Udderly confusing

The children’s film & television series “Barnyard”, made a strange branding choice when developing the appearance of their characters. The main characters are cows, both male and female.

namingWhy do characters named Ben and Otis, voiced by Sam Elliot and Kevin James, sport udders??? In this film, cows of both genders do. The protagonist “Otis” is pictured here.

We can understand why they might not want to equip the bulls with their actual equipment, but why transgender them? Why not just do a Barbie and Ken-like omission on the bulls?

We don’t expect a kid’s film like this to be educational, just not bizarrely dis-informational.

Let’s stop feeding the fire. There are too many people out there trying to milk a bull as it is. No wonder they are turning purple.

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Igor in today’s “Ward’s Auto”

Cerberus Instinct Letter-Perfect, by Eric Mayne February 18th, 2011

Like me, I’m sure you’ve wondered why Chrysler broke with convention by retaining “LX” as the codename for its new-generation fullsize car platform.

A Chrysler insider recently spells it out for me.

“This vehicle should have been reclassified as LY,” he says of the ‘11 Chrysler 300, the disputed platform’s flagship. “The original vision was that it would gravitate to LY.”

So what happened?

“There was an emotional attachment to LX with our past management, which was Cerberus,” the insider explains. “They wanted to stay with LX.”

Understandable. Especially because LX earned widespread industry acclaim.

It was the foundation of the ‘05 300, a car that rejuvenated American design. Why not keep the original designation? What could happen?

“Frankly, it’s been wreaking havoc with us internally because all of our production-control systems and everything,” the insider says. “It’s been very difficult.”

Separating the old program from the new required “shadow systems and all sorts of crazy things,” he adds.

His disdain for Cerberus is glaring. Like a typo on resume.

But the private-equity firm wasn’t completely wrong to write off the time-honored naming protocol. So suggests California-based branding guru Steve Manning.

“‘X’ is associated with anything that’s experimental or extra,” says Manning, co-founder of Igor, a leading corporate-naming consultancy.

Not to mention sexy, “as in triple-X,” he adds.

“It’s a very uncommon letter in the alphabet so it tends to stand out and has a certain look and sound. Everybody uses ‘X.’ It has a certain cool factor.”

And ‘L’ often is associated with luxury, Manning reminds.

Nothing wrong with that. But what does ‘LY’ communicate?

“’LY is no good,” he says. “‘Y’ is just deadly. Combined with ‘L,’ it’s just something that you put at the end of a word. Like slowly. There’s nothing going on with ‘LY.’”

Forget that platform codes have no market value. Cerberus did at least one thing right.

Give it an ‘E’ for effort.

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.

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.

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.


Related

The blonde leading the blonde

Those fun-loving Aryans at Volkswagen are at it again. Producers of the horrendously named “Touareg” SUV, they remain true to form by naming their new “compact, more fuel efficient SUV”, wait for it… “Tiguan“. A truly phlegmatic choice, from both a personality and linguistic stance.

The Touareg has the distinction of being “The number one most polluting vehicle of 2008“. The Tiguan is being marketed as a “Greener SUV”. The obvious third problem is that the names are so similar, that the Touareg name betrays the Tiguan’s positioning.

How was the name “Tiguan” chosen? Why, by a focus group consisting of a mere 350,00 mortals. But the other name choices were worse. Funny thing is, the other names were so bad, it is obvious to us that VW stacked the deck, subverted democracy, and got the name they wanted all along. Be careful what you wish for.

According to Wikipedia:

As part of a marketing strategy by Volkswagen the name was chosen by the public through the Auto Bild group with over 350,000 voters through Auto Bild’s magazines and Web sites. The other possible names were Namib, Rockton, Samun and Nanuk. Tiguan is a combination of the German words Tiger (“tiger”) and Leguan (“iguana”).

We often fantasize about cats and reptiles mating here at Igor, we just never pictured the 17-inch chrome wheels.

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Igor’s latest naming work: “Showcase” for Seagate

Via Gizmodo:

THE CABLE SHOW ’08, New Orleans — May 19, 2008 — At NCTA’s Cable Show, Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX) announced it will introduce its Seagate® Showcase™ storage solution, a new series of products that extends the storage capacity of your Digital Video Recorder (DVR), so you never have to say goodbye to your favorite movies and television shows. Seagate also announced that the Showcase family of products will be designed to be compatible with Motorola’s market leading e-SATA capable high-definition (HD) digital video recorder (DVR) set-top portfolio.

The new Showcase™ products will provide television and movie fans with the ability to store even more shows, movies and sporting events. With initial capacities up to 1TB, consumers will be able to keep up to 200 hours of additional HD movies or 1,000 hours of additional standard definition television. You’ll never have to choose between your kids’ favorite shows or the big game. Plug-and-play capability, via standard USB 2.0 or eSATA connection, makes setup easy while the stylish design fits seamlessly into entertainment centers and complements the look of existing A/V equipment.

Full article