’re doing or you don’t.

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Named by Igor – DirecTV announces “Audience”, a new premium network

Via Reuters:

New Name, New Look, New Logo on Tap For DIRECTV’s Original Programming Network

Beginning June 1, DIRECTV’s The 101 Network will transform itself into the Audience Network and become the new home for DIRECTV’s exclusive programming, which includes some of the smartest, most daring entertainment on television. The Audience Network will be accessible in 19.4 million homes on channel number 239.

The newly-branded network will focus on maintaining DIRECTV’s growing commitment to providing subscribers with premium network programming that can’t be seen anywhere else…

…“We’ve spent the last six years building this network into something very special,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development at DIRECTV.

“DIRECTV is the only television operator who provides customers with a premium quality entertainment network for free and the new name perfectly captures who we are doing this for, specifically our demographic, the DIRECTV audience.

When we performed our competitive analysis, it became clear that all of the movie / original programing network names had names that were product-centric and they all contained common terms associated with performance and film: Showtime, Home Box Office, Cinemax, Starz, Bravo, Arts & Entertainment, etc. No one was naming and positioning themselves for the consumer – it was all one-note chest thumping – the names are all interchangeable. There was an opportunity to have a name that was different, a name that was about the audience rather than about the product.

Incredibly, though the word “Audience” appears in virtually every movie review and every article about a television network, it had never been used as a name in the TV / Film production industry or in the entertainment business. It had been hiding in plain sight, overlooked. “Audience”, the essential element of all entertainment.

More on the Audience Network at the DirecTV website.

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A leaner, more digestable cut of the Igor Naming Guide now available!

As we were celebrating the fact that the Igor Naming Guide has been on the reading lists of Wharton & USC Annenberg for years AND was just downloaded for the 300 thousandth time; we got a complaint. At 115 pages, the ultimate free, how-to resource for naming companies and products, had gotten too long.

Always eager to produce less, we responded. The naming guide is now available in two different lengths: soul-crushing (89 pages) and moderately-irritating (16 pages).

Either version of the naming guide can be downloaded here.

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A Room with a Ewe

The 50 best business names that are puns.

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Kevin Costner’s oil spill clean up machine & patent

At Igor we deal with intellectual property rights every week as we search thousands of trademarks while naming products for our clients. It’s not enough to have a good idea, you need one you can legally own.

Kevin Costner’s much publicized Ocean Therapy Solutions company developed a soon-to-be-implemented oil and water separation machine. BP has ordered 32 of them thus far to help deal with their latest environmental disaster.

You can view the patent filing, description and drawings for Costner’s oil spill clean up machine here. Click on the pic in the upper right corner to see the full diagrams.

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Patent Search Box for blogs / sites

ip.com (as in “intellectual property”) just launched a feature where you can add a Patent Search Box to your blog sidebar, so your visitors can search patents right from your site.

Search Box code available here.

You can do full searches for US Patents, US Patent Applications, Prior Art, PRC (China) Patents and PRC Patents in translation.

So that’s kinda cool.

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Babies, flowers and teddy bears…

…can a name change be far behind?

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Xfinity – a Dunder Mifflin idea

There has been much speculation and pontification on whence the name Xfinity came, but look no further than the looming Comcast-NBC merger. Whilst kicking the NBC tires, surely even a beast as slow-witted as Comcast fumbled across the NBC property ‘The Office”.

Dunder Mifflin logo

The Dunder Mifflin logo sports an infinity symbol

Xfinity is meant to signal Comcast’s foray into the future of high tech possibilities, while at Dunder Mifflin, “Infinity” is the name of the internal initiative to bring technology to the failing paper company.

Why would the comedy writers of “The Office” chose the name “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” for the high tech effort? Because it is silly, obvious, pitiful and ridiculous, in keeping with ambiance of the show.

The name was such a hit that DunderMifflinInfinity.com is the show’s official fansite.

In the second episode of the fourth season titled “Dunder Mifflin Infinity”, regional manager Michael Scott best summed up the idea of “Infinity” (or Xfinity, for that matter):

“Everyone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me, the choice is easy.”

“Comcast Xfinity. The possibilities are mindless”

SANDRA ACEVEDO

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“Boogie Board” and “Improv” debut, both named by Igor

We named a new consumer product company “Improv Electronics”. We also named Improv’s first product, “Boogie Board“, which went on sale last week.

Via Gizmodo:

If you thought a boogie board was a salt-water vessel that lets you skim the waves, think again. Improv Electronics’ Boogie Board is a pressure-sensitive tablet that uses a watch battery for power. It’s like a digital blackboard!

The Reflex LCD doesn’t need any power to keep the scribbles and drawings on the screen, with the watch battery only being put into use when the screen is erased. The watch battery will last for 50,000 erases, which makes the $29.97 board cost 15 times less for each erase than a normal sheet of paper. It’s ideal for kids, or perhaps artists who care about the long-term saving associated with the Boogie Board.

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Chartis helps AIG hide in plain sight

The viable bit of warm and snuggly insurance company AIG has been spun-off and dubbed “Chartis”. A bad name? Well, yes. But that is just what they needed. Sometimes a terrible name is the perfect name. In today’s Insurance Journal, a so-called naming expert spouts off:

According to AIG, Chartis derives from the Greek word for map, which the company said underscores the company’s 90-year history as a global insurance pioneer.

While AIG is apparently not alone in liking the name, is Chartis a name to remember?

Perhaps not, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

One naming expert says the new corporate moniker is neither memorable nor snappy — and in that regard the name Chartis is perfect for what AIG wants to do, which is to distance itself from its old company and not draw a lot of attention to itself while doing so.

“It’s the kind of name that’s in one ear and out the other,” said Steven Manning, managing director for Igor, a well-known international naming and branding agency based in San Francisco. “It blends into the woodwork, which is just what the assignment was.”

Even the logo, a compass, is predictable, Manning noted.

Manning likened the move to Enron’s adopting Prisma Energy and Phillip Morris choosing Altria.

“It’s about breaking the association with AIG, like going into witness protection,” he said.

Chartis Insurance is using www.chartisinsurance.com for its Web site. Chartis Group uses chartis.com and chartisgroup.com.

Chartis Insurance, headquartered in New York, of course, has quite a head start on other companies picking a name. It includes the profitable AIG/AIU Commercial Insurance, Foreign General Insurance and Private Client Group operations. It had a combined statutory surplus of $32.1 billion worldwide at year-end 2008 and more than 40 million clients around the globe.

AIG/AIU hopes that the financially strong Chartis will be recognized for its success apart from the AIG name, which has been tainted by actions out of its London financial products unit that eventually resulted in a U.S. federal government bailout. The P/C units now being branded as Chartis did not get into trouble and did not require bailout funds.

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Computer Tan finally launches, and it really works!

Download the app today at ComputerTan.com

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Recommended from on high

Wharton at UPenn and USC Annenberg School for Communication both chime in on The Igor Naming Guide.

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Finally, a networking site I can live with

Forget MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. There is a new network in town, and its user retention rate is unsurpassed.

See you there!

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Catwalk catbox of shame

And then there were three. Two of the worst names in woman’s wear, Gap’s deceased F.A.T., and the hilariously mis-named Sag Harbor, have a new boxmate, Miss Sixty.

The design themes of this clothing company are based on sensibilities from the nineteen sixties. However, “sixties” and “sixty” have very different meanings to their young female audience. What twenty something woman would flinch at the notion of being a “Miss Sixty”? Every single one of them.

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Yes, our name is meant to be humorous

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Design Defect

Which is funnier? This parody (?) of a brand identity naming  firm like Landor / Interbrand designing a traffic “Stop” sign:

Or the case study from Landor’s own website, which details the naming and logo work they did for the merger of Fedex and Kinkos. The name Landor landed on, was of course Fedex Kinkos. The rationale:

Guided by brand strategy and research insights, Landor developed a creative name and identity solution that leverages the equity of both brands. The new brand identity, informed by the historical strengths of both companies, powerfully redefines the future of the business services marketplace.

But the funinest bit is when Landor explains the very specifc meanings they believe common colors communicate:

The identity contains a colorful brand icon that represents the collection of FedEx services available at the new retail locations – orange for the time-definite global express shipping services, green for the day-definite ground shipping services, and blue for the retail business service centers. At the heart of the icon, where the three colors converge, is purple, which symbolizes the can-do spirit shared by all FedEx companies.

Interestingly, design firms differ on what each color means.

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Igor’s latest naming work, Whoop, launches.

Formally called “Xosphere”, they came to us for a re-name. From the Whoop site:

Whoop makes it easy for every company, agency or individual to create, publish and share rich mobile content to almost every mobile device. Not just text, but pictures, videos and, well, everything imaginable for mobile entertainment, marketing, communications, commerce and social networking. With Whoop, you can share your stuff with more than 3.5 billion phones in every country on the planet.

Whoop. Everything mobile.

Did we mention we named Whoop? O.K., we are done here.

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Landor: The Art of the Steal

Sometimes imitation is flattery, sometimes it demonstrates a complete lack of originality and / or corporate ethics.

Naming and branding parody site Landor has posted an article in which they claim authorship of called “How not to name“, accompanied by a photo of Anthony Shore, head of global naming at Landor. It is posted on a section of their website that they ironically named “Thinking”.

Here is an except (from point 2, paragraph 3):

This “positivity principle” explains why a scandalous name (Virgin), a slur (Banana Republic), and a small, hairy larva (Caterpillar) are perceived positively.

And here is how this thought was written five years earlier, both on the Igor website and in the Igor Naming Guide:

Unless everyone understands the positioning and the correlation between it and an evocative name, this is the type of feedback that evocative names will generate:

Virgin Airlines

  • Says “we’re new at this”
  • Public wants airlines to be experienced, safe and professional
  • Investors won’t take us seriously
  • Religious people will be offended

Caterpillar

  • Tiny, creepy-crawly bug
  • Not macho enough – easy to squash
  • Why not “bull” or “workhorse”?
  • Destroys trees, crops, responsible for famine

Banana Republic

  • Derogatory cultural slur
  • You’ll be picketed by people from small, hot countries

The Landor article “How Not to Name” is written in a format that states popular misconceptions and the debunks them. Here they attack the mistaken idea that focus groups are helpful in choosing company or product names (from point 6, paragraph 1):

As a rule, it’s smart to entrust strategic business decisions to someone who trades an hour of their time for $25 and a few handfuls of M&Ms.

And here is how Steve Manning, co-founder of Igor, expressed the same idea 5 years earlier in an article in Elsevier Food International :

“If you’re trusting the future of your brand to a bunch of people who are willing to give up their time for $45 and a stale sandwich, you’re in trouble.”

Was Mr. Shore of Landor aware of Mr. Maninng’s quote? Of course he was, Mr. Shore was quoted in the very same article as Mr. Manning.

The final insult comes at the end of this “Landor authored” naming article:

© 2007 Landor Associates. All rights reserved.

Reached for comment, Anthony Shore, head of global naming at Landor had this to say.


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83 articles about naming and branding companies and products

83 articles about naming and branding companies and products.

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