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October 11, 2007 | Tate Linden
Oh the stuff that Thingnamers get to do...

I had the opportunity yesterday to help judge the Brass Ring Awards for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions with numerous other leaders in the Association Marketing space. My judging team selected the Best Integrated Marketing Campaign, Best Seasonal or Special Event Marketing, Best Print Advertisement, and Best Outdoor Advertisement.

While I'm not at liberty to say who won in the various categories, I was surprised to discover many trends in verbal and visual branding that become apparent only when you're confronted with 120 campaigns all selling what is essentially the same thing - a day of entertainment for the family.
  1. The smallest organizations fall into two categories - either they mention every single attraction the park offers (in the hopes, we assumed, that at least one would be interesting to the audience) - or they were completely off the wall and creative. The smaller parks typically have no guidance from a corporate office somewhere so if the marketing department knows what they're doing they get the chance to be amazingly strange (and effective.) They also don't get the coaching that the mid- to large-sized parks get and aren't prevented from putting out adverts that look an awful lot like catalogs, penny-savers, or junk-mail. Lesson learned: If you're a small park you shouldn't see marketing campaigns as places to save money or try shotgun marketing - see them as places to take a stand. The ones that just said "this is who we are and why we're cool" really impressed us.
  2. Animal parks, zoos, animal events, and animal experience sites were far and away the most creative. I'd assumed I'd be leafing through pages of "come see the baby panda" and "Hey kids - come for your birthday - our elephants won't forget to give you a present" sort of stuff. I was wrong. In an age where kids and adults are more likely to watch a video or simulation of animals the zoos have really risen to the challenge and come up with some great ways to show not only what they have to offer, but why it is important that we (as people, families, society) really need to experience it. While quite obviously the visuals were stunning, the words they used were also spot on. When the awards are announced I'll spend more time on this.
  3. We'd been drooling over the prospect of judging the batch of major theme parks - the biggest in the world. Sadly, this group really let us down. What we discovered was a batch of very clean advertising with a singular message (textbook, really) that had absolutely nothing unique about it. They were often beautiful to watch, but gave the viewer nothing to connect with. They really contrasted with the low-production-value small parks with interesting messages. Many were the sort of thing you'd expect to see on an intercontinental flight between movies. They felt canned. Sponsored. Fake. Empty. In a few instances we had trouble finding a runner up (or even a winner) because every single park took the exact same approach to an event. Corporate thinking... isn't.
  4. Most entertaining (though not always award winning)? The rare literal break-out piece. A billboard being broken into pieces. A sign flipped sideways to give better perspective on an attraction. Using the edges of an advertising space to help convey the size of something at the park. The most effective pieces were so great that I wanted to hang them on my wall... They really show how closely linked art and marketing can be. The best ads tended to be visually striking - and made all the judges in the room immediately say "I want to do *that*."
And a side note to potential entrants of contests... if you're going to submit multiple entries you may want to consider submitting low multiples. It's really hard to see how unique a particular park is when they submit (say) five similar campaigns in every single category. Sure, odds seem to point to a better chance of winning... but it also means that every single one of your campaigns seems less special.

Awards judging is similar to the original point of marketing. You want to stand out. You can't do that if you create a crowd as soon as your entries hit the table. Pick your best... leave the rest.(tm)?

Hey... that slogan works for the ad campaigns too.

Many thanks to my fellow judges for a fun day and to Eamon Connor for selecting a Thingnamer such as myself for such a cool project.
September 28, 2007 | Tate Linden
At an event put on by ASAE last night I heard David Colton, page one editor for USA Today, say the words in the title of this post. Unlike most of the online references to this topic he wasn't talking about how to preserve your singing voice or avoid painful laryngal issues.

He used the phrase to jokingly refer to the way most newspapers write articles. It's the advice he gives to others at USA Today if they want their article to be printed as written. Most newspaper articles start with a convoluted introduction that sets the tone, provides context, or tells the back story to the article before the real reason for the story happens - leading to the reader wanting to scream, "GET TO THE STORY ALREADY!" As you probably know, USA Today just says what happened and leaves the verbal gymnastics to the other papers.

I've heard a somewhat similar phrase used in the news industry - "Don't bury the lead." But it has key differences. Burying the lead implies that you miss the point of the story. Clearing your throat doesn't mean the point of the story is missed - it just means that it is delayed.

I really like the new phrase, though. It's got a lot in common with something we say at Stokefire all the time - that being "Get the [bleep] out of the way of the message." We often spend so much time in marketing trying to set up the perfect delivery of our message that our audience loses interest before we get the chance to tell 'em why we're worth knowing.

I think we may end up stealing "Don't Clear Your Throat." I like it that much.

And in case you're wondering how Stokefire lives up to our own phrase - here's how I introduce my team:

"Hi - we're Stokefire. We name stuff." And if I'm feeling ornery I might add "...and we do it pretty damn well."

Might be worth taking a look at your own messaging to see if you're expectorating a bit much. (No one likes to hear you gargle.)

And last - David's discussion was pretty cool. He talked about how the focus of the paper help bring the nation together. To provide common ground - stuff that everyone could talk about over the water cooler. I could really see how this philosophy has to be paired with the no-nonsense delivery of facts without preamble. No one starts a water cooler conversation with "Did you hear? Twenty years ago these two guys started a tech company in their basement..."

Zzzzzzzz...
August 31, 2007 | Tate Linden
rightsticker.jpgThe DSCC had a contest... and it feels like we, the people, lost.

So rather than continually complain (as I've done for the last couple days) I figured I'd fix the problem.

We're not waiting for a vote. We're goin' out there and developing a solution. To the left you'll see Stokefire's attempt at a bumper-sticker we'd actually like to see. So... we made it and are ordering them ourselves, damnit. You can order stuff by going here.

Feel free to order 'em and plaster your stuff (or maybe the neighbor's Hummer?) with 'em. We were full enough of ourselves to think that y'all might want bags, shirts, mugs, and stuff, too, so we're making those available.

Want to order mass quantities of something? Send us an email and we'll work with you to cut a deal. Licensing is available...

Tell the family, friends, and politicos... the Left may just have a workable slogan.

And if this actually earns money we will donate a significant portion of the profits to a platform-related charity or non-profit. If it comes to pass we'll let you know the percentages, amounts, and recipients.

165490142v2_240×240_front.jpg[Update: We're still fiddling with the wording... moving stuff around... playing with the degree of the left turn... look for tweaks over the next couple weeks. But buying now gets you an Original!]

[Update 2: We've added a different option for the text based on feedback. Now we're a little less cryptic.]
August 13, 2007 | Tate Linden
I admit it, I'm a member of the Colbert Nation. Can't say I see every show, but I'd bet I see most of 'em.

Interestingly, he covers a huge number of concepts that pertain to thingnaming. He and his staff coin words on a weekly basis, playing around with words and slogans that at the very least make us chuckle, and often get stuck in our heads for days.

While I'd intended to write a column on some of the new concepts he's developed I am instead sidetracked by something he mentioned in mid-April. Something I have thought of almost every day since then. I'll use the excuse that it pertains to names and taglines, but really, I think I just need to share it.

The naming part: There's a part of the evaluation process Stokefire uses that we call "Whoa!" We measure a name or tagline's ability to make us stop our existing thought process and focus on the word itself. It's one of the more than forty qualities we measure. Why do we measure it? Because "Whoa!" has immense power.
  • By interrupting the prospect's thought process you're getting uninterrupted attention rather than just a shared portion of the input.
  • Something that surprises the prospect will be more likely to be remembered
Sadly, many companies think that using surprise is enough to make a name great. Surprise without an element of tie-in to the core of the brand is a wasted effort. Who cares if everyone remembers a funeral parlor called "A Bazillion Monkeys" (certainly a name that would make us stop and think) if the name didn't in some way tie into what the company was about. If A Bazillion Monkeys just offered the same services that everyone else did then the name becomes a turn-off. (Though if a funeral parlor could make a living off of having tons of furry beasts around to play with during the viewing then perhaps this is the name to go with...)

Names with a high "Whoa!" factor should go with business that have a similarly high "Whoa!" factor themselves. If you've got a commodity product and are using a standard business model and are often heard using terms like TQM, Six Sigma, "The Customer is Always Right," and such, then a surprising name ain't going to do much for you.

What's the use in getting someone to remember your name if you're just going to bore them to death after they interact with your brand?

Which brings us to the title of this post: Location, Location, BEES! This was voiced by "The Big Red Button" on Colbert's show - and had us in fits. This is the perfect type of surprise... everyone knows what that third word is supposed to be. When it isn't "location" we're shocked into trying to figure out what the heck it means. (And in this case it means "Do not buy a house filled with bees.") The switch fit perfectly with the show's brand - that of pompous advice-giving and opinion-shouting. Both typically given with lots of passion and little logic. If "Location, Location, BEES!" isn't true to that brand then... well... thankfully it is true.

Stokefire is now a place where if someone begins to talk on a track that is overly predictable - like when I start intoning on the importance of being true to the brand - someone will shout "BEES!"

Why?

Because unless there's a reason for me to be reinforcing something that everyone knows or I've got a new thing to say... there isn't much reason for me to say the same thing all over again. Everyone who works for me knows what I'm saying. BEES! is now their new way of saying "We get it - now unless you're going somewhere new just let us do our damn jobs."

BEES!
August 3, 2007 | Tate Linden
I had twardscovers.gifhe pleasure of speaking with Lillie Guyer - a writer for Ward's Dealer Business (The management magazine for auto dealer professionals) and WardsAuto.com She had dozens of great questions regarding what made an automobile tagline effective. Kudos to her for making the process challenging and fun.

On August 1st the resulting articles were published - they can be found here:

Dealers Want Good Taglines

Marketing Expert Describes What Elements Make Up a Powerful Tagline

If you've found our site through the Ward's Article - Welcome! Feel free to join in the conversation here or subscribe via the links in the upper left-hand corner. If you'd like to see more of our thoughts and you may want to peruse the "Greatest Hits" links on the right. Or just send us a note and tell us what you think...

I found the article topics fascinating - as I believe that the effect of names and taglines on the people who actually sell and/or service product is often ignored. Being the "Low Price Leader" can have a devastating effect on employee morale - and having a tagline that is out of synch with the abilities or attitude of the staff can result in lost customers and alienated employees. The same holds true for the company name. When branding, the staff must come into play both for the effect the brand will have on them and the staff's ability to live up to the standard the brand establishes. Add in the fact that the brand also is supposed to help sell the product and create a connection with the buyer and you end up with a whole lot of pressure placed upon a precious few words.

But back to the articles... Anyone want to challenge my list of the great (and not so great) automotive taglines (at the bottom of linked article)?
May 15, 2007 | Tate Linden
No... not with Stokefire. (We're done hiring until we find a bigger space.)

Try Landor - the Grand-daddy of the industry. I received this in my in-box this morning with no mention of copyright or non-distribution policies. So I'll help a competitor out... (They're not competing in my space at the moment so I'll play nice.)

If I were in New York and didn't have my own firm I'd consider talking with them about it... But I'm not and I do, so there shall be no talks.

Landor isn't currently known for their creativity in naming, so perhaps the new person can bring a little spark to the organization. (If I'm gonna help 'em I gotta get a little dig in, don't I?)

If you're applying I'd love to hear about it.

Applied Linguistics & Naming Architecture: Director, Naming & Writing, Landor Associates/Young & Rubicam Brands, NYC, USA

Organization: Landor Associates/Young & Rubicam Brands Department: Naming & Writing Web Address: http://www.landor.com

Specialty Areas: Applied Linguistics; Verbal Identity

Description:

In the 'agency world' and among marketing professionals on the client side, Landor Associates is known as the world's most accomplished and internationally recognized branding and design consultancy. For 65 years we've delivered a multidisciplinary range of brand strategy, design, naming, interactive, and research services, helping clients around the world create, renew, and strengthen their brand power. Besides being a solid career credential for the best designers, marketers and all sorts of advertising, strategic and creative professionals, Landor is also well known as a fun, collaborative, and intellectually stimulating place to work.

The Director, Naming & Writing, based in Landor's New York City office, will be a strategic thinker and doer with expertise in developing branding and naming architectures, nomenclature systems, and naming guidelines for complex corporate and product/service projects. You will also be an expert in name and tagline development and brand voice strategy and guidelines.

Here are just some of the other things we expect from you: - help clients make decisions about strategic and creative work - sell naming solutions and bring ideas to life - provide clear direction to team members for creative efforts, helping them to optimize creative output - identify and take the lead on developing new products, methodologies and processes - be the problem solving "hired gun" on relevant client engagements and function as client leader on all types of Naming and Verbal Identity engagements - have strong and lively facilitation and moderation skills - manage, mentor and develop multiple direct reports - take the lead on creation of proposals and pitches - formulate, assess and manage overall department budget - handle day to day management and operational issues related to the Naming & Writing practice in Landor's NY office.

Qualifications: - The ideal candidate will have a Bachelors Degree in English, Linguistics, Liberal Arts, or related studies with a minimum of 8 - 10 years of Naming/Writing/Verbal Identity experience (on the agency or client side). - Must have leadership experience and worked in an organization as a Naming/Verbal Identity Consultant. - Significant experience with naming and nomenclature strategy is an absolute must. - A "wide angle" view of branding and ability to represent Landor's range of offerings to clients is necessary.

Landor Associates, part of the WPP Group of companies, provides a competitive compensation and benefits package.

To apply, please visit our company website listed below. Please create a new member profile and upload a copy of your resume (Word or PDF format is preferred). If you choose, you may submit samples of your work by clicking on the 'Add Documents' link after creating your profile.



Application Deadline: 30-Jun-2007 (Open until filled)

Web Address for Applications: http://www.landor.com/careers

Contact Information: Manager, Human Resources: Ira Beckman Email: ira_beckman@nyc.landor.com
April 11, 2007 | Tate Linden
Today will have to wait a bit. My post was going to be about pronunciation and the Analogy Model - a theory established by Glushko in 1979.

It was not to be. I hit save and it vanished into the ether.

Instead you can feast your eyes on a loosely related bit o' fun and gear up your mind for the eventual information-explosion to come tomorrow.

howtopronounce.jpg
March 27, 2007 | Tate Linden
I don't know about the rest of you name and tagline experts, but I received about twenty emails from clients, friends, and yes, even my wife about this article in the Washington Post yesterday. It's a fun read.

Here's what my wife sent me this morning:
On the radio this morning [she listens to the local NPR affiliate], the 7:30 factie was a list of taglines suggested by a DC blogger as the new DC motto. (The current slogan is "Washington, D.C.: The American Experience") My favorites:

Washington, D.C.: Less of a target than New York

Washington, D.C.: Guns now welcome

Washington, D.C.: More bloggers than rats

Washington, D.C.: Come for the frisking, stay for the wanding

Washington, D.C.: Experience the Confluence of Willful Ignorance and Power
Nice find, Sarah!

...and if any of you are wondering - we're not one of the PR firms hired to do the tagline work. We're not even a PR firm. Actually, we're kind of wondering why a PR firm would be involved in something like this.

I'm 95% certain that no matter what the tagline ends up being it'll be so watered down by focus groups that it'll have lost all significance.

I'm thinkin': Washington DC - Putting the "us" in USA.

How's that for bland? I could probably go even more bland and flat given more time... Save some money on the focus group investment...

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
March 26, 2007 | Tate Linden
In what I consider to be a very smart move, Nissan is looking at changing their current tagline. For some reason the tagline "SHIFT_" is not gaining traction. Of course, me being me... I'm going to spend some time telling you why it isn't working.
  • The use of a special character in a slogan is just plain weird. I'm pretty sure it was meant to be seen as a blank for the reader to fill in, but that isn't readily apparent when read. It almost seems like something you'd see in a click-language.
  • The idea that we could latch on to a concept that has no real identity (shifting) is pretty absurd. They've used the word to connote change, but the concept of change is one that can't define a brand. If your brand is in constant flux then you can't hang on to anyone that wants to buy your product. Think about it. Right after you're lured into buying a Nissan they go and change things up again and you're stuck being connected with a brand that no longer appeals to you. We don't want change - we want the stuff we want.
  • Rule number 43 of taglines. If you have to resort to a special character or something you can't pronounce in your tagline you're not done building yours yet.
  • Rule number 72(a) - If your tagline can be turned against you by the addition or subtraction of a single obvious letter you probably need to do some more work. The number of references to "SHIXT_" and Nissan exceeds 1500 on Google.
  • There's such a thing as a tagline with too many meanings. There was nothing solid to latch on to here. Nissan didn't decide which meaning they wanted, instead choosing for it to mean the act of shifting, mental shift, shift in expectations, stick shift, and more.
What really gets me steamed, though - is that this could be a great tagline... for an internal effort. Nissan was (and is) hurting - and they did need to shift... but they didn't need to tell their customers. Why share the fact that your bottom line is hurting and something needs to change? Sure, candor is often a good thing, but when it comes to cars people need to feel that the company is strong. Who wants a regular-use car for which there is no longer an accountable manufacturer?

About two months ago I found a great document lauding the success of this tagline and showing how great it was that Nissan was able to use the same message internally and externally. It appears to now be offline. If I can find it in my files I will repost it here. It's a great read - especially in light of the recent talk.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
March 9, 2007 | Tate Linden
Frequent readers will know that I've got problems with the way most organizations utilize taglines. The typical company uses their tagline as a way to fit in rather than a way to stand out. Consider the following examples:
  1. Making your dreams a reality (or) Turning your dreams into reality. With over a million hits for the combinations on Google it's clear that the slogans aren't doing a thing for the firms that use them. And also note that there's nothing at all here to tell us what industry the firm is in.
  2. Customers are Number One! Yep. And if they weren't you wouldn't be in business.
  3. Creativity. Strategy. Execution. Really this is a reference to the trend to have three single words as the tagline. No one ever pays attention to it. And it sounds reeeeeally pompous.
I was asked what I thought led to strong taglines last week and after a few minutes of thought I came up with this:

The best taglines have a few things in common:
  • They represent the brand spiritfast.jpg
  • They specifically apply to the company using the slogan - to the exclusion of any other company in the industry
  • There's something unexpected or unique - perhaps rhyme, interesting word choice, or an attitude that hasn't been seen in the industry. It has to have at least a little risk.
  • They address a specific audience and are meant to drive this audience to do something (like buy the product, think about particular qualities, talk about it, bug their parents, or something else.)
I was also asked whether there was a test that could be applied to determine if a tagline was great. I think that longevity comes close, though longevity isn't a requirement. Certainly there have been some powerful taglines that were created for singular events.

In some industries (such as with automobiles) you'll find manufacturers changing the tagline every year or two. Sometimes this can be good, but usually it is a sign of a major problem. Just look at what Buick has done over a four year period:

2001 - It's All Good 2002 - The Spirit of American Style 2004 - Dream Up 2005 - Beyond Precision

I challenge any of you to find the common brand theme or thread here. I see optimism, patriotism, creativity/aspiration, and accuracy. How do these ideas come together in a cohesive brand package?

Answer: They Don't.

I have a feeling that we'll be seeing yet another tagline from Buick soon - as they realize people don't buy Buicks for their tight handling or precise fit.

Contrast this tagline churn with what Saturn has done:

1990 - A Different Kind of Car Company 2002 - It's Different in a Saturn 2004 - People First 2006 - Like Always. Like Never Before.

Common threads? How about 'being different by valuing the relationship with the buyer/owner'? Every tagline references that in some way. This isn't tagline churn because the previous one was ineffective, it is churn that brings out deeper aspects of the core brand.

If you're going to invest in a new tagline every few years shouldn't you at least make sure that each one builds on the last?

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
February 23, 2007
methcoffee.jpg

Introducing Meth Coffee. This rather controversial named product is marketed as a high caffeine beverage that provides an intense buzz and cocoa-tobacco finish. The "Meth" branding could generate a storm of publicity for this product in the same way that the use of the word "Cocaine" did for a recently launched energy drink.
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 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 7, 2007 | Tate Linden
Some call it "corn mushrooms" or "the fungus delicacy that attaches itself to corn." But those that don't have the gift of marketing-speak seem to talk a little more freely. Consider "Corn Smut," for instance.

Or my favorite... (Boy I wish I could make this more suspenseful...)

"Sleepy excrement"

The product? Huitlacoche. (or Cuitlacoche)

Hunghuitlacoche2.jpgry yet? Just wait!

From recipes to go:
...common in central Mexico; during the rainy season, a fungus develops between the husks andhuitlacoche.jpg the ripe kernels where the kernels will blacken, contort and swell to form this musty fungus; valued for centuries in Mexico; has an earthy and distinct taste finally similar to mushrooms or truffles; lends a black hue and resonant aroma to stuffings for empanadas, tamales and quesadillas; makes distinctive sauces; usually sold cut from the cob and frozen; needs cooking to release flavor and aroma; often sautéed with roasted garlic and onions, and either fresh marjoram, oregano or epazote, then simmered with a little water or stock; harvested during the rainy season, usually late spring to early fall.
This lovely delicacy has been the target of USDA eradication efforts (they view it as a blight) - which may be one of the reasons why it is so darn hard to find in the States.

cuit4.jpgIn the late 1980s the James Beard House attempted to popularize the food by calling it "Mexican truffle," and some unknown marketer calls it"corn caviar."

This post was inspired by an old blog post at TheSneeze.com wherein the author eats an entire can of the stuff. You gotta go read it - mainly to see pictures of what they put in the can. (Imagine corn on steroids. Now imagine corn on steroids getting covered in mold. Oh. And filled with puss, too.)

Why am I writing about this on a naming blog? Because I think this is an excellent example of a product that ain't gonna benefit from a name change - no matter how great that name change is. Call it Ambrosia, call it Cocaine, or call it McDonalds... the name won't help it. It still looks like doo-doo (those Aztecs were smart.)

Remember the "You're soaking in it" tagline? Or secretly replacing the house coffee? That's just about the only approach that I could see working here. Hide the food inside stuff that people can't see and then surprise the audience with the fact that they just ate some really good tasting... mold. cuit3.jpg

On second thought, perhaps that won't work. I smell lawsuits.

Fellow namers - what do you think? Could you name (and brand) this well enough to make it a popular delicacy in the US? (No fair paying Oprah and Michael Jordan to endorse it. The Corn Smut lobby couldn't afford it.)

This one is beyond my pay grade.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
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.
January 25, 2007
canada.gifBack in the news (see our previous blog entry). As per the Minister's Office of Canada, effective immediately, the words “Canada's New Government” are to be used instead of “the Government of Canada” in all departmental correspondence. **Please note that the initial letters of all three words are capitalized.
January 25, 2007 | Tate Linden
wifi_logo_0.gifNo, it wasn't me. It was Ed Saenz of Gravity Branding - creator of the WiFi name.

The link to the video is here (because I don't know how to post it to my own site. If someone helps me out I'll fix it.)

While the entire interview is worth listening to (for over 48 minutes!), I found Ed Saenz to be particularly insightful when discussing a hypothetical naming process for Seagate.

Here's a rough outline of how he attacks the problem:

He asks or determines...
  • What is the unmet need or market opportunity
  • What are the features
  • Who is the user
  • What are their problems (one on ones - no focus groups)
  • What features of the product do they like
  • Why should they want to buy the product
  • Why should they care?
  • What is the brand essence? (He calls it the brand fulcrum)
  • What is the brand personality?
It's branding 101 - but in application rather than theory. Stokefire's own process has many of the same steps - and adds in a whole segment built around the evaluation of the names strengths and weaknesses - but I'm assuming that Gravity has steps that Ed didn't disclose. Never a good idea to give away the entire recipe for the secret sauce.

He also said something that I think a lot of engineers should take to heart. Paraphrased: Don't build a better mousetrap just because you can. Make sure that people want the improvement and that there are enough mice to trap before you start designing.

While the interview gets off track a few times (Scoble seems like a kid in a candy storescoble.jpg with his amazement and comments pulling away from the main thread of the conversation) it is generally informative. I'd love to have a ten minute version that edited out some of the meandering bits that led nowhere. (If someone builds one I'll happily link to it.)

It is rare that someone is this open with their thoughts and methods on naming and branding. Especially when what they have to say is actually interesting instead of a badly disguised sales pitch. (In this case it is quite well disguised.)

Worth a listen - keep it in the background while reading email.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
January 24, 2007 | Tate Linden
Instinctually I would call them "kind, smart, nice, attractive, brave, generous..." and any other praising word I could think of.

That doesn't work in politics, though. In politics people who give lots of money want to be recognized as a member of a money-giving group. This sort of throws a wrench in the whole throw a bunch of sincere compliments at 'em strategy of mine, since lord knows I can't recite any string of praiseworthy qualities other than the Boy Scout Law - and that I often get mixed up, too.

tex_1368.gifGeorge Bush's fundraising team used the term Ranger to signify those that bring in at least $200K, and Pioneer was chosen as the name for $100K supporters.

A few weeks back Giuliani's campaign strategy book was leaked to the press, and in it the titles for contributors were listed. These were:nyy_1256.gif
  • $1 million - Team Captains
  • $200K - MVPs
  • $100K - All Stars
  • $50K - Sluggers
  • $2K - Benchwarmer
Okay... so the last one isn't real. Oddly, campaigns don't have names for people who just give their personal maximum.

With Giuliani's widely known affinity for the Yankees this classification system seems appropriate - even if it doesnt really link in with national pride the way the Bush program did. People in the Giuliani system will know they are appreciated by the man himself, since the classifications are in his native tongue.

Terry McAuliffe was on The Daily Show last night and was asked by Jon Stewart what Hillary Clinton was going to call her major donors. His ad-lib response was "Hil-raisers" - a term that Stewart derided wholeheartedly. Gotta agree there - "Hil-raisers" is horrible.

McAuliffe's second response - "Mavericks" seems at least a little better. One could imagine Hillary actually usingdal_435.gif the word and referring to her supporters as being mavericks. And then there's the tie in with sports again... Rangers (as in Texas) and Mavericks (as in Dallas.) I'm sure it is accidental, but it's a nice way of moving in on Republican territory.

I think the problem with Mavericks is that the other categories will be difficult to make appealing. What would you use? Stallions? Mares? Additionally, the term Maverick is derived from Samuel A. Maverick - a man that let his livestock run wild and unbranded. Sort of strange to brand one's followers as a group of unbranded people... Shades of the Generation-X folks that all wore flannel shirts to show how different they were. (I still have one in my closet. A shirt, not a Gen-Xer.)

ne_897.gifMy advice: Ditch mavericks. Go for something that emphasizes Hillary's strong points. Is she really seen as a Maverick? I'm not sure that's the right angle. Why not latch onto the centrist identity and go after the patriotism concept? Hillary is not an outsider. She's lived a life of public service - so she should latch onto it. Who doesn't want to be labeled as a "Patriot?" There are are so many rich historical figures, battles, and other events that she can squeeze for source material...

I'm still not sure I've hit the target, though. Hillary could use a good personal branding session. The outputs from that endeavor would serve as great source material for the fundraising strata.

Anyone have any serious (or perhaps not so serious) suggestions for classifications?

(And if Hillary's staff is reading this... Operators are standing by.)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
January 23, 2007 | Tate Linden
Occasional commenter Steve Manning from Snark Hunting spotted this truly horrendous branding campaign (courtesy of Little Debbie Racing.)

His title for the (unaltered) picture? Little Debbie Does NASCAR.

little_debbie_racing.jpg

Who out there doesn't see what's wrong with this campaign? How can this get past corporate? I know there are all sorts of sickos out there - but I can't imagine there are actually enough of them to support a snack brand.

And, for the record, the name Debbie has officially been crossed off my list of candidates for the Linden-to-be. Probably an overreaction - but I didn't like the name Debbie to begin with.

Thanks McKee Foods!
January 19, 2007
"It's hip to go topless." Singapore's Hippo Bus tour's cheeky tagline referris to the open air, double-decker model bus. Bold move in a country known for it's high moral standards.
January 16, 2007
Alchemy Goods, which turns old bike tire tubes, advertising banners, and seat belt straps into messenger and tote bags. Reich started the company in a quest to create a hip, stylish, waterproof, and environmentally-friendly bag after his old messenger bag was stolen. Alchemy Goods espouses a “turning useless into useful” tagline, and denotes the recycled content percentage (by weight) within the Ag label on every product, ala th periodic table. Brought to you via inhabitat.

Alchemy Goods, recycled rubber bags, recycled billboard bags, Eli Reich, sustainable fashion, sustainable messenger bags, eco-friendly bags

January 11, 2007 | Tate Linden
Heard this on the local NPR affiliate this morning (text taken from the Sydney Morning Herald):
A travel poster spotted in India reads: "Have You Seen Nepal?" but the mountains pictured surround Peru's own Machu Picchu, according to Peruvian mountain climber Ernesto Malaga.

The official news agency Andina reported that Malaga was in New Delhi when he saw the poster, meant to promote visits to Nepal's Himalayas, 16,000 kilometres in the opposite direction.
Lesson number 142 in developing location-specific taglines: Always check to be sure that the location is actually where you say it is and has the stuff in it that you say it has.

This message provided to you by Stokefire, Canada's leading Australian Rules Football Team from Venice, France.

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.
January 1, 2007 | Tate Linden
Happy New Year everyone!

As mentioned in 2006 we have rebranded Stoked Brands as Thingnamer due to the change in focus for the blog. We'll be holding off on a new look until Stokefire (the company that owns the site and promotes the blog) has gone through their own rebranding and is ready to launch their own rebranded stuff.

Ever since we selected the name Thingnamer we've gotten quite a few questions about it. Here's a quick response to the various questions we've gotten:
  • Did you (Tate Linden or Stokefire) create the Thingnamer name? Nope. We didn't. We spent a whole lot of time a couple years back explaining what it was that we did - and then received a challenge to say what we did in three words. I came up with a few options, including "We Develop Identities" and "We Name Stuff." On a trip to Switzerland I mentioned this to the founder of Santana Tandems, (Bill McCready) and his response - written in the facebook for the trip - was to say that my occupation was "Thingnamer."
  • But don't you do more than name things? Yes. The title doesn't exactly cover everything that I do, but it certainly covers a good portion of it. Compare my title to that of "salesperson" or "programmer"... there's a whole lot of stuff that people do in those positions that have very little to do with programming or selling - and yet we let 'em go on with their day anyhow.
  • So why did you decide to steal the name from Bill? I'll ask a question back here. Which is more catchy - "We Name Stuff" or "I'm a Thingnamer?"
  • So... you name stuff for a living... but you couldn't come up with your own title (and blog)? In a word, "Yes." In a few more words, I believe firmly that in many cases "The eye cannot see itself." We have developed hundreds of names - including Stokefire - but once you live with (or within) an identity or concept for long enough you cease to be able to see it with fresh eyes. Bill had never heard of my line of work and his instinctual simplification was far better than my own labored efforts. (This is one reason why we will bring in non-experts to assist with naming when we're deeply involved in a project.)
  • What convinced you that Thingnamer was the right name? There were approximately 50 people on the Switzerland tour and every single one of them was intrigued enough by Thingnamer to approach me and ask me about it. It wasn't that they didn't understand the concept - it was that they thought it was the coolest thing they had ever heard. And there's more, too. I went back and started looking for other ways to say the same thing (but to address the full weight of my job) and I failed. Anything else I tried was awkward or inappropriate. Thingnamer trumps Identitygiver, Brandmaker, Namegiver, and just about any other munge you might think of. It is fun to say, has a fun Superhero aspect to it (as though anyone would actually want to be born with that super-power) and upon hearing it the first response isn't "boy that guy is certainly full of himself" (which was exactly the response each of the other names got.)
  • Will Stokefire remain the same, or is that changing too? Stokefire Consulting Group has no plans to change their name at this time.
  • What will happen to Stoked Brands? It will fade away. Search engines will probably still drive traffic due to that name, and I'm sure at some point someone else will try to get the domain (we never owned stokedbrands.com.) If someone wants to run with that identity they can do so without upsetting the Thingnamers here. I do love the concept of poking brands with sticks - and will likely bring that aspect inside Stokefire for marketing - but I never really connected with the identity of Stoked Brands. The alternate meaning of Stoked (usually used in the same sentence as "dude") doesn't reflect my own attitude or language - and it didn't really reflect that of Stokefire either.
  • Don't you tell people not to use ".com" for their company names? Yes. The ".com" after Thingnamer on this site is a name-geek joke. It is probably funny to a total of four people in the world - and one of them is me - so it stays for now. It seems like every company named from 1999 to 2001 slapped ".com" on the end of their name to show how cool, high-tech, and trendy they were. These same companies almost universally dropped their suffix after the "dotcom bubble" burst. If I was being more obvious I would've named it Thingnamr Beta. More people would probably appreciate the humor...
That's all the questions I've gotten so far. If you have more of 'em just leave a comment with the question. Or you can sling mud at the new name. Or tell me how right I am. Or comment on my shiny scalp. It's a new year... everything is possible.

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



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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 13, 2006 | Tate Linden
Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Katie Arcieri of the Capital Gazette. She talked with me about Anne Arundel's recent efforts to brand itself as the Informatics Capital of the World. A brief excerpt of the discussion can be found here towards the end of the article.

Here's how I was quoted:
Tate Linden, principal consultant of Stokefire Consulting Group, a Springfield, Va.-based brand development firm, said the claim that Anne Arundel was at the center of the informatics corridor was “aggressive,” considering that the county still seemed to be in the education process back in March. According to a county Economic Development Corp. press release dated Jan. 31, “informatics is about to become clear to more than 100 business executives” at a county tech council breakfast in March."

“The constituents said, ‘Maybe this is a word that will encompass everything,’” Mr. Linden said. “The advantage is, you don’t upset anyone by it, but you have to wonder if there’s anything in it.”
I'm not entirely sure that it makes sense, given that I'd been rambling on about related stuff for about 8 minutes before I said this gem. Ms. Arcieri isn't at fault here, though - this one is on me. The quote is accurate, and I can't expect that she give it a five paragraph preamble to contextualize it.

In case anyone is interested, here's a rough overview of the points (with embellishments) made in the conversation. Perhaps one of these will make my quotes make sense.
  • I did some quick research while talking with Ms. Arcieri and found that business leaders will still getting educated about what informatics was as recently as mid 2006 - and the process only started in early 2006 (as noted in the county Economic Development Corporation's own press release.) In my opinion when you're the capital of the world in something you shouldn't need to go to a meeting to learn what it is.
  • Informatics isn't well known - even in the informatics industry. Ms. Arcieri noted that many in the industry didn't know they were in the industry at all - thinking instead that they are in high-tech or database fields.
  • Since informatics (as a term) isn't well known the slogan and claim are forced to do double-duty. Not only are you having to go up against other tech-center cities, you must then help educate everyone as to what informatics is. The strength of any statement is weakened with it is followed by the phrase, "which means..."
  • I noted that it wasn't clear who the slogan was supposed to help. Was it focused on the existing businesses to help them feel better about staying there? Perhaps it was aimed at getting new companies to locate in the area. Or maybe it was a public service to get the concept of informatics into the mainstream.
  • When I looked up the meaning of informatics on the web I found a slew of definitions and while they were all related (it has to do with information) none were the same.
  • When a term isn't well known and is also somewhat ill-defined it seems like an aggressive strategy to use it as part of a publicity campaign. This term (and the way it is presented) isn't engaging enough to get people to go seek it out a definition, so the claim is going to be meaningless for most people.
  • Because informatics is such a general term, the claim that you are the capital of the world (or the corridor, or whatever...) becomes nearly empty. Princeton's wordnet defines informatics as the "gathering, manipulating, storing, retrieving, and classifying" of recorded information. That's a whole lot of things to be claiming. It'd be more meaningful (and perhaps believable) to pick one of those subheads. Otherwise you're about as believable as Leonardo was as he shouted "I'm the King of the world!" from the front of the Titanic.
  • Another quick search showed that Silicon Valley is better known for informatics than Anne Arundel is. Google showed ten times as many references for the former. Aren't world capitals typically better known in their field than non world capitals? (Or is this like state capitals that are less well known than other cities in the state - like Sacramento vs. San Francisco?) One of the keys to creating taglines that work is that they must be believable. Once people do know what informatics is they may not be able to swallow the claim. Sure, the NSA is in the area, but at least according to Google the Silicon Valley has a stronger connection to the field.
I know it is far easier to throw stones at slogans than it is to create them, and I've been told that this slogan was developed by a branding firm - though I don't know which one.

I can see some more creative and effective ways to apply this concept -

Want press? Use "All your informatics are belong to us." That presentation would get people looking up the word (and would also cause a backlash from people who hate that phrase being repurposed.)

Want press and controversy? Ultimately informatics in this area is used for government intelligence of some sort. Why not use "Anne Arundel: Big Brother's Brain."

The reason I am not fond of the informatics angle is that it takes no risks, gets forgotten, and doesn't get people involved. The way to create successful slogans is to step away from what is expected. Think Las Vegas. Think NYC.

...or at least think creatively...

"The Informatics Capital of the World" will not get press outside of the DC area. And press is what the area needs to actually become the informatics capital of the world.

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 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 | Tate Linden
Okay, so I have no clue if I will actually make this a recurring event, but Fridays tend to be pretty slow for names in the news.

Onomastics is the study of naming. Etymology is the study of the history of words. So I'm sincerely hoping that Onomastic Etymology is the study of the history of names. (It does sort of stand to reason, but reason isn't always right...)

Today's bit of history is provided by I. E. Lambert's book: The Public Accepts. Published in 1941, it does a great job covering the stories behind many (at the time) well known trademarks, names, and slogans.

The book is a wonderful time-capsule. In the second story of the book we are told "Many a manufacturer has a slogan for his product, but none is more consistently used than this one." I would wager that anyone born after the baby boom would have no clue what the slogan is given that hint - or would know what product is being referred to by the slogan after they hear it.

The slogan? "Ask the Man Who Owns One."

The 800+ hits on Google provide the answer.

On to today's history lesson!
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 1, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patt, White GMAC Real Estate office has changed their name to Pocono Advantage Real Estate. Now they can not even be located in the forest of Pocono related sites.
October 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 25, 2006 | Tate Linden

According to a group of doctors in London,

"The term schizophrenia should be abolished as it has become incorrectly assigned to a range of disorders and has stigmatising connotations within society."

Schizophrenia appears to be headed the way of countless afflictions that have somehow become more deeply meaningful (and offensive) than initially intended. While the article sites the factual incorrectness of the term schizophrenia, this doesn't address why the name should be changed. If people are misdiagnosing the problem isn't in the name, is it?

Consider: You are sick and you go to the doctor. Doctor says "You have a cold" but in fact you have the flu. Do we change the name of "cold" to something less confusing so that doctors don't mess up?

Okay... maybe that isn't the best example. Perhaps colors would be better. If I call something that is obviously red another color (say, "blue") you wouldn't consider renaming red to something else so that I stop calling blue "red."

That seems to fit a little better. It points out that the incorrect assignment noted in the quote above isn't the issue.

The real issue here with the name is that

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 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 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 | 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 | Tate Linden
adidas may have found the Kryptonite to weaken the Nike hold on basketball-shoe dominance. At least in theory. You see, they've put two different ideas together - a cool brand idea and a trendy alternate spelling of a number.

We like one of 'em... but the other smacks of highscool cool-kid tactics.

The adidas brand is being recentered on the idea of a team - a "we, not me" approach. This is a direct attack on the current market leader - Nike. Nike spent millions of dollars pushing the idea that being an all-star is the ultimate goal, and that to be an all-star you gotta be able to humiliate your opponent - freezing them, dunking over them, putting the ball between their legs... The goal was to out hustle your opponent one-on-one.

People weren't wearing Nikes because they wanted to be team players, they were wearing them because they wanted to "Be Like Mike." Sure, Jordan was one of the best team players ever, but there's a reason why the posters plastered on the walls of aspiring ballers never seemed to contain thrilling pics of him passing off the ball. Think Jordan and Nike and you get high-flying, toung stickin' out, in your face skill(z).

That adidas would go in the other direction and point out that one person can't make a team (as evidenced by Jordan during his time with the Wizards) points to how seriously they're taking this. Not many people go against what Nike does. They've had a magic touch of lately.

What I personally like about this is that they're actually going after a larger market than Nike is. Sure everyone thinks that they're all-stars, but
October 13, 2006


Fans SHIVE(RED) as Oprah and Bono IGNO(RED) them. How a Gap in brand aid can leave a nasty, (RED) rash on customers.

How a bad tagline (could) ruin a station. 107.5 FM: Movin' In The Wrong Direction. B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o... Bingo was it's Nanaimo! (British Columbia that is). Local Lantzville Rotary Club renames it's auction to Big Rotary Auction.

A cure for depression? Butter try.

Utterly Yours breast pillow. Holly Cow. The depth of imagery possibilities here.

Brand Health = Wealth. PepsiCo's new CEO, announces profits from "healthier" brands.
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 13, 2006 | Tate Linden
Our blog has become pretty popular amongst the Real Estate crowd. We get a half-dozen hits a day through Google and Yahoo search engines from people looking for help with Real Estate, Realty, and Realtor taglines or names. We also get a few links from realty professionals that seem to like our stuff. (Thanks folks!) Sure, it isn't a deluge, but the flow never seems to stop.

Interestingly, of the hundreds of realty visitors we've gotten on the blog we've never had a single inquiry about how we can help - other than one of the following questions.
"Can you point me to any FREE name and tagline resources on the internet?"

"Can you show me where the free real estate slogans... Or free real estate taglines are?"

"Do you provide free Realtor taglines or free Realtor slogans?"
Not much variation, is there? We get these questions a lot. And we never hesitate to provide links to those resources. (In fact, you can click right here and here and here and here and here and even here if you just want to get that free help right now. Just be aware that some of the help provided may have trademark or other legal issues for you to wrangle with.)

Okay... now that everyone except for you has left our site I'll get down to my real issue.

Here's my question for the realty folks:

How is it that people working in an industry where they are constantly fighting against low-cost or free resources (such as the "Save 6%" and "FSBO" options) such a huge number of professionals try to boost their own business by using the exact same class of service (free) they warn their own clients against using? Is it that they don't see the value?

Not only this - but these same professionals ask for help - and they leave a trail of crumbs that prove they're using free services.

Let's take a quick look at the type of advice being given on the free sites. Here's a real-life sampling of suggsted taglines from the free services:
Let our experience work for you Take a Q from the crowd and call Que Scott first Experienced in Living and Loving Bucks County making sure your real estate needs are met Trust us to find your dream Home
See anything here that sets these agents apart from their competition or gives their prospective clients a reason to do business with them? I'm not sayin' that these slogans can't work... I just don't see that any of them are adding any value. Just check how many hits you get for the key phrases like "Let our experience" "your real estate needs" and "find your dream home." When you see tens of thousands - or even millions - of hits you know there's a problem. No one will remember your slogan, and no one will think about what it means since they hear it just about every day from every other business.

One of our recent projects involved coming up with a slogan for a local real estate company. The owner of the company worked with us over a period of two months to develop (among other things) an effective slogan that has never been used in real estate previously. The slogan speaks directly to the target market, suggests a whole suite of unique services, and allowed the firm to develop a concrete personality that compells target prospects to do business with them. It also filters out clients that won't appreciate what the company offers. Last - the slogan takes advantage of key aspects of the company owner's personality... so very little work was needed to implement the slogan across the brand.

For those of you that think the "filtering out" aspect is losing you business, think again. If you could get rid of all the tire-kickers in your business wouldn't that allow you to spend more time either with your existing valued clients or working on finding prospects that are more likely to sign with you? This is more than just focusing on a neighborhood - it involves finding a lifestyle or life-stage that is in need of your services. And one would hope that no one else is actively serving that lifestyle right now - and there aren't many lifestyles that fit that description - especially when it comes to realty.

If any realtors are still reading this and think that good slogans can still be found for free we encourage you to go for it. In fact, if you can find a good source of free slogans we'll add it to this post so others can benefit - and we'll provide examples of the slogans suggested.

But of course we're always willing to take on new realty projects if you feel you can't get what you need for free.

...Oh... and what's the slogan we developed for our client?

Why not ask them yourself? (We reserve the right to remove the link if too many folks write to 'em.)

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 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.

September 22, 2006 | Tate Linden
About two months ago we heard about this story - but we didn't know what it entailed. Back in July Coles Myer said they were preparing to rebrand and rename their company. What they didn't say back then was that Coles Myers is spending $900,000 per month on the project. And now the project has lasted five months, leading to a $5 million bill.While we haven't seen any official press releases - The Australian News says Mccann-Erickson and Futurebrand are leading the project.

One may wonder how the company is paying for this. Perhaps the "retrenchings" of about a dozen marketing general managers (saving $3 million) and 2500 other employees (saving an undetermined sum) is part of it.

Here's the problem with this
September 18, 2006 | Tate Linden

We're not actually sure that this was a direct consequence, but the timing sure seems to link this up rather nicely.

Stingray Brewery is renaming to The Cayman Islands Brewery. (Release found here.)

(For those that don't know, Irwin was killed by a Stingray off the coast of Australia in recent days. He will most assuredly be missed - and we could easily see him tipping back a pint of Stingray brew up in the clouds. Hair of the dog, and all. Rest in peace - or perhaps perpetual child-like amazement, Steve.)

Regardless of the cause, this may be a decent name change. Sure, Stingray has some strong imagery (though

September 6, 2006 | Tate Linden

In an apparent effort to make the glass half-full, Canada's government... wait. Nix that. "...Canada's New Government" begins its sixth month in office.

I'm a little perplexed here. If I go to buy a car and note that it is six months old and has five thousand miles on it I'm certainly not going to consider it new. Not even almost new. In fact,

August 25, 2006 | Tate Linden
What happens when a naming consultancy goes rogue? They put all their hard work and creativity into naming an organization only to find that their masterpiece is wasted on a still-crappy company? They'd want payback, right?

That has now happened. But before we get to that story, let's take a quick look at the precedence for renaming companies in trouble.

The temptation is certainly there. When a company has something to hide there's a strong inclination to find a quick fix. What could be easier than a name change? Philip Morris and WorldCom certainly found something attractive enough in the concept to take the chance. Now known as Altria and MCI, the two companies are working hard to show they've changed.

Okay, that's not quite right.
August 21, 2006 | Tate Linden
Hey kids!

Ever wanted to know if you could come up with the next "Just Do It" or "Where's the Beef?" Now you can see if you've got what it takes. Threadless has created a nifty little pseudo-competition that allows you to test your mettle at either wordcraft or design (just click the tab on the page to get to the slogan portion.)

We've been a big fan of Threadless tees for about two years, and tend to give out the shirts to unsuspecting relatives who universally say "Umm... gee. Thanks?" (Most Threadless tees seem to be printed just to get people to ask what the shirt means.)

Our recent purchase of this shirt (our first slogan-only tee - for use on casual cycling days) has made us think that just maybe we could bend our naming and tagline skills to this purpose. The challenge is on.
August 14, 2006 | Tate Linden

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

Want to know what you'll be naming?

August 4, 2006 | Tate Linden

I wasn't aware of it previously, but I just learned that the company that owns POM also owns Fiji Water. Upon taking over Fiji they developed a new tagline:

"Untouched by human hands. Until you drink it."

To me this is a brave and bold move. I don't think the tagline would make it by a focus group

August 1, 2006 | Tate Linden
Spirited Energy?

The public has spoken and they want something better. A competition suggested by Tom Brodbeck of the Winnepeg Sun brought in some great ideas.

His favorite? "Where the West Begins."
July 31, 2006 | Tate Linden
This from the makers of the St. Louis brand:
"Six months, 700 interviews, 19 one-on-one focus groups, dozens of meetings with the region’s economic development, government, and business leaders … that’s what it took to uncover and develop the Greater St. Louis story.

We’re proud to unveil the region’s new brand identity. It communicates what differentiates us as a place to expand or locate a business … Perfectly centered. Remarkably connected."
Justing thinking in print here, but does it take six months to figure out that St. Louis is in the middle of the United States? And does it take 19 focus groups to confirm that it matters?
July 28, 2006 | Tate Linden
This just in from "Realtorguy" - A frequent poster to these boards:
Since you’ve bashed Realtors for awhile, that should give me credibiity to bash city tag lines, right?

I heard one today on the radio: “St Louis. Perfectly Central. Perfectly Connected”.

Didn’t make me think of a reason to visit or set up a business there, but it reminded me that a generation ago, the city was a TWA hub. The airline’s gone, and so, does that also speak to the city itself.

I simply wasn’t impressed.
I'm not impressed either.
July 10, 2006 | Tate Linden

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

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

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

Quick takes on the books in progress:

July 7, 2006 | Tate Linden
This just in:

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

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

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

It sure as heck wasn't us.
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."

July 5, 2006 | Tate Linden
What if you could write a tagline that would only appeal to those that were actually qualified to use your service?

Perhaps you'd say that the tagline should be accessible to everyone and shouldn't make anyone say "so what?"

Based on what I've seen from JDate.com I'd suggest that you'd be wrong.

JDate has developed a tagline that really only makes sense to potential users of their product. Their tagline is
June 29, 2006 | Tate Linden

Thanks to an anonymous email I'm blogging about the Realtor GRI program today. Don't know what the GRI is? Apparently neither does most of the world. This doesn't stop the National Association of Realtors from charging their constituency extra money for additional training - and the right to use the GRI logo (and taglines! - but we will get to those in a moment) on their business cards and other marketing materials.

GRI stands for Graduate REALTOR Institute. As stated here,the GRI symbol "is the mark of a real estate professional who has made a commitment to providing a superior level of professional services by earning the GRI designation. REALTORs with the GRI designation are highly trained in many areas of real estate to better serve and protect their clients."

Okay... so if GRI's are trained to better serve and protect their clients, then what are the normal everyday vanilla kind of REALTORs trained to do?

June 28, 2006 | Tate Linden
Once again William Lozito has dug up some interesting stuff over on his blog (though he admirably credits Jean Halliday of Advertising age for the original material.)

Based on the research displayed on William's site it appears that car manufacturers are bowling through taglines and marketing strategies at a rapid pace. Every few years there's a major change in direction - such as Buick's alarmingly fast transition from "It's All Good" (2001), to "The Spirit of American Style" (2002), to "Dream Up" (2004), to "Beyond Precision" (2005.)

William suggests that this is proof that "even the biggest and the best have difficulty sticking to a marketing strategy and related slogan or tagline." We agree with him.

But we also note that
June 27, 2006 | Tate Linden
Okay, so they don't say that exactly, but it sure feels like it.

Philadelphia's new slogan - "Forever Independent" does a great job of reminding people of the major historical events that occured there, and I'm actually pretty fond of the sentiment and the potential that the slogan holds.

While the potential is there for some great programs, Philly has chosen only one option - pointing out the centuries old events. Kind of makes me wonder how they could justify the use of "forever" when they pretty much stopped with the independence-type activity shortly after our nation was born. Since then one could argue that Philly has been a center of conforming influence for the good ol' US of A.

So, why I am I still fond of the slogan?
June 23, 2006 | Tate Linden

I see so many taglines out there that are just plain... well... plain. Most companies use the four or five words to say "No, We're the Best" rather than coming out and saying how they're different than everyone else. If you've got any of the following words in your tagline you're probably playing defense with your tagline:

  • Quality
  • Number One
  • Customer (or client)
  • Best/Greatest/Top/Incredible

Why is this defense? Because almost everyone uses these terms - meaning that all you're doing by using the same words is preventing those companies from having an advantage over you.

How can you go on offense?

June 19, 2006 | Tate Linden
I'm a huge fan of Minor League Baseball - and went out to the Potomac National's game this past weekend to soak up the Americana. I've always been fascinated by the advertising that goes up along the fence... and it was pretty impressive this time. Some great local businesses ("Fat Punks" restaurant for one) and a smattering of representatives from larger organizations.

On this great day there was a single advertisment that hovered like a cloud over my otherwise sunny experience. Yep - a Realtor again. I'm not going to name names, since I agree with the idea that we should be supporting the local teams. I'd hope, however, that with that support one could realistically expect to get something in return.

This Realtor had a picture of themselves with their little pet (I was too far away to see if it was a cat or a dog) and had the following slogan:
June 15, 2006 | Tate Linden
In the past week I've had a half-dozen or so questions about why I don't use focus groups as part of my branding, naming, or tagline development processes. Mike Wagner's recent comments here have prodded me to put a few of my more coherent thoughts in print.

Here are a few reasons why I'm not a fan of focus groups:
  1. In real life people considering a purchase do not typically discuss their likes and dislikes with strangers before making a buy decision.
June 14, 2006 | Tate Linden

I'm going to go out on a rather fragile limb and throw a very (very) small dart at a company that I genuinely respect. The guys and girls at Igor International have a great process in place for creating product and company names. They are both creative and very scientific, using a scale a bit similar to what we use to measure the quality of our name candidates. (Note: Their system pre-dates ours, so they certainly didn't get the idea from us.)

Today on the Snark Hunting blog (run by the folks at Igor) I was surprised to find this - which links you to this page that seems to imply that taglines are the result of brainstorming after you've rigorously developed a name.

Talk to me, Igorians. What stops you from analyzing the tagline? You promote your very creative and measured process for developing names, and you help your clients understand why various names are good or bad. Why are taglines given short shrift?

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?

June 9, 2006 | Tate Linden
Like Beer? Looking for the best beer? Good news! There are apparently many companies making exactly the product that you're looking for!

Here's what they say about themselves:
June 2, 2006 | Tate Linden

Today's seminar went very well, for the most part. I discussed the five aspects of a brand that create memorability and attraction with the target audience. We had a completely packed house - standing room only (a first for me since my days in music performance.) I thank the caterers, the Women's Business Center, and the Community Business Partnership for making this such a well attended event.

I also got to introduce the newest member of the Stokefire Team (Dana FitzGerald) who was the Vanna to my Pat during the presentation. She'll be helping out with client relations for the next month or so. Great to have someone on board to give our clients the attention they deserve even when our branding experts may be momentarily inaccessible.

The presentation itself when quite well except for a couple notable exceptions:

June 1, 2006 | Tate Linden

William Lozito over at Strategic Name Development talked about Edmonton's new campaign. Simply put, he didn't like it. The slogan is "Edmonton - It's cooler here." To unjustly distill his message down, he posits that since people already know Edmonton is cold (uncomfortably so, even) there's little point in reminding everyone of this fact.

I'm of a different mind than William on this one. It isn't that he's wrong, per se. I just think that the slogan isn't aimed at him - or at anyone in the North.

May 31, 2006 | Tate Linden
Round and round the wheel goes, where it will stop no one knows...

Evidently the more I talk about Realtors and taglines the more people come here looking for the information.

So, let's play the game. Can you name the companies that have selected the following taglines?
May 26, 2006 | Tate Linden
Quick, who uses the tagline "Men should act like men, and light beer should taste like beer?"

If you know the answer to that - then can you name the sub-brand?

Answer -
May 25, 2006 | Tate Linden
One of the great things about a blog is that we get to see basic information about who visits our blog. In the past few weeks we've found that more people come here looking for realty taglines than anything else. Wonderful. We welcome all kinds at Stokefire and Stoked Brands.

But there's a bit of an issue here. Realtors looking for a tagline as the key to their success are looking in the wrong place. A tagline cannot develop a Realtor's identity unless there's a unique core to wrap the tagline around. If you're a Realtor like all the other Realtors then you're going to end up with a tagline like everyone else. What does this mean?
May 22, 2006 | Tate Linden

You've probably already heard about it via WJZ or the blogosphere, but Baltimore has put out another doozy of a slogan for all of us to be moderately unhappy with.

The new slogan, "Get In On It" was leaked to the Baltimore Sun (or was it the Washington Times?) and announced late last week. It hasn't been made official yet, but that should come soon.

There are tons of blogs that think this slogan is horrible.

May 9, 2006 | Tate Linden

William Lozito has a short discussion on his blog of state and city tagline problems that seem to have been plentiful lately. While his naming methods may differ from Stokefire's techniques for naming, I think he is spot on with this bit of wisdom:

"What flavor ice cream do you get when you order for 10 people in a room together? Vanilla of course. The same holds true for a brand name, slogan or ad campaign."

While I agree with the idea, I'm curious how it scales to cities of a million people. Is it harder to come up with a flavor that makes everyone happy? Do people even try?

May 4, 2006 | Tate Linden

I know people mean well, really I do. Everyone (including myself) thinks that if something sounds catchy and memorable to us then it will sound catchy to other people. Unfortunately, in branding this is often not the case.

Here's my version of Groundhog Day: A prospective client calls me on the phone to ask if I can help with coming up with a company name. "Of Course!", I proclaim. Names and taglines are a big part of the branding service we provide, and both are major sparks for brand success.

The prospect continues. "Great! You see, I've already got this great tagline and I want to build my entire business around the concept."

My sixth sense activates at this point, since I can guess with about 75% accuracy that the name will be one of three things, but I'll get to those in a moment.

"Do Tell" I prompt.

"You're going to love this!" they breathe. The slogan is...