Where will names come from in 2015?

How to find new product namesFor 2015 many news magazines are predicting that the age of innovation is alive and well. For me that translates into lots more products, systems, solutions and start-up companies. All of which need a name. So how will the management and marketing teams come up with these names? And what will their lawyers think and do?

Trends we have seen in the recent past provide us some guidelines on what is likely to happen. Here are our top 10 naming predictions for 2015:

  1. New crazy spellings of common words will continue (Flick, Loopt, Lyft, Swype)
  2. Names will be recycled (the new Palantir is headed towards being worth a billion dollars)
  3. Duplicates will continue to proliferate
  4. Management will be angry and insist on using their favorite names
  5. A few marketeers will be creative and explore new creative names
  6. Foreign language speakers will have an advantage from their broader linguistic skills
  7. Initials will continue to be used for longer names – unfortunately complicating branding many times over.
  8. Some teams will recognize that now naming agencies can really be worth their money and a great help to get unique, new, legally clear names.
  9. The world is waking up to how unique names are so much easier to find when you search them.
  10.  All those fancy new top level domain names will make little headway in practical usage.

© Copyright 2015 Brighter Naming ®

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

Attention grabbing names

Food brand naming consultantEvery day I hear from so many people who are trying to describe their product or company, rather than name it. So it was refreshing to be in a new supermarket and see these products on the upper shelves literally calling out to me. One by its name and one by the logo wink.

It reminded me of those great seminars on Selling off the shelf. Consumer products people should know well that the most important factor is the packaging, followed by the name.

But what if you are selling through eChannels? Today those are also very visual, but most searches are on brand names or descriptive terms. And the most important marketing tool is still far and away Word of Mouth (sometimes Word of Mouse) – and what gets passed along – the name! It is the short brand handle. Not a brand itself, but shorthand for the full brand promise.

Now to try some YooHoo and Hubert’s lemonade _ )     wink. Chances are they taste good because I already have good expectations.

© Copyright 2015 Brighter Naming ®

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

Fun drink names for the holidays

Naming alcohol drinksOne of the fun things about food shopping over the end of year holidays is that you get to see all sorts of wine and alcohol product names that are normally not on the shelves at your favorite stores. At least not front and center.  Plus with family and guests in the house, we all tend to seek out some extra cheer.

It is about then that I get distracted as I  realize how unique drink names have to be, as well as how creative many people are in coming up with these names – unusual enough to pass the ATB Cola Tests (Alcohol & Tobacco Common Label), in addition to the usual trademark and common law requirements, but also smart enough to attract consumers.

Alcohol BrandingMississippi Mud might be quite popular down south, but I doubt you ran out and bought a size pack unless you like a strong dark ale.

Maybe you are more like me, stupid when it comes to teh different tastes of ale products, so you were thinking more of a bottle of Hop Stoopid.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Consumer Goods, Food Names, Strange Names, Trademarks

Names for the next sharing economy business

Naming social media sitesNow that Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are off and running with mega big growth worldwide, it is no surprise to see a rush to create other such social sharing businesses. Postmates is a personal courier service – sort of Uber for parcels. Lantern brings you mental healthcare services via your smartphone, EatWith brings you dining partners for in home cooked meals, Fitmob provides easy access to trainers’ services,  etc, etc.

From a branding perspective, why is it that all these new offerings are trying so hard with their short descriptive names? Are the three big existing leaders descriptive? To some extent Lyft is, but not the others. Yet the world gets it to the tune of thousands of linkups a day. And what if the business plan changes, evolves, or heaven forbid even pivots for one of these new guys. Then their name probably won’t fit and they will have to restart all branding.

In the meantime they are all at risk of a real brand coming in and doing a fast follower business, with some unique protectable and new name. For example, try saying EatWith to your old Aunt. Especially if you have a big beard and are prone to not enunciate your words very clearly. Or if you have an accent of any sort..  and don’t even try it if you have a heavy Asian accent or from some other language that struggles with “th”.

And as mob riots spread across the world, ( the US this time), I don’t envy anyone promoting a name with Mob right in it.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Naming Education, Naming News, Strange Names

Airbnb is a great name even though it is shorthand.

AirbnbLogoOver on Nameawards.com I blogged earlier about what a great name Airbnb was and how it confused the search engines into thinking it was about airline flights or something. Now I feel stupid for having to confess it never crossed my mind that the real story is that the full long (and sometimes originally used name) was air mattress bed and breakfast!

But I do love the fact that in this day and age when we have angel investors, even micro finance and crowd-sourcing, not to mention freelance laborers, errand runners and shoppers, why shouldn’t we also have micro accommodations at a very individual level? The internet has revolutionized all reservation systems, as a big win fro both the consumers and the suppliers.

Near where I live many people rent out their second home (or in-law unit) week by week for tourists coming from around the world to visit Yosemite National Park. I even know some older couples who have their’s booked all summer each year – and they surely don’t know much about international marketing. But they know where to list on the internet. And the county doesn’t complain – instead it merely insists on collecting the Transient Occupancy Tax to help it provide county services.

How far will this go?  When can I rent a fishing boat off an individual? Or an ATC or snowmobile? Or a pickup truck? Or a tuxedo? Or a wedding dress? Should be fun as we watch for big names to emerge in these spaces – I am dying to see what brands take over and if they can succeed without getting the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Airbnb.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Naming News, Trademarks

H-P spinoff group to be called Compaq!

When AT&T acquired NCR, they called that division AT&T GIS, somehow thinking that Global Information Systems and NCR’s massive worldwide penetration would rub off on their whole company. Apparently no one told them that in the computer industry GIS was the common abbreviation for Geographical Information Systems. And they never did find a way to hook a phone to every cash register they then had in most corners of the world.

By the time they figured out they really were only a phone company at heart, and had already acquired other companies like Interbase, at least they did they right thing and so restarted a great old computer company and gave them back the time tested moniker of NCR.

Now H-P is in the same predicament. At heart not a phone company at all, but also not a PC consumer company per se. So as they let the consumer divisions go the right way, I am predicting they will finally see that all their great brand names do not/did not come from Cupertino corner offices. So hopefully Compaq will be reborn again, even though it was so strong a brand it never really went away.

Interesting isn’t it that their old chairman Ray Lane once even campaigned for the name HP PC?  Like most division execs in Cupertino, they have a strange penchant for only endorsing common English words for products and services, despite the best intentions of their own marketing people and branding consultants.  Didn’t he get that hppc is like http?  Yet another networking protocol, and only a homage to the old  past. After all, PC is now even an aged term itself and not in the least suitable for new mobile devices, not to mention printers. H-P’s other great brand names LaserJet (originally from Colorado) and OfficeJet (from Oregon) will presumably go to the new group too.

H-P spinoff compaq logoSo why not the great Compaq name from Houston (originally made up by a San Francisco naming agency when the start up changed its name from Bridge Gate Computers)? So unique and memorable – with the sticky C consonant to start and the magic sticky/soft Q consonant to end. I would even recommend restoring the original logo, before H-P opened up the Q to look like a wrench, thereby saving a bunch of money on branding agencies.

The historic and famous H-P way has clearly not been a way to run a consumer computer company. So now it is time to drop the baggage of H-P, restore the luster that those marketing folks in Texas created, and get on with the new business of Compaq.  See them today already at www.compaq.com!

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names

Is Uber a better brand name than Lyft?

Uber naming servicesAt a recent branding seminar there was a brief discussion about why Uber was a better brand than Lyft. This really wasn’t a fair question. It should have been, why is Uber getting more traction than Lyft this early in the game of what will surely be a big industry?

LyftLogoAnyway, before I got around to write this column it was refreshing to see new business articles about how suddenly Lyft was catching on and catching up. They are both good new names, and I would score them equally well in a naming survey. As for how to build a brand, it takes a lot of careful attention when the service providers are freelancers driving their own cars in their own towns.

But why do they have such European sounding/spelling names?  This is something I had predicted a couple of years ago. I said when we run out of English names founders will turn to foreign or coined names. It took longer than I thought, as I missed the interim step of misspelling English words on purpose. But they have both been working diligently on securing these trademarks for transportation services, even though both names have been used in many other trademark fields. And despite the fact that Lyft sure sounds like Lift to me, which is certainly a generic word that no one can trademark.

Lesson learned:  A good brand doesn’t mean you automatically win at business. There are many other factors and corporate reputation grows and shrinks based on many actions and news items.

Linguistics footnote:  Another new startup in the fresh fast food arena is called Lyfe. Compare that pronunciation with Lyft. Isn’t English wonderful?

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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

Must have New York address to get a .NYC domain

Domains for New York businessesLeave it to GoDaddy to be the first to really promote some of the new domain names, and have fun with it as well.

But before you rush out and get a .nyc domain, available as of Nov 3, you do need to have a New York business address. They are only $25 each per year.

Posted in Branding, Domain Names

What’s Fast, Free and has a Funny Name?

First of all, full credit for the title of this blog belongs to Business Week magazine. Interestingly enough that was the title of the article in print, but online the same article is titled “Hadoop data software spreads beyond Silicon Valley”. Perhaps they wanted to jazz it up a bit as they went to print!

naming big software programs and SaaSNevertheless, I used to just jumble Hadoop in with Joomla and J-Scripts and other higher level computer language tools, many with a slight Indian flavor – in development and naming it seemed to me. Well I owe Doug Cutting both an apology and a pat on the back. Fancy becoming the leader in your category when you simply named your new clever database after a character in your kid’s book!

For those of you who don’t get branding yet, this should teach us all two things: (1) Good products often rise to the top despite their name and (2) products get more attention and stand out from the crowd when they have interesting or unusual names. Plus isn’t Hadoop a much more fun name than Cloudera or Hortonworks and MapR, especially when Doug pulls out his kid’s old yellow cloth elephant at conferences?

OK, but what is the legality of using a using known toy name for your software? Well in the USA there is only one trademark on the name and it is clearly owned by the Apache Software Foundation – where the master copy of the open source software resides. I had to look very far online to find references to the story in a book – so they can hardly claim super brand or other common law rights. But once before I once asked a public legal forum about the legality of using a character or place from a show like Star Wars or Star Trek. You won’t believe how many lawyers offered to take my case, not realizing I was just posing a general question while trying to assist a client – and the techies do sure like those Star Trek names.

So the motto of this story is: Have fun but proceed with caution and do note that Star Trek actually publishes a directory of all their characters, places, spaceships, etc. Some they brought over from the classics – many others they made up – and they have big lawyers protecting their full rights.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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

Voya – A Voyeur to take you on the Voyage of life?

voya_sign_windsor_angleAs a naming professional I know how hard it is to come up with new names. Especially short ones. So in that sense I applaud ING changing their name to Voya. Why it has to be so short and awkward I don’t know, but at least it implies something.
As a naming critic, writing on this site and others, I have longed campaigned for ING to change their name – for two big reasons: (1) It was just a meaningless and awkward three initial name and (2) The company’s brand took some major hits during the fairly recent big financial market collapse.

But what does Voya stand for? Or what is it trying to imply? Isn’t it a great name for a travel company? Isn’t it awfully close to Voyeur? Is that the kind of person you want looking after your retirement financial investments?

Oh Boya! I hope your money is safe with Voya!

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Name Changes, Name Origins, Naming News, 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:

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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