Coldwater Creek – R.I.P. but what a great name!

ColdWaterCreekImageThe big consumer news today seems to be all about Coldwater Creek filing for bankruptcy as they plan to wind down all operations. So be it, but why did such a news item from a store chain I have not even frequented in 10 years have to blow up my Facebook account with endless comments from people who are not on my friends list?

Separately, I have visited their original store which was literally across a cold creek in Sandpoint, Idaho. From the outset I gave them kudos for picking such a cool direct name because it has a mystical, magical feel to it, even though a neutral word analysis might have rated it all negative.

As all the comments on Facebook show everyone knew what they stood for, their product line and their brand values and positioning – none of which has to do with cold, water or creeks. Oh how I do love a name that works – from common English words that describe something else. The only problem is that many abbreviated it to CWC (which reminds me of Chuckies Western Cheeseburger).

Well I can’t reward them with a posthumous name award as they aren’t dead yet… but this cold creek will now flow in a different direction and a good name is probably lost forever.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Strange Names, Trademarks

NSA is now the National Spy Agency

In the naming business we often have to remind and explain the pitfalls of initials when naming new brands or commercial companies. One of our common lines is to say leave initials to the government agencies – they have the volume and power to make any set of initials work. Plus they have to, as they are so accustomed to giving their departments and groups such long-winded descriptive names.

Groups, organizations and non-profits are often in the same league. Now is AMA the American Medical Association or the American Marketing Association or Alaskan Motocross Association? That is why it is so hard to “own” initials, especially if you have not been around for 30 years and spent millions promoting them.

Naming government servicesAnd people playing games with your initials can also get you into trouble. Thanks to some brave young gentleman blowing the whistle, I will forever more look up the NSA as the National Spy Agency. Already I have to pause and think as to what their real name used to be.


(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Public Site Naming

Zello – now why didn’t I think of that?

ZelloLogoThis morning I am kicking myself twice. Once for not thinking of the name Zello long ago, despite the fact I have rated and promoted the name Zillow for real estate, and even sold clients names like Zymmetry. Secondly for not thinking (nor at least following through) on the implementation of a smart phone app that makes any phone into a walkie-talkie. There is a reason so many emergency personnel as well as construction and other workers still use walkie-talkie radios. They simply work – that is why. Even when you can’t thumb type fast or even if in fact your hands are in use. When you talk to someone or some group live it is always instant and rich communications.

Anyway, somewhere right now there is a cell phone company asking themselves why they didn’t come up with a simple, great name like Zello. There are many protestors in the Ukraine and elsewhere discovering what a great instant group communications tool the old radio idea was, especially now that we all have  cheap handsets in our pockets. The folks at Zello must have done something right to knock Skype and others out of this arena.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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

New airline names fly in all directions

There isn’t much call for professional naming help for naming airlines, since there are seldom new airlines at all. But it is fun to read in the latest Business Week about the low-fare airline startup frenzy in Asia and see the names that are now fast becoming household words for the new flying Asians.

ScootLogoTo quote the article “With names such as Scoot, Peach Aviation, JetStar Airways and AirAsia, all are competing wing-to-wing against traditional airlines.” Elsewhere they also mention Tigerair, SpiceJet and Hong Kong Express Airways. Needless to say these newcomers will live or die by the usual metrics of airline success, but all things being equal, which name(s) immediately makes you think you’d rather fly with them? Or which one has given its marketing department the branding advantage from the first moment the name is uttered?

From my point of view, SpiceJet is very interesting though I may be suspicious about potential on-board smells. However, my winner by far is Scoot. If you think South West Airlines have fun despite their boring name, imagine what someone can do with Scoot provided you have at least a few light-hearted bones in your body!

For example, their transfer service is called Scoot-Thru. Heck a lot of airline travel is not fun, and connecting can be quite stressful. So congratulations to Scoot for trying to put a happy face on the ordeal and that of all their passengers.

Satellite Imaging Names

Separately in an unrelated article, this same edition of the magazine calls out the swarm of satellite imaging startups in Silicon Valley, with more to come nationwide. How many ways can you say “eye in the sky”? For now we especially have Skybox Imaging and Planet Labs, but expect many more – and a flock of similar names with only a few standout name leaders.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Name Changes, Naming News, Strange Names, Technology Names, Trademarks

EU Trademarks database gets a too friendly makeover

When we do naming projects, we often tell clients we will also check EU trademarks. But some with finicky lawyers still add, can we please check the OHIM database. Of course, these are one and the same and like so many good multigovernment institutions it has a long and complicated descriptive name that promptly gets abbreviated. In fact it is also called the CTM – an abbreviation they use internally a lot themselves that stands for Community Trade Mark.
Regardless, this is a very powerful place to register trademarks. With one registration approval, you get coverage across all the member countries of the European Common Market.

name checks, checking trademarks, eu trademark checks, European trademark checking

For those of us accustomed to searching this database for trademark clearance for many years, their recent new friendly makeover is something of a shock. Now it is very warm and inviting and informative – but how many words and panels do I need to dig through to get to a place where I can actually check or file a name! They seem to have erred perhaps a little too much in favor of the naive self-service consumer, if you ask me. And to think they have to repeat this in multiple languages as well. The goal might be admirable, but reality is most of their high volume traffic will continue to come from para-legals and professional name searchers like us – people who can actually interpret what they do or do not find.

So if you want to check a trademark for all of Europe (which does not mean you should not still check individual Euro country marks), here is the real, clean, simple, minimalist OHIM EU Trademark direct search page in English.

Separately and more interestingly, it appears they are finally insisting on more specific product or service descriptive on applications, rather than when many got away with using the whole category descriptor as their own descriptor, which really were too broad and unfair in most cases.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Name Changes, Naming News, Trademarks

Force Field Energy celebrates new name and brand on Wall St.

ForceFieldNasdaqTwo days before Xmas, Force Field Energy was invited to ring the opening bell on the Nasdaq stock exchange as they ushered in their new name and logo. We were so honored to play a part in both of these creative efforts, and are sorry we never posted this news sooner.
Previously this company was named SunSi, from the concepts of Solar and Silicon, as their major subsidiary was in the solar panel technology business. Of course, as they grew and added other businesses, most people didn’t get this, especially as they had major Asian subsidiaries and SunSi sure sounds like an Asian name.

A common belief in branding is that if the brand is not broken, don’t change it. To which we might add, if it is broken, stop postulating and fix it quickly – even if you are a publicly listed company. With the right motivation, as this case proves, it can be a quick and painless operation.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Name Changes, Naming News, Trademarks

Sochi is the name in the news this week

Sports namingUnless you are living under a bush, the new name you will hear wherever you turn this week is Sochi, home to Russia’s Winter Olympic games. They could have just as easily called it the Krasnaya Polyana games, where all the alpine ski events are being held, but imagine what a marketing challenge that would have been to engage the western world.

Yes, most Russian words and many place names are very difficult for us to handle, but Sochi is clean and simple and similar to Sofi, so we recall it easily. In any other context it was better known as a Black See summer resort area, but if you want to host an Olympic games it takes some big time campaign selling to the IOC, and a pretty place with a pretty name makes that a lot easier.

And now I will promptly contradict myself, as the 2018 Winter Games will be known as the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Yes, Really. But I am betting NBC will soon start calling it the Korean Winter Games – they know their announcers and audience can only be stretched so far with foreign unpronounceable names.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Naming News, Public Site Naming, Sports Naming

Alorica is an interesting, non-Spanish name

AloricaLogoI am not sure where I have been lately with CRM systems knowledge, but somehow I had never heard of the company called Alorica until last weekend when I saw it in big letters on a building tucked away in a back street in Fresno, California.

Having just come out of some big stores that were predominantly Hispanic, with all aisle signs in both Spanish and English, I was thinking I am in a Spanish neighborhood and what interesting and often musical names they give their businesses. I made a note in my cell phone (while stopped at a red light) to check out the name.

Well today I finally did. And I am a bit disappointed. Alorica is no glamor or musical or restaurant or band name. Maybe I had this impression from an accidental association with folklorica  (folk law in Spanish). Turns out rather that Alorica is a big IT software and customer solutions company. They explain the roots of their name (thanks for putting this on your website) as follows:

“Lorica” is Latin for the services a knight provides.
“A” is for Alpha- the Greek letter meaning “first.”
Hence Alorica = First in Service.

Great name. Great meaning. Inspiration even. And my apologies for thinking otherwise. Now I will never forget this name.

Insofar as I can tell, this company started in the Midwest but today are headquartered in Irvine, Southern California with a major sales office in Rochester, NY.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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

Super Bowl reminds us about Oreos: A great no-meaning name

Oreos_nameAt last year’s Super Bowl, when the lights were out for over 30 minutes, Oreos tweeted how you could still dunk and eat their great cookies in the dark. This message when viral, if for no other reason than everyone was amazed how such a big company could react so well and so quickly. To the point, perhaps unfairly, that people are writing and asking what they will do for an encore.

Do they really need to advertise at all? Aren’t they always the best selling cookies on most grocery store shelves across America, with the exception of certain ethnic markets? Well yes, for the same reason that Coca Cola and McDonald’s advertise (and Starbuck’s does not need to) to make sure you touch them each day or at least each week.

For me of course, it is about the name as much as the taste. Always has been, always will be. How does a short, but three syllable name, that breaks so many of the rules that govern great names of the world, emerge head and shoulders above most others to be a classic? A name with no meaning. A name that is not descriptive other than a slight connection between round O’s and round cookies. A name that pokes fun at itself in commercials on how to pronounce it! A name that is not based on any classic or even other foreign roots! A name that is hard for certain non-native English speakers to pronounce.

Perhaps it is because Oreos are first and foremost a child’s product and children embrace any name, however weird, whatever the language, without the analysis paralysis adults go through on naming products. Let’s face it, Oreos is a great name, regardless of the taste or sugar in the cookies, regardless of what the linguists and adults say. And for sure, now you know why computers can’t make up names, even though IBM taught one to play chess at a grand master level.

Nowadays Oreos are still made in New York City where they started, but the big US factory is in Richmond Virginia.  They are also made in Spain, The Ukraine and China, and soon at the Cadbury factory in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the U.K.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Food Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Strange Names, Trademarks

The Name Game: Searchable, Clickable Titles

Search engineIn the sea of content that is the Internet, bloggers are constantly looking for the edge that will distinguish their work. Title writing is an unappreciated, undervalued skill in the modern marketplace. Without a compelling title, great content often floats by without making a splash. Post an intriguing headline, on the other hand, and your content has the chance to spread around networks in your industry. Ideal Web titles are clickable, meaning they make users want to read more, and searchable, meaning social engines recognizes relevant keywords. Some of the most prominent websites built their following because of quality titles.

The stats tell the story: Eight out of 10 people will read headlines, but only 2 out of 10 will read the body content, according to A little more attention to titles can have an enormous effect on your blog.

Know Your Readers

A good title starts with a good topic. If your readers aren’t interested in what you’re writing about, no title will draw them in. Luckily, plenty of outlets can clue you into what your readers talk about and think about. Follow authoritative blogs in your industry to keep a pulse on the conversation. You don’t want to mimic these websites, but you should keep up with their content for inspiration and ideas. For a real-time look at what your target readers are talking about, search relevant terms on Twitter. Social media will play an integral part in your blog’s success, and you should be building connections with like-minded users whether or not they read your content. With an accurate sense of your industry’s conversations, you’ll be better equipped to write relevant content — and titles.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Readers don’t have time to look at uninteresting, casual content. Your blog post should have an important take away, and the headline should reflects it. The serial list-makers at Buzzfeed are notorious for reflecting a sense of urgency (even when there is none) in their headlines.

30 Reasons Greyhounds Are Gentle Giants And You Should Adopt One

— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) January 14, 2014

While “30 reasons” lists are overdone, Buzzfeed adds its proverbial buzz to this Greyhound slideshow by telling readers “You Should Adopt One.” If applicable, readers should learn what they’re going to get out of the article in the headline. You can also create a sense of urgency by making definitive claims. (ex. “This Tip Will Boost Your Chances of Getting a Job”) or address previously unknown information (ex. “Report: New Diet Delivers Results”).

Be a Thief

No, you shouldn’t steal headlines word for word. There’s no harm in using headline templates that have a history of generating page hits, however. revealed 10 headline formulas that work, leaving blank spaces for bloggers to tailor the content. They may not all apply to your blog theme, but they’ll stir your imagination. Find your own headline muses to maintain a stream of fresh ideas. If your blog deals with the digital world, G+ from iAcquire offers a look at how one prominent digital agency titles its content. If you discuss food and drink, may reveal some scintillating title recipes. You know a good headline when you see one, tailor it to your blog to attract eager readers.

Posted in Naming Education, Naming News, Naming Resources, Uncategorized

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:

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.

and many more -->

Our naming gurus follow and comment on current naming practices worldwide.

See the latest Name Critic ratings for names like Skype, Pinterest, Etsy, etc.

Follow @namiac on Twitter

Linked In

Share this page on LinkedIn:

See his industry naming commentary where he takes a critical look at names on the Nameawards blog.