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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.
September 13, 2007 | Tate Linden
What would happen if Saddam's "Mother of All Wars" fell in love with Putin's "Father of All Bombs?"

"Mother of All" has become a trendy way of saying "best" or perhaps "will redefine the meaning of" (though the latter doesn't feel particularly prone to trendiness.)

How does this relate to naming? Well, there's the obvious fact that both Saddam and Putin used these lofty words to refer to important things (okay, so they weren't really products, but they still needed names...) And there's the more relevant fact that "MoA" has been used thousands of times in products and services since it was coined. MoA appears to be more commonly used in commerce than FoA - at a ratio of about four or five to one.

Of particular interest to me is the fact that (as far as I can tell) there are exactly zero products that use the phrase "Mother of All" in their names that have become wildly successful - other than the originally referenced war, of course.

I predict that we'll see similar results from "Father of All" in the coming years. We may even see it become more popular than MoA for a while. But I'd be willing to wager that no product with FoA or MoA in its name will ever crack the top 100 spots on Amazon or any other reputable mass retailer.

Could it have something to do with the fact that the terms are typically used tongue-in-cheek? Or that they're too closely linked to pop-culture and prone to becoming dated too quickly? Or is it that the logical impossibility of something becoming the mother or father of anything *after the thing is already born* is just too goofy to consider seriously?

I'll leave you with this thought. How is it that "The Father of All Bombs" could be invented more than a half-century after the nuclear bomb (a much more powerful weapon) was dropped? It seems that the FoAB is more like the smaller, better behaved nephew of the atom bomb, doesn't it? But "The Nephew of All Bombs" just doesn't have much oomph...

So much for truth in advertising....
August 15, 2007 | Tate Linden
Ever want to have a big-time title? The Republicans are ready to let you earn one. For five million dollars.

Yep. Five big, big, big ones donated (or rather offered to the RNC to sponsor the Republican National Convention) gets you:
  • A private reception with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Norm Coleman, and the mayors of the cities ear the convention.
  • A private dinner with Republican leadership.
  • Golfing with Republican leadership.
  • An opportunity to sponsor water bottles, volunteer outfits, city banners, billboards, bus signs and events.
  • Access to the media party.
  • VIP access to the convention.
And... best of all... the RNC will officially give you the title of "Finance co-chair."

(Perhaps this is because as the minority party they figure someone on the right side of the fence should get a co-chair title.)

And the Democrats, you might ask? What are they offering up?

For the bargain price of $1 million you can have:
  • Invitations to private events with the Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Mayor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Ken Salazar, and more.
  • VIP access to the convention
  • Premier sponsorship of the media party
  • Top sponsoship of the "coveted fete" media party
  • An opportunity to place products with corporate logos in delegate and media goody-bags.
  • Invitations to all host-committee events
And yes... the Dems are offering up a title. Sort of. Actually, they're selling adjectives.

The adjective in question? Presidential.

If I were going to donate a million bucks I think the more obvious title would be "Rich." It's a good thing that the title the Dems selected doesn't suggest that power and influence can be bought, isn't it?

If you don't have that top level of funds available you can consider offering up a bit less. Both parties have developed nifty - and strangly similar - levels and titles. Check this out:

repdem.jpg

What does this tell us? Perhaps:
  • There are no Democrats with more than a million dollars to spend.
  • If the Democrats win the presidency all precious metals will be cheaper.
  • For Democrats, though there's assuredly a second place, there is no third.
  • Republicans are either having their convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, or they're really big fans of Norse mythology.
  • You probably don't want to use that plane restroom after a Democrat has vacated it. Or if you do, bring some Sani-wipes.
I'm not saying that naming funding levels is easy. But "Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze" is only slightly less mundane than having "Red, White, and Blue" levels (which isn't often done on a national level nowadays since no one wants to label a donor as "white.") Why aren't we seeing a tie-in to the party platforms? Is appreciation for precious metals really that much of a key to the identites of both parties?

You want to see a spike in donations? You want to get press? You want to get people talking? Here's how:

Use controversial platform topics as your funding levels.

Imagine the Democrats having an "Equality Advocate" level or the Republicans with a "Protectors of Marriage" sponsorship. Sure it is divisive. But imagine the power of being able to show that there are 5,000 people or companies willing to not only say that they are for (or against) gay rights, but show they are committed with a dollar sign next to their name. You want more notice? Add in right-to-life issues, death penalty, and the like. How many churches and community groups wouldn't be throwing dollars at the campaigns to show their support for a cause that mattered to them?

Will it happen? I'll almost guarantee that it won't. But I'd love to actually see a party or candidate take a stand like that. If it matters to the candidate/platform then why not allow the constituency to show their support for the idea? We'd know real fast whether or not an issue had real support.

Are you with me?

Interested in more on this topic? Earlier this year I wrote a post about the terms the individual candidates used for their fund-raising efforts. I must admit that even the worst ideas used by the candidates can trump the best the DNC and RNC have pulled together.

Is it because the categories were developed by committee? Probably.

Add another nail to the coffin that contains focus groups and working committees, please. (Though "Mile High Plus" is a pretty impressive name to be approved by committee... hard to believe someone didn't choke on the sexual connotation.)
May 22, 2007 | Tate Linden
Oh, cute! A whale naming contest!

The local CBS affilliate is having a contest to name a mother and calf that have gotten lost up the Sacramento river. Cool right?

Right.

Except as I seem to recall, many of these whales that wander up rivers tend not to live to see the ocean again.

On the plus side, there's not much at stake here with the names. Whales probably don't care - or know - what we call them. On the down side we're going to have a whole bunch of little kids following Bonnie and Clyde - or whatever their names will be - and I don't know how easily they'll believe the whales went to live on the farm with the pet dog.

So we're naming two animals that may be doing their best to off themselves for some reason. Let's make it a fun story for the kiddies!

Whee!

Interested in a better story about dying or dead whales? This one is my all time favorite. And it may just be the first story to ever use "Splud" to describe the sound of a whale exploding. After you read Dave Barry's version I encourage you to watch the video - especially the 30 seconds following the explosion.

Bring the family!
May 18, 2007 | Tate Linden
Yep. I'm addicted to The Office - and am not quite sure what I'll do to recreate those uncomfortable laughs I've become accustomed to for the off season.

But this post isn't about my love for the NBC show, it is about the website and company names mentioned on the show's season finale.

The website mentioned? Try: www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts. Yeah - it doesn't go anywhere. But you wouldn't believe the number of hits that "creedthoughts" is getting all over the internet. Someone had the foresight to register creedthoughts.com a week before the episode aired (one can only assume someone on the production staff did it to prevent someone else from profiting) but the .net and a few other sites were snapped up shortly after the line was spoken.

As far as names go - I actually quite like "Creedthoughts". I imagine that for lovers of the show the site would speak directly to those who wonder "what the hell is he thinking?" and it would attract quite a crowd of regular readers. Much like schrutespace, I suppose.

UPDATE: There IS a creedthoughts blog. It is here.

The show did have a rather uncomfortable naming-related moment when Michael Scott wraps up his interview with David Wallace (CFO of Dunder Mifflin):
David: What do you think we could be doing better?

Michael: I've never been a big fan of the name Dunder Mifflin. I was thinking we could name the company something like "Paper Great". Where great paper is our passion. We're grrrrreeeat! I dunno. Could be good. Or, uh, "Super Duper Paper". It's super duper. I dunno. Something like that.

Interviewer: Okay.

Michael: Okay.

Interviewer: Thanks for coming in Michael.
What scares me the most is that this sort of thing really does happen in conversations with prospects and clients. I'll be the first to admit that client-submitted ideas often do quite well and we can build strong identities around them. However... In this case I just was made uncomfortable on every possible level. Wonderfully so, but... still... And if anyone is interested, both www.superduperpaper.com and www.papergreat.com are available for immediate camping and opportunistic exploitation as of 11:47 EDT on Friday, May 18th. Imagine the peaks in traffic you'll get when the DVD launches!
May 8, 2007 | Tate Linden
It certainly beats banning them outright, doesn't it?

I'm really not quite sure how I feel about this story:
An energy drink called Cocaine that was pulled from store shelves in Illinois last week is being discontinued nationwide.

The company that produces the drink said today it's pulling the drink because of concerns about its name.
What the company doesn't say is that some states had banned the sale of the product because they felt it glamorized drug use. So - I've a strong feeling that this was less about "concerns" and more about "bottom lines."

The company is taking the step of re-naming their product.

As I think about it more I think I am leaning towards an opinion... I don't like it. There are quite a few reasons to be concerned. A few right off the top of my head:
  1. Free Speech: Do companies have a right to sell products with provocative names that do not cross the line into profanity? Heck, do they have the right to sell products with profane names? It seems to me that the answer to the first should be "yes." The answer to the second question I'm not as sure about. I've strong opinions about free speech and its value - and limiting someone's ability to say a word or sell a product is a step that I'm not sure we should have taken here.
  2. Censorship: Similarly, I hadn't heard any advertisements about the product. Only the media (and we bloggers) were giving it publicity. I can understand the FCC cracking down on this if they broadcast it - but they didn't (as far as I know.) It is fine for the press and public to criticize a product and say that it shouldn't be sold - but for the government to act on these opinions and force the company to rename is different. Opinions are one thing. Enforcing opinions leads to censorship.
  3. Where do all the bad products go?: The only reason anyone was buying this drink was to push the envelope and show how edgy they were. From the folks I know that have tried it I've heard it tastes horrible. Have a crappy product? Give it a name that pushes people's buttons. Make it collectible. It is a time honored tradition to find ways to move product. Saying that certain types of names are off limits for no reason other than that they offend some people's delicate sensibilities (there's no profanity here, remember) means that products without strong appeal in and of themselves will have a harder time selling. That's great for product quality overall, but bad for the average or below average product that loses an escape route.
  4. Slippery Slope: Okay, so we know "Cocaine" isn't allowed. What about "Dope", "Morphine", "Speedball", "Ganja", "Uppers", "Drug of Choice" and the like? Are all of them not allowed? How about naming an energy drink "Vodka?" Would that be allowed? Or "Binge/Purge" because that would glamorize a sickness. Or "Steak" because Vegans everywhere would be upset. Or "Eenryg" - because it might offend dyslexics.
  5. A Clueless FDA sez What?: In a warning letter to Redux - the folks behind the Cocaine drink - the FDA claims that the product being sold is not only a drug, but a new one:"Your product, Cocaine, is a drug, as defined by Section 201(g)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1), because it is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, 21 U.S.C. §§ 321(g), 321(ff), and 343(r)(6). Moreover, this product is a new drug, as defined by Section 201(p) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(p), because it is not generally recognized as safe and effective for its labeled uses. Under Sections 301(d) and 505(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(d) and 355(a), a new drug may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce unless an FDA-approved application is in effect for it. Your sale of Cocaine without an approved application violates these provisions of the Act."
Yes, Cocaine is a provocative name. It was named purely as a PR stunt and it worked. (Sadly.) But no one is claiming that there is actual cocaine in the product. Note that the FDA hasn't taken action against Sunny Delight - and these people are selling cancer (or is it instant immolation) in a bottle! Imagine if a piece of the sun were to get into the hands of an unsuspecting consumer! Oooh! Or what about Victoria's Secret? What if her secret was actually cocaine? Sounds like we'd have to ban it, right?

Both the FDA and consumers at large are smarter than this, aren't they?

The real reason I'm a bit up in arms about the action taken here is that there is no law that I know of that prevents people from selling products named after illicit drugs. I remember there were nail polishes a couple years back that referenced illicit sex and drug use. Why didn't we ban them?

C'mon US and state governments - if you're going to ban something with the backing of the government YOU NEED TO PASS A LAW MAKING IT ILLEGAL. Until that time you're just using knee-jerk censorship.

So knock it off. Let Cocaine (the non-controlled energy drink) be sold. Figure out how to limit commerce in a way that isn't going to backfire (no "I know it when I see it" stuff) and put it on the books.

Namers across the land will thank you. Or at least I will.

And if I'm mistaken and there IS a law about names that glorify certain substances I'd love to hear about it.

Tate Linden Principal- Stokefire 703-778-9925
May 8, 2007 | Tate Linden
This is from page 75 of the May 2007 issue of Associations Now (Published by ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership.)

I suppose this means that I have to un-pause the association-building process soon...
Community now Building an association—and community—from scratch ASSOCIATIONS NOW, May 2007

By: Randi Hicks Rowe

About 30 namers—those individuals and companies whose specialty is to help companies develop the best name for their organization or new product—met informally in San Francisco in February. As far as anyone in the group knows, it was the first time that so many namers gathered in one place before. Their purpose: forming an association with a name they can call their own.

“We had a great time and took a positive step toward developing a group identity,” says Tate Linden, principal of the Stokefire Consulting Group. “Almost every other profession has an association except ours. Quite a few of us talked about creating our own vehicle for sharing best practices and to advocate for and support excellence in our industry.” About a dozen naming professionals and companies have indicated that they like the concept of the association and hope to move forward.

One of the ongoing discussions is how to define the membership. Linden says one way would be to make the association exclusively for namers—a group of perhaps a few hundred worldwide—who are not represented by any association. Another option would be to also open the group up to those people who create identities for organizations or products, which would be a larger group consisting of namers, branding experts, and graphic designers. However, some of these groups are represented in other associations. The tradeoff would be less control for the namer founders in the larger group but more power for the association as a whole, Linden says.

One thing not on the table yet, surprisingly, is what to call the association. “I figure with all the potential brainpower we’ll have available as we near our filing date [that] it is better to hold off. Imagine having all the best painters in the world create a painting together... I’m not sure it’d be pretty, but the story around that picture would be legend for centuries. Not sure that this concept will transfer well to the world of descriptive association names, but I can always dream,” says Linden. “No pressure, of course.”

Randi Hicks Rowe is CEO of Rowe Communications of Alexandria, Virginia.

April 24, 2007 | Tate Linden
This week's New York Times, Boston Globe (and any other papers that carry Rob Walker's "Consumed") had an article featuring Scott Campbell - a NYC tattoo artist(e?) that's been making waves in the corporate world. He's done work for Nike, Camel, Volkswagen, ZZ Top, and more. Personally I'm dying to talk to him. Not just about his artwork (which is quite cool) but about what he thinks about the concept of corporate tattoos in general.

sf_logo.jpg

I've still be mulling over the whole idea of what makes a brand tattoo-worthy, and considering (much to my wife's and my religion's disapproval) putting a little corporate logo of my own somewhere the sun doesn't typically shine.

What intrigues me most about Scott's work is his emphasis on authenticity. For a guy working on very corporate projects it seems like authenticity is a difficult thing to maintain. This isn't inking skin, it's painting pictures. It is a very thin line he must walk - and I must admit he seems to be doing a good job of it.

Scott - if you're listening out there - I'm curious to know if anyone has taken the corporate work you've done for posters or signage and had you ink their bodies with it. Are there people with your cool Camel logo walkin' around?

Other questions to consider:
  1. Is there a difference between the artwork done on behalf of a person and for a company? Is your process different when developing the design?
  2. How real is the danger of losing the authenticity-factor when getting paid by Nike? How do you stay 'real'?
  3. Among tattoo artists is there a level of respect given to a person getting a tattoo of their own design that isn't there if they choose a corporate logo or common rose/thorn type design?
I didn't say the questions made a lot of sense... they're just things I'm curious about.

If you're interested in this sort of stuff you might want to read this post about people branding themselves with the logos of the corporations they respect. I've heard Apple, Harley Davidson, and Nike are some of the most common tattoos out there - and there are whole websites dedicated to variations on each. The fact that most companies don't have this sort of loyalty fascinates me. Why aren't there people showing off their HP tattoos, or Safeway... or McDonalds?

I hope to have an answer to these questions later this year... but if you think you know the answer now I'd love to hear it.

Oh - and that Stokefire logo on this post - that's our new one! Here's to hoping that you can see the tattoo influence on the style...

Tate Linden Principal - Stokefire 703-778-9925
March 29, 2007
The RelaxOne. The RelaxOne Massage chair offers dynamic relaxation by listening to the peaceful music, through the5999_1_230.jpeg audio system of the chair. Its dome-like style is intended to plunge you deeply into the music to rouse a natural relaxation. Created by Swiss inventor and experimental psychologist Hugo B. J. Soder, it is equipped with multi-dimensional sound system, a CD player and an internal ambient lighting for reading. Is is it not deserving of another name?

[Brought to us by Trendhunter]
March 27, 2007

Time Shutters Life

Three years after relaunching Life magazine as a newspaper supplement, its third incarnation, Time Inc. said it would fold the title with the April 20 issue, citing the decline in the newspaper business and outlook for ad revenue in the newspaper supplement category.

The iconic titles name, which will continue to operate online and through its books, had begun to find its footing after rocky start since its most recent reincarnation.

March 23, 2007

Monster launches new product

monster.gif

Monster Worldwide Inc. launched a new recruitment media product designed to aid employers in seeking people who are not actively looking for a job.
March 19, 2007


jackiechan.gifInstaGreen Tea Beverage Mix is a vitamin-packed green tea product that delivers EIGHT TIMES the antioxidants of regular green tea.

To deliver this punch, Jackie Chan, kung-fu master, backs the product with his name and verve.instagreenblob.gif
March 12, 2007
Starbucks to launch its own music label named Starbucks Records. It is unlikely however that they will sell any records at all that the name is just marketed to consumers who remember the vinyl days of past. Paul McCartney rumored to be the first to be signed. Full story here.
March 9, 2007
In a Global Marketplace, Claiming a Name Becomes an Art in Itself.loius.jpg

When a snazzy new product goes on sale in many countries, its name must be one of a kind. Yet today it has become increasingly difficult to find a name for a company, a product, or shade of lipstick that has not been taken.
March 8, 2007
picture-14.jpgAgroLabs, Inc., announced today its new product line of single-serve, exotic The lead item in the Bali Island line is White Peach Juice made from peaches grown only in China.

Huh.
March 7, 2007
americone_dream_pint.jpg

images-1.jpgBen & Jerry have named a new flavor, Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream™. The concoction is "a decadent melting pot of vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl. It’s the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth."
March 1, 2007 | Tate Linden
logo_iowa.gif...I'm sure I could think of a better parody given time, but... well... this result doesn't really fill me with joy.

Actually, it wouldn't have mattered which way the vote went - the fact that the credit union was unable to disclose the real reason for the name change (hint: it probably wasn't just confusion) meant that the membership didn't have enough data (in either vote) to cast an informed ballot.

While I don't have 100% confidence that the University gave an ultimatum to the CU, I'm more confident in that cause than I am in any other. I'm pretty sure that if this cause had been disclosed initially the name Optiva would've been accepted more easily. In my casual perusal of online commentary I've found that many of the complaints about the new name reference the fact that the old name was the whole reason that they were a member in the first place. Many wanted the strong tie to the University and thought it was almost criminal to tear it away.

But what if the CU had been able to communicate that they had to disassociate themselves from UofI?

Imagine if Weber Marketing Group had been able to work with the full membership to find a way to honor their desire to feel connected to the school? Disclosing that the university was trying to protect its brand (saying, in effect "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here") could've brought a rallying cry from the membership instead of a cry of foul play.

This is not to say that a naming contest was the right way to go - but certainly offering members a chance to contribute to the identity - to make sure that the new identity at least addresses the values the membership holds most dear... that would've been worthwhile.

At Stokefire we're approached occasionally by membership organizations and non-profits that wish to have their leadership team develop names without involving (or occasionally even informing) the membership until it is time to vote. While we may offer consulting support for these organizations we've never taken on a full naming project under these terms. (And FWiW, a good portion of our consulting effort goes towards trying to persuade the client to involve the membership and be as forthright as possible.)

This Optiva re-vote seems to validate our take, no?

Kudos to OptivEx for beginning to tell the full story, to the membership base for showing that there are consequences when an organization becomes disassociated from its membership, and yes, even to Weber for weathering the storm.

To those that find it surprising that I might not be ripping apart Weber... I find it interesting that no one has ever questioned whether the name Optiva was one of the top candidates suggested by the Weber team. Maybe that's because not many people know what the naming process is like. I don't have inside insight into how Weber runs their projects, but when Stokefire works with clients we present numerous candidates and make suggestions as to which are the best for various purposes. We've had a few clients go through the process and select a name that we think is a poor candidate (or that we didn't develop.) The client still has every right to disclose that we were the naming expert for the project - and it isn't likely that we would ever mention publicly that we advised against selecting a name our clients end up with. (Dissing clients - or making them look foolish - is never a good thing.) Our goal is to advise our clients as to the strongest identities available and then to do our best to support the identity choices that our clients make - even if they don't exactly follow our advice.

A few links for you:

I have enjoyed (albeit wincingly) reading the opinions of Nicholas Johnson and see them as an example of what happens when a really smart guy who cares doesn't get enough access to the information he needs. Today he provides an overview of the second vote and links to areas where you can find more backstory. Any CU or membership organization considering a top-down naming effort needs to read Mr. Johnson's words before they go through with it.

I've also watched Michael over at Popwink as he has opined on the issue - today just summarizing the final vote and showing some snapshots of the CU's home page before and after the vote.

[Edit - Thank you to JT the 'Hawk-eyed' reader who noted that I've been watching hermits rock as well. Greg's post today has some interesting quotes from the event last night.]

The story was also picked up by the Iowa Press Citizen and what appears to be another site owned by the same folks - HawkCentral. Both sites have comments enabled and the boards are heating up quickly. My quick Google search found no other news outlets covering the vote.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 22, 2007
Cisco, Apple Settle 'IPhone' Dispute

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007 they haveCisco Systems Inc. and Apple Inc. said settled the trademark-infringementimages2.jpg lawsuit that threatened to derail Apple's use of the "iPhone" name for its much-hyped new iPod-cellular phone gadget. Cisco Systems Inc. and Apple Inc. have agreed to share the "iPhone" name, but both companies are staying tightlipped about what future products might come from the resulting deal to collaborate on "interoperability" between the companies' products.

redrock-logo.jpg

Redrock Oil Sands, Inc. has changed its name to Redrock Energy, Inc., effective immediately.

February 22, 2007 | Tate Linden
serveimage.jpgI just watched an advertisement about five minutes ago for Special K2O - a fruity protein-water drink.

I am truly saddened for 2(oh) reasons.

First, it is my belief that this is an unwise brand extension. I'm sure that some executive at Special K Headquarters thought that this was a logical step - probably using a justification like: "People eat Special K to get their vitamins, so it makes sense that people will think of us when they need a healthy drink. It's like a fruity breakfast in a bottle you can drink any time!"

The problem with this line of thinking is that people typically don't drink protein water for breakfast - and breakfast is what Special K is most strongly connected with. You'll note that Special K hasn't moved into the frozen dinner aisle, and has avoided developing lunch meats... They're strictly an early morning thing.

Think about Special K for a moment. What are the qualities that come to mind? For me I think of crispy flakes accompanied by cold milk. I also have a secondary response connected to healthfood (albeit processed health food.) The only connection to fruit I may have is via my addition of a banana or strawberry to the bowl (though I'm sure Special K has experimented with fruity cereals and breakfast bars.)

This isn't brand extension, it is brand dilution. I expect we'll see this product disappear (or get rebranded) within a few months.

The second reason I'm displeased with the product is the name. Even upon reading or hearing the name I'm not quite sure how to spell it. Do a search on the (presumably) correct name via Google today and you'll get approximately 850 hits. Now try a search with the "Oh" as the number zero. As of this moment there are at least 10,300 mentions. That means that less than ten percent of the people trying to write about the product are actually getting the name right.

The folks at Kellogg didn't factor in a major linguistic change that began in the 1990s (or perhaps earlier) and really took hold in the last couple years with Web 2.0. When a word ends with a phonetic "oh" sound most tech-savvy types will assume that the sound refers to zero. "Two dot oh" or "two point oh" (and even "two oh") have strong connections with numbers, not letters.

You know there's something wrong when your own investor site gets the name wrong.
Special K20 Protein Waters deliver five grams of protein per 16 oz. bottle with 50 calories. Special K20 is available in three flavors: Strawberry Kiwi, Lemon Twist and Tropical Blend. Suggested retail price for four 16-ounce bottles is $5.99.
I admit that the product name is saved somewhat by the fact that most buyers don't need to spell the name to buy it. The supermarket (thankfully) doesn't require you to spell the products before purchasing them. I can think of some specialty ice-cream brands that wouldn't make a dime if spelling mattered in brick & mortar product sales.

Still... don't you think it odd that 92 out of 100 mentions of the product don't actually mention the product? Add in the fact that specialk20 is camped and the correct product name (as of right now) is still available for registration and you've got a strong indicator that something is very wrong.

What do you think?

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 20, 2007

 

 

xm_logo.gif

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio announced thatimages1.jpg they're confident they will be a single company by year's end, but they haven't decided what they new entity would be called, nor the location of its headquarters.

 

viewmedia.jpgBioPharm Informatics LLC, a premier provider of Laboratory Information Management Systems consulting services and lab technology solutions, announced today that its name will change to LabCentrixSM. LabCentrix is a coined word that connotes putting each lab at the center of everything the firm does to ensure the very best technology solutions are deployed for each customer.
February 19, 2007 | Tate Linden
optivacolor.gifYou'd think that enough had been said about the renaming of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union to Optiva (effective March 1, 2007.) Even our little corner of the world racked up dozens of comments about it.

A new controversy (or perhaps the old one) has erupted and a revote is on the way.

If it isn't clear yet, there's a lesson here. That lesson is: Renaming is Hard.

As for my opinion on this whole thing... I'm a bit confused. I don't understand why the folks at the credit union didn't more vocally support (or at least listen to) the people upset by the name change. Sure, I'm not particularly pleased by the name "Optiva," but if I were a member I'd at least want to have my opinions made available to other members and discussed via the membership pipeline.

The justification for the name change is that people were confused by the old name. Folks thought that it was only for alumni and students when it is in fact open to everyone. Fair enough. But I question whether the name is the right thing to change when facing this sort of confusion. This credit union has a huge and vocal group of people that want to be associated with the university - and this group of people grows every day. It wouldn't be difficult to adjust something like the tagline or even create an ad campaign to solve the problem. In fact it would be cheaper, easier, and more practical.

You'll note that the company made no mention of financial problems or legal issues - just confusion.

I'm getting confused myself now. Why would an organization that benefits from a huge number of rabid fans and alumni ditch that association for something innocuous and Latinate?

Weber Marketing Group did their job in creating the identity, but I'm not certain that if confusion is the primary mover a new identity was the right response. No matter how great Weber's work was it wasn't going to solve the confusion and still maintain the same strong tie to the University.

So the real question (at least to me) is what the real reason for the name change was. No one throws away millions in free advertising and positive associations just to solve confusion. If that is honestly the cause then I'd suggest that the leadership of the CU needs a lesson in economics.

I'm pretty sure they've got Econ 101 covered, so that means the answer is elsewhere.

What would make a CU change its name without putting up a public fight? Let me know your thoughts. I have my own ideas, but I'd like to hear yours first. If you could name your own business after your alma mater and benefit from that association every time the name was mentioned in the press - wouldn't you? What would make you change?

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 19, 2007
logohome.gifCoty Inc., the world's largest fragrance company, announced today the creation of a new global business unit which they have named, Coty Beauty, which will combine the mass businesses of the Americas, Europe and Asia.
February 15, 2007
Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company Changes Name

The name change affects only the mutual insurance company that carries the Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company label. See video of announcement.
February 13, 2007
hob_logo_nav.gif One of Chicago's more widely recognized inns, the House of Blues Hotel, will take a fresh name and image this spring as new operators attempt to push the 353-room hotel further upscale.

Gemstone Hotels & Resorts International LLC, the hotel operator, said a $17 million renovation will transform the Marina City property into a more chic and luxurious destination, to be renamed in May as the Hotel Sax Chicago, in deference to the city's musical traditions.
February 9, 2007

 

ge-lumination-logo.jpgGE's LED lighting business is renamed Lumination

GE Consumer & Industrial has changed the name of its LED business from GELcore LLC to Lumination LLC.

GE says that the new name "reflects the fast–growing business unit's vision of imagination with light, and embraces GE's heritage of innovation and optimism for the future." ."Our name change emphasizes an important element of our growth strategy," states David Elien, president of Lumination. "Our focus since our inception has been lighting applications that leverage the benefits of LEDs to drive real value for customers."
February 8, 2007
tesco.jpg

PHOENIX, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- British grocery store chain Tesco announced today that its new chain of grocery stores in the U.S. will be called "Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market," and formally revealed its new logo, during an event hosted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. tesco-express.jpg The company is focusing on the Greater Phoenix area, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego and stores will begin to open later in the year.Tesco USA has plans of opening 300 small grocery stores in Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The openings would cost approximately $2 billion and would take five years to fully complete. The company plans on opening the stores in the second half of next year.

In an effort to distinguish itself from other grocery or produce stores, the emphasis at Tesco will be on the freshness of food. The company hopes to ensure this freshness with large distribution centers and quick turnaround times.fresheasy.gif

Has anyone seen the new logo (the one above is not it)?? I could not seem to track it down. I would love to get a look.

Thanks for the pointer to the new loge Denise. Much appreciated!!! >>>>>>
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.
February 6, 2007
DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name Ford previously used for a car that became the nation’s top-seller, two company officials said Tuesday.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on the condition they not be identified by name because the official announcement had not yet been made.The Taurus, considered by some the car that saved Ford, revolutionized the way autos look and feel when it was introduced in 1985.

Photo - Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally introduces the 2008 Ford Five Hundred at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 7, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES) 9:37 a.m. ET, 2/6/07
February 5, 2007

images.jpg



Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. Enter into New Agreement

CUPERTINO, California and LONDON—Apple® Inc. and The Beatles’ company Apple Corps Ltd. are pleased to announce the parties have entered into a new agreement concerning the use of the name “Apple” and apple logos which replaces their 1991 Agreement. Under this new agreement, Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. In addition, the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies will end, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes®. The terms of settlement are confidential.

Commenting on the settlement, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO said, “We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks. It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.”

Commenting on the settlement on behalf of the shareholders of Apple Corps, Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps said, “It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on. The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them.”
February 5, 2007


Kergy Inc., a green energy company focused on the production of the cellulosic ethanol, today announced that is has changed its name o Range Fuels, Inc. CEO Mitch Mandich said, "Because we are located along the Rockies, we're inspired everyday as we look at the mountain ranges and plains in front of us. Our New name will constantly remind us of our mission to protect the planet as we innovate and deploy our technology."



 

 

 

 

February 2, 2007
newtundra34s.jpg

Toyota Tundra to be Unveiled Super Bowl Weekend:

Toyota wants to sell as many as 40,000 Tundras to Hispanic consumers — about 20 percent of the 200,000 it expects to sell this year.

"Our Hispanic campaign is critical to the success of this truck," McCullough said. "If we don't get the Hispanic market to respond, we won't achieve our goals.

The company previewed two Spanish-language television ads with the tagline "La nueva Tundra. Tan fuerte como el hombre que la manejar," which translates to "The new Tundra. As strong as the man who drives it."

Not the best tagline in any language. I suggest: As strong as the man (believes he is) who drives it. Ok, still not the answer but I am working on it.
February 1, 2007


Cartoon Net Promo Sparks Boston Scare

NEW YORK A marketing campaign for Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force turned into a daylong terrorism scare for the city of Boston and a PR nightmare for Turner Broadcasting over boxes that were mistaken for bombs placed around the city and elsewhere nationwide. Police arrested Peter Berdvosky on one felony charge of placing a hoax device and one charge of disorderly conduct.

Folks, terrorism scare? Not something you want your brand name associated with.

- Adweek, February 01, 2007
January 30, 2007


BrandChannel just released their top brands results from all continents around the world. Here is what's in and what is out: In and out in 2006 Winners: Google Las Vegas iPod YouTube eBay Yahoo! Target Oprah Winfrey Sony NFL Losers Nicole Richie Britney Spears Havana Paris Hilton Hand-hand combat Mumbai Boxing W Hotels Bangkok NHL Source: ImagePower Newsmaker brands survey
 
January 22, 2007
Several Northern Nevada Casinos Being Renamed. A handful of northern Nevada casinos are getting a name change after the buyout of Sands Regent holdings. Las Vegas-based Herbst Gaming has completed its 148 (m) million buyout of the casinos that include Sands Regency in downtown Reno, Gold Ranch in Verdi, Rail City in Sparks and The Depot in Dayton. All the new names will include the moniker "Terrible's."
January 18, 2007
Joost is the new name of Skype founders' video venture. Skype founders have given their online TV service a new name, Joost.

Joost -- pronounced "juiced" -- may eventually try to move onto television sets, but it will initially focus on making it easier and more fun to watch TV on a computer.
January 12, 2007


AOL. Napster. Partnership. Imagine if those three words had been put together in a sentence way back in 1999. It would've been something out of The Onion. AOL was the massive, dominant corporate giant, and Napster was pretty much a bunch of punks who were raising hell. But times change, and companies change, and today AOL has announced that it has inked a deal with the music subscription service-- formerly, a name, synonymous with cyber-piracy--as the power behind the download service on its AOL Music site.

McCarthy, Carolin,. “AOL Ditches Dowload Service to Partner with Napster.” Weblog. Webware. 12 January 2007.

January 12, 2007 | Tate Linden
We like to give props to our clients when they do something noteworthy, and this qualifies:

lemerigotlogo.gifLe Merigot (a strategic branding client) and Blush Ultralounge (a naming and strategic branding client) now have their own website. (They also have an external webcam - but I'm not sure how long it will remain active.)

Both of these businesses were created by pushing the envelope. Evansville, Indiana is a tertiary marketplace and conventional wisdom would suggest that offering ultra-luxury room and board isn't an easy sell. (But tell that to the capacity crowd that filled Blush on New Years Eve!)

blushlogo.gifThat's one of the main reasons why we at Stokefire were so excited when contacted by Jim Brown (General Manager of the facility, and a VP at Columbia Sussex) to name and brand the $40 million project. An ultraluxury hotel and nightclub in New York, LA, or Vegas has been done. There's a playbook to follow. The same can't be said of a town the size of Evansville. This was a chance to try something new - developing a cosmopolitan offering that can work in a smaller town. There's nothing quite like it.

Casino Aztar is located directly across the street, and just outside the front door is The District - Casino Aztar's investment in providing something for the younger crowd. When I was on-site a couple months ago The District was already seeing success, with Jillian's and Ri-Ra packed during peak hours. (It was a strange and wonderful experience to fly into Evansville and be served by a beautiful woman with a genuine lilting Irish accent.) Le Merigot and Blush are basically the crown jewels of The District, and should help to provide a constant flow of traffic to the other businesses there durring off-peak hours.

Our work with the management team of both facilities was fun and challenging - especially when representatives from HR walked in while we were discussing why avocadoes are considered aphrodisiacs.

If you are in the Evansville area for business or pleasure and are looking for excitement I'd strongly suggest Blush and The District as the destinations of choice. Blush's identity was built around creating blush-worthy moments. Everything from the "matchbooks" (note that there's no smoking in Evansville) and coasters to the inclusion of special aphrodisiac-laden menu items encourages you to push your own boundaries and get your blush on. Even cooler, over the coming months and years there are more things being added to the environment - meaning that there will usually be something new to see, taste, or interact with each time you go back.

If you stay at Le Merigot you get some extra perks at Blush - including preferential admission. But staying at Le Merigot has its own appeal. The amount of attention paid to guests is amazing. Everything from a memorable signature turndown (that I won't spoil for you) to some truly impressive check-in processes that you may miss if you blink has been built around making your stay special. I could (and actually did) write dozens of pages about how special this place is - but you've got to see it for yourself to really understand it. Some of the experiences will be a lot like what you'd find in the big cities, but others are fresh approaches to hospitality that we haven't seen anywhere else.

If you want to know where the next generation of boutique hotels is being invented I'd suggest you check out Le Merigot, Evansville.

Have you been to Le Merigot or Blush in Evansville? If you have - what did you think?

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

[Ed. - Thanks for the fixed logo Randall]
January 11, 2007
Cisco sues Apple over iPhone citing trademark infringement. The two Silicon Valley giants apparently are going to duke it out. Apparently San Jose-based Cisco, the world's largest network-equipment maker, has owned the trademark on the name "iPhone" since 2000, when it acquired InfoGear Technology Corp., which originally registered the name. Apple argues that since their technology is 'materially different' that it has they are entitled to use the name.
January 10, 2007
Apple Computer Is No Longer. Steve Jobs announced after the announcement of the iPhone yesterday, something seemingly subtle, but actually really big: a name change. Apple Computer, Inc., will from now on forward be called Apple, Inc., reflecting the fact that Apple is more and more turning into a general electronics company instead of a computer/software company.
January 9, 2007
Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp. of Germantown, MD expects to start the new year with a new name and finish it with a new product ready to market. The company has filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of its once-daily antibiotic treatment for strep throat in adults and adolescents. The company’s search for a new name, now down to five finalists. Advancis hired ‘‘a couple of branding companies” to help find name that ‘‘will not step on anybody’s toes,” he said.

January 8, 2007 | Tate Linden
We Americans pride ourselves on our ability to understand stuff. A whole lot of us think we're downright smart... So, with all this rampant intellect bouncing around you've got to wonder why this happened:933007_75875.jpg
The Nintendo Wii game Necro-Nesia got a rename for it US release: Escape from Bug Island.
Sure, Necro-Nesia isn't exactly catchy... but I've amused myself by thinking about the meeting in which the switch came up. Seems like a group of people looked at what sort of names have been used before and then said lets use that! (Escape from Monkey Island, Escape from Gangsta Island, Escape from Rhetundo Island...) "We've got lots of bugs and they're on and island... and you've got to get off!"

Honestly, Escape from Bug Island is a pretty good name for a game in which you've got to get away from an island full of bugs. People who are interested in the concept of the game are going to want to play it based on the title.

Interestingly (to me) I think that "Bug Island" alone wouldn't have worked as well. It almost sounds like a kiddie game. And of course the objective isn't clear... are you making bugs? Are you trying to become rich off of bugs? Does it have something to do with spying?

Counterpoint: Note that Halo was quite successful with a less obvious moniker. It wasn't "Escape from Halo." Just "Halo." And the fact that the revelation of the meaning was part of the game (Halo was a spacecraft of some sort, I believe) made the name that much more interesting. In this context "Escape from Halo" would've given too much information about the game and defeated the purpose of the exploration and storyline.

Non Name-Related Parting Thought: I'm truly disappointed that Escape from Bug Island isn't taking advantage of the technology provided by the Wii gaming system. As soon as I heard about it I pictured people standing around the living room making compulsive fly-swatter motions around the room. Thwappp.... Thwap-thwap!

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
January 5, 2007
According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, as many as 1.5 million Americans suffer illness, injury or death annually because of mistakes made in prescribing, dispensing and taking prescription drugs. To reduce medication errors, the IOM recommends the improvement of drug product naming, labeling, and packaging.

January 3, 2007
Match.com Says It's Okay To Look. Match.com has launches a new website design and multimedia campaign introducing the tagline "It's okay to look." Apparently this catchphrase supports a users ability to use Match's free browsing capabilities without having to register.

According to Jim Safka, CEO of Match.com, "From a marketers' standpoint, it's the packaged goods equivalent of the free sample. You don't have to sign up for a subscription; it's okay to look." Wonder what Dr. Phil thinks about this.
December 20, 2006
It was Joel Cheek who perfected the Maxwell House Coffee blend, and Theodore Roosevelt who originated its famous "Good to the Last Drop!" tagline. It was in 1907, when the President was visiting "The Hermitage", Andrew Jackson's old estate, that he was invited to Mr. Cheek's home nearby. After finishing a cup the brew master asked Mr. Roosevelt's opinion of the blend. "Good," cried the President, "good to the last drop!". Listen to your customers. Taglines can come from anywhere....or anyone.

No, Virginia, there really is not a Betty Crocker. Even though at one point in time she was voted the second-most famous woman in America. Betty was invented in the offices of Washburn Crosby Company in Minneapolis in 1921. The company had been receiving hundreds of questions from consumers about baking with its products. To make it’s replies more interesting more personal, the company invented the character Betty with the surname of a former Washburn executive, William Crocker. Take creative license when you can.
December 19, 2006
“MIU MIU” forces “MY MUI” to abandon their Business. Swiss Fashion Label has to endure defeat. The Swiss fashion label “MY MUI” beaten by the upmarket label Italian label “MIU MIU”. What sounds like a David and Goliath situation is actually an example of a rather clumsy choice of trademark and its consequences. MIU MIU, the Italian subsidiary of Prada, declared the name “MY MUI” as being capable of producing confusion and successfully prevented its registration.

London Lite Cleans up Messy (Newsprint) Business. The free evening paper runs with the strap-line “Printed with ink that won’t come off on your hands”.

Martha's new logo a better thing. MSLO has been working on a new branidn initiative for months. The circular mark has already popped up on the company's Web products, including the Martha Stewart page on Kodak.com. It is expected to be in place for the rollout of the company's home goods in Macy's this fall.
December 19, 2006 | Tate Linden

Aztar to open hotel 'by the water'

Grand opening for Le Merigot, Blush Ultralounge set for Dec. 28

More energy is expected to soon be pumping in Downtown Evansville when the wraps come off Casino Aztar's new high-end Le Merigot Hotel and Blush Ultralounge and Tapas Bar.

A grand opening for the facilities is set for Dec. 28, Jim Brown, Casino Aztar president and general manager, announced Thursday.

Reservations are beginning to be taken for the 100-room high-end hotel for New Year's Eve forward.

"We are absolutely thrilled about opening Le Merigot and Blush," said Brown.

"These two venues are spectacular and the first of their kind in southwestern Indiana.... Both will offer local and regional visitors a fresh, new entertainment experience," he said.

The rooms are designed to attract primarily guests from 25 years old to their mid-40s.

The rates will range from $129 to $249 a night.

The hotel, Blush and Tapas are the newest additions to the $40 million The District at Casino Aztar on Evansville's riverfront.

The hotel name, Le Merigot, loosely translated, signifies "by the water," Brown explained.

The district still has one more site remaining for adding another entertainment venue in the future, he said.

The site sits behind the district's recently opened Jillian's Billiards Club and Ri Ra's Irish Pub and Restaurant.

The type of entertainment likely won't be decided until after Aztar Corp., the parent company of Evansville's Casino Aztar, completes its merger in January with Columbia Entertainment, Brown said.

The new district is creating a total of 260 new jobs, Brown said.

Around 100 of those jobs are for Le Merigot Hotel and Blush and Tapas, he said.

Job applications still are being accepted for certain positions.

The new hotel was designed by the Evansville-based architectural firm of Veazey Parrott Durkin & Shoulders. Evansville's Industrial Contractors was the general contractor. Los Angeles-based Laurence Lee was the interior designer.

Brown said a prototype of one of the hotel rooms was created in a warehouse, located about a block from The District.

"We wanted to be sure everything worked together before we built 100 of them," Brown said.

Le Merigot will be a departure from a traditional hotel experience as it combines warmth with technology, he said.

For example, some of the amenities will include Italian bed linens, goose-down duvets, plush micro-fleece robes and slippers, LCD flat screen TVs in both the bedroom and bath, in-room high-speed Internet, MP3 input and glass-enclosed showers with multi-unit body sprays and overhead rainmaker showerheads, Brown outlined.

"For slightly more adventurous travelers, Le Merigot will offer five grand suites, each offering an intoxicating view of Evansville's Riverfront and entertainment district," he said.

The suites will include spacious living and dining room areas, a master bedroom and an oversized bath, complete with an effervescent soaking tub, Brown said.

Blush Ultralounge is located on the hotel's first floor.

Brown said he believes the nightclub represents a hot Las Vegas-like nightclub, imported to Downtown Evansville.

Its menu will offer culinary creations with a Pacific Rim flair, along with a wide selection of sushi, Brown said.

December 15, 2006
Wii launch ad draws series of complaints over violence. Sword violence... which is different than the locality advertisements running in London Underground stations showing a group of people with bloody stumps instead of heads dancing in a hall of mirrors at the palace of Versailles. The strapline says visitors to Versailles will be "treated like royalty". Which is more offensive?

Virgin Galactic Appoint First Space Agents in NZ. Together with Virgin Galactic, House of Travel, whose tagline is "How Kiwis See the World" will help make the dream of going into space a reality for New Zealanders.

Make that a triple: whisky maker back for another round Johnny Walker has a new commercial that will air next week. It features the global tagline "Keep walking", which has been in use since 1999 and is based on the proposition that a drinker who is "moving up" to scotch is making progress in life.
December 14, 2006
Residents of Fjuckby demand new name. Having stoically accepted years of relentless badgering, the people of Fjuckby have finally had enough. Globalization has led to rude English-language associations that the villagers could do without.

Underdog PosterHave No Fear, the Underdog is Here. "One Nation...Under Dog" is the tagline for the new Underdog movie set to come out this August.

For holiday glee, play on Wii. Two Japanese men knock on a door, bow, and offer a small white gift. No, it isn't the start of a joke, but a commercial for the new Nintendo Wii.



(This space intentionally left blank!)









December 14, 2006 | Tate Linden
William Lozito over at Strategic Name Development wrote an interesting piece about a WSJ article from Tuesday.

The two tidbits that caught my eye were the fact that most B-schools are named after major benefactors and that they're trying to corner the market on particular types of B-school students.

I do find it interesting that most business schools forgo the creative naming process and instead take the names of rich benefactors. I'm guessing that those names are probably part of the deal when you're laying $25 million or more on the line.

What does having a rich guy's name on the door means to the students, professors, and staff? What is the message? Does everyone who goes to Haas School of Business want to be like the benefactor? Does anyone actually know what the benefactor was like at this point?

In terms of naming strategy the benefactor last name seems to be a combination of descriptive (as in "this guy gave us wads of dough") and in some cases an empty vessel (as in "what the heck is a Sloan?") I understand the ego-centric desire to see one's name on a school... I can imagine benefactors dreaming about building a factory that pours mini-me businesspeople out through the doors annually.

I gotta wonder, though, if in most cases the school would be better served with a name that wasn't attached to a rich guy. Where are the schools named after the qualities that business-people should aspire to? Where are the schools that are named after the core beliefs of successful businesses?

I'm not going to hold my breath for this to happen though. I'm guessing that when someone is signing over a check for $25 million the whole "let's name this after fluffy bunnies and good things" is less important than "I'm donating $25 million, so I must be worth naming something after..."

The second aspect - that business schools are branding themselves to appeal to certain types of aspiring business students - makes a lot of sense to me though. Especially since the names of the schools provide little to hint at the experience to be had within.

This is also in line with what we tell our clients at Stokefire. It is far easier to attract an audience when you're consistently saying one thing to them. Once you identify what makes you unique, anyone whose top priority is to experience your type of uniqueness will move your school towards the top of their list. I've seen this happen on many occasions - even to the point where people will choose smaller specialty schools over the biggest names in the world. Stanford carved out a great niche for entrepreneurs in the late 90s based on their proximity to the Silicon Valley and the huge venture cap firms in the area. Many potential Harvard and Princetonites were pulled westward by Standford's repositioned brand.

All other things being equal, most consumers will choose a product made by a specialist over a product from a generalist. Stokefire's own experience matches this. We offer naming services that are sometimes far more expensive than those offered by our non-specialist competitors in the area. But the fact that we specialize and have deep knowledge and experience in our field makes the additional investment a better deal than can be found at the generalist shops.

Put differently, would you go to a famous dog groomer for your own haircut? Sure, they know how to cut hair. And maybe their experience will work for you... or maybe you'll end up looking like a poodle.

Going to the best-known business school in the world doesn't help much if the field you are going into has better specialty schools available. Want to produce movies? USC (boooo!) and UCLA (yeah!) likely trump Harvard every time.

In business (schools and the real world) specialization rules.

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





December 13, 2006
AKQA Begins Push for Palm's Treo 680 Touting that it's "Not just a cell phone. A Treo.". He acknowledged the similarity to the positioning of rival Helio, which in ads from Interpublic Group's Deutsch bills itself as more than just a cell phone, but noted that the two devices pursue "different markets. We're going after the multimedia player."

Cape May, Delaware: Beach towns seek recycling advice. The county has printed educational material for real estate agents, property owners, campgrounds, motels and people on holiday with the tagline, "Don't take a vacation from... recycling." It's a effort to help preserve the lovely environment that people choose to spend their time in. New name for Randolph Macon Woman's College. Three months after a controversial decision to go co-ed, the 115 year old Randolph-Macon Woman's College has a new name...Randolph College
December 11, 2006 | Tate Linden
NBC had a contest to name Carla and Turk's baby. Of the final ten names, how many of them are just various forms of Carla and Turk being munged together?

Well... there's
  1. Cartur
  2. Curk
  3. Kirk
  4. Tarla
  5. Tula
  6. Turla
How many women do you know that would allow their kid to be named thusly? (I haven't broached this with my own wife for fear that I will be unable to have more kids after the conversation.)

The four remaining choices that had at least a smidgen of a chance were:
  1. Isabella
  2. Jasmine
  3. Olivia
  4. Ricky
Why were the other options even on there? To force the voting public to pick one that actually had a chance?

I'm actually thinking that the naming contest worked and gave the show a name (Isabella) that works better than any other - but I'm pretty sure that the deck was stacked. You'll note that the actual number of votes wasn't shown.

As for how effective the campaign was... I didn't hear of it until after the fact - and I'm even a fan of the show. Anyone out there like the show more because they participated in the naming of a kid? Okay - other than Rita S. who got five letters of her name in print for submitting the winning name...

And note that if a single munged name had been submitted instead of 6 of them it would've soaked up more than 20% of the vote - and might've gotten even more votes since it'd have been unique rather than one option amongst a majority. How would Scrubs have handled a character named Tarla anyhow? Jokes about Carla mis-hearing her name would only be funny for about half an episode.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
December 8, 2006
An Unreasonable Fear of Christmas? It used to be that people wrung their hands about the over-commercialization of Christmas. These days we have almost the opposite problem—Christmas is disappearing entirely. Advertisers still want the huge spike in sales that Christmas provides but they're afraid to acknowledge the holiday itself. It's almost funny to watch them trip over themselves trying to find politically correct substitutions as they avoid saying the dreaded "C" word. But "happy holidays" and "season's greetings" only go so far.

Seems it's a big week for listings information. Zillow announced today the upgrade of the popular site with virtual For Sale signs for both FSBO's and realtors. We had a giggle over the "any home, anywhere" tagline- the presumption being you actually own it.

As part of this years 'Don't drink and drive' campaign, England's Road Safety Team are distributing posters with the strap line, 'Whose bed will you end up in after the Xmas party?' to all pubs and clubs in the county. The poster will feature a picture of a prison cell with bed in it.
December 7, 2006
Freelander 2 Rebranded as a Range Rover? Land Rover is considering rebranding its recently launched Freelander 2 (AKA LR2) SUV as a Range Rover to improve its perception as a luxury vehicle. Land Rovers are considered to be utilitarian vehicles in all countries, but more so in some than others. In parts of Europe, for example, a buyer may look down upon the Land Rover branded Freelander when comparing it to premium marques such as BMW. The other reason behind the name change would be to allow the Freelander to punch above its weight in terms of prestige despite being priced below many comparable vehicles.

'Orbital Outfitters' to Provide Space Suits for Next Generation. "Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel," from the famous Robert Heinlein novel, is also the tagline of a new company that intends to do just that -- make sure a new generation of commercial civilian Space travelers, adventurers and explorers fly in style and safety in Space suits like none designed before.

Wrestling101.com reports the UK's "The Wrestling Channel" is to be renamed to TWC Fight!
December 6, 2006
AB Launches Branding Campaign for Interactive Advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week announced the launch of a new integrated interactive brading campaign - featuring the tagline "Media More Engaging."

Ford's Bold Moves. With its tagline "Document the Future of Ford," the site presents videoclips, blog posts, comments from readers and recent headlines regarding Ford. As you may or may not know, Ford recently bet the company, putting pretty much all of Ford recently bet the company, putting pretty much all of its assets (even including the Ford logo itself) up as collateral for an extremely large bank loan, simply to keep itself afloat and give it a chance to stave off bankruptcy.

Yahoo and Reuters Welcomes You to the "Human Network". Cisco's new tagline is "Welcome to the Human Network." Not everybody knows what a network does, so by extension would they know what a "human network" does. The New York Times reports that the network thatis "hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists. Introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public."
December 3, 2006 | Tate Linden
...then you should be paying better attention to the news.

Nancy Friedman over at Away With Words points to quite a few talking heads that are yapping about what to call the goings on in Iraq.

Is it "Civil War" or "Sectarian violence"?

According to Google there are hundreds of thousands of articles on the subject and over 13,000 blogs using both terms.

This seems to me to be another example of PR savvy people having insight into the weight of an existing term. "Civil War" is a loaded name for Americans. By definition (literally) what Iraq is going through is civil war. But the powers that be don't want to cause the associations... so they are using less familiar terms.

Sectarian Violence means violence between two different groups. Civil War is fought between members of the same nation.

Sounds like they both work to me...

But the weirdest thing in all of this is that President Bush - the guy that unabashedly calls our most powerful weapons "Nuke-u-lar", is known for having a small vocabulary, and often invents words when he can't find the one he wants... just nails this term every time he uses it.

Until the last three weeks I'd never said nor written "sectarianism" in my life. I can't imagine that Bush has had it in his vocabulary for long, nor can I picture how long Bush had to practice saying it before he got it right. (Kinda makes you wonder why he hasn't invested the effort on the weapons side...)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
December 1, 2006
South Molle Island to enter a new phase. The plan includes an updated island logo which will include the new tagline “The Natural Island Resort” and a complementary strapline “Connecting People With Nature".

IceWeasel, The rebranding of FireFox. Did you know about IceWeasel? I think not many people know about this thing. Don’t worry..I love to share with you. IceWeasel is a web browser and it originally base on FireFox. It is one of GNU projects and done by Debian to satisfy some of demands from Mozilla (the creator of FireFox). How'd they get this name IceWeasel?

Salesforce rebrands its platform… again. As of today, it has become the Apex platform and Apex API, which helpfully puts all the platform elements under the same branding as the Apex programming language announced last month. Since Apex is a synonym for culmination as well as summit, Salesforce.com's marketing people must be hoping this is the final step in the platform's rebranding journey, otherwise it could be all downhill from here on.

Stealing Green. Mega-corps GE, BP and Wal-Mart have joined the chorus for sustainability by re-branding themselves as green companies. A pioneering green business consultant contends it's more than just PR.

Sky Anytime rebrand for broadband download service. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB is rebranding its Sky by Broadband video download service as Sky Anytime and is adding Sky One shows and pay-per-view premium to the programming line-up.
November 30, 2006
How big companies terrorize small businesses. Big companies are the most litigious in protecting their brand names. Last year alone, Louis Vuitton conducted more than 7,000 anti-counterfeiting raids around the world and began more than 15,000 new lawsuits. Those pennies keep adding up so no wonder a leather purse costs around $500 these days.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today announced the launch of a new integrated interactive branding campaign. The tagline of the campaign "Media More Engaging" focuses on how interactive advertising combines three crucial campaign elements: audience, experience and effectiveness.

Beer for all. There is beer for dogs, kids and even beers are that is certified kosher, like HE'BREW, a Jewish-themed label from Shmaltz Brewery (http://www.shmaltz.com/). Billing itself as "The Chosen Beer," the half-jokey, half-serious gourmet kosher microbrew has a boozy rabbi cavorting on the label. There is also Layla (http://www.laylabeer.com), a dirty blonde lager with the tagline "Israeli for Beer".
November 29, 2006
 
Corporate Chickens. KFC implements new store designs and will continue to use the famous "Finger Licking Good," and "11 Secret Herbs and Spices" as taglines. The Colonel, an icon known around the world, will appear in a red cook's apron, rather than the iconic white suit.

Verizon Wireless, YouTube ink video content agreement. With the ability to upload videos to YouTube directly from your cell phone, maybe Verizon's new tagline will be "Can you see me now?".

Acronym awareness. Working in the computer industry you develop a habit of talking in acronyms. I’ve often found it amusing how the acronym over time becomes the proper name for the thing it identifies–that there come to be a set of people who know the acronym and the thing it identifies, but who don’t know what the acronym is a short form of.

New Beverage Product Names Focus on Health and Wellness. An excellent article in Drinks Business Review Online alerted us to some truly interesting drinks that ought to help us all survive the usual overindulgence that comes with the season. Content Stampede Brewing's new beer brand, 'Stampede Light', is one of the first brands to mention hangovers in its marketing. The reduced hangover claim stems from Stampede Light's added vitamin B content, replacing vitamins which the company says are lost after drinking alcohol.
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 27, 2006
The Jedi Religion and How to Start A Religion. Last week, two self-proclaimed Jedi Knights appealed to the United Nations to recognize their faith as an official religion and accordingly rename the International Day for Tolerance to Interstellar Day of Tolerance.

Time to Rename the Cell Phone? They're not just for making calls, and they don't have a lot to do with cells. Maybe it's time to name the ubiquitous gadget something else.

USATODAY.com - Cingular will be sold under name of AT&T. SBC, which closed its merger with AT&T on Friday, plans to sell Cingular Wireless under the fabled AT&T name.

Timing Could Be Everything. New Itsu restaurant with a tagline of "health & happiness" awaits opening in the World Financial Center at Battery Park in New York City.

Tasmania Tackles Homophobia.The advertisements detail the negative effect of homophobia on families, businesses and the gay and lesbian community, using taglines such as “Names will always haunt us" and "Homophobia stops with you".

From Happiness, to Happy Feet, to HappyNews. "Real News. Compelling Stories. Always Positive." That’s the credo of Happynews.com. Have a happy search. That’s the tagline for the search box. Report happy news. That’s the challenge on the left side bar. In contrast, Unhappy News. And the list of the major news stations follows.

Christmas Crackers. The Beeb's strapline "The One to Watch this Christmas" has never been more true than this year, with a cracking line-up of goodies on all Auntie's channels: terrestrial and digital.
November 22, 2006
Complaints fail to derail Virgin ad. The ad that features a Virgin train being "attacked" by a group of Native Americans on horse back. Their attack fails and, at the end of the ad, one of the Indians is shown serving drinks on the train. The strapline at the end of the ad stated: "Man who go on big train have big idea." Despite 83 complaints that the ad is racist and offensive Virgin is not pulling the ad. Their ad agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R, released the statement that the ad "was meant to be a light-hearted "affectionate homage" to the cowboy and Indian film genre that kept with the brand's theme of making ads in the style of classic films."

eCourier.co.uk appoints Head of Happiness as part of the result of a major rebranding for the firm which introduced the strapline: "Don't worry, be happy."

Outer Beauty?. 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'.

A SPICY sausage known as the Welsh Dragon will have to be renamed after trading standards’ officers warned the manufacturers that they could face prosecution because it does not contain dragon. Blogger asks "Do girl scout cookies contain real girl scouts?"
November 17, 2006
Next, who isn't intrigued about growing old, as we all, hopefully, have to? One guy who's cheerfully there already is Pete Lustig, an e-marketing manager, aged 84, in Illinois. He shares the journey and time traveler tips in his lively Late Life Crisis blog. It bears the tagline, "Too soon we get old; too late we get smart," so here's where I go in search of some short cuts to the smarts, before it's too late.

Virgin Atlantic Gives Short Shrift To BA’s New Clubworld Seat. The campaign includes a picture of BA boss Willie Walsh in the new BA Clubworld seat with the strapline “Sorry Willie…still 7.5 inches too short”, illustrating how much the Upper Class Suite is longer in length.

‘Can Superman Rescue Ben Affleck’s Career?’ How strap line for an article in the Guardian should really have been titled 'Can a Supername Rescue Ben Affleck's Career?'.

Woman with heartburn sues Coke and wins. How’s this for an ad slogan: “Things go better with (a reasonable amount of) Coke”? Coca-Cola may have to think twice about certain taglines now that a Russian woman has sued the company, and won, for allegedly getting heartburn from signature product.

Thetruth.com tries to convince smokers to quit with guerilla marketing campaign. Using the tagline on stickers they hope get plastered around on cigarette ads: 'Contains Urea'. Urea is constituent of urine, and apparently is contained in cigarettes. Urea, is universally known as carbamide, as recommended by the International Non-proprietary Names (rINN).
November 16, 2006
Auburn. Minnesota to vote on name for New Elementary School. Students and staff members will also get to vote on the new name. Since the start of the school year, students have been working to put this election together. Four finalists are being suggested.

Could UNCC get a new name? Members of the UNC Charlotte Student Senate debated last week whether to endorse changing the school's name to the University of Charlotte, but the discussion could be moot.

SBB Mutual is now CIMB Wealth Advisors. Re-branding exercise would also involve the setting up of a training and development centre for its agency force. Under the exercise, there would also be a re-branding of its 35 offices nationwide over the next few months.

Re-Branding Church: Queer Eye For The Big Guy. This week, Canada's largest Protestant church announced a $9.3 million image makeover that targets 30-45 year-olds with ads featuring suggestions of whipped cream sex and gay marriage. Though some may find it encouraging that The United Church of Canada is taking such an open stance on sexuality, it remains to be seen what kind of parishioners they'll attract with their bobble-head Jesus dolls or how many will stay when they discover there's actually no Jello wrestling in the pulpit.

Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash longs for jihad. He puts forward what seems to amount to a simple re-branding of the war on terror, as if use of the term "war" itself begat the violent nature of the enterprise. Ash explains, "it wasn'ta good term to start with.
November 15, 2006


TV Land Unveils Original Programming Slate of Pilots and Series. The third installment in the successful annual "100 Most" franchise, this year's five-part special, 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases counts down the most unforgettable TV quotes and catchphrases ever said on television. From "You're Fired!" to "That's Hot" to "Dy-No-Mite," 100 Most Memorable takes a fun look at those verbal barbs, taglines and exclamations that television has fed into pop culture for years.

Dentist goes on the air using radio commercials to reel in patients, voicing the 60-second spots himself. ''I can make you smile again'' is one of his taglines, as is `I'm talking to you.'' Most dentists shy away from advertising but this strategy has really been successful for this doc.

A trifecta of poor design (and marketing). Where Apple lets the iPod speak for itself, Microsoft has a barrage of marketing photos and taglines designed to make you think it’s cool. This will never work with the intended demographic, which is presumably exactly the same as the iPod demographic. “Welcome to the social”? “Release your inner DJ”? It’s painful.

The UK's Network Rail is using direct activity to drive consumers into shops located into shops located within its stations in the run up to Christmas using the stapline "Time to shop", will direct consumers to a dedicated website, which will go live later this month.

Starbucks launches cashless coffee. Unveiled with the strapline "Starbucks Card - great coffee now has its own currency", the Starbucks card can be used at outlets in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Thailand by people on holiday or business.

'Christmas' Returns To Major Retailers Walmart's not acknolwleding they made a rather BIG mistake but re-naming The "Holiday Store", "The Christmas Store" is being welcomed by most shoppers.

Fast Food Nation "steals" line from The Simpsons At the end of the promo ad for Fast Food Nation, the tagline for the movie flashed across the screen: "Do You Want Lies With That?".
November 14, 2006
Japanese Knotweed Solutions is the UK's leading invasive weed treatment company. The new HQ has been re-named Itadori House - "itadori" is Japanese for "strong weed".

The Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate will be named the Lehigh Valley IronPigs when the team begins play in 2008. The name resulted from a naming contest. IronPigs which won by a 2:1 ratio, reflects a name that bonds the Lehigh Valley's steel-making heritage. The name comes from the term pig iron, which is the term used to melt down iron to make steel, is one of the strongest metal alloys known to earth.

Portland, Oregon's new, PDOT’s “Hub” Project (aka Travel Smart) has a new name, a new logo, and a new plan. Now calling their work “SmartTrips”. A program that is meant to encourage people to take less car trips by making it easier for them to choose transit, walking, and bikes.

Snoops Dogg's canince apparel line is now sold at Amazon. So G-up up your dawg with some Snoop stlyle and check up on some of the possible taglines for this bow-wow line.
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 9, 2006

Borders has appointed Blacks Leisure Group marketer David Kohn as its new commercial director. Kohn takes responsibility for brand positioning, marketing and sales and range. His new campaign used the strapline “Stay a while” is intended to encourage browsing at the chain.

Preorder Tubular (Fomerly InnerTube), the Mac app for YouTube
Tubular, the sleek Mac app for YouTube is a lot closer to release, and is now taking preorders. It was initially named InnerTube, but the developer had to rebrand it when CBS threatened to sue.

WorldChanging a book on worldchanging solutions to the planet's most pressing problems. is out at the end of November. It is beautifully designed, packed with authoritative, pithy articles on everything from nanotechnology to urbanism to lightbulbs, it really is the definitive "User's Guide to the 21st Century" as the strapline.

DulcoEase strapline tells you the secret strapline to her beauty.

Let’s ban “cool” codenames that don’t pass search tests; David Webster, who runs naming for Microsoft, enumerates the ways that cool codename suck. Why? He's got a list of reasons why product naming is hard. It’s David’s job to deal with the complications of brand naming and come up with something good, not just safe. Results, not excuses.

After 239 years of being called Dover Township, New Jersey's seventh-largest municipality will be re-named Toms River Township on Nov. 14.

November 8, 2006

Green Orange, the executive search firm changes its name but maintains the same focus. The merger of Green Orange Executive Search and Search Pacific has created a new regional headhunter, under a new banner. Following the announcement of the March merger, the firm has officially re-branded itself as The Laurus Group and doubled its headcount through the process.

Kodak ad with the strapline "Catches everything in low light. ELITE Chrome 400,’ shows animals who are capable of viewing things, even in extreme darkness, to depict the unique quality of the camera.

CodeSniper What's in a name? The power and peril of product naming. A good product name can describe, define, and identify your product, it can energize customers to buy, attach an ideal, culture, or image to a widget (think iPod), and it can even make your product memorable or seem unique amongst a sea of identical products. Of course, the corollary is that a bad product name can mislead customers, plant negative connotations, subject the product to parody and ridicule (remember Microsoft Bob?), set too high or too low expectations, and generally lead to disappointment when the name doesn’t match the product.

NTL, will re-brand itself Virgin Media, the company said Wednesday. NTL earlier this year acquired Virgin Mobile, a UK mobile phone operator in which Richard Branson's Virgin Group was a majority shareholder. Analysts said at the time of the acquisition that the Virgin brand was one key reason why NTL bought the company. NTL, which is headquartered in the USA and has a large US shareholder base, has been dogged by one of the UK's worst customer service records.

Kodak Ad: Catches everything in low light. The ad is showing the animals who are capable of view things even in extreme darkness depicting the unique quality of the camera. The presentation of the ad is apparently thought through, simple and really communicative. The strap line of the ad is ‘Catches everything in low light. ELITE Chrome 400.

As if dominating everyone on the PGA Tour wasn’t enough, Tiger Woods is now going to take a swing and create his own golf course design firm, “Tiger Woods Design."

November 7, 2006
Prince is setting up home in Las Vegas after signing up to headline Club Rio nights every Friday and Saturday for the foreseeable future. The club will be renamed 3121 after Prince’s most recent album for the late-night concerts, which will begin later this month.

Do our names define us? The tale of one Jewish-American family's search for identity. How an extra "n" in a name can make a huge difference.

Carlton Screen Advertising is to launch a marketing campaign to promote the benefts of the captive nature of cinema advertising on audience with a strapline, "All of the attraction, none of the distraction".
Children's food campaigners argue that Burger King's ad's strapline "are you man enough?", questions the masculinity of boys who do not consume food excessively high in saturated fat.
Promotional transparent umbrella with clever tagline "Hair you want to show off" is finally a great product selection with a tagline that makes sense.
Samantha Thavasa to open U.S. store on New York City's Madison Avenue. Thavasa is a brand name named after "no one in particular." Nicky Hilton, the Hilton name that is not as recognized as her sister Paris, designs bags for the company that caters to the uber celebrity.

Imelda Marcos has given her name to a new line of jewelry designed by her kids called “The Imelda Collection”.
November 6, 2006

YouTube Sued by Utube. The Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp., a Toledo, Ohio, company which operates under the website UTube.com, has a brand naming issue with the Google owned company and has asked that YouTube to stop using the youtube.com or pay Universal Tube’s cost for creating a new domain.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, the hip-hop star who changes his name more often than a secret agent, has declared that he would like to named be the first black 007.

Forbes writer meets Alex Castro, founder of a Seattle startup called Pluggd. "Pluggd," When asked about the 'mis-spelling' of his company name (which is irritating and hard to remember," Castro was frank: "It is impossible to get words with vowels that aren't already taken up on the Web." "Plugged," with the grammatically correct "e," would've cost Castro $10,000. The "e"-less version ran him $8.99.

Rita's Water Ice Lets Customers Name New Product. The nation's largest and fastest-growing Italian ice chain, announced the success of it's unique product naming strategy. "Today's consumer wants to be involved in the world of advertising that surrounds them -- they want to feel like they have a say in what companies are trying to sell them," said Denise Zimmerman, president and chief strategy officer of NetPlus Marketing, the firm steering the effort. "One of the great things about the Rita's campaign was the combining of online and offline channels to immerse the consumer in the product and the naming process. Who better than someone who has actually enjoyed a product to help name it?"

The Groomsmen a film out on DVD November 14, is about a groom (Ed Burns) and his four attendants and how they wrestle with issues related to friendship and maturity a week before the big day. The tagline on the box, "Till Death Do We Party,"would be hard to top in terms of irrelevance to the film. For instead of this film being a story about a last-gasp bachelor party, it's a coming-of-age/coming-to-terms tale of guys growing up.

Just when you thought Harlequin romance novels couldn't get any, well, racier, they're now introducing a new series "set against the backdrop of the thrill-a-minute world of NASCAR." And the publisher's tagline? "Falling in love can be a blur. Especially at 180 mph."

November 3, 2006
Naming pickle. A company naming dispute between two New York City pickle peddlers is headed to federal court.

Australian pop star Kylie Minogue returns to the stage on November 11 in Sydney to resume the tour she was forced to abandon last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, her record label said on Wednesday. The tour has been re-named the "Showgirl Homecoming Tour".

Do people realize what t-shirts with taglines actually say?. Universtity of Dayton student is concerned about students donning Abercrombie & Fitch shirts that reads: Who need brains when you have these? Or an American Eagle shirt that blairs: Awkward mornings beat boring nights.

The National Irish Lottery has a new strapline 'Think Bigger' for their new ad campaign. What is less heavily advertised is that the pick of numbers is now six from 1 - 45. The odds of winning are now 1 in 8145060.

Comet’s latest strapline: “We Live Electricals”. What? What does that even mean? It’s not even a sentence, as far as I can make out. Surely adding industry-speak to a public ad campaign can only serve to alienate your potential market.
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 2, 2006 | Tate Linden
Naming ain't easy.

Claude Labbe (and quite a few other folks) alerted me to this story:
Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp, a small Ohio-based manufacturer that employs just 17 people, claims its website became a victim of YouTube's success after being engulfed by 68 million hits in August.
68 Million hits. And I would bet that of those people that accidentally went to the wrong site - exactly none of them thought "Wow - this is such a coincidence! Even though I was looking for sophomoric videos I could really use some industrial tubing right now. Where can I send my money?"

UTube is suing YouTube to cover the costs of the misdirected traffic.

This should be an interesting case to follow. While YouTube could get some positive press from helping UTube, I wonder if UTube could've prevented the entire debacle by using forethought.

When picking your domain name we advise
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 30, 2006 | Tate Linden

Ever hear of personal branding? We've spoken a little bit about it here, but at nowhere near the depth that it is covered in this week's Time Magazine.

I've held the belief that everyone has a brand and can't avoid sharing it with the world. Think you don't?

Ask yourself a few of these questions:

  1. Do you have kids?
  2. Are you energetic?
  3. Do you eat everything on your plate?
  4. Did you study in school?
  5. Do you have an iPod?
  6. Do you dress comfortably when traveling?
  7. Are you the life of the party?
  8. Do you like playing videogames?
  9. Do you have a blog?
  10. Do you own a pet?

Did you answer any of them?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions you've branded yourself. If you answered "no" to any of the questions you've also branded yourself. Heck... if you saw the list and thought "I don't have time for this" or "this is stupid" or "I want to see where he's going with this before I answer anything" then... yes... you've branded yourself.

Oh, and for you wiseacres that think by shutting yourself in a room and never talking to anyone you'll avoid branding yourself... Hope that you enjoy being branded as a recluse.

You see, anything about you that you communicate to other people becomes part of your brand. Even if you don't say a word or move a muscle you can still establish your brand solidly. As soon as you walk into a crowded room you are immediately checked for your brand by everyone that sees you. They see if you're stylish, confident, good looking, healthy, happy, and just about anything else that you might be showing. They're even potentially filing away bits of data about you like, "You're that guy who wore stripes and paisleys together" or "the woman that fell into the cocktail sauce."

Why are people looking for shorthand? Because we can't handle the complexity presented by human beings. We need a mental shorthand to help with recall. (Suddenly all those high-school nicknames like "Shorty", "Freckles", and "Pig Pen" begin to make sense...) We find one or two things that are distinctive about a person and we use them as the tabs on our mental folders so we can always find who we're looking for.

So - even before you spend a dime you probably already have a brand. It may not be good, but it is certainly there.

The idea presented by Time (that companies can help you with your personal brand) is pretty interesting to me. People often see themselves as so multi-faceted that they couldn't possibly simplify themselves down to the one or two things that will lead them to success in life. In job interviews we often throw dozens of great things about ourselves at the interviewer - hoping that at least a couple of 'em hit the right spot and get us hired. So we say we're confident, we're organized, our only flaw is that we don't know when to call it a day, we get along well with everyone, we're a natural leader who knows how to be a team member, we're looking for a job that helps us grow but we have all the skills we need to do it perfectly today.

Not only do most of us not say anything that will help to create a compelling shorthand in an interviewer's mind, we often contradict ourselves in the hopes that one of the two things we say will match with what the hiring manager is looking for.

So - the idea than an industry would spring up to help people land jobs, write personals, and basically be ourselves(only in higher concentrations) actually seems useful. It helps us carve out mental space in the minds of the people we interact with. If you carve out the right mental space with the right person you can end up with your dream job, the perfect spouse, or the best friend you've always wanted. Isn't that worth a couple thousand dollar investment?

But there are downsides. Once you've branded yourself to get that dream job you must find ways to live within that brand. If you've misstated yourself at all it can come back to bite you. Did you say that you were "detail oriented" when you should have said "aware that there are details?" When your copy isn't flawless it isn't going to go over well with the boss.

Even if you nail your brand perfectly it may lock you into a role that doesn't allow you to grow in ways that you want to. Branding is usually about finding the compelling differences between you and everyone else - and the desire to do a little bit of everything doesn't help you stand out. Everyone says (or thinks) it - and most also say they're interested in personal growth. Once you pin your brand to your chest you're going to have to live with (and as) it for a while. Are you comfortable with that? Does your life-history tell the same story?

Remember in today's world we now leave a trail of bits and bytes behind us and Google is there to sweep them into little organized bins. In looking for my name you'll find hundreds of hits, including articles I've written, my own blog posts, memberships in online forums, and even stuff that other bloggers and thought leaders have said about me. If I were to suddenly decide that I wanted to spend the rest of my life as an accountant I might find that my online identity would prevent any reputable accounting firm from hiring me. Anyone with knowledge of computers and the Internet would know in an instant that I had no experience. (You can read numerous stories about bad stuff happening and being found online if you look for 'em. You can't outrun your online identity.)

Is personal branding worth it? Actually I think it is - if you aren't doing as well in life as you think you could be. If you're happy then why bother? Same goes for big business - if you're happy with where you are (and where you're going) then why would you ever invest money in changing that?

(This is actually a pretty big problem for companies that are about to encounter bad times - they don't see that they need to change and are caught flatfooted when times change and being the best record-player manufacturer goes from being something to boast about to something worthy of shame.)

Here's the real key, though. Investing in your brand won't do a darn thing for you if you don't know who you are or what you genuinely want to do with your life. If you don't know what direction you want to go then chances are good that improving your directionless brand will improve your chances of landing a job (or mate) that you probably don't want or can't support for the long term.

How do you figure out who you are and where you want to go? You could hire an expert. Or if you're saving your money you could just take a look at your own life. Just by walking around your house you can learn a lot. Are all your cosmetics lined up on the counter? Do you move your furniture when you vacuum? Do you have a piano? Do you use it? How many dirty dishes are in your sink? Do you have art on the walls? Is it original or reproduction? Each one of these questions points to something that you are or believe in. Even seeing where you put your money (electronics, politics, baby-food, your church) could help you figure out who you are.

It's what you do with the things that matter to you that probably define you best of all. So - you've got time, money, and effort. Where have you been investing them? Once you figure that out then you may be in a better position to develop a brand that can support your real goals.

In closing this exceedingly long ramble, you should consider how effective companies have been in trying to rebrand themselves as something that they are not. We've talked about how Altria (Philip Morris) has a name and brand image that doesn't really support who they are - and the response from the public has been overwhelmingly negative. Aspirational branding (when you aspire to be something, but aren't yet there - like the "altruistic" cigarette maker) doesn't work for companies. And it doesn't work for people either.

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 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 23, 2006 | Tate Linden
Never heard of Apollos Rivoire? How about Paul Rivoire? Still no? (c'mon folks... you can figure it out...) Well... okay. I'm pretty sure you're gonna know Paul Revere.

Why the series of names? Because Paul's dad (father of the guy that rode a horse and shouted a whole bunch) used all of 'em. He changed his name (numerous times) because "the bumpkins pronounced it easier."

Can you imagine if Apollos Rivoire hadn't changed his name - and still named his eldest son after himself? Would we as Americans laud this recent French immigrant as an American hero? Would we (bumpkins) even be able to pronounce his name?

Okay... Now let's try another name:
October 20, 2006 | Tate Linden
I'm not really sure that it can work at this stage, but I sat with veteran Congressman Tom Davis for lunch today and he suggested that the Republicans could use some help in the brand department. He brought it up with humor, but underneath the joke ("can you fix the Republican brand in the next two weeks?") was a serious issue: The Republicans are hurting.

In Washinton State Darcy Burner is having great success with her campaign. One of the reasons is that she is able to link her competitor directly to the Bush White House.

Normally you'd think that this would be good news for her opponent, but with Bush not doing well in the polls for many reasons (international reputation, the war, the economy) being seen as a friend of the White House is doing no one any favors. Except
October 19, 2006

If it is named and notable it is probably here:

"Colour, like no other" is a pretty apt description of what Fallon has created for Sony Bravia. It's like that movie "Colors" from way back when, only with the actors portrayed by exploding paint.

Tagline "Set yourself free" used by Sony's Vanguard MMORPG seems a wee bit counterintuitive, given the number of intervention groups there are for MMORPG addicts. Perhaps they were suggeting being free from showering, daylight, and socializing with real people?

Sarah Lee's slogan "The Joy of Eating" focuses in on "how food plays a central role in our lives." Evidently the hunger-striker market was worth losing.

The digital-tv and broadband company UPC Norway changes its name to Get. ... We actually like the name, but boy does that sentence look strange. We are dying to ask "To get what?!"

Travel consulting firm gets a new name:

The Advito name links the concept of “advice” with “ito,” a form of the Latin root for “journey” or travel. Together with Advito’s strapline, “Good advice travels far,” the name perfectly expresses who Advito is and what its consultants deliver.

  • Okay... but how do you say it? Advice + Ito = "Adv-eye-tow", right? Or is it "Adveeto? Or perhaps Ad-vih-tow? We could use some adveesing ourselves.

Not to be out fake-Latinized, Diagnostic Ultrasound Corp changes name to Verathon Inc.

The Verathon name is a unique fusion of two ideals that embody the company’s mission and beliefs. Veritas (from the Latin for “truth”) reflects the company’s commitment to being true to the needs of patients and health care professionals, and Marathon describes the company’s passion for enduring achievement over the long run.

We're pretty sure you're going to figure out what we don't like about Verizon's latest press release (Hint):

The spin-off will result in a new public company that will be separate from Verizon and that will be called Idearc Inc. (pronounced EYE'- dee-ark)

AllTheRage renames to ATR warehouse, thus averting widely predicted acronym shortage.

October 19, 2006 | Tate Linden
Lesson in Latin: There's a Latin root word which means ‘to open’ or ‘to give access to’.

Lesson in English: Regardless of what a word means in Latin, if it may mean something else in English you should probably pay more attention to the English connotation than the Latin one.

...and here's the company we suggest needs to learn the English Lesson: The formerly named MeridianEaton that today announced their new name... Aperian.

We can't get over the similarity between "Aperian" and what we imagine our president might pull out of his brain when reaching for the word "Apelike."

Aperian LogoThe full name (and therefore the website) is Aperian Global - which makes us think of someplace that Charlton Heston would damn to hell. We might've considered
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 17, 2006
Dementia centre gets new name - New Tyne. (Yes it is a bit offensive, but one has to wonder if clients notice.)

Horizon Technology renames five divisions to clarify their holdings. Interestingly, Clarity used to be their name...

"With the development of Bilfinger Berger into a Multi Service Group, the name Rheinhold & Mahla AG was changed in October, 2006 to Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services AG." Okay... not only did we not understand this, we're strangely amused by the word "Bilfinger." How do you get through your pre-teen years with a name like that?

Guardian Newspaper, which comprises The Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited is to be re-named Guardian News and Media. We wonder if this is the beginning of a trend... Can you picture the WSJ as WSJaM? Is it really necessary to say that you have a website in your name? We vote "No."

Following on our pithy Acronymic naming, a company tells us we're misguided. Or maybe it is just the company owners that are misguided. We like the core message, but take offense that we can't name our own damn company. Company owners should not read this article.

Florida Grand Opera has scored hits with ads boasting catchy taglines such as: "Super Human" - referencing the athleticism required to stand on toes for... like... hours.

Looking to help customers better differentiate among its various versions of Linux, Novell said today that it will now call its free, open-source version 'openSUSE'. We say the name Susie will become much less popular with chaste women.

Cocaine. Because everyone wants that energy boost, and associated weight loss from not eating and having their teeth fall out. Hey... are you thirsty?

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are not representative of anyone working for or against Stokefire. We're really just trying to make names and taglines cool, and that's pretty darn difficult on some days.
October 17, 2006 | Tate Linden
We at Stokefire are not big fans of purely reactionary naming. Heck, we're not fans of aspirational naming when the thing you aspire to is something that people already expect from you either.

That doesn't stop it from happening, though.

That is why we're doubly disappointed in the name coming out of the merger between Peoples Energy and WPS Resources as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times today. (And an even better article by Robert Manor containing expert analysis was released in the Tribune. Stokefire wasn't quoted, but we had a nice email exchange with Mr. Manor - one side of which can be found in the comments section of this post.)

We made up the term "reactionary naming" on the spot, but we could just as easily have called it knee-jerk naming, reflex naming, or any of a dozen other options that hint as to the cause. What we mean by our term is that the name is a quick response to an external market force. Anyone else remember when a major network news organization quickly rebranded itself with the tagline "Real News" after a story they broke on automobile safety (real lesson: don't drive with lit model rocket engines strapped to your vehicle) turned out to be faked? (We can't find the story, but we think it happened in the early nineties.) We're pretty sure that the new tagline didn't make people believe the news any more than they had prior to the scandal.

Reactionary naming results in companies pointing out that they're not as bad as whatever they're trying to distance themselves from. This, in turn, results in making the populace think about the negative issue in conjunction with the company trying to avoid this very connection. A company naming itself Unron would by its very nature be calling up imagery of the scandal.

Aspirational naming can work when the thing aspired to is extraordinary or unique. Aspirational doesn't work when it points to
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.
October 13, 2006 | Tate Linden

There's a new slogan in town. No longer do we have An Army of One to kick around. The Army has changed tactics.

The new slogan: "Army Strong."

We think McCann Worldgroup has done a great job with this. It's inspiring, it's self-referential, and we can even hear the drill sarge yelling "HOW STRONG?!?!" to new recruits until they scream "ARMY STRONG!" in response.

We, however, are apparently not in the majority here. Just check out a few of these links.

Want to know why we think that this is worth every penny of the investment the Army has made in the slogan? Click here - and just try not to have every hair on your body stand on end when you watch the video.

Better than any of the rest of the slogans we've seen for the organization:

“Today’s Army wants to join you”: 1971-73.

“Join the people who’ve joined the Army”: 1973-1979.

“This is the Army”: 1979-1981.

“Be all you can be”: 1981-2001.

“An Army of one”: 2001-2006.

If this had been around when we were 18 to 22 our lives might've been very different...

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

October 12, 2006


We scour the web for branding stories so you don't have to. And because it's our job.

Truck ads exhort men to be aroused. By trucks. Beer-company women are nowhere to be found.

Chinese company tries new formula for success: Take existing powerful American brand, translate to local language, put the word "new" in front of it, wait for money to roll in. If this works the strategy will multiply like... bunnies.

Amadeus gives us a program guaranteeing best available rate for hotel rooms. The name? "Best Available Rate." See, the right field can provide names sometimes...

'Texas Forest Country' name being touted to attract retirees. Little Red Riding Hood expected not to visit as often.

We stand corrected. Patrick Ramsay's tagline "Wines you can swear by" is an effective use of profanity. But we're not sure that "Arse" is really swearing on this side of the pond.

Microsoft cares about your family. "Saftey is no game" campaign gets real. We anticipate even more eight-year-olds will keep the virtual world safe by upping their quotas of gangsta and pimp killings. If only GTA citizens would say thank you.

We bow our heads and thank the 911th United States Army Technical Rescue Engineer Company. Sure it's a mouthful, and will inevitably be shortened to 911 USATREC... but when you risk your lives for your country you can name yourself whatever you want.

PalmSource - the spinoff that made the Palm Operating System was acquired by ACCESS. Since resistance is useless PalmSource prepares to be assimilated. PalmSource shall henceforth be named... ACCESS. Of Borg.
October 12, 2006 | Tate Linden
Apparently so.

Business naming firm Dynamo [site down at time of post] stands to earn this much for the sale of the domain name Wiki.com - a registrar of wiki sites.

We at Stokefire are amazed at the value placed on the domain by John Gotts. We think there's a bit of a disconnect here. When people are trying to build websites they don't go to websites.com. When people want to buy pizza they don't go to pizza.com. And when was the last time you went to
October 11, 2006


ABC World News drops "Tonight" from name. Nation tries to tune in yesterday, tomorrow, and this morning but fails to find Charles Gibson anywhere.

Halloween Action Committee makes effort to rename Halloween to "Freakfest". We say that the name Halloween Action Committee is no Prince Charming itself.

Eric’s Family restaurants change their name to Love & Hunger. We thought Hooters had a lock on that. Oh... nevermind. That's lust.

A new brand of baby food starts with all the different foods mashed up together already - saving your kids all sorts of time. We're hoping that "peas with mint and fruity rice pudding" are two distinct offerings, but even so... peas with mint? Naming content: What's a Piwi?

Snatch Master as name for a data mining tool? Why are you laughing? No, really. Why?

MacAddict wants to re-brand as Mac|Life. Because when was the last time you used the | key anyway?

Can Kohl's target Target? Uninspired minds want to know. And as far as cage matches go, we think "a battle with J.C. Penney for middle-income clothing buyers" is something we'll not be watching on Pay-Per-View.
October 10, 2006

Leo Laport, "Podcaster Of The Year", presumably wishes his new title was "Netcaster Of The Year".

Hotel Istana rebooks rebrands itself to fly business class.

Banks spend less on advertising this year as BB&T doubles it's media spending– a buck to the market trend, but what's with BB&T's new 20 million dollar branding effort: "There's Opportunity Here?" Is it worth the money?

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who's the most excited of them all? Mirror Mirror Imagination Group that's who (key the theme music!) The world's only beauty and lifestyle futurist agency implements new Brand Excitement division (in addition to their Crystal Ball Trend Surveillance & Navigation Tours). We like the concept, but wonder about the implementation...

Can astrology be used to name a store? We call Bullfish on it. What do you think?

Staying with the profane theme: EFMARK-Bantek dropped the F-bomb and went for "The Value of One" a.k.a. Pendum, Inc. Sounds almost Pen-smart...

October 5, 2006 | Tate Linden

Today's links to stories on names, taglines, and branding.

It's a good thing that everyone agrees on what a name should be - especially since evocative, easy to say, descriptive, creative, web-available names are so easy to come by.

Think to yourself about counterfeit branding. Okay, how many of you thought about cows? Forget about fake Coach purses - how about fake Bessie?

Thinking about naming your firm after yourself? Great, but what happens when you leave?

Recruiting firm brands itself after the color of the lumps most people get from employers.

Can rebranding be as easy as putting an umbrella in your drink? Conservatives seem to think so.

mad.co.uk hates branding, but we're too cheap to find out why.

If we're ever traveling in South Africa we're going to have a really hard time figuring out where to have our tires changed. National chain rebrands and gets a new tagline. We wonder... what exactly is a "Fitment Professional"?

Japan says Light and Mild Cigarettes may be illegal because the terms are descriptive... Excuse me... Not descriptive... Deceptive. Unfortunately "Cancer Sticks" is already taken.

Canada and Australia discuss branding on an international level. If you read it backwards it says "We're not American."

October 4, 2006 | Tate Linden

Durham gets a new tagline - "Where great things happen." Citizens everywhere check their history books to figure out what the heck actually happened in Durham. Kevin Costner gets an unexpected PR boost.

NVIDIA Renames the 570 SLI and 590 SLI Intel Editions (because adding about 100 to a name just makes it seem that much better?)

Ask gets Asked about Jeeves and why they did it without the butler.

New South Wales Prime Minister Brands Government as "Most Incompetent." While we like the ambitiousness of "most", we're not so sure that this will help him in the polls.

Brit Says "No" to Brands, Gets Really Bad Breath.

School District rebranding held back for a year.

Toshiba to lead innovation except for when it comes to taglines

Travel expert Simon Calder learns the importance of naming when he mixes up Luftwaffe and Lufthansa. One of those two organizations may not be amused.

Palm splits in two and renames self. Now must legally say "Give me two-and-a-half" when giving kudos.

October 4, 2006 | Tate Linden
We direct you to this bit of PR.

If you don't have time to read it just check out our Abridged and Bulletized version (Really, it is shorter):
  • Sinus Buster is first FDA registered Capsaicin nasal spray
  • Sinus Buster is on its way to becoming a household name
  • Sinus Buster is outselling their closest competitor by 3 to 1
  • Sinus Buster is outselling their closest competitor by 24%
  • Price Chopper is an upscale store
  • Sinus Buster costs twice as much as their closest competitor
  • Sinus Buster isn't spending much on advertising
  • Sinus Buster is unique because it contains the same chemical that provides the heat for hot peppers.
  • The inventor of Sinus Buster is a wild self-defense instructor who teaches women how to destroy attackers.
  • The inventor has done more than 50 live demonstrations that involved him getting sprayed in the face with pepper spray
  • The inventor has been on Oprah
  • The inventor suffered from cluster headaches and a runny nose.
  • The inventor tried every modern medicine but couldn't solve his problem
  • Someone sprayed the inventor in the face with pepper spray when he had a headache and the headache went away.
  • The inventor finds this promising.
  • The inventor invents pepper spray designed to be shot up the nostril willingly
  • The inventor squirts hot pepper up lots of noses and the owners of the noses love it!
October 3, 2006 | Tate Linden
Weyerhaeuser Employees' Credit Union will officially change its name to Red Canoe Credit Union on Jan. 1.

We at Stokefire HQ had to do a bit of research before we understood the context (prodded by a quote in the press release.)
"We knew the name had to be something uniquely Northwest, representative of our existing membership base and appealing to future members and our community," WECU President/CEO Bob Kane said in a news release.
Okay, so we Googled "Red Canoe" and "Northwest" and found This Book, which referenced a red canoe. It also mentioned the Yukon River located in the Pacific Northwest (we know this because we found it in Wiki.) It's mostly in Canada and Alaska, but we suppose those are technically Northwest...

We think this name is actually quite catchy and approachable - mostly for the local flavor, imagery, and potential backstory. But it has a few issues that we would traditionally try to avoid.

Primary among these is
October 2, 2006 | Tate Linden

Show of hands... how many of you think that it would be okay to name your new communications company by combining the names of two of the biggest energy providers in the world?

Anyone raising their hand should pay less attention to directions on the internet, should send us $20, and should know that they are quite wrong in holding their opinion.

Enter the folks at Texxon.

September 27, 2006 | Tate Linden

Apple is starting to look an awful lot like a mega-corp. Remember all those stories about McDonalds, Disney, and Microsoft coming down hard on defenseless non-profits and day care centers that either use part of a name or a visual likeness one of their characters? Now it is Apple's turn...

This is pretty odd when you consider that this is the same company that released "Sosumi." They went from challenging the establishment to being the establishment.

The latest? Apple is going after a startup firm for using the term "Pod." Even when "Pod" is part of a larger word...

This smacks of the trouble Apple got into when

September 19, 2006 | Tate Linden
Yesterday Adobe announced the pending release of Acrobat Connect - a rebranded version of Acrobat's Breeze service.

We see this as a pretty good move. Given the ease with which most of the competition in this $1 billion market is able to set up conferences, calling attention only to the ease of use (as the name Breeze seemed to indicate) is a bit weak. It doesn't tell you what is a breeze, and it doesn't really hint at any meaningful benefit of the service. (People don't conference because it is easy - they conference because they need to communicate...)

"Connect" (as a concept) doesn't exactly stand out in the field of web conferencing tools, especially since the word is used by almost every competitor in their description of services (e.g., "We connect you seamlessly to your peers...") But
September 11, 2006 | Tate Linden
How would you like it if a world-famous rap star adopted your nickname as his own? Well, Richard Dearlove doesn't like it one bit.

Richard "Diddy" Dearlove had been flaunting his Diddiness since 1992 - about 14 years before Sean Combs decided to take on the name.

But before we go into his current issues, let's take a quick tour of Sean's name-sploration.
September 5, 2006 | Tate Linden
Hey folks -

Just wanted to let you all know that we are indeed alive. We closed for the holiday weekend and are prepping for most of the company to travel offsite for the end of a contract we're working on.

As for the naming news of the day - how's this:

Philips Semiconductors rebrands and develops UsingRFID.com (subscription) - UK Philips Semiconductors is to be re-branded for its future development as 'NXP', marking a milestone in the company's 53-year history as it becomes independent ... (clip truncated by Google.)

Let's go through this again folks: Three Letter Acronyms are Evil Incarnate.
August 17, 2006 | Tate Linden

In a bold move, the Republic of Nauru's (an island nation in the Micronesian South Pacific) air carrier "Nauru" will be renaming itself on September 4th to "Our Airline."

Though we at Stokefire are admittedly not very familiar with the Republic of Nauru, and likely never would have posted about them unless they'd chosen this particular name, we've caught ourselves smiling a bit about this story nonetheless. This is not to say that we like the name. We're mostly in a state of not liking it, actually. But,

July 6, 2006 | Tate Linden

You must admire the power of a brand that gets invoked in the midst of a political debate.

Here's an exchange excerpted from the Sacramento Bee's coverage on yesterday's border debate on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican representing Carlsbad in northern San Diego County, asked what Griffen and the Border Patrol were doing to protect his local Home Depot store from dozens of illegal immigrants harassing shoppers for work.

"Chief, in my neighborhood, the Home Depot is an 'illegal hub,' " said Bilbray, whose victory in a race for a House seat last month was fueled by voter anger over illegal immigration. "Is it too much to ask to have a few agents go to a place known to be frequented by illegal aliens?"

Bilbray was interrupted by Sherman.

"Our subcommittee focuses on terrorism," the Democratic congressman told him. "I don't think there are many terrorists at Home Depot."

June 12, 2006 | Tate Linden

Who is advising the National Association of Realtors with their latest campaign? In their latest bold move, the NAR has chosen to focus on some pretty odd stuff. The message?

Paraphrased, it says "We're not just Realtors, we're your trusted advisor, your friend, and ... wait for it ... we make your dreams a reality."

First, if anyone ever told me they were my trusted advisor I would immediately cross them off the short list of folks that actually were. Second, an association representing many thousands of people cannot offer much in terms of friendship. That's a personal connection between two individuals, not a corporate policy. As soon as the organization says it it becomes disingenuous.

And as for 'making our dreams a reality'? Why is there such an attraction to this phrase for Realtors?

May 8, 2006 | Tate Linden

Generic products (e.g., Tinfoil made by Safeway, Aspirin made by Tesco) seem to exist merely to capture the dollars available from people who merely need an item's function, not a brand's reputation. Tinfoil from Safeway will probably do exactly what a consumer wants it to do - even though it isn't backed by a famous kitchen-wrap brand such as Reynolds.

An article written by Rob Walker in the New York Times Magazine this weekend brings up two very interesting aspects about generics.

First, the traditional generic approach is to make your packaging look as close to the name-brand as possible.

April 26, 2006 | Tate Linden

Why is it that Branding is the new "it" topic for insults in the media? In the last couple months I've seen it dissed by three shows I enjoy:

Big Love - an HBO series
Boston Legal - an ABC series
and "Thank You for Smoking" a movie in wide release

In each case I think that the power of branding was conveyed very well. The protagonist in Big Love realizes that he needs branding if he wants to grow his business (though whether or not it will work isn't yet known.) Denny Crane (played by Cap'n Kirk) uses branding in Boston Legal to establish one of his clients as a "common" housewife rather than someone more malicious. And "Thank You For Smoking" is an exceptionally funny movie that spends the entire time showing how effective branding efforts can be when run by the right people.

Great, right?

April 25, 2006 | Tate Linden
I like the idea of people "taking it" to the gas companies, as this begins to pertain to the effect of a brand on the populace. Exxon is seen as an uncaring, price-gouging behemoth (mainly because it acts like one) and people are fed up.

A chain letter has circled the globe suggesting that we boycott Exxon/Mobil to make them lower their prices - in hopes that this will result in the corporation lowering their prices. Good idea for some industries, but not for gas and oil.
April 20, 2006 | Tate Linden
A week ago I was lamenting the lack of any real branding effort for candidate Darcy Burner in Washington State's 8th Congressional district. Apparently I was premature. Ms. Burner and her team have turned a comment made by the Vice President (Dick Cheney) to her Opponent David Reichert into one of the biggest political PR wins in a good long while. (I'll get to why this relates to branding in a minute.)

Cheney jokingly offered to Reichert that he would be willing to campaign for Burner if it would help Reichert win. No harm no foul, right? Most opposing politicians would probably laugh it off or ignore the comment. But Burner didn't. She latched on to the statement and used it to great effect - and it has brought her campaign national attention in the blogosphere, and I'm betting it will boil over into the more established national media soon. Why? Because she took cheney up on his challenge. (Click the link to view the text of the letter.

This seems to be Darcy's first move into branding herself on a national stage and I think it went quite well. She got many of her main points across and did it in a way that can't be answered directly without political risk. It will be interesting to see if either Reichert or Cheney responds. Here's why I think this was genius: The Republicans invested a large amount of money to get Cheney out to Washington to support his team. They publicized the event, worked hard to make their candidate look good, and after all that time and effort… it turned into a PR vehicle for the Democrats. How does this relate to branding? Well, think about it – Here Reichert was essentially trying to show that he knows how to play the game by telling cute stories to get laughs, and he tells the one story that turns out to make him seem a little unintentionally oafish. He was branding himself (and the VP) as sly and humorous and ended up branding himself as politically naïve. His ‘off-the-cuff’ remark was perhaps worse than saying he wanted to raise taxes. (“Off the cuff” is in quotes, since we know wasn’t off the cuff. NO ONE would ever slam one’s own party VP even as a joke without getting permission first. To do it with permission is funny; to do it without permission is political suicide – especially when the VP just spent a whole lot of time and money to come out for an endorsement trip.) How else can the Democrats tell it is a win? Well, no Republican has commented on it, for one. Both parties know that the first thing you do when someone does something that makes your party look bad is… nothing. You gotta wait and see if it blows over. If the Republicans are lucky it won’t get picked up in the papers. What can Reichert do to preserve his brand? The traditional misdirection play would probably be the easiest. I would not be surprised if we saw him back a Bill, put out PR about fund raising levels, or make a statement about our dire need for more security in our seaports and airports. For someone so connected to the anti-terrorism movement it is probably difficult to keep the hand off the switch that can raise the threat level... okay, this probably doesn't warrant that much action, but stranger things have happened.

If he wanted to play Burner’s game he could actually respond on behalf of the VP (again, with permission – since he likely got the Veep into this in the first place) letting Burner know that the VP’s calendar is suddenly quite full until after the election, but he'd be happy to go on the tour with her after she has more free time. It’d be a minor recovery and would show that he has responded in kind...

Best case for Burner is that Reichert gets fighting mad about this. I truly doubt it will happen, but it would bring national attention to this little race. Burner likely has the local press in her favor, and I’m betting that the local bloggers are going to be pestering their buddies with press cards to ask Reichert what he thinks about the letter, or about the prospect of the VP coming to visit on behalf of Burner. If anything can peeve a candidate or politico it is a press corps that won’t drop a meaningless issue. And yes, this is – however entertaining – really a meaningless issue. It’s an incredibly effective one, one that establishes Burner as a force to be reckoned with as a political player and strategist on a local level, and one that will probably have Reichert scrubbing his speeches to ensure Burner doesn’t win more easy points – but the subject isn’t important. Here’s what is. The voters got to know Burner through the letter. She’s got moxie, spunk, or whatever you want to call it. So, even though the issues she is talking about may not win her many votes (they’re polarizing issues), the manner in which she got those issues out in the open very well might. Burner just sent up a fireworks display that may well have gotten some “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from fence-sitters in the district. That’s just about perfect for this point in the campaign. Now she can get back to the core values of her brand (deeper than moxie) to try to get ‘em to stay for the picnic when she takes office. This one gets two thumbs up. (And will likely lead to another missive from me on how to recover from something like this after we see what Reichert does…)
April 14, 2006 | Tate Linden
“Flip-flopper.”



Everyone knows what that means and who wears the label. It’s a strong brand invented by an opposing campaign and worn unhappily by John Kerry. Why did it stick? Because it was easier to quickly understand that the lengthy discussions that justified Kerry’s actions. Which do you want to hear – the two second sound-bite or the two-minute well-reasoned response? Kerry was too smart for his own good. “Flip-flopper” turned out to be a compelling brand that connected with the intended audience even though the guy that was stuck with the brand didn’t want it in the first place.

I’ve often said that if you don’t enforce your own brand then someone else will invent one for you – and this is an excellent example...

Well, there’s another candidate in a small race in Washington State’s 8th Congressional district who is beginning to be painted with the branding brush by her opposition. Darcy Burner is taking on first termer David Reichert for a seat in Congress. Mr. Reichert’s supporters have jumped on a few issues, calling into question the integrity of Ms. Burner.

Why am I interested? First, because I know Ms. Burner quite well (she isn’t technically family, but I consider her as such) and know most of the claims to either be untrue or so vague as to be irrelevant. (I say the following in the interest of full disclosure. We’re not related by blood, but we’ve got strong ties through adoptions, in-laws, and a few other twists and turns. The exact details are available if anyone wants to listen.)

Second, this appears to be an excellent case of opposition branding, and it gives me a chance to point out some of the strengths and weaknesses of a grass-roots (or even campaign sponsored) effort along those lines.

Here are the attacks I’ve seen (as best I can summarize them - you can find more here, here, and here):
  1. Ms. Burner inflated her title to “Microsoft executive” when she was in fact a manager of some type. Tell the Truth.
  2. Why won’t Ms. Burner come clean about why she left law school? Did she flunk out? Tell the truth!
  3. Ms. Burner is inexperienced and trying to cover it up! Tell the truth!!
  4. Ms. Burner hasn’t voted in every local election so why should we believe she’ll be active in representing us in Congress? Tell the truth!!!
I’m sure there are many more statements being made, but these are the ones that are making their way around the blogosphere most aggressively in the last few days. I must admit that the theme being used (Ms. Burner isn’t telling the truth, or is hiding something) is quite clever (even if a bit cliché for political campaigns.) She can’t refute it without appearing to be hiding something. You can never prove that you are completely honest, so by perpetually accusing someone of dishonesty you can keep them on the defensive forever.

Unfortunately for her detractors, Ms. Burner seems to have right on her side. I spent a few hours digging around to see what I could find on the claims, and this is what I unearthed.
  1. The “Microsoft executive” angle. This one seems to be getting the biggest press right now. The argument is that Ms. Burner intentionally stretched the truth of her responsibilities at Microsoft by calling herself an executive. Many came to her defense by pointing out that every dictionary they could find defines an executive as something like “A person or group having administrative or managerial authority in an organization.” That should be the end of the story, since Burner was a Program Manager – and thus had the qualifying managerial authority the definition requires. So, the follow-up argument has been that when people actually employed by Microsoft are asked if Program Managers are executives many have answered negatively (thus proving that contextually she’s stretching the truth, even if factually she isn’t.)

    That’s fine, but in press releases and articles from Microsoft and about Microsoft, positions from Business Development Manager to CEO were referred to as executives. If Microsoft’s PR department calls someone of similar rank (a non “lead” manager) an executive I would think that the title would apply to Burner as well. This should be the end of it, but it isn’t – and here’s why being right often doesn’t matter. Attacking is far easier than defending – even when the attacking claim is wrong. This is why candidates and companies must establish their own brand before someone else does it for them negatively.The attacks on this issue now approximately are summarized as “even if Microsoft and the dictionary both essentially state that Burner is right, we all know that only the top people in the company are really executives, and everyone else is just a manager, a director, or a VP. It's all about common use, not technical correctness. Let me put this one to bed (until the attackers change their angle.) In looking through the first 50 hits on Google for the words “Microsoft” and “Executive” there were multiple examples of non-senior Microsoft employees being identified as … Microsoft executives. Here’s the kicker – when an article wanted to make it clear that a really high-level executive was involved they used one of three basic identifiers: “senior executive,” “top executive,” or “chief executive.” There were even cases where lowly directors were labeled as top executives, which in my own eyes seems to really be somewhere on the slippery slope to puffery. Using just the tag ‘executive’ is not. Microsoft even hires for “non-executive” executives on their own website, and refers to upper management as “senior executives” on their website. So – tell me again why this isn’t a dead issue? Oh yeah… “Tell the truth” is easier to remember than “Even by Microsoft’s own hiring practices, PR group, dictionary definitions, and common usage, calling myself an “executive” is correct.”

  2. Unfortunately for Ms. Burner, questions about why one leaves school can only be answered in two ways. Either she opens up her report card or she ignores or deflects the issue. The problem with opening the report card is that it is again the start of a slippery slope. If the report card can be called into question, then everything that she’s ever done on the record can be brought forward and the onus is on her to deliver it. Why did she move to the West coast? Is there a documented answer? Why is she really running for Congress – is there something conflicting in her public statements? It becomes a witch hunt (which isn’t surprising in a political race, I know…) that she can’t win because even if the opposition can’t find anything they can always say she’s just too good at hiding it. My take – Burner should be as open as possible without detracting from her own messages. Let ‘em ask the hard questions and she can provide the hard answers. Let ‘em keep asking until they’re done. Being honest with one’s constituency should be at the core of any solid political brand. How can you get reelected if your base doesn’t know when you’re telling the truth?
  3. When it comes to experience, I find it intriguing that a first-term candidate would have anyone on their side of the fence shouting messages about inexperience at the opponent. Sure, one term is experience, but if Burner wins she’ll have just as much at the end of her term. Her Harvard credentials probably mean she’s a fast learner too. An alternate attack has also been tried – Reichert’s “decades of public service” capped by the arrest (and widely publicized prosecution) of one bad dude. Yep – the constituency knows of this and will be reminded repeatedly by what is actually a very astute team of marketers on Reichert’s staff. Unfortunately for Mr. Reichert, Ms. Burner is a likely better representative of, by, and for the people she will be representing than he is. Why? She understands what it is like to be a Microsoftie, is familiar with military family concerns, and in about a dozen other ways can relate to her constituency in ways Reichert can’t. Sure, Reichert has a big arrest and has served his time as a public servant, but he’s not taking the time to connect on anything other than family values and national security. To solidify his brand he should be connecting with something that resonates more with his constituency – and probably should be spending more time at home. Regardless of how little threat he thinks Burner represents, the idea that he’s not home protecting his turf or listening to his constituents (now or in the past) opens up some big soft targets for Burner.
  4. The public record of voting in the community is an interesting attack. (I do not have any first-hand knowledge of when either candidate voted, but you can find claims here. I consider myself to be involved in politics and a frequent/regular voter, but I know I’ve missed a few elections along the line. My reasons are my own, and I would assume that Burner’s are her own as well. I know there are all sorts of messages on the airwaves about how voting is a responsibility, but realistically in our system voting isn’t a responsibility at all. Voting is a right and anyone can choose to vote or not vote as they see fit. If voting were a responsibility then most of the country would be thrown in prison during every mid-term election. Heck, if I remember my history right, when fewer voters turn out it results in elections skewing to the Republicans. Why complain about one less Democratic vote. Were I in Reichert’s (or the conservative’s) shoes I’d be playing this exactly opposite. Why not laud the competition for handing a victory to the Republicans? (I’m sure there’s a close election that she didn’t vote in that went to the Repubs, and this would be a more compelling message than pointing fingers and saying “shame shame!!” It would be a far more sophisticated attack with a much simpler and compelling message.
Personally I’d rather work on the Burner campaign, because I see it as more connected to the community. Reichert needs to play defense by playing offense, and that means finding ways to stop meaningful dialogue before any points can be scored by Burner. Reichert’s brand is established (Family Values and Security) but very shallow. Burner’s is more of a challenge, because she’s less slick and produced. She needs to find a way to deepen her connection to her constituency as “of the people” – and find issues that a disconnected leader (such as she could brand Reichert) can’t easily respond to. Examples include addressing issues of concern to Microsofties, mothers, families with adopted children (or that have given up adoptees), and people that are a bit fed up with the ultra-security focus that is being shoved down our throats. (I mean, really… when was the last time you remember when our threat level wasn’t “elevated”? At some point shouldn’t “elevated” become “normal” so that we can make it meaningful? If the threat level never changes then why have it in the first place…)

There appear to be a plethora of branding issues and opportunities for both candidates, though currently Burner isn’t taking advantage of opportunities to set the perception of her opposition. Reichert and his supporters are doing just that, and until Burner can come up with a way to get the spotlight off of her (and defense) an onto either real issues or her opponent I fear that she’s going to be playing at a disadvantage.

That’s it for today.



Final disclosure - I’m not working for either campaign, and no one involved in either campaign knows that I’m posting this.