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October 22, 2007 | Tate Linden
The Stokefire team has been focused on pushing through two RFP responses and one RFQ response for some pretty cool naming projects over the last two weeks. We know we're not pullin' our weight on the blog (especially since we missed an easy joke by Jeffry last week that we only today figured out...) but we're gonna try to get back to it.

Pretty amazing that our 'lil shop is getting invited to play against the big boys. And girls. Mostly we're getting sub work - where a major firm goes after a contract and gives us the naming piece so they can focus on adding to their stable of logos, promotions, and advertisements. There's still no serious venue for naming awards, so there's little recognition for the firm that develops the name. Maybe that's why folks are so willing to give us work.

You might think it's thankless, but it isn't. We just got a note from the executive director of an association we just named. Three months to rename a 20 year old organization. He signed off the note with two (TWO!!) exclamations after the name of the organization. Seems that our thanks come direct from the source rather than a jury.

And our partners seem to like it. Everyone we've partnered with has invited us back for more opportunities. It has us thinkin' we're pretty good. It took a comment from one of our spouses to make us think otherwise.

The comment: "Maybe you're just way under-priced."

Damn. Time for more competitive research. (Wonder how I can casually ask Nancy, Marc, Mark, Andrea, Susan, and the other San Francisco Namers without them catching on... I'm sure I'll think of something.
July 26, 2007 | Tate Linden
To those of you who are on the executive team, board, and who assisted in the development of today's newly named association... actually now an alliance... I just wanted to publicly say "thank you." You did a great job coming to a unanimous decision after so many diverse opinions were voiced. Having so many people who start with diverging opinions coming together to further their organization is a beautiful thing. Especially when you select such a versatile name. Can't wait for the launch later this year.

Hope you enjoyed both the process and the result.

Waiting is the hardest part. Especially when we're wanting to talk about you out in the open already.

Kudos!

And to everyone else... you'll have to wait a few months until we pull the wraps off this one. But the wait will be well worth it.
July 18, 2007 | Tate Linden
Here's my desk on the last day of a naming project. Clicking the picture will take you to a high-rez shot that will take ages to access, but maybe you can make out some book titles or some of my sources and methods. And yes, that's the mother of all computer monitors on my desk. (I have about 9 windows open at a time when I'm doing research. This way I can see 'em all.

Anyone who can name without makin' at least a little bit of a tornado is (IMHO) going to have trouble thinking in a non-linear way.

stokefireatwork.jpg

It doesn't get much messier than this for me... and it'll be clean again by the end of the week. (Thankfully the rest of my team have not a speck of dust on their desks, so the pressure for me to clean up after a project is pretty severe.)

Back to the creative process!

(And no, we're not a paperless office. Though we aspire to be...)
June 27, 2007 | Tate Linden
But we have a fun idea for taking over the world. And we're looking for an intern who can both draw and build websites who wants to build what could be one of the coolest non-traditional marketing campaigns aimed at marketers... ever.

What we're offering:
  • ...
Okay... we're not really offering anything. You may or may not work in the same office with us. You may or may not get free lunches. We might spring for gasoline, or we might not.

What we're offering is a killer idea that you can execute on and add to your portfolio of projects. If it works we'll be pointing to you as the guy/girl that got it done and we'll happily send business your way. Maybe even some of our own. If it doesn't work? Well, you can still put it on your CV - it just won't be quite as cool to do so.

If you know about the old Enormicom.com site and you appreciated the humor - you'll love this project. We'll need a bit of e-commerce and page layout - actually a lot of it, so if you've got those skills let us know (and if you "don't got" those skills you probably shouldn't be writing to us...) And truthfully we have no idea what to ask for in terms of technology. We're not techies, so hopefully you'll bring that tech knowledge with you - or else we'll be stuck trying to find interns for our interns. The more ridiculously high-tech we can make this thing the better off we'll be.

Interested? Send us a note with links to your online work.

And be sure to tell us a bit about who you are. But NO RESUMES. Period.

Based on responses to previous notes like this we can't guarantee that we'll respond to everyone, but we'll do our damnedest. Maybe we can find an intern to be sure we get everyone?

Thanks for reading this far. Please feel free to send this to anyone you think might be interested.
May 14, 2007 | Tate Linden
This is something I often have trouble with. As namers we are in an odd place - we are held responsible for knowing all sorts of words (both English and otherwise) and yet if we're any good we know that most of these words are not only unsuitable for use in naming, we can't use 'em in conversation either.

In the past few weeks I've been told numerous times (maybe five?) that one of the things that I need to portray to my clients is that I'm smarter than they are.

Where does this come from?

I have no clue if I'm smarter than my clients. My intelligence shouldn't matter. My facility with words and knowledge of naming is what matters. And in my humble opinion that facility must include an ability to prove itself without sounding like a pompous human thesaurus.

Yeah, I think I probably just sounded pompous right there.

It's tough. A namer shouldn't have to 'dumb down' their language to be understood, but they also can't speak a language that only naming geeks understand. We don't name companies to impress other namers (okay, so maybe there's a little of that sometimes) we name them to help our clients meet their goals.

So... blog readers. Tell me. What do you expect from your namer? Do you want to see the dictionary-reading word-nerd? Do you want an every-man (or every-woman) that you can relate to? Do you want someone smarter than you are? What is it you look for?

I'm thinkin' that you actually don't want someone smarter than you - you want someone better at naming than you are. I don't want my chef to be a genius - I want my chef to be a good cook. And they can do that without needing to make me feel like an idiot when I talk with them about what they do...

Right?
May 9, 2007 | Tate Linden
There will be no posting today (other than this one) due to the fact that we think someone thinks Stokefire is under a non-disclosure agreement with a client whose engagement starts tomorrow.

At least we think they think they have that agreement in place. We don't actually think so, but who are we to say whether or not what we think is right and what they think (or what we think they think) isn't?

We'll figure it out. In the intervening bits feel free to read more about yesterday's story here.
May 7, 2007 | Tate Linden
Hello loyal (and disloyal?) blog readers. Just wanted to put a quick post out there that we've brought on an office administrator to handle all those little things like, well... paying bills, filing, answering phones, and basically keeping the Stokefire team in line. Okay... mostly just keeping me in line. My team tends to do quite well on its own.

Stephanie has run two of her own startup firms, and has a couple decades of experience helping to run and grow offices for other small firms. For some reason she didn't run screaming from the office when she saw my filing system (AKA "6 inches of stuff on my desk.") For that I'm thankful. It's only an hour into her first day and she's already started working and sent me back to my own desk to make us all some dough. I may have to find ways to make the job more challenging - if only to keep her interested in staying on board. Suggestions are welcome.

(Yep, we're pretty darn excited about getting someone of Stephanie's caliber to come aboard.)

We'll have an email account set up for her this week (if only we had an administrator to take care of that in advance!) but until that time you can reach her via or main phone or through the blog.

Those of you in the Springfield area can swing by any time to say hello and visit our newly augmented team - and the newly doubled office space. (We'll be at Mike's American Grill today for lunch if anyone wants to say howdy.)

Tate Linden Principal - Stokefire 703-778-9925
April 27, 2007 | Tate Linden
No... we're not going to stop the blog. That is safe for now.

We are hitting the pause button on the Association of Thingnamers, Namer of Things Association, Association of People Who Name Stuff, or whatever people are calling it today - for two months. We've gotten a lot of interest in the 'offline' world, but not much here. Add in the fact that we're "above plan" on business right now and we just don't have the ability to juggle this ball for a while.

Though I have no idea how to do it, I'll be trying to take down the naming community board until around July when I am hoping my new staffers will be up to speed and I'll have a little time to spend.

Maybe that will cause these guys to stop taunting me with the note about the lack of content on our 'experts' board. Then again... maybe it won't. It's not like I don't deserve it.

We aren't too proud to share the work, so if someone wants to take the concept and run with it during our hiatus just let us know. We'll share the information we've gotten so far....

Alright. Back to naming stuff.
April 17, 2007 | Tate Linden
We've had this concept in our heads for quite some time. Or maybe it was just me that had it in my head. Anyhow, we're beginning to take the wraps off of our visual identity that was started way back in '06. We're not quite at a stage where I can show the designs online, but rest assured we're close. If we send you a proposal within the next few weeks you'll likely have a chance to see the refreshed brand in action.

So what is "Edgy but Approachable?" Well... it's tricky. We aim to be sort of like Janeane Garafolo but without the political extremism. It's the best effort we've come up with for getting our pre-contact impression into words. Sure, there's all that great stuff about expertise and brand knowledge, and the study of naming... but who are we at a party?

You'll note (when you see it) that our new logo actually looks quite a lot like a tattoo. That's no coincidence.

What do you folks think of the idea? Does it seem to fit with your idea of Stokefire? Does it make sense? Is it us?

And a random thought. I saw this great tattoo of a fly on a guy's shoulder in ID Magazine (the current issue.) As I recall, the text for the picture mentioned that ever since he got the tattoo people would come up and try to brush the fly off of him. If that doesn't (re)define edgy but approachable I don't know what does.

If only Judaism were a little more lenient on the whole tatt concept. Oh, and I suppose the wife would need to be a bit more lenient there too.
April 13, 2007 | Tate Linden
We feel really strange saying this, but for the first time ever we can't accept new clients for the current month. Or the next one. Or most likely the one after that. (Of course, losing June isn't really a business thing. With Sarah due early in the month I'm not risking any major engagements that might get hit with Kiddus-Interruptus.)

I'm personally not sure if I'm supposed to be proud or ashamed of this new development. Is it good that we've gotten such a strong reputation and have our schedule full, or is it bad that we've got all these potential naming engagements and we can't fill them all?

Either way I'm thinking we're going to be busy. And yes, I'm still struggling to get the time to make that post I promised on Wednesday about a particular linguistic issue... and I'll get to it. Maybe over the weekend.

Y'all think you can hold off on new names for about a week so we can catch our breath? (It's a good thing that those first two weeks after the kiddo is born are going to be so relaxing... like a little mini-vacation, right?)

__Tate
April 10, 2007 | Tate Linden
Very quick post this evening. Just wanted to say that due to the rate at which we are expanding we've had a doubling of our office space. If I seem even more frantic than usual for the next few days it's because I'm trying to figure out how to use our new phone line, set up two more computers, and hire two bodies to sit in front of them.officemgr.JPG

We're in dire need of administrative person / office manager... yesterday. If you're local to the DC area and are looking for a position that can grow into some pretty incredible career options (after spending about a year actually being an office manager, of course...) please send us a note or give us a call. I think Dana has the job description set - and the mere fact that you're reading this blog and can understand what we talk about means that you're likely qualified to be involved with what we do. Nope, you won't get rich right away, but we've got some interesting perks to offer...

Just send a note to DanaATstokefire.com and request the job description. We'll bump you to the front of the line.

Next post: Actually about naming and stuff. Really.

Tate Linden Principal - Stokefire 703-778-9925
April 9, 2007 | Tate Linden
(I can say that, can't I? It's not a euphemism I'm familiar with, but I'm sure someone will take offense...)

There was a time long ago when the staff at Stokefire thought to themselves "Why is it that so many business start blogs, only to watch them fizzle and die?"

We were haughty. We were confident. We occassionally had an hour in our day in which we had time to think to ourselves how wonderfully haughty, confident, and gosh-darn right we were.

We are no longer haughty. Apparently haughtiness takes time. So do blog entries. Oddly enough, things that also take time include rewriting your entire naming process, going through a visual rebranding, responding to requests for proposals, and just plain getting your butt in front of people that want to do business with you.

We are humble.

And we now sort of understand. It happens because life happens. It happens an hour or a day at a time. Soon there's a week of no posts. And then two...

...and then you start getting notes from your clients and fans wondering what the hell happened.

We have some of the most incredible clients in the world - and we forget that one of the reasons they find us incredible (or at least they say they do...) is because of this very blog. When in the midst of a client workshop someone raises their hand and stops us - asking "when are you going to start blogging again" we know we've done something very wrong. We thought that focus on the client experience was paramount, but our clients were wanting to engage with us and see if there were lessons that our staff was learning while working on the project. They liked the fact we wove stories about them into our every day conversation. They wanted to see their name in backlights...

We were being stupid.

So... Hello to all of you out there who threatened to drain our laptop batteries if we didn't get back to it. Hello to my wife who barely stopped short of pointing out that if she can handle nurturing our unborn child in her belly while upholding our constitution and spending nights readying our home for the baby I can darn well invest some effort in keeping her entertained for five minutes of reading while she drinks her morning tea. Hello to Dana who I must also kindly beg to begin her posts again. Hello to Nancy, Denise, John, JT, Kevo, Florence, Mark, Jeffry, the five guys named Mike, Brent, Evan, Claude, and the rest of you that have been kind enough to come back regularly, comment and basically validate our online existence.

Hello blog.

I admit it. I've missed you.

And yes... I've got a whole lot to talk about. (Gotta remember to mention office space tomorrow...)

I'll start tomorrow. Promise!

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
March 15, 2007 | Tate Linden
Far from it!

We're working on numerous projects. And best of all, we're preparing to hire or identify consultants that can help us meet our next set of goals. If you're a talented business developer or office manager you should consider dusting off your CV. Well... kind of, anyhow. We don't much like seeing CVs as the first thing... If you look around our site you'll see why.

Check back in about a week and we should have some more info on what we're lookin' for. (Dana is hard at work writing job descriptions as I type.)

Alright. I gotta get back to the work on my desk. And chairs. And a bit of the floor.

Tate
February 9, 2007 | Tate Linden
Quick update from Stokefire HQ before we head off to California to see a few dozen of our naming brethren.

We're beginning work for a DC-area PR firm to help solidify their brand image. This is our first step into the world of PR branding and we're excited to get our hands dirty, feet wet, or whatever the right metaphor is.

We've also got a new project with an ecological consulting firm starting up - one that I've been trying to get into for quite some time. I see developing "eco-friendly" names as one of the most difficult areas - especially since terms like "green" and "eco" are everywhere. Like Web 2.0 it is an industry struggling to break out of the naming conventions in use - and we aim to do what we can to help.

Last - a quick note to the great folks at IABC DC. I had fun speaking to all 80 of you at Tivoli last night. It was a challenge to create a program that would interest naming novices and experts alike (and about 2/3 of you were experts - so I had to be on my game.) The fact that the Q&A session lasted for longer than the presentation makes me think that perhaps I hit the mark. Rest assured that I'll follow up with all of you that left requests or comments. I'm looking forward to becoming more involved with the Business Communicator community.

Oh... and thanks for giving me the feedback on the new business cards! Kudos to Compass360 for their work thus far.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group
February 6, 2007 | Tate Linden
I'm speaking for the DC chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators Thursday night. Amongst the things I'll be reviewing in my 20 minute discussion (followed by Q&A) will be:
  • The purpose of names
  • A sampling of key aspects of a good name
  • Seven things you never want to do with your name
  • The most important aspect of a successful corporate naming project
  • How to make a bad name good and a good name great. (The trade secret of the great namers.)
I'll try to throw in some examples and audience participation if possible. 20 minutes is a bit tight, but I'll do my best to keep it interesting.

I've been told there's still an earlybird admission (through the end of the day today - Feb 6) and you can get dinner, networking, presentation, and parking for $55 (non-members.) Directions and registration are here. Add $10 for Wednesday registrations and $10 more for on-site. IABC members get in at a discount.

If you're an IABC DC member I encourage you to comment here and let folks know what to expect for the non-speaking part of the evening.

Hope to see DC some of you area locals at the Tivoli Restaurant in Rosslyn, Virginia.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 5, 2007 | Tate Linden
Okay. Let me say this again.

I. Am. Not. Technical.

That said, I think I've got our bulletin board for industry Thingnamers up and running.

Purpose: To give professional namers (and verbal branders) a place to interact. If you fit the bill I encourage to you kick the tires, make suggestions, and generally get involved in [Ed. - Perhaps "start" is a better word] the industry conversation.

Consider it a very early test-drive of the association concept from a couple weeks back. I'll send the whole board off of our site to whatever entity we decide will manage the industry - so this won't be a permanent Stokefire/Thingnamer thing.

Yes, it is loosely defined. Yes, it will need some more structure if it is to succeed. But... I would much rather work with the folks that will participate in and benefit from an association than just try to create the whole thing in the dark.

Tell us what you want from an organization. Tell us if you want an organization. Just know that if you don't tell people anything you probably won't get what you want...

So come on by and flick on the light.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 2, 2007 | Tate Linden
You may think that I'm gonna write on the topic of what it is like to be a Thingnamer. But you'd be wrong.

Nancy Friedman over at Away With Words said a whole lot today about what it takes to be a namer.

Of particular interest are the items she points out as keys to successful naming. They include word lust, perfect pitch, a specialty, nuts and bolts, brand smarts, story savvy, and persistence.

My favorite (and one that I often find missing in names developed by internal teams) is...
Story savvy. Creating a great name is one thing; selling it to the client is another. Persuasive naming requires storytelling skills. How does the name express the company's personality? What does the name say about the product's benefits? Where does the name come from, what does it mean, what can it stand for over time?
Well worth a read if you're interested in a career in naming.

Also of note: We're going to try an experiment for a few months by starting up a discussion board here at Thingnamer. There's currently no forum for experts to interact. Yes - there are MarketingProfs and Wordlab - but they're more focused on the exchange of information between experts and novices rather than encouraging interaction between the experts themselves.

I've of course assumed that Thingnamers actually want to interact with each other... I'm actively looking for guidance as to what types of topics and boards you'd like to see. Just tell me here. (We're not known for our technical skills, so if you ask us to add nifty graphic effects, change the colors, or do anything that takes skill in things other than, well, naming... it'll probably take us a while.)

But we're gonna give it our best effort...

Tate Linden 703-778-9925
December 14, 2006 | Tate Linden
Just wanted to send a quick "hello" to the fine folks from the Washington area chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. As you now know we're going to be the featured speaker at February's meeting.

I'm looking forward to a fun, informative, (and maybe even challenging) discussion about naming and how it fits as a piece of the business communications puzzle. I typically speak for corporations, community groups, and general business associations that aren't experts in related fields. While I'm always packing my A game, this time I'm thinking about making it an A+ just to be sure I provide useful information for a group of what are essentially ringers.

If you want to help me assure that I address issues that are challenging you (hopefully related to naming, but also generally in the business communications field if you'd rather) I'd welcome the guidance. Just send me a note (via our contact page) or leave a comment here and I'll make every effort to cover the issue in our discussion. Even if we can't address it in the meeting I'll make sure I connect with you onsite to ensure your questions are answered.

Oh - and if you aren't a member but want to hear the presentation or see what IABC is about you can get a trial membership for $50 (see the bottom of this page for info.)

Final note: If any of you IABCDCers are interested in blogging send us a note. We've got an evening class on January 3rd from 5pm to 9pm on Business Blogging with about five spots left. We'll have a post up early next week with more details for those that would prefer to join up with the masses.

Have a great holiday and... See you soon!

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
December 11, 2006 | Tate Linden
You may notice a few more changes on the blog in recent days. A few things gone... a few things added.

The biggest change thus far is the addition of a frequent commenters section. I figured as a way to further honor the folks that drop some opinions (or attitude) on occasion I'd give 'em a chance to drive traffic to their own websites. Not only will they get the regular ol' links from the comment section of the post. Oh no... that's not good enough for my peeps. My peeps get some extra linkage action to their own site from a permanent link on the right hand side of every page.

Pretty slick.

Oh... and in case you think that you'll never comment enough to get a link to your site... you need exactly... uh... THREE approved comments today to be considered a frequent commenter.

C'mon! I'm givin' away fame here!
December 7, 2006 | Tate Linden
Hello Readers...

We're hoping that a few of you might be in the Springfield area tonight and that you can find the time to swing by and say hello to us. We're participating in an informal trade-show of sorts sponsored by the Women's Business Center and the Springfield Chamber from 5 to 7 PM today.

We've been told that many of the companies there are planning on selling stuff so if you're interested in supporting local small businesses it'd be a good idea to bring your wallet and/or checkbook. Maybe you can cross a few items off of your holiday shopping list.

As for us... we'll be taking reservations for our January 3rd class on "Blogging for Small Businesses" (5 PM to 9PM.) If you pre-pay on-site we're offering a discount of 25% off the walk-in rate. We've already got a few folks reserving spots, so make sure to stop by early. We're pretty sure we're going to cap the class at 15 participants to ensure everyone gets the attention they need.

...and though we're going to be passively selling our services at the show we're more interested in showing off one of our recent projects: a local realtor that has been through our branding process. We'll reveal his tagline and allow him to tell you about how Stokefire works to create compelling identities... specifically his.

If you've been thinking about getting your brand overhauled then this is a perfect after-work stop. How often do you get a chance to peek at the inner workings of someone else's brand. (We can't promise that everything will be open for discussion, but certainly more than you'd normally be inclined to ask...)

So, come by our booth at the Community Business Partnership, say hello to Claude and the Stokefire team, sign up for the blogging class, and then pick up some gifts for the kids and friends.

Even better - if you or someone you know is looking for a home in the DC area you may want to talk with Claude about what he can do to make your life much, much easier.

Hope to see you there!

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925

December 1, 2006 | Tate Linden

It's Friday Morning... you're listening to me talk, eating donuts, drinking coffee...

And THIS is the post you should link to if you'd like to get your very first link to your site.

Please note that based on feedback from today's lecture Stokefire and Netdrafter are putting together a 4 hour session on blogging for business - to be given in early January.

How's that for knocking off a New Year's resolution early?

We're working on cost and content now - but it will be less than $100 for the session. If you're interested in attending please let us know (by commenting here - just click on the comments link above.) We'll contact you when we're ready to take reservations (though we already have our first!)

Thanks for a great session everyone!

tate_one.jpg
Tate Linden
Principal Consultant
Stokefire Consulting Group
703-778-9925

November 22, 2006 | Tate Linden
Hey folks... if you're looking for witty commentary on the world of branding and naming then today's post probably isn't going to interest you. I'm taking a break from that to prepare for the holiday. Since we won't be here for the rest of the week I have to get my thanks out of the way early...

The list of things I'm thankful for is pretty much unending. As such I'm sure that I am going to forget a whole lot of it. A representative sampling of things for which I am thankful would include:
  • A never-ending stream of interesting happenings in the world - many of which are related to names and brands. (We were worried that we'd run out of stuff to talk about at the six month point. Now we're thinking we'll never get through everything on our growing list.)
  • An incredibly diverse group of Stoked readers that often share their views and expand our thinking. (We've grown from a readership of 4 per day to over 50 - with some days hitting well into the hundreds.)
  • An ever increasing Stokefire client list that has grown to encompass entirely new (to us) industries such as military, hospitality, entertainment, real-estate development, and more.
  • A surprisingly receptive and sophisticated local market that has adapted to give our rather peculiar business model a chance to succeed. In a town covered in red tape our brand seems to work like a pair of sharp scissors.
  • A devoted team of supporters at the Women's Business Center and Community Business Partnership that have helped us run the less visible parts of our business. Payroll, HR, and all the stuff that keeps us running day-to-day... that stuff is happening because of WBC/CBP.
  • A spectacular assortment of business partners that are always looking for ways to help us succeed - be it through partnerships, the forwarding of prospective clients, or just taking the time to ask if there's anything they can do.
  • A small but effective group of subject matter experts and associates that work with Stokefire on a daily basis. While I personally do my best to keep things interesting and challenging for everyone, it has pleased me immensely that everyone on the team has found ways to bring more to the table than I've asked for.
I typically do my best to keep family and business distinct, but with everything that's happening in my life I've got to cross that line today.
  • Thanks to everyone in my family for supporting this crazy dream of mine to start a business (and blog) that specializes in naming and branding. Apparently the idea wasn't entirely crazy - or perhaps the world is just more accepting of crazy ideas. Two years was a long time to wait for realization. Thanks for your patience, advice, and good humor.
  • But the biggest thanks go to my wife for sticking with me for nine years of... well... me, and for adding what I am pretty sure will be the biggest challenge of our lives to the list of things I'll be thankful for next year. And I'm not talking about what we're going to do about naming the lil' tyke.
Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks to All of You!

Tate

Husband (This space reserved until June 2007) Son Brother Uncle Cousin Nephew Grandson Friend Consultant Client Boss Blogger
November 14, 2006 | Tate Linden
I'm offsite in Indiana for the next few days and I'm not sure if I will be able to provide my sparkly knowledge-laden posts from afar. Yes, it is technically possible, but when I'm in front of a client I'm not particularly fond of spending time doing things that don't benefit them directly.

I've had someone suggest that my continued thought-leadership helps clients, but I'm thinking that only Scoble can really justify that line. I'm not selling blogs, I'm selling name and brand expertise...

...which, by the way, would've let Scoble know that spelling his site-name as "Scobleizer" is really, really, awkward. Seems like it should be spelled "Scobelizer" (and that's probably why that spelling is camped.) Not only that, but what about "i before e except after c?" It doesn't just look wrong, it is wrong. My teacher said so.

When Scobel realizes how futile it is for him to continue the site with his current name spelling and pays that camper the big bucks to dumb it down for the rest of us you can be damn sure I'll crow about it right here.

(Insert random tagline-ish thing here about how with us customers are really number one. Because you know that's where I was going with this before Scobel got me all distracted, right?)

So... if I find myself done with work before midnight or I can't sleep you may end up hearing from me. Otherwise I hope you'll enjoy the news commentary provided by my capable associate - Dana.
November 2, 2006
Co-operative Insurance (CIS) is set to bolster its new ‘green’ Eco motor insurance by unveiling a national television campaign which will feature images of CIS’ innovative Grass covered Car accompanied by the strapline, ‘now you can get green car insurance that doesn’t cost the earth’.

It appears US citizens have been segmented and tagged as consumers along neighborhood lines. Carnegie Communications has conducted a geodemographic analysis and has determined 66 different market segments, or "clusters". What have you been dubbed? A "Shotgun & Pickup" perhaps? IT hub Bangalore renamed (back to) Bengalooru, which translates to 'town of boiled beans'. Move seen as a bid to appease locals upset at the influx of outsiders.

Bud Light Beer television commercial filmed expediently to stick to the tagline ‘Always worth it’.

John Mellencamp has done more rebranding than just taking the "Cougar" out of his name. Seems that his stance against corporate greed has faded as he aligns his new song "Our Country" with the new General Motors, Our Country. Our truck” campaign.

"Circle K rebrands to Stripes," the Texas Susser companies decision to end its relationship with Circle K should be complete by the year’s. The new Stripes brand is Susser's own creation. The company raised $107 million in an initial public offering this week. The change over will be slow due to federal rules that prohibit promoting a new brand during the process of an initial public offering.
November 1, 2006
We didn't think that we'd be getting a link from the Women's Business Center newsletter on a day we were being creative with our blog. It serves us right. Normally we post more obviously helpful information and links. Today we thought we would teach a lesson through repetition. If you look back a few days you'll see we do actually say things that make sense.

We hope you'll be able to make it to Tate's short lecture on December first. He'll be talking about this very blog and how it has helped Stokefire (and Tate) gain exposure and credibility in a crowded market. Rachel from Netdrafter will also be there to handle the technical side.

Feel free to post a comment here if you can make it - and make sure you register!
November 1, 2006

On-line dating sites, such as Match.com, let you choose a long screen name and long personal taglines. Just what do you have to say for yourself?

Premium dog food launches and is named after fictional vet called Wainwright. The brand is particularly aimed at dogs with food intolerances and is tagged as "dog's best friend".

Google purchases JotSpot. There’s also no confirmation as to what the new name will be, but suggestions are afloat.
Beverage makers try to find refreshing drinks that do not (like those of yesteryears) have to be re-named to cover up the use of illegal drugs.

Glenfiddich, the family-owned Scotch whiskey brand looks to increases holiday sales. New marketing campaigns, include the strapline "inspiring great conversation since Christmas Day 1887".

Premium Bonds celebrates it's 50th in London. Cake celebration due to parade through Trafalgar Square announcing "saving with a thrill". What's exactly going to come out of that cake?

October 31, 2006
Americans blame Cookie Monster for obesity in children. Producers change Cookie's tagline to "Cookies in Moderation!" [Tate sez: Picture the Cookie Monster stuffing cookies into his mouth in moderation... Doesn't work, does it? If this is true then we've just killed off an American icon with an overdose of Political Correctness.]

Second Helpings, a group that rescues prepared and perishable food from stores and restaurants has updated its image and has renamed its newsletter "Peas and Carrots," followed by the tagline, "Little Bits of News That Go Great Together." The group's new logo features a chef lifting a pot with heart-shaped steam rising from it. [Tate sez: Nice... it's okay to have "second helpings" if it is for charity? Where's my moderation now?]

Millionaire Fair an exhibition opening in Moscow this weekend. Organizers estimate the fair has attracted some 10,000 visitors every day -- fulfilling the event's unofficial tagline "Millionaires of Russia unite!". Ironic nod to an old revolutionary call for the world's working proletariat.

Bikini Ban. An appealing Britain ad campaign showing a Latvian model photographed in a bikini in Eilat, the Dead Sea and Tel Aviv. The photo taken on the Tel Aviv beach includes a tagline reading: The 24 hour Mediterranean city, Tel Aviv. Ads pulled by the Tourism Ministry as not to offend orthodox sentiments in cabinet.

Van delivers tire service to your car. The tagline on the back of the truck is usually what catches people's attention: "Notice: Driver carries no old magazines or burnt coffee."

Hachi Tei Restaurant uses Pelicans, Shark and Walrus' to go for the obvious. Restaurant uses strap line: ‘For those who like their sushi really fresh’.

Patt, White GMAC Real Estate office has changed their name to Pocono Advantage Real Estate. Now they can not even be located in the forest of Pocono related sites.
October 31, 2006 | Tate Linden
Back in April of this year I started the Stoked Brands blog as a bit of a test for myself. Would I be able to write consistently about my area of expertise day after day? Would I find new and interesting things to discuss? Would I be able to help others understand the complexities of naming and branding?

Evidently I've passed the test. Numerous thank-you letters have come in from thought-leaders, clients, and peers and along the way we've even had some great conversations between the people that named a company and those that provide advice to the industry. We've had visitors from NASA, the United States Senate, Big Tobacco, local government, Fortune 500 firms, and more than 60 countries.

In passing the test I have convinced myself I'm ready for the next step: writing a column in a paper. I'm starting locally with a good friend of the Community Business Partnership - the Del Ray Sun - and may branch out to other news outlets if I can figure out how to tighten up my writing. Craig Lancto - the editor of the Sun - has agreed to help me out in this effort. Editors are apparently good at stuff like that.

Other happenings:
  • Stokefire is working with an award-winning Canadian firm - Compass360 - on refining our visual identity. The work should be done by January in hard-copy, with an online update coming shortly after that. Our existing visuals are good, but don't really reflect the hand-wrought aspect of our craft. We've become less corporate and more creative. However, even with all our creativity we still haven't progressed past stick-figures in our artistic abilities, so Compass360 is the answer. We're looking forward to great things. (And a shout-out to our Canadian friends... since we've engaged with Compass360 our Canadian readership has gone up about 1000%!)
  • The blog name will begin a slow change from the existing "Stoked Brands" to "Thingnamer(sm)." The focus of the blog has changed from the original general brand analysis to a more specific analysis of names and taglines, so the new name fits a little better. I'm still poking stuff with sticks, but the new name also reflects the fact that I'm doing more than poking and analyzing, I'm naming stuff too. Beginning today you can reach the Stoked Brands blog via the Thingnamer website. The transition will be made official with the web update in 2007. (Tip of the hat to Bill McCready of Santana Cycles. I may not understand the intricacies of fluid dynamics and hydraulic brakes, but I know a good name when I see it.)
  • On December 1 (8 AM - 9:30ish) I will be giving a twenty-minute presentation at the Community Business Partnership on the topic of blogging. It seems many local business owners are trying to figure out if they should give it a shot, but aren't sure what the benefits might be or even how to get started. I'll be handling the business-side of the conversation and my good friend (and Stokefire client) Rachel Pastirik of Netdrafter will be handling the technical aspects. If you own a business (or work in marketing) in Fairfax County, VA I would love to see you there. In addition to the discussion on branding there will also be networking (last time I spoke here it was standing room only - and I've heard some great partnerships were made) and even a bit of breakfast. The event is called "First Friday Breakfast" and you can reserve your spot (for $5) by clicking here and scrolling until you find the event. Or you can cut directly to the reservation page by clicking here. Directions can be found here.
  • We're just starting to look for long-term office space in the Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria areas. We've outgrown our current digs and need a nice open setting. We're looking for something non-traditional - like an old firehouse, foundry, garage, or small warehouse. Bonus points if it is a firehouse and still has that cool pole thing. We need about 2000 square feet right now, but can go for something larger if we find the right space. If you have a potential candidate for us to look at you can send us a note here.
That's enough news from Stokefire HQ. Check back later for more of the stuff you actually come here to read...

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925

October 27, 2006

Hell.com domain up for sale. It is estimated that the name will sell for over $8 million. It is assumed that people will just about pay anything to tell their customers to "Just go to hell.com."

Magners cider advertising campaign with its 'Time Dedicated to You' tagline hopes to continue the trend across the UK of drinking cider over ice. The hope it is believed is to abolish the image of cider as the lowest common denominator in the world of booze.

Hot Dogma, Pittsburg, PA, legally forced to relinquish its name due to copyright infringement with Miami, FL, Dogma Grill. They will not be shutting their doors forever but instead will rename to Franktuary.

Lightborne Design & Animates creates new campaign for Hasbro, with ad agency Wondergroup to make robotic "pets," I-CAT, I-DOG, and I-FISH come to life. The commercials will show the toys' unique abilities to move and groove to music. The spots conclude with nifty taglines such as: "Cat scratchin' the beat," "Beggin' for the beat," and "Swimmin' in waves of music.".

"It may be Carlsberg that uses the advertising strap line 'It's so good that the Danes hate to see it leave,' but it seems Heineken is pretty keen to know where its beer is going too." IBM tests "Beer Living Lab" will NOT be a study of college age drinkers, but will trial a wireless tracking system of cargo shipments of Heineken beer from Europe to the United States using satellite and cellular technology.

Sam's Club, hopes that it's new 'affordable luxuries' sales effort brings in new business. The Wal-Mart warehouse unit now will add to their product assortment, extravagant diamond jewelry and a 2.6 million dollar jet. Refreshing their logo and eliminating the tagline "We're in business for small business," analysts question if the move is headed in the right direction.

October 26, 2006
Ottawa, Canada. Michael Ignatieff has indicated his willingness to recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada. Is a new name needed?.

DispenseSource® changes name to Nexiant. New name reflects strategic mission of company and growth from a small, five-person operation to a fast-moving, multi-million dollar business.

Local Iowan Millstream Brewing Company looks for new beer name for their best-selling beer.

Mbabane, Swaziland. Chicken Licken outlets close, to re-open, however, under a new trading and company name altogether. The closure came into effect after Chicken Licken-South Africa failed to supply them with some products such as the popular 'Hot Wings'. Owner of four franchises feels bad that there will no longer have Chicken Licken in the country.

Intercontinental Hotels Group Plc. is setting up a joint venture with Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. to manage hotel business in Japan. The venture, to be called IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan. TelePlus Enterpises, Inc. re-brands to TelePlus World, Corp. Change reflects companies focus on their operational objectives, which are to deliver wireless and telecom services to market niches in select markets in the United States, Canada and abroad.
October 26, 2006
As of today we're ranked as the #3 blog for "brands" on blogger. (No guarantee that it will still be that way tomorrow...)
October 25, 2006
Washington, DC Communities Get New Name "The Yards". Many question whether the new name would be confused with Baltimore's Camden Yards. Mayor Williams says: "You know you have the birthplace of the United States Navy right on this site. So, if anyone is entitled to use a nautical expression, I think they are."

Alienware celebrates 10th anniversary. Still, "truly believing that the stars really are the limit. After all, they didn’t name the company ‘Alienware’ just because it sounded cool.”

Glendale Arena renamed Jobing.com Arena, a company which hosts career fairs and allows people to post resumes and search for jobs.

New Delhi, India. Reebok's tagline 'I Am What I Am', and sub-brands Fish Fry and Scarlett Johansson's, 'Scarlett "Hearts" Rbk', help make Reebok out sell competitors.

Drug Free America Foundation launches national "'True Compassion' campaign. With vigorous taglines such as 'It's Not Just Alcohol Anymore;' 'Still Think Drug Abuse is Somebody Else's Problem;' and 'Now That the Smoke Has Cleared'.

National Recycling Awards, adverts feature London’s famous landmarks buried in rubbish with the strap line ‘Just when will you start recycling?'.
October 24, 2006
Travelistic.com: The site’s tagline, "Video for Travelers", tries to eliminate any confusion between it and a travel agency site.

Wanna be the next Web Star? Win $50,000? Enter Yahoo's talent show named: "Save the Web from bad videos."

PepsiCo stays on course with current sales plan despite decline in soft drink sales in North America. New packaging graphics– not a drop in price points, will rotate every few weeks in addition to a new ad campaign with the tagline are "Feel the Pepsi".

"IF a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, will trial lawyers smell better with a new one?" Association of Trial Lawyers of America becomes after election day the American Association for Justice.

Globalization think tank re-thinks it's name to honor the former Nixon administration commerce secretary.

“Maybe she’s born with it…” this classic Maybelline tagline offers more truth than we realize.
October 18, 2006
Hot dogs. Armour hot dogs. What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs? Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks; tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chickenpox" was an American institution. So why is it that Armour sausage isn't sticking with their own name (which was instituted in 1867). What kind of people let this type of brand recognition go? We'll let Ahnold apply the appropriate verbal smack-down.

Broadwing's new name rings a... Cincinnati Bell. Evidently naming a US company after an Antiguan hawk that strikes small rodents and often strays to hunt young chickens didn't fit with their image...

Marion Manor adopts 'Golden Living Center' as its new name. Current Google hits for Golden Living Center: 13,300,000. Perhaps someone has tried this approach before?

Ecom PPO.com, Inc.SM, the managed care leader announces it’s now doing business as Ecom PPO Advisors, Inc. to reflect the company focus on consulting. We're left wondering which word is ignored more by consumers - ".com" or "advisors." Probably a toss-up. (Actually this is a pretty good move since .com went out of style in 2000...)
October 6, 2006
We've gotten a few comments about our new section (News Links) and what the heck we're up to.

Here's the deal. We're adding a feature, not taking away the old commentary... but while we're in the process of adding the links to our daily workload we're not doing the daily commentary you have apparently come to love.

We'll be back to daily updates after the 12th.

Thanks for your patience - and for letting us know you're reading!
September 9, 2006 | Tate Linden

Just writing again to say that we are indeed still still alive. Thanks for the mostly concerned (and one somewhat peeved) letters that you sent.

We just completed an intensive engagement naming a hotel and nightclub in the Midwest. We're proud to say that the project has been a great success and the teams are raring to go build out the brands we've laid before them. We can't wait to see the launches this December - and count ourselves among the many people intending to partake of the first night festivities.

We're ramping up for our next few projects right now, including a physical security hardware branding gig, a brand development project for a recently created name, a rebranding for a major regional promotional firm, and we're getting significant interest and attention from the home-improvement and restaurant industries lately.

For those of you reading this blog and wondering when we're going to be ready to hire - we're reeeeal close now. We're in dire need of

August 23, 2006 | Tate Linden

Stokefire has a problem. We have incredibly talented consultants, but we don't have enough of us... If you're reading this then you probably already know what we do. And you might have guessed from the headline that we're looking for a little help. Soon...

Here's the deal. We're two to three months away from needing our next new group of Stokefirelings, but (being the creatively oriented company that we are) we're not big into telling our new hires what their roles are.

So - a small homework project for anyone thinking about applying

August 18, 2006 | Tate Linden

Yep, it is about time we got one. We've gotten some rather odd requests for links and think it is time to clarify.

First... our name is not "Strokefire"

August 16, 2006 | Tate Linden

Anyone out there ever been to an Ultra-lounge? Better yet, have you been to multiple ultra-lounges? (Tabu, Risque, Ghostbar, Curve, Tangerine, I-Bar, Plush (closed), and Ice would be a good group to know.)

We're ISO folks that have been there, done that, and felt comfortable being there and doing that. We're sincerely hoping that there are some of you in the DC/NOVA area that are willing to swing by and share some thoughts. (Though please don't just show up... we gotta keep this somewhat organized.)

If you haven't responded to this post over on Craigslist then perhaps you might want to do so.

August 15, 2006 | Tate Linden

Not that we're complaining, mind you. We love all the responses. We had no idea that there were so many people yearning for creative freedom. Some very respectable types - senior government officials, directors of software firms, futurists, Ivy Leagers...

We feel like the gatekeeper at Mr. Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

August 14, 2006 | Tate Linden

Yep - we're looking for some local folks to join in our brainstorming sessions and keep our ideas and viewpoints fresh. Take a look here to see a few details about what we're looking for. (The position will be posted for 1 week.)

Want to know what you'll be naming?

August 8, 2006 | Tate Linden

Yep! Rumor has it that our long-time consultant from up North is going to begin posting here in the near future. We're pretty sure there's enough room for the three of us (especially since Dana is a little blog-shy.)

Quick note on Florence -

July 11, 2006 | Tate Linden

We know that our home page says we update our blog every weekday, but chances are excellent that our three-month streak is about to end. I'm headed out of the office for about ten days, and since I'm the only guy that knows how to post to the blog you may not be seeing much around here for a while.

I'm headed to Switzerland, Germany, and France and will post to the blog as time and technology permit. Perhaps a post or two about the differences between EU and US brand names or branding strategy are in order.

Dana FitzGerald will be running the office in my absence (of course she also runs the office while I'm here,) and perhaps she'll even make a post or two here if y'all are kind to her.

Next post from me? From the other side of the world.

Tate Linden
Principal Consultant
Stokefire Consulting Group
703-778-9925

July 10, 2006 | Tate Linden

After numerous (read "three") requests for information on books that may be helpful in naming, taglines, and branding, we figured it was time to respond in print.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I tend not to read one book at a time - especially when it comes to business books. I binge. This week I tried to consume three different books on the very particular subject of naming companies, or rather the art of naming companies (as opposed to learning about the naming companies themselves.)

The three books I am reading are: Word Craft by Alex Frankel, Crafting the Perfect Name by George Burroughts Blake & Nancy Blake-Bonhe, and Naming for Power by Naseem Javed. (I also have a book-in-waiting titled The Making of a Name : The Inside Story of the Brands We Buy by Steve Rivkin, but that one arrived too late to begin with the others.)

Quick takes on the books in progress:

July 7, 2006 | Tate Linden
This just in:

We now have access to a five-bedroom sea-side vacation home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Not bad, eh?

Stokefire will primarily be using the home as a corporate retreat, entertainment facility, and even as a location where we can help our clients get away from their busy lives a bit to focus on their naming, tagline, and branding issues. The fact that it is four lots away from one of the best beaches (and golf courses) in the East is an added bonus. (Few things clear one's mind better than a dip in the Atlantic.)

Who ever said that naming your company had to be done under florescent lighting? Or while wearing a tie?

It sure as heck wasn't us.
June 30, 2006 | Tate Linden

We're officially closed for the holiday weekend - though chances are good we'll sneak into the office every now and again.

Expect the blog to pick up again on the 5th of July or thereabouts.

Now go outside and enjoy the Summer!

__Tate Linden & The Stokefire Team

June 28, 2006
Thanks for stopping by. We're looking forward to reviewing your proposals. Feel free to post questions here, or send them to us directly at rachel@stokefire.com.

We can't wait to get our brand implemented across our entire website!
June 15, 2006
This just in...

We're going to be cleaning out our blogroll over the next few days, culling sites that (while still filled with great information) aren't being kept up to date. We figure it's somewhat safe to roll out the folks that haven't updated in a couple months. Drop us a line when you get it up and running again and we'll happily get you back in the mix.

We now return you to the blog already in progress.

May 23, 2006
Tate Linden will be providing a brief overview of branding for attendees of the First Friday networking breakfast at the Women's Business Center on June 2nd. He will be discussing five things that business can do themselves to increase the effectiveness of their branding and marketing. Information, signup, and directions can be found here. For the $5 admission fee you get the presentation, about an hour of prime networking with area small business owners and leaders, and a breakfast donated by two of the WBC's catering clients. If you're expecting bagels and cream cheese you're in for a big surprise.

Also, We are in the midst of a website update. Our home page and the rest of our corporate site are getting a text update over the next week or so, and we may provide some new pages and graphic content shortly after that. Comments and criticisms are welcome - just write us at info@stokefire.com. We can take it.
May 16, 2006 | Tate Linden
Okay, so we have very little to say today since we're working on a couple super-secret projects. One involves tee shirts. One tee shirt, to be specific. More as it happens.

In the mean-time, why not take a look at the succesful branding phenomenon known as Threadless? I own a good dozen of their designs, and wear them proudly just about every day of the week. Any time I'm wearing a suit with a dark collared shirt you can be sure I'm hiding a Threadless creation underneath.
May 11, 2006

We've been asked by a few folks to put our logo of coolness on various items (most of which we can mention) and make them available for our kind readers.

April 5, 2006 | Tate Linden
I've gotten a few notes about difficulties registering to comment or post here. Please send a note to me at tlinden(at)stokefire.com if you are having troubles. In the mean time I'll open up posting rights to anyone for a few weeks and see how that goes. If I get too much spam I'll require registering again.