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July 31, 2007 | Tate Linden
In Sunday's NYT Magazine there was a great article by Erin McKean about the Oxford English Corpus. Imagine having access to over a billion words that are tagged and given context. For a namer this is close to heaven. With a few clicks you could check any English word for negative connotations and sort by the most powerful connections.

What a great way to determine what a word or phrase may bring to mind. It'd get rid of those experiential biases that we all bring with us (AKA "I knew a guy named ____ and he was a twit - so I'm not gonna name my company that.")

And that's only scratching the surface.

I was thoroughly peeved, however, to learn that all the press lately is for naught. Yes it is pretty cool that there are over 1 billion words in the Corpus. But who gives a rat's arse (note the British spelling!) how many words there are if we can't look at the damn thing. Are we supposed to be pleased that the smart-folk have access and are thus shepherding our language much more intelligently than they were able to before they had access?

It is obvious that Oxford is looking to invest heavily in the OEC brand. Rebecca over at OUP notes that the "Powered by Oxford Corpus" is showing up on all the new Oxford dictionaries. One assumes this is a tactic similar to the "Intel Inside" campaign, in that even though we could buy a computer that was powered by Intel we didn't have the right to take apart the chip and figure out how it worked. Perhaps that's a weak metaphor... But since I don't have access to the Corpus I can't figure out if there's a better word grouping for what I want to say.

Also interestingly, there are no indications that people like me (and you - if you don't edit dictionaries) can't access the thing. It's like they're taunting us by telling us how cool this thing is (they even show you how to use it!) and then not even giving us the courtesy of telling us we can't use it. They let us waste a couple (okay, a few) good hours figuring it out for ourselves. It's like a word-geek clique. If you have to ask then you're obviously not going to get access...

Any dictionary editors out there want to loan me a password so I can play? I won't tell a soul...

Until then - My slogan for the OEC is: "Oxford English Corpus - The Hypothetical Anti-Resource."
June 20, 2007 | Tate Linden
ONLY TELL PEOPLE WHO WILL RESPECT THE NAMES

This snippet was sent to me yesterday, forcing me to scan the Internets trying to figure out where it came from:
I have a magical name that is spoken with only very few others and when it is, I know those who speak it respect the message the name promotes.
I found the site, but I'm not going to link to it. Mainly because I don't want to peeve any Wiccans that might trace the link. Angry Wiccans scare me. (Yes, the snippet is one interpretation of the method Wiccans use for naming... You can find more by clicking here.)

Two things about this idea:
  1. I love the thought that the "official" name of a thing or person doesn't really matter and it is only the magical name that counts. Makes me want to say "Oh... the name of that hotel Stokefire just branded isn't the real name. I can't tell you the real name, but rest assured that if you knew the name you'd respect the message the name promotes when you said it." There is a huge amount of power in keeping something secret - and it is one of the reasons why names - or almost anything - when publicized tend not to live up to expectations. Remember when Dean Kamen was going to blow the lid off of human transportation? Do you know how far you have to travel to find a Segway showroom? Secrets are powerful things - but in the business of naming you can't keep secrets... (or perhaps I just haven't figured out how to do it yet...)
  2. It's like those super exclusive clubs that no one knows about except the in crowd. The Wiccans could be on to something here. It's a bastardization of the scarcity principle. If you think something is rare or about to run out you'll value it more highly than something easy to get... so if we hide the name of a thing (so that people can't talk about it) maybe it will become so scarce that people just have to have it. It worked for the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince, in a way...
In the mean time (as I attempt to figure out exactly what I just wrote) I'll consider your responses to the following question: Should Stokefire get into the business of magical names? And can you be paid for magical names with real money?
May 9, 2007 | Dr. Florence Webb
If Tate's offline today I'll write a post. I'd like to find out where other namers stand on the burning issue of the day...which is, what exactly is a vessel and when is it empty?

Tate and I have had a running disagreement about the nature of Apple Computer's name in the context of naming typology. It has been Tate's oft-repeated position that APPLE is an empty-vessel name. He bases this on statements made many years ago that Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs chose the name Apple based solely on his admiration for the Beatles and their Apple record label. Since neither the word itself nor Jobs' reasoning connects with computers in any way, it's an empty vessel. (Tate, when you are able to resume posting you may feel free to say so if I have misrepresented your position in any way. Tee hee hee, it's kinda fun to say this knowing that you're under your self-imposed cone of silence today!)

My position is that Apple is a real word with real and widely understood associations such as apple pie. I will note in passing that Neil Taylor, in "The Name Of The Beast", lists Apple as a real-word name and categorizes it as primarily evocative in impact.

So even before reading Taylor I was in agreement with him that the word Apple has such a familiar, household-word impact that it cannot be classified as an empty vessel regardless of the intentions of the company management that chose it. In fact, if they truly meant to choose an empty vessel they blew it.

It seems quite possible to me that "Apple"s impact as a kitchen word materially affected the success of Apple's campaign to position their computers as more user-friendly than everybody else's. Had they called it "Lennon" or "LoveMeDo" or "Cavern" the vessel might have indeed been empty.

But regardless of the state of Steve Jobs' unconscious, the word Apple carries meanings which are pretty much universal to an American audience, which to some degree evoke some of what Apple Computers explicitly wanted to commuicate. So I say: a vessel perhaps, but not empty.

What say y'all?
February 21, 2007 | Tate Linden
It's a little too busy for me to take the time to write a full post today. I'm headed to the Springfield Waterford for a government contract luncheon and expect that I'll see quite a few of you local blog readers there. Additionally we've begun research on the eco-branding project and that's proving to be a deeper well than anticipated. Add in a complete rewrite of our own marketing materials and our existing branding work and you've got a fully-tasked Stokefire team. We'll be back tomorrow to say something interesting.

Maybe I'll hit on brand archetypes. (A way-too-inaccessibly described method of determining the essense of your brand personality.)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
January 24, 2007
picture-1.jpgWeb site developer changes its name

ECalton.com is switching to Blue Tangerine. "Blue Tangerine Solutions was selected as our new company name because it is unusual enough to be memorable, and it's generic enough to support our business growth in the rapidly evolving sector of the Internet technology industry. And although it is a bit longer than 'eCalton,' it's actually easier to spell."
January 2, 2007

Häagen-Dazs — Simply two made-up words meant to look European to American eyes. This is known in the marketing industry as foreign branding.

Hotmail — They tried all sorts of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "HTML" (the markup language used to write web pages). It was originally referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casing.

Yahoo! — The Web site started out as "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web" but eventually received a new moniker with the help of a dictionary. The name Yahoo! is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they liked the general definition of a yahoo: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth."

December 29, 2006 | Tate Linden
In case you've been looking for our daily updates - we've shuttered the doors until the 2nd of January. We thought we'd be able to post while on the road over the holidays but Internet Connectivity isn't a priority for northern New Hampshire. We'll be back to our normal schedule soon.

Happy Holidays (sent via a dial-up connection... so they may take a while to get to you.)

Tate Linden
December 26, 2006 | Tate Linden
More top-ten changes during the holidays...
  1. Markeys and Popwink move up. Evidently the folks in the Netherlands really like naming a whole lot.
  2. Rich With Meaning drops off the list after almost a full year of inactivity.
  3. We took a day off yesterday. Anyone expecting an update on a US Federal Holiday needs to re-think things a bit.
  4. There's only one Schro¨dingers blog left - and they're a busy corporate site... but they are out of the top ten, so perhaps we'll get rid of 'em yet.
As promised we've begun eliminating spots - so we've got only 14 ranks today.

And now, the...

THREE MONTH ALEXA RANKING AVERAGES (12/26/2006):

Rank Site AlexaRank Change 1 Wordlab: 72,727 (862) 2 Stoked Brands: 130,653 9742 3 Igor: 143,144 4685 4 Strategic Name Development: 212,904 (1570) 5 Snark Hunting: 267,694 (458) 6 Qwerky: 274,541 4110 7 Good Characters: 759,174 (4753) 8 Away With Words: 796,837 49,329 9 Popwink: 1,458,867 151,049 10 Markeys: 1,520,541 803,662 11 Catch-Word: 1,604,852 (136,024) (Schrödinger’s Blog) 12 Beep.Name: 2,040,833 11,007 13 Brandnama: 2,154,761 12,275 14 Name Ideas: 2,695,949 15,521 Not in the top 14 this week:

Rich With Meaning (Schrödinger’s Blog), Product Names, Motorbrand: (Schrödinger’s Blog) Pastelot (French), Ton Of Bricks/A Hundred Monkeys (Schrödinger’s Blog)
December 6, 2006 | Tate Linden
We're in the midst of a book project in our "spare" time here at Stokefire. One of the things we're looking to provide are real war stories or horror stories about naming projects from around the globe. We've already got the goods for the major stories - the ones that are easily found via Google or Technorati or in any one of a dozen books on corporate names and histories (or even from our own experience.)

We need the stories that aren't written. We need the laughable, the tear-inducing, the weird. Did they name your company after the owners dog? Is the name unpronouncable? Impossible to spell? Did your company get bought by someone who just slapped their own name on it even though they don't have a clue what you do? Heck - we'll consider any sort of naming story - even the naming of people, animals, or scientific stuff.

We've got our share of stories from the inside. We want the stories we can't find.

What can we offer to those whose story we can confirm and use?

How about:
  • Your name in print with the story and in the acknowledgements (if you wish)
  • Links to your blog from this site and the book site when it is launched.
  • A free copy of the book when published.
We cannot publish stories that we can't confirm, so if you submit something make sure you include your email so we can follow up.

We'd appreciate a Digg or two - or just telling your friends in the industry about this. The more publicity we get the more useful the book can be to you and the other folks looking for solid information about naming.

And to those of you in the naming industry - we're happy to share your stories as well... fully attributed. This isn't about self-promotion for us, it is about helping educate consumers about the troubles that can occur when stuff goes wrong with naming and branding.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
November 30, 2006 | Dr. Florence Webb
Believe it or not, brands and brand development may be rising into the public consciousness.

Yesterday on a major television network - okay, it was NBC - the Today Show featured a story about stock photos in ads. The gist of it was that even large companies are using stock pix from the discount aisle at KMart - which means they aren't paying for exclusive rights. And so, the same picture turns up in two or more ads, possbly even for competing products. They showed a dozen examples, from companies as varied as Met Life, J.P.Morgan Chase, Wellpoint, Viagara, and Washington Mutual. The same picture repeated, reversed, sometimes the background used with opposing politicians Photoshopped into the foreground.

What's wrong with this picture? Legally, nothing. But as the piece points out, (wait for it...) it does make it pretty hard to establish the uniqueness of your particular brand.

Dr. Florence Webb Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group
November 21, 2006
ReadyMade Enjoys Meredith's Ad Bounty: Perhaps its Web site tagline best articulates its mission: “A bimonthly print magazine for people who like to make stuff.”.

Moviefone Harnesses Studios For New Ad Campaign. "Shrek The Third," Lionsgate's "Saw III," and Universal's "Evan Almighty" movie promo poster's have been altered to feature Moviefone.com's signature tagline, "What's your moviemood.".

Andrea Jung, Avon's first femail CEO, in Avon's 118 year history is Reinventing the Avon Lady. In doing so, she returned the firm to Avon's founding vision as "the company for women" focused on creating economic opportunities for women; that tagline was so

$60 Mil. Diet Coke Moves to Wieden. Wieden now handles the Atlanta-based client's Powerade sports drink out of Portland, and global duties on the flagship Coke Classic primarily out of its office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its Amsterdam office came up with the current worldwide theme, "The Coke side of life.". "Light it up" is Diet Coke's current tagline.

Aruba Tourism Authority creates new ad campaign. Each new ad promoting ad carries the tagline: "This is Aruba. This is our home. And we want to share it with you.". An effort sorely needed for the negative PR affecting Aruba's tourism.
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 16, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Binge drinking takes a deep beating with new strapline.

Malibu, CA residents try to dodge De Butts.
October 13, 2006


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.
September 20, 2006 | Tate Linden

This is an older news item, but it provides a nice touch of back-story...

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? had this to say in a story from PROFIT Magazine

"Just before I rebranded my company from The Rubbish Boys to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I called Al Ries, the author of The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. I wanted to ensure that my new company name obeyed his 22 laws. Al told me it did, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was off to the races."

We like the new name. A lot. (At least a lot better than the old one that used an arcane term for trash that would leave most people running for a thesaurus when they tried to find 'em. "Was it TrashGuys? Or GarbageMen?")

A few reasons we like the selected name:

August 21, 2006 | Tate Linden

Everyone knows about Microsoft's .Net product line/philosophy, right? Okay, maybe you don't. For a while there Microsoft was pushing it in an all out media blitz. They marketed it to end users, programmers, financial types, and ceos. If you had a pulse and a pocketbook they wanted you to know .Net was here.

For some reason it didn't take off the way they thought it would. .Net didn't really make sense to most people. I'm assuming that programmers and networking types got it, but me and the legions of "when I hit this button magic happens" people were left in the dark.

What is this .Net thingy? What does it do for me?

August 16, 2006 | Tate Linden

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

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

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

July 20, 2006

There is just something about the word "blog" that makes me hesitate. It just does not sound like something I would like to admit to doing.

Tate set me up to blog though. And with his provocation, a loyal member of this forum has been more than kind and coaxed me out of my bashfulness when it came to an attempt at blogging, I am compelled to blog at least once...or twice, we will see how it goes.

July 12, 2006 | Tate Linden
No time to do real research here, as I am in an International Airport in Canada, but while sitting in the lounge I was served a very fine French-Canadian beer made by "Unibroue"

It's got great taste, high Alcohol by volume (9%!) and was a refreshing change from the soda-pop beers I usually am served in lounges in America.

However - I'm not sure that Unibroue has much of a future (as it is currently named) in America. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I see the word my first instinct is to pronounce it so it rhymes with Lowenbrau...
June 22, 2006 | Tate Linden
What has gotten into the minds of supposedly reputable companies? Or rather, what has gotten into their sales departments?

We received two identical packages from Cook's Illustrated yesterday - neither of which we ordered. The boxes had "Open Immediately... Free Gift Inside" printed in large letters.

Thinking that my wife had ordered something from them I opened them up. The first box was a cookbook and free celebrity chef coin. The second box was...
June 13, 2006 | Tate Linden
It took us a while to see the value in putting Google's Adsense tool on our website, but it has begun to make sense.

We put a link on the lower right side of the blog to see if anything would happen. In the beginning very little did. First, every link it provided pertained to money-making opportunities and blogging... and none of you clicked on any of it.

In recent weeks, however the links have become more focused on what we talk about here. There have been links to corporate branding, internal branding, business branding ... and even a link to beer glasses (based on my recent posts on the acute lameness of beer taglines, I'd guess.)
June 6, 2006 | Tate Linden

Imagine a world where you can get paid for who you know. Cool, right? You list your contacts and if someone wants to talk with them you can charge people for access! Whee! Isn't for-profit networking fun?

Not so fast, kiddo. Let's think about this for a moment. Why should you be allowed to make money off of me? How do I know that you're not just sending me someone so you get a payday and not because this is a good person for me to network with?

Vshake - a new for-profit networking site led by Sagi Richberg and Sergey Gribov - attempts to add a dash of Multi-Level Marketing and profiteering to the networking concept. If I invite you to join my VShake network I will get paid any time you pay anyone else for access (to you or one of your contacts) - or anyone pays you for access.

Sorry folks, but I don't go for MLM concepts, so you won't be getting an invite from me any time soon.

May 10, 2006 | Tate Linden

I came across this little cartoon today. (Click for higher quality image)

Sliver

It made my day.

April 21, 2006 | Tate Linden

Aren't logo-wear ball caps great? You get to stick your logo on your head and walk proudly around the town getting some very cheap exposure to your brand. I've always proudly worn the caps of my favorite ball clubs and my university (UCLA), and I'd much rather help establish my company's brand than someone with as much money as either of the aforementioned organizations. We just bought some nice bright orange caps with or logo on 'em and they look great. I was thinking that this was a great way for me to get in a little exposure over the weekends (or when I'm feeling like I gotta keep it real at work) for the brand, but had a slight miscalculation...