Why is Pluto’s moon named Charon?

Naming the moons and planetsWhile all the world’s scientist are walking around in amazement about the discovery details of the former planet Pluto, I am thinking, “How did Pluto’s moon get the name Charon and what does it mean?”

Luckily for me, the whole story is fully documented on Wikipedia. After James Christy discovered the moon, he named it after his wife Charlene’s nickname. Despite some other attempts to change it, the name stuck, as has the pronunciation of  Shah Ron. Sure beats the old scientific temporary designation of S/1978 P 1!

The fact that Charon is a Greek mystical figure (ferryman of the dead) just made the name more interesting for the scientific community – after all, they are people too.

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Posted in Name Origins, Naming News, Public Site Naming, Strange Names

If it is not a Frisbee® it is a ???

For Father’s Day a few years ago, my college boys took me around Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on their favorite Frisbee Golf course. It was a lot cheaper than me taking them on a round of real golf (in fact, free, except for the sandwiches).. and very interesting. Of course, despite the name we all use, the course was properly marked as the Disk Golf course. Believe it or not, Frisbee has been the registered trademark of the Wham-O Corporation since 1959, and they have recently extended the mark to many other clothing and toy categories, in addition to flying disks.Frisbee is a registered trademark

Then, right on cue, I read an article that reminded me Frisbees were named after the Frisbie Baking Company – which just happened to ship their cakes and cookies in round tins with nice lids that you could whiz across the room!

If you have any other interesting name origin tidbits, why not drop me a comment or an email? There are more in-depth name origin stories on this website.

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Sports Naming, Trademarks

A123 Systems – Superb technology…any old name will do?

Many an executive has said (or at least thought) that any old name will do since they have such great technology or such a great solution, or even such a great sales force? But what happens when you grow up?

Rotten name

A123 Systems cut their teeth in lithium ion battery technology making batteries for RC Model cars. Then progressed to power tools. And now hybrid vehicles. The company is hot, hot, hot. (Hope the batteries are not!) So any old name will do. But really guys, A123 might work in the model car business. Isn’t it time for an adult name that doesn’t sound like you were just stuck and wanted to be at the front of the yellow pages?

Hint: Tesla has a great name, and they are also a hot startup. Maybe even your customer.

Posted in Branding, Industrial Products Naming, Rotten Names

SnapChat should snap tight

Snap Chat's tarnished logo and brandAfter reading a debate on Facebook on the need for profanity, especially in this day and age of prolific social media communications where you don’t know your exact audience, I picked up a recent copy of Business Week and read the interview with the founder of SnapChat.

He finally gives an interview with a major magazine, as it is in his interest to promote how smart he is with advertising, then he speaks to such an eminent reporter with a foul mouth! Maybe in Hustler magazine they can delete all the expletives and use lots of **! instead.  But what an insult to Business Week and what a poor representation of the company.

I don’t buy the comment that he is young and will learn. He is super rich and has mega dollars from investors. Couldn’t one of them explain what harm he just did the brand? Maybe he can learn how to hire and guide a good team, but his mother and college should have taught him the basic rules of business decency. Or at least one of his PR handlers should be present and run him through another CEO communications training session.

Well, we won’t be using SnapCrap, as we now call it, unless our customers (politely) force us to do so. In fact, I was so distracted I have forgotten what it even purports to perform.

Posted in Naming News, Trademarks

SKYY is a great name and it is not for cloud-computing

When I survey a lot of startup and popular mobile app names, I sometimes wonder where all the vowels have gone. And, of course, the letter Y is the hybrid letter of our alphabet. Sometimes a vowel, sometimes a consonant. Add to that Sky, Skye and Skyy are all pronounced the same, not making it easy for foreign English students at all.

Creative naming help for drinks and alcohol productsSkyy could have been a great name for some cloud computing application or environment, but rather this smooth vodka may be helping some programmer do his or her cloud computing Python or Ruby on Rails dance. Interestingly enough – maybe even mind blowing – Skyy is a fairly recent San Francisco startup, just like many cloud and social media companies.

“SKYY began in 1992 the same way as most things in San Francisco — a tiny startup based on the vision of one entrepreneur and his dream to make something better. In this case, exceptionally smooth vodka. It was this exceptional smoothness that has made SKYY the leading domestic premium vodka in the U.S.”

Where the name came from, I have no idea, but I do like how they play up the twinning aspect in some of their marketing and social media dealings.
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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Naming Education, Naming News, Trademarks

Absolutdata forced to run from their own trademark application.

Software product naming consultantsI am not a teetotaler (well not quite) nor a prude, but I still don’t like software companies named after alcohol drinks. Yes I know Blue Martini was successful for a while, but I never could bring myself to even investigate their offerings. Now along comes a new Silicon Valley startup striving to make a new mark – and of course they need a name. But why name it after not only a big brand in alcohol, but a big, big brand in all branding studies and textbooks.

Naming guru for drinks and foodsFor those of you who don’t know, Absolut – like in Vodka, was a struggling brand until in a master stroke of marketing, they pulled the products off the shelf, repackaged it in very unique bottles, raised the price and repositioned it as a premium drink. In addition, and no one has ever executed this quite as well as them ever, they started high end ads and PR where their bottles, and often only bottle outlines, started appearing floating in other images or just standing alone. Many of these images never even mentioned the word Vodka – and they weren’t about to tell you it was the same old formula as before. Just in case you have been living too long with your head in a laptop or cell phone, Absolut Vodka is one of the major brands of the western world today.

Sometimes when you purposefully misspell a word it frees up domain space. But that doesn’t mean it frees up trademark space, especially when it is pronounced the same and is “confusingly similar”. Why Absolute Data Group, out of Australia but with worldwide offices, haven’t been after them I don’t know.

Interestingly, AbsolutData have never filed for a trademark on this version of their name ever, only for AD Absolutdata Intelligent Analytics. More interestingly, they have beat a hasty retreat from this trademark application, even filing their own express abandonment of application. You sure don’t see that often unless someone knows they are in trouble. Though Absolut Vodka is a very different product in a very different International Trademark Class, they have protested vigorously, even to the point of referencing the Australian software company.  I am not sure, but they may be trying to claim they are a Super Brand – and surely they are at this stage even though there is still no where to file for Super Brand status in most trademark registers.

Finally, Absolut Vodka is also used in packaging studies as one of the leaders in Vodka packaging – which is mostly about the bottle. Next time you are in the liquor aisle at your favorite store, notice how varied and creative all the vodka bottles are – better than most other alcohols and way better than wine or beer. The main reason for this (in the USA at least) is that vodka is so tightly regulated that there is very little difference in the taste from one to another.

© Copyright 2015 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

Posted in Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Technology Names, Trademarks

Smart and cool packaged food names like Late July

When I first wrote this I had been meaning to blog for weeks but kept running into only bad names – and I had been reluctant to put my black hat on too many of them. ThenI was served in the bank by a lovely lady named April and was very tempted to ask her if her sisters were called May and June. Thereafter I went to the supermarket and found Late July new organic chips on an end cap shelf and I broke down and bought a bag as my treat of the week.

Whenever naming packaged food products I encourage customers to please think outside the bag. Doesn’t always work because they are so enamored by what they have concocted in the kitchen (or lab) they just want to describe it somehow. Others, like Nicole Dawes here, realize a new brand name, which will subsequently have many products or flavors, is really needed. Since she gets so many questions about the name, she has made up a great feel good story about that being the perfect time in summer for family relaxation. Well maybe, but the cynic in me wants to say, hang on, what about those people in mid winter in Australia? Or the people burning up in a long, hot summer in Phoenix?

LateJuly_Packaged_Food_NamesAnd, of course, the fact that her birthday is on July 31st is purely coincidental :) Anyway she has some great product names and packaging as you can see here.

I wonder if there is no vinegar in her sea salt flavored chips because her kids are a key part of the taste and flavor development process? This is my only disappointment since though her chips are all super healthy and have no sugar, all those carb heavy snacks turn to sugar fast in my diabetic system. And sour ingredients, like vinegar, mitigate the sweetness dramatically. I can even see the difference in my blood sugar readings. But the kick of vinegar is an adult taste unfortunately.  Hmm vinegar and sea salt… fond memories of fish and chips.

 

© 2015 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Food Names, Trademarks

Awkward name of the week

At last year’s Silicon Valley Code Camp, Infragistics provided the registration lanInfragisticsToggleyards as shown in the photo here. The novel idea of a zipper wasn’t obvious to all of us at the first go around. More importantly, we saluted them for doing such sponsorship because their marketing team have a daily problem promoting anything with such an awkward name. I am sure they picked the name because they thought it was descriptive of what they do – but it can’t be that descriptive if they still needed a descriptive tagline: Design / Develop / Experience.

This reminds me a lot of the companies that tried to use the word Intranet to emphasize what they were involved in. Sure this is a valid technical word. Doesn’t mean it works in naming. Any linguist can explain to you why it is so awkward and not even close to being on a par with Internet. Oh the joys of the English language. A small subtle change can have a major effect – especially on brand names.

InfragisticsLogoWhy couldn’t they just have chosen examples like Fragistics or Infrastics instead? Still just names. A little more intellectual perhaps. A million times easier and shorter to brand.  AND as of this writing, the .com domain names are all clear and available.

 PS SV Code Camp is looking for a new home this year, as the Foothill College Campus is no longer available. Please visit their site if you have any ideas or suggestions.

© 2015 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

Posted in Branding, Naming News, Strange Names, Technology Names, Trademarks

Mooskys is the perfect name for a Mickey Mouse food snack

Food naming & branding servicesJust when I was thinking about new food and packaged goods names for the current season, my partner in Europe sends me the attached photo from Spain. How could I resist not rating it for a three star award. What a corny name for a corn snack product!

Since Mickey D’s is street slang for McDonalds, a different name is needed for Mickey Mouse products, and what could be better on an international branding stage than Mooskys?

The interesting point is that this product’s trademark is properly registered with the OHIM database for E.U. trademarks, but is not registered in the USA, which is obviously the home of Disney Corp whose name and characters are so prominent on the packaging. In fact, this is not a Disney product at all! It is produced and licensed by a Spanish food manufacturer – presumably with a trademark name and character licensing agreement from Disney.

Now for you students of trademarks, what if I make a meat snack product from Canadian moose meat, say, and call it Mooskys in the USA? Am I safe and clear or tempting the wrath of Mickey and Pluto’s giant legal machine?

In the meantime, the domains Mooskys.com, Mooskys.es and others are available though I am not going to go there. However, Moosky.com is listed as for sale – though some services are calling it MooSky! Does that mean or imply heavenly milk?

© 2015 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Food Names, Naming Education, Naming News, Trademarks

Why Airbnb is a really cool, good name

Travel brand naming services I am not so sure about the logo, but for a service that thrives so much on word of mouth and word of mouse, not to mention publicity to spread the brand name, who cares.

But for those of you who just don’t get why interesting, different, creative names are so powerful, see how good the name Airbnb is when you compare it with their mostly pedantic competitors:

9 Flats

Couch Surfing

Home Away

HouseTrip

VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner)

Roomarama

Wimdu

Sublet

EvergreenClub

OneFineStay

HouseTrip

OneFineStay

If I was to make an emotionless analysis of the Airbnb name, then I could argue it sounds like the name of business class in some exotic airline. Even Google Ads gets confused and pops up lots of other “air” ads – even though the business has nothing to do with airlines or air anything per se. Plus I am sure people using this service are not usually looking for a Bed and Breakfast (BnB) place.

Try a search for a  B&B and Airbnb doesn’t even come up. But call your friend in New York and ask where can you stay that is affordable – and expect they will respond with Airbnb, as happened to me. I felt like such a clutz for not thinking of that and not realizing Airbnb had now gone mainstream.

© Copyright 2015 – All rights reserved – www.BrighterNaming.com

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Trademarks

Naming Articles

New brand insider articles from an experienced marketing team. Learn all the basics of naming, branding and trademark registration from these free reports:

May 2015: How can one product line have many trademarks?

Jul 2014: What roles do copyrights and patents play in protecting names?

Jan 2014: Predictions for 2014 and Free Offers.

Dec 2013: Regional, National & International Name Styles.

Oct 2013: Planning for All the New Domain Names.

Jul 2012: The right names go down in history.

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