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:
The Branding Iron
Creating New Names
The Name Works
The Naming Company
Ivarson Brand Vision
Strategic Name Development
The Brand Consultancy
The Better Branding Company
Not Just Any Branding
There are three pieces of advice that will serve you well in avoiding a similar dilemma:
Names don’t exist in a vacuum: There are competitors–the idea is to distinguish yourself. Business is a competitive sport.
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.
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:
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
Tiny, creepy-crawly bug
Not macho enough – easy to squash
Why not “bull” or “workhorse”?
Destroys trees, crops, responsible for famine
Derogatory cultural slur
You’ll be picketed by people from small, hot countries
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”
Only foretold death and destruction
Only fools put their faith in an Oracle
Sounds like “orifice”–people will make fun of us
Means something is missing
The Generation Gap is a bad thing – we want to sell clothes to all generations
In need of repair
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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?
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?
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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”
The wait is almost over—though its questionable if anyone is actually waiting to watch the show or simply to rip it to shreds afterward.
Bravo’s reality show Start-Ups: Silicon Valley (previously titled just Silicon Valley) will finally premier November 5. The San Francisco Bay area tech community has been up in arms about the show since news got out about its existence, with the the tech world fearing the show will take the difficult and important work done in Silicon Valley and minimize it for dramatic effect.
Despite the objections, the show goes on and the six Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are preparing for their debut. They are:
Ben Way, 32, who made and lost millions by age 22 and is now trying to make it back to the top again.
Hermoine Way, 27, a trained journalist transitioning from covering tech to making it.
David Murray, 29, who was one missed mortgage payment away from losing everything, but remains set on bootstrapping the next big app.
Dwight Crow, 26, a programming savant, whose activities include partying with hacker buddies and solving complex algorithms while playing beer pong.
Kim Taylor, 30, who led a company to success, but struggles with having to trade the security and comfort she is used to with the discomfort of creating her own startup.
Sarah Austin, 30, a Silicon Valley native who live-broadcasts her entire life online.
Is the show a prime example of the negative consequences of turning entrepreneurs into celebrities, or does it show the rest of us a side of Silicon Valley that startup founders just don’t want us to know about?
Why Sky instead of Cloud?
Since M5 has been known as the ShoreTel Cloud Division, why not just go with ShoreTel Cloud? Gavin [ShoreTel's CMO] admits that his initial inclination was to do just that. But Gina Jacobs, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at ShoreTel, convinced him that it made sense to explore alternatives. If they didn’t find something the team liked better, they’d be happy with ShoreTel Cloud.
They brought in a brand consultant who worked with them to choose ShoreTel Sky. A few of the reasons they believed it was better than cloud include:
* There is no uniqueness with cloud. Everyone is using it.
* The alliteration of ShoreTel Sky is catchy, sounds good.
* Sky has lots of positive associations, for example “sky is the limit” and “blue sky.” Cloud on the other hand has some negative ones, like “cloudy day” or “cloudy future.” Apparently the consultant helped make the point that associations matter by comparing how well Apple worked as a brand name versus, say, pear. Apple of your eye? Yes. Pear of… ?
Gavin reports that the four-person branding team gave ShoreTel Sky “eight thumbs up.” Though being publicly launched today, employees and partners given an early preview were “exuberantly enthusiastic” with the choice.
Codan has been recognized as the leading supplier of HF Radio products to aid and humanitarian markets for more than 25 years. We have a deep and ongoing commitment to serve the communications needs of organizations that provide relief to developing communities affected by war, famine, natural disasters and political strife. These organizations include:
Many United Nations organizations
Red Cross & Red Crescent
International organization for Migration (IOM)
Save the Children
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
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
• 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.
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
…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.
Why the name Skin Flik? Because they are skins that change color with a flick of your finger across their surface. There was a second reason…but memory fades…
Happily, they use no power whatsoever from your portable device. It’s true. Highly reflective LCD technology.
Why no “c” in Flik? We dropped the “c” to pull it away from the time-honored “Skin Flick” and create a unique brand name. Visually it was done for balance; to make both words 4 letters and get the ki-ik bookend thing happening between the two words. And of course to make it findable instantly on Google and not be blissfully buried beneath reels of “Skin Flicks”.
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.
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).
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”.
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.
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.”
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.
Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India’s Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.
The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.
Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called “gau jal”, or “cow water” – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched “very soon, maybe by the end of this year”.
“Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too,” he told The Times from his headquarters in Hardwar, one of four holy cities on the River Ganges. “Its USP will be that it’s going to be very healthy. It won’t be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins.”…
…He insisted, however, that it would be able to compete with the American cola brands, even with their enormous advertising budgets. “We’re going to give them good competition as our drink is good for mankind,” he said. “We may also think of exporting it.”
Ben & Jerry created “Yes Pecan!” ice cream flavor for Obama.
They then asked people to fill in the blank for the following:
For George W. they created “_________”.
Here are some of their favorite responses:
– Grape Depression
– Abu Grape
– Cluster Fudge
– Nut’n Accomplished
– Iraqi Road
– Chock ‘n Awe
– Impeach Cobbler
– Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker… Swirl
– Heck of a Job, Brownie!
– Neocon Politan
– RockyRoad to Fascism
– The Reese’s-cession
– Cookie D’oh!
– The Housing Crunch
– Nougalar Proliferation
– Death by Chocolate… and Torture
– Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
– Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
– “You’re Shitting In My Mouth And Calling It A” Sundae
– Credit Crunch
– Mission Pecanplished
– Country Pumpkin
– Chunky Monkey in Chief
– George Bush Doesn’t Care About Dark Chocolate
– Chocolate Chimp
– Bloody Sundae
– Caramel Preemptive Stripe
– I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands…with nuts
Seagate claims that its all new family of hard drives offers the lowest power consumption and record-setting for any tier-two enterprise
The Constellation family, as it’s called, includes two models: the 2.5-inch Constellation and the 3.5-inch
Constellation ES. Both drives also include PowerChoice from Seagate, which decreases power
consumption by up to 54 percent, arguably the highest in the industry.
According to Seagate, the PowerChoice technology is designed to deliver the power-reduction savings
without sacri?cing performance and data integrity. In addition, the Constellation family features
enterprise-grade reliability and is rated at a full 1.2 million hours of mean time between failures.
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.