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October 24, 2007 | Tate Linden
The Utilimetrics team is doing a great job getting the word out about their new name and it seems they're just beginning to try to get traction with their name as an industry descriptor as well. You'll note that the author of the article below keeps referring back to "advanced metering" when referencing the industry. The leaders of Utilimetrics, however, appear to use the "metering" term only when referencing the box on the wall.

Changing industry terminology doesn't happen overnight. But it does happen.

We'll post more on this as it happens.

Creating new words ain't easy. Just ask Erin McKean over at the Dictionary Evangelist. (Though we're not above trying to bribe her to accidentally slip a few of our words into the next Oxford American Dictionary. Wonder how far a fiver would get us...)
News From Utility Automation & Engineering T&D

Biggest little city hosts Autovation 2007

Oct-15-2007

by John M. Powers, online editor

Autovation 2007, the Automatic Meter Reading Association's (AMRA) annual international symposium, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Reno, NV from September 30 to October 3 and, from the outset, sent a message to those attending: The industry is changing. It became clear to attendees that today's advanced metering involves a lot more than just a box on the back of a house and a tool to read said box. These days it's all about the data.

To drive the point home, outgoing AMRA president Jim Andrus announced at the first general session that the association is changing its name to better fit the growing scope of advanced metering. To further highlight the changing landscape, the Autovation 2007 keynote featured in-depth financial analysis of the market and opinions from heavy hitters in the industry along with days packed full of educational presentations about new initiatives and technologies.

At a press conference about AMRA's decision to change its name, Andrus and AMRA president-elect Stephen Carrico of Lee Lake Consulting (recently featured on episode 7 of Currents) explained that the name change, from AMRA to Utilimetrics, is a response to the shift from the advanced metering industry emphasizing "the physical box and the technology needed to read it" to a greater emphasis "on the data collected from the meter."

"We knew we had to roll out a new image," said Carrico.

Andrus and Carrico said Utilimetrics hopes to become more visible to regulators and policy makers by being a neutral voice "providing information on metering technologies and the value that can be derived from their uses." The name change, said Carrico, "is our first step to being noticed." But Utilimetrics won't have to do all the work to get recognized. The market will do some of the lifting, too. According to Andrus, the advanced metering market is growing and will continue to do so, which will attract attention from outside the traditional boundaries of metering.
[Click here for original article with more text...]
October 9, 2007 | Tate Linden
How do you talk about "metering" without mentioning the meter?

That was just one of the challenges we faced while working on this project.

We're proud to announce another of our clients (The Automated Meter Reading Association - or AMRA) has launched their new identity. They needed a name that appealed to their core audience of senior leaders, could double as a new name for the industry as a whole, and avoided the verbal association between "meter readers" and "men in overalls" that seemed to be a bit misleading.

UTILIMETRICS was launched on October 2nd after over a year of brand analysis, development, and design. Check 'em out.

The AMRA/UTILIMETRICS team really impressed us with their understanding of what was needed to reestablish their brand. It isn't every day that you see an association take such a progressive step. Kudos also go to Bates Creative Group for their work on the graphic identity.

Can't wait to see what's next for the organization and the technology they represent.
May 3, 2007 | Tate Linden
...or maybe by both "A" and "E". We're not really sure.

The English language is a funny thing. You see, we English speakers have this strange way oflettera.jpg turning the letter A into a diphthong. (This has a lot to do with something called "The Great Vowel Shift.") So even though we mentally think we're only saying one thing when we pronounce the letter "A" we're actually using two quite distinct vowel sounds - both "ehh" and "eee" (shown as /eɪ/ when the educated linguist folks write it.) That nice bright mental A sound you get isn't a single sound at all - it is a blend.

Still need more proof? Try pronouncing the letter "A" without moving your jaw, lips, or tongue. Can't do it, can you? (And yes... those of you who just did this out loud in your cubicles... your neighbors do think you're going insane.)

What does this have to do with naming? Not a whole lot, unless you're considering an acronym. Specifically an acronym with the letter A followed by the letter E. And further, it is only for acronyms that can't be pronounced as words in and of themselves.

Consider the following potential acronym of "AEDP." You can't pronounce it easily in the English language (though if you tried it'd likely come out as "Ayeedipuhh".) Since the word doesn't work the reader or speaker is forced to sound out the letters themselves as "A-E-D-P". Seems okay so far anyway, right? Well, not really.

Here's why:
  1. As noted, the letter A is a diphthong containing the sounds of both the letters A and E.
  2. There is no intervening sound or disconnect between the first and second letters (like a glottal stop or a percussive burst, or anything to indicate that a new letter is starting.)
  3. Since the letter A sound ends with E and the following letter is actually an E there is no indicator that the second letter exists at all unless:
  • You artificially stop the flow of air somehow between the first two letters
  • You emphasize the second letter with a change in pitch or volume
  • You sustain the second letter unnaturally so that it is obvious that the E-sound isn't part of the A-sound.
In Stokefire's informal tests, the speakers strongly believe they are saying AEDP naturally and yet the listeners consistently hear "ADP" with a slightly elongated letter "A" sound.

The E vanishes!

How about that? A letter than can be fully voiced and yet not registered in the mind of the listener. Pretty cool, eh?

Unless of course the name is yours and you're hoping that people interested in your organization will be able to find you.

(Hello to the wonderful association folks that just learned this as we reviewed naming candidates yesterday. Thanks for giving me something fun and informative to write about today.)

Tate Linden Principal - Stokefire 703-778-9925
April 19, 2007 | Tate Linden
I'm not sure how other namers out there are approach the naming of associations, membership organizations and societies. Really. I'm not.

Here's why:

We're getting swamped by calls from associations wanting help recovering from naming projects - mostly internally led. They want help recovering from membership revolt or to head off what they see as an impending confrontation.

From what we can determine the causes for the alienation are from one of two things. Either the leadership team went off on its own to develop a new identity and presents a single option for the membership to vote on out of the blue - usually at the annual meeting... Or the leadership team goes to the membership and asks what the name should be - resulting in thousands of submissions, factionalization of the membership base, and no majority approval.

Membership organizations have a rather interesting aspect to the development of a new name. Rather than trying to attract dollars, the name is often better tasked in helping to raise the profile or morale of the membership. Organizations have come to us seeking help in making the members sound more credible, in finding new ways to refer to terms that are outdated, or to invent a word for a concept that is so new it hasn't even had terminology coined yet.

We're really enjoying the work - both on the creative side and on the membership-involvement side. The reason why so many association rebrands fail has more to do with not understanding how to involve the membership without ceding control than it does with finding the perfect name. Stokefire doesn't build perfect names and brands. There's no such thing. The best brands in the world are flawed. They do, however, have exceptionally strong aspects to them that outweigh the weaknesses in the current market.

So... word to the wise on association naming. Don't try to get your membership to name your association for you. It won't work - and the majority of your members won't like the name. Also don't attempt to force a singular identity upon your members - they'll mutiny. Find a way to involve membership in the process without allowing the masses to pull you in ten thousand different directions.

It's possible... honest. We're doin' it today.

Tate Linden Principal - Stokefire 703-778-9925
February 7, 2007
racecar.jpgPork Racing Starts its 8th Season with Frank Kimmelarca5076.jpg

Last fall the Pork Racing team celebrated Frank Kimmel’s eighth ARCA championship. It was also Kimmel’s seventh consecutive championship. During this unprecedented run, one sponsor has been a constant with the #46 team – America ’s Pork Producers.

As the team heads to Daytona, Kimmel will be trying once gain to tame Daytona International Speedway and come home with his first ARCA 200 victory, one of the few trophies not on Kimmel’s mantel. Cheering him on will be 50 of America ’s Pork Producers who will descend on Daytona Beach from across the country.

“Some sponsors tend to dabble, but for America’s Pork Producers, when we find something that really works, like our relationship with Frank Kimmel, the #46 team and ARCA, we stick with it,” says Karen Boillot, Director for Retail Demand Enhancement with the National Pork Board. “For example, we started using the term ‘The Other White Meat’ nearly 20 years ago. All these years later, ‘The Other White Meat’ is not only still at the core of our marketing efforts, but has become one of the best known taglines in the world.”1840dd.jpg

America ’s Pork Producers, represented by the National Pork Board, use their sponsorship of the #46 team as an important part of their “The Other White Meat. Don’t Be Blah.” marketing campaign that challenges consumers to make meal-time more exciting.
December 9, 2006 | Tate Linden
You may have thought it wasn't possible, but it is. I'm going to write yet again about the confused brand that is REALTOR... or is it REALTORdom? ...REALTORness?

Would you believe that I receive about a dozen hits a day from REALTORs - and a few letters a week too. So far everyone has been in agreement about the problems with the REALTOR brand. Unfortunately I haven't had a single post from a REALTOR willing to speak out against the problems with NAR or the representaton they give to REALTORs.

That hasn't changed - on my site. But I came across a post on the Sellsius blog where a whole bunch of REALTORs have vented. The post in question shows the top 10 complaints with the NARs REALTOR.com site. Seems like the association that is supposed to represent all REALTORs is only representing those with deep pockets. Here's a sampling of the complaints:
Charging extra for enhanced listings Charging extra for leads Sponsored links divert traffic away from member listings Banner ads distract consumers Lack of member trust in a for-profit website
I had no idea that the NAR was doing things like this. Some I can see as reasonable - there's always going to be preferential treatment for larger or wealthier members - that's the nature of organizations. Elephants rule. As for other aspects I'm a little stunned. If I was represented by an organization that sold advertisements on my own product pages I would be miffed. They're not just being unhelpful, they're actively working to lose business for those that they represent.

I would assume that any organization that represented me (hypothetically) would allow me the courtesy of selling to my prospects once they had found me. The NAR continues to offer alternatives to my targets even after they've selected me as their REALTOR.

How can the REALTOR.COM problems be fixed? How about:
  • No competitive links from detailed listing pages unless the REALTOR is compensated for the clicks. Google does this for free - and REALTORs are paying NAR for the business they lose.
  • Increasing the default level of service given to a listing to at least the level provided by free sites such as Craigslist. One picture? Are we in 1995, or what?
  • Banner advertisements on a REALTOR's listing page should pay the REALTOR, not NAR.
  • REALTORs should be able to have their own banner advertisement on their listing pages (for a fee, of course) - and should be able to veto advertisements from those that work in their farm area.
  • REALTORs should never have to pay for leads from their own representative organization. If the organization isn't there to help businesses succeed then why is it there at all? Shouldn't membership fees cover the minimal effort required to forward contact information?
If I was a member of an organization that worked this hard to make a profit off of me I'd probably not be a member for very long.

Why are there so few REALTORs willing to rock the boat or leave the organization? Why is the NAR so overt about not representing their constituency. Why won't anyone speak out on this blog other than me?

Wait... I've heard about stuff like this.

Oh crud... is the Mafia behind this?

Tate Linden John Doe 123 Main Street 703-555-1234
November 28, 2006
New supermarket format store introduced for pharmacy. Life Pharmacy introduces new supermarket format store under SupaChem™ brand. The SupaChem pharmacy combines traditional pharmacy service and healthcare with supermarket accessibility, convenience, scale and value. This is reflected in a three-part brand proposition: value on pharmacy lines; a multi-tiered pricing structure; and professional dispensary and consultation services under the strapline “SupaValue. SupaPrice. SupaCare.”

Why Rename Everything?. So many things get renamed these days, and often for no reason at all!

Your World. Your Chance to Make it Better. That's the AmeriCorps tagline used at the the signature on AmeriCorps employees emails. The tagline is strong -- short, sweet and memorable but not found anywhere else in their marketing materials, including their website.

Zune Beam Your Beats. Microsoft is rolling out the Zune mp3 player with a focus on sharing music files between users. The two taglines, “Beam Your Beats” and “Welcome to the Social” attempt to convey the collaboration possible through blue tooth connectivity.

Digg Sends Cease and Desist to DiggDot.us. DiggDot.us came up with a simple solution to the problem: they scrubbed out the “i” in the logo and renamed the site “DoggDot.us”. It seems unlikely that Digg will pursue any more action.
November 21, 2006 | Tate Linden
I've been on a bit of a tear lately about naming contests. I've been pointing out that it is great PR, but poor business practice to leave your name to a popular vote. You can check the past two days on this blog for more in that vein... needless to say, I'm not a fan.

I had, however, assumed that the naming contest was ideally suited for things like zoo animal naming contests. Why? Because a contest draws attention to the fact that there's a baby animal. People like baby animals. People give money to see baby animals. People tend not to give money to see middle-aged or old animals when not in the immediate vicinity of a baby animal.

So... naming contest involving baby animal = free press = increased donations and interest.

Apparently there are people who disagree with me. One person claimed that an elephant naming contest ended in - I kid you not - tragedy. The poor animal shall for ever be associated with fast food.

This brings up a point related to something suggested by Jeffry Pilcher of Weber Marketing. What happens if the winning name isn't liked by the organization. This is actually a very real concern. Assume that you have a half-dozen or so finalists. The chance of any one name getting more than half the vote is pretty slim - and the majority of people who participate in the voting will have had their favorite name eliminated. Not only is the organization at risk of disliking the name... the majority of the intended audience won't like it either!

Let's hear it for brand-building through massive alienation!

(Will someone please knock me upside the head so I can get off this topic?)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
November 13, 2006


Remington is challenging the 'inner beauty' wave of advertising pioneered by beauty brands with a campaign using the strapline 'It's what's on the outside that counts'.

Gingerbread House Festival. All proceeds from the festival will go toward the Boy Scouts of America, Learning for Life ethics program and the Utah PTA Art Education Fund. Festival planning committee member John Pilmer pointed out that the goal of the festival is said best in the tagline, "Build a house, build a child."

Festival planning committee member John Pilmer pointed out that the goal of the festival is said best in the , "Build a house, build a child." “Lunatic fringe,” “head case” and “one-eyed pinhead” might sound like insults from the schoolyard, but they are actually names that scientists have given to genes. The names are causing problems for doctors who have to counsel patients about genetic defects with names like “sonic hedgehog” and “mothers against decapentaplegia.”

New York Mets organization comes to terms with CitiGroup Inc. in renaming the new stadium.

Saturn in the 90's had the tagline "A Different Kind of Car Company," and that definitely seemed in line with the community Saturn was building. Now, not independent of GM, Saturn customers have seen nothing new and the company has become lax in maintaining connection with its initially very passionate customer base. Saturn's tagline is now "Like always. Like never before," and it will be interesting to see if car buyers... well, buy it!

November 7, 2006 | Tate Linden
Over on Lee Hopkins' Better Communications Results blog there's an interesting post about the use of images on vehicles. I really enjoy Lee's blog and find the information that he provides to be though provoking and informative - especially if you are interested in learning about PR.

I too think that the pictures he has posted are quite cool. But there's a difference between a cool picture and a workable concept. A few problems appear with the advertisements:
  1. Every single picture on the page looks surprisingly similar. The trucks are all in the same position with the same background. These aren't photos of actual campaigns, they're mockups. (As evidenced by the final photo that shows the truck "speeding" in the parking lane or about to run off the road - depending on whether you're in a left-driving or right-driving country.) This doesn't mean it can't work - but it does imply that it isn't actually being used.
  2. An advantage of using mock-ups - the colors are vivid and clear - versus two-dimensional and covered with dust. The pics would likely be less convincing when scratched, tagged, and covered in dirt. It makes me wonder how the campaign would age and how expensive it would be to maintain.
  3. One advantage of using the same photo is that every shot is from the same angle - from behind, below, and to the left of the truck. Most of the images "pasted" on the wall of the truck don't work from any other position outside the truck than the position taken by the camera. So - if you're directly behind the truck you would see a picture that makes no geometric sense - the inside of the truck as seen from the left. It doesn't make visual sense.
On the plus side - if the trucks actually were rolling along the road they'd probably have other drivers competing for the exact right space for the perfect view. This could lead to blog mentions and press coverage. But even this has a negative. It could also lead to accidents as drivers jockey for their shots with their eyes on the camera instead of the road.

Even worse... the "sweet spot" for viewing in this instance is only a short distance behind the truck, meaning that people will sit in the danger zone appreciating the advertisement and making it hard for the truck to safely change lanes. The problem with this is that trucks typically can't tell when their rear bumper is clear of traffic. I don't know many truck drivers that would be interested in having people hanging out in the danger zone.

Okay, so I don't know many truck drivers at all. Any, really. But if I did and I asked 'em if they like people hanging out back there I bet they would say "no." (I do hang out in Truck Stops when I drive long distances - but I've yet to pick up any friends.)

I'm probably over-reacting here, but
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 16, 2006


The Media Vault breaks out to be the first Hewlett-Packard product to steal the company's new tagline"- "Computing is Personal Again.

Naming your business after your kids, or your dogs, may be cute, but probably only to you.

Wyndham Worldwide announces rebranding of timeshare resorts to run with the 'Wynd'.

Is India game? Xbox 360 global tagline is, 'Jump In' may need a 'jump start'.

CarMax enters the used car race with new tagline: "It's amazing no one's thought of this before."

Miller High Life Beer ad with 14 kt tagline hopes to reposition the beer as a man's man beer. As for the seasonal chocolate beer? We wonder if men will have the craving.

How using acronymns to identify your business does not lend itself in creating initial success.

Binge drinking takes a deep beating with new strapline.

Malibu, CA residents try to dodge De Butts.
September 14, 2006 | Tate Linden

Based on this press release, Stokefire is tempted to put out daily press releases stating "Yes, we're still Stokefire."

What happens when your government tells you to change your name - and you refuse? Probably something a lot like this:

September 12, 2006 | Tate Linden

We at Stokefire HQ often wonder about the many associations in our area. All of them are doing their best to represent their constituencies - but so few of them are doing one easy thing that could help them spread the word. Instead of telling people who they represent they hide their allegiance in a jumble of letters.

If the MLA knocks on your door would you know who they're representing? We wouldn't either. And the same goes for ICRA, FAB, and until today, the ECCA.

Why?