Corona beer branding nightmare. Our suggestion.

Corona beer branding

Great Moments in Naming History

This one started out when my colleague Greg sent me a link to an article titled “No, It’s Not the ‘Corona Beer Virus.’ Lawd.”

I replied “Damn they must be fuming…what marketing spin would you put on this??”

To which Greg responded:

[Exterior, daylight. A beach side bar. Ominous music.]

A group of visibly sick people, possibly zombies, wander up to the bar. 
The bartender serves them all Coronas. As they sip their beers, their health visibly improves, the music becomes upbeat, and dancing and cheerful conversation ensues. 

Voice over: “Corona Beer. We don’t say it’s a vaccine for the Corona virus, but it ain’t gonna hurt you, neither.”

I am trying to pitch that one to the folks at Corona, with the proviso that if it ever gets produced, neither of us will be hauled off to the Stan Freberg Memorial Re-Education Camp and Self-Criticism Center.

Meanwhile, here’s another one from Greg that our younger readers may not remember: this is actually not the first time we’ve gone through something like this!

In the 1960s and 1970s, women’s magazines and newspaper Sunday supplements usually had an ad for a particular brand of diet pill. To suggest it would aid in your quest to lose weight, it was named…Ayds.

For obvious reasons, this product did not survive the 1980s. Nonetheless, as far as we can tell, this was merely a result of the unfortunate homonym, and no one back then actually believed you could contract HIV from the diet pill. So why are so many people stopping drinking Corona??

Surveying the present state of American Idiocracy, one can only say…”Take me now, Lawd!”

PS Lets all help out by drinking as much Corona Extra beer as we can this month and not being stupid thinking there is any connection to Covid-19. Just say “Dos Corona cervezas, por favor” on your next trip to a Mexican restaurant.

(C) 2020 Brighter Naming
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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Drinks, International Naming, Sustainable Brand Names, Trademarks

This is not the way to create lasting branding prestige!

Hotix(TM) or Hiitox or maybe  even Hotix-Pro(TM) – these product names have been flying across my screen all week. All pertaining to be the latest Swedish small wall heater plug-in the socket. All with the same photo image. Why would competitors have similar or distorted names I wondered?

I was first drawn to the cuteness and brevity of the name Hotix with the 2 little dots over the 0’s  -that don’t easily transpose into a .com name.

Oscar Karlson, the Swedish engineer-cum-inventor, saw the niche for a personal space heater for those cold spots in rooms at home or work areas. These purport to create maximum heat for minimum cost and energy output.

On browsing further I found competitors with a descriptive, more mundane name of Magic Heater. Now, being one not to believe in magic I read no further down the product burbles.

However, when I first came across this name I thought this must be the next Asian gadget trying to infiltrate the Western markets. This assumption was based purely on the morphology of the  suffix Ho.  He/Ho/  are the romanced translation or evolution of many Chinese names (Wikipedia reckons in the region of 14 million plus). Whereas, Ha has its origins in Vietnamese idioms.

Following this line of thought I burrowed down further and removed the (H) = Otix.

What? This is a name of eardrops  or even Otex and Otic to treat ear infections. If you add an Otix=(o) ; Otixo which is a workspace company for teams and projects with complex file overloads.

We can go on ad-infinitum about numerous evolutions of names and words for Company and products. Yet one thing Marketing and Branding Naming gurus do not want to create is one that is misleading, confusing or watered-down to merge into re-directed intentional or unintentional sales with their competitors.

So here we have what is called in the trade “Snap Products”. They don’t care who made it. They merely want a way /outlet to move high-level product volumes as quickly as possible. These advertisement and “Product Names” have been created as a category for TV or FaceBook bombardment.

All they want is a quick, quick sale! They don’t care if they tarnish the name or the design of the inventor. They are unscrupulous  in avarice for high sales – but at what cost to the original brand name of Hotix?


Naming Alphabet Soup 101

(C) Rosie Reay

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Industrial Products Naming, Name Origins, Naming News, Retail, Rotten Names, Strange Names

+ Names are often a -ve

Why you should not use a + in nanmingJust as we happily bid farewell to a bad me too product called Google+, new video services come online called Disney + and Apple +.  Walt Disney and Steve Jobs must be turning in their graves. Doesn’t management get that the + moniker only works for an extension of a product line, not a whole new company service. After all you can’t buy a Disney or an Apple (except at a fruit store). And these are not follow on products or services. Just like you couldn’t buy a Google, so what the heck was a Google + ??

If it was Google Chrome and they had an upgrade, then it could have rightfully be called Google +, at least until it had another major release. OK, I know, you programmers say it could have been called Google ++. Yeah, but that seems to be where marketeers would have fought back – finally.

Why did they let these + names out the door though, especially when you are competing with what have become great brand names: NetFlix, Roku and Hulu?

I think we can call them collectively YAPC names. (Yet Another Plus Channel). They will soon be mixed up and confused. And not just with video services. Maybe when Disney gets some clean cruise liners they can call them Disney + (Fresh Air).

So how do these names come about? I think I know. Poor product managers probably had a short list of interesting names (or maybe not) which they shared first with management who said “I don’t know those words. Give me something that I immediately recognize”  – forgetting that they have millions of dollars to spend on branding and really need a unique new word to cut through the noise.  And when presented with some standard dictionary words – probably descriptive since at this stage people tend to forget they are naming the service and not describing it – a passed around or surveyed list drops to the lowest common denominator.

So product manager then takes it off to legal for blessing and guess what? You can’t trademark generic words in your trademark category! And there is no common worldwide trademark body, so you have to register in many countries. And each one costs real money. And getting a common known word approved in most countries around the world is almost impossible, especially now that it is almost 2020 and even the biggest dictionaries have been combed over a thousand times and millions of trademarks have been registered. DreamWorks did manage to get a compound of two simple words registered worldwide, but it is rumored to have cost about $750,000 to do so.

So your own legal team rejects the common name they will have to defend in years to come. But the product manager has to ship product and is tired of running for approvals so some bright spark says “we clearly own the legal rights to Disney or Apple or Google or ..” so lets just stick a + sign after it and be done. To me that is like putting flat tires on a new car and just saying we will have to simply push harder up the hill. Bit late to realize you should have called some naming consultants who knew what they were doing and knew how to properly facilitate management meetings and kept all names that were not provisionally available off the board.

Btw It doesn’t have to be that unusual or unique a word as Roku (Japanese) or Hulu (Hawaiian) as exhibited by NetFlix and Dreamscape. And good naming agencies have emergency services by working off their databases of known available names. Do you really want your kids saying “watch it on the + channel” without knowing that means something quite different to their friends.

PS You can’t even have a + sign in your domain name so right there they are weak brand names.


(C) 2019 Brighter Naming


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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, International Naming, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Rotten Names, Sustainable Brand Names, Trademarks

When one letter is sufficient in compound names

Take for example the name : Impulsports.

We read at such great speed these days we don’t often notice good spelling or bad spelling. In our minds we do not even notice the phonology – let alone the correct morphology of any or all given words. So does it really matter when Naming Agencies deliberately misspell names?

Absolutely not! This is a very over-crowded market on clear English words and truncation and concatenation has proven to work very well. This is usually seen in big mergers when the two big giants are battering horns and neither want to give up their name.

Yet it works for most companies. Furthermore, it works in Europe where many languages are spoken at any given time in many of its countries – but the name is understood and pronounceable by all romance language speakers and others too do not seem to struggle with it. I hear Russians and Asians using it daily with no issues too.

What a simple context to make a clever name crafted from two obvious words: Impulse+Sports are the morphology of the company’s names – im pulz sport Ss.

Yet, 2 letters are lost when they are merged, both the second S and the middle vowel E –and no-one notices it. Here, is where the phonology of the nouns pairing together works since one still pronounces them as  individuals words – Impulse Sports.

Impulsports –  graphic artists love it! Looks good on the packaging and on the sides of their vans. Here they have on the website even shortened the name to be IMPULS= with 3 hyphens on top of each other to imply the E. The keep fit world is a big industry across the globe. But how many of these gymnasiums have names you can recall or even associate with?  Simplicity seems to be the key here.

Variation in France incorporates the apostrophe(‘) in their graphic logo. Besides they put apostrophe after the L’ before the S. Furthermore, the name travels! It is international and most countries would be able to say it, write it and above all, have recall!

Naming Alphabet Soup Chronicles 101 (c) 2019 by RosieReay

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, International Naming, Name Origins, Naming Education, Strange Names, Trademarks

Worldwide Trademark Clearance

Do your names work in other countries?  How about worldwide?  Well that is a very daunting task for most product managers to achieve – in fact almost impossible to achieve guaranteed clearance without a lot of money. But you can, and should, have your names checked in your major international markets and then systematically register in these territories.

Worldwide naming services and checks

Image courtesy of Google Maps – we do so like their proper global perspective when you zoom way out.

There is no single place to go to get a worldwide trademark registered.  But you can use The Madrid Convention to get priority registration (often off a single filing) in most western countries. This is usually only for the major brands of the world. So what is a little (or even medium) company supposed to do?

The first thing is to get a registered trademark in your home country or some major market if you are from a very small country. Then you can grow from there adding registrations country by country  while using that registered trademark worldwide. But first you have to have a name that has been checked for availability in your specific trademark usage categories. Do realize right now that common words are highly unlikely to make the cut here, unless they are “cross over” names – common words but not common or generic in your industry.

Unique, coined words are the most likely to be available worldwide, but even these have to be checked thoroughly. A naming agency can help you greatly with this process and save you a lot of money, even though your own lawyers will have the final say as they have to file the registrations and defend them if need be.

A EU trademark is special in that it gives you coverage in all countries that are part of the EU. So most of the countries of Europe. But this does not include Switzerland or the UK after Oct 30th.  The downside is if your checks fail in one European country, then you lose all of Europe. Hence you still see many people still filing in individual target European countries.

Finally, you will get priority filing in many other country registrations if you can first prove you have a registered trademark in your home country, so that is where all you initial checks should be concentrated. Do not fall in love with a name until you have achieved this – so your heart and product supply chain and marketing are not broken later.

See our article on International Trademark Registration and Checking for more details.

(C) 2019 Brighter Naming


Posted in Branding, International Naming, Name Origins, Naming Education, Trademarks

Confusing drug names are alarming!

pharmaceutical namingRecently I was within earshot of Paramedics in the UK repeating the incorrect drug type over the phone to the awaiting Accident and Emergency department. They announced Clobazam  instead of Clonazepam. Thankfully, I was still with the patient and jumped on the error straight away. Calamity can happen so easily and so quickly where you have two people living in the same household with two different kinds of seizures and not exactly all their complex medical needs of each pair up.

“Most medications with look-alike or sound-alike names are not used for the same purpose”

Now as we read them slowly as non-professional medics we can see the different spelling. I challenge you in a week or a year to remember them both. Tricky indeed!

Another report requests that doctors use their brand names on these two drugs as they are far too close to comfort not to cause an unintended negligent mix-up error.

Clobazam brand name is Onfi in USA and Frizium or Tapclob in some other countries

Clonazepam  brand name is Klonopin


Here is an extract from the Institute of Safe Drug Practice -(ISMP)


Table 1:Drug names with Tall Man letters: Confused with..

cloBAZam clonazePAM
clonazePAM cloNIDine — cloZAPine — cloBAZam — LORazepam
cloNIDine clonazePAM – cloZAPine — KlonoPIN*
cloZAPine clonazePAM — cloNIDine
diazePAM dilTIAZem
LORazepam ALPRAZolam — clonazePAM

An interesting recommendation by the ISMP in 2001 was that TALL MAN letters are to be used on different affixes, prefixes or suffixes as depicted in the Name Differentiation Project. Sadly it is not obligatory on packages displayed in Europe. Their list does report generic names and some brand names and are paired in two’s or three’s to highlight similarities.

NB: “Any product label changes by manufacturers require FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) approval.”                                                

Marketing Departments please be on your guard. Though the list above illustrates interesting roots and sources for your soon to be marketed new drug to evolve a stylish brand, it is prudent to call someone like Brighter Naming. They have a dedicated international linguistic naming consultants to steer your project out of hot waters and run numerous, experienced tests to avoid confusions with competing or conflicting drugs.

Naming Alphabet soup 101

(C) Rosie Reay

Posted in Biotech Naming, Branding, International Naming, Strange Names, Trademarks

ibotta – What an awful name for a shopping app

Every so often a name comes along that actually gets some publicity or has the money to promote itself on TV. I was horrified when I first saw this name on a TV commercial.  Wow. Launching a new consumer shopping service (or is it a payment service) is hard enough nowadays, without having to drag an albatross name around your neck.

rotten names, bad consumer namingIt still makes my skin crawl.  I have asked around and asked if anyone gets it. No. Do they like it. Heck no. What does it mean? Don’t have a clue unless you do some research and see the company claims it is short for ” I bought it”. Sounds to me more like they bought the farm – bottoms up to you too. At least now I know it is not pronounced ebot ta.  Could mean ta thanks for the ibot I guess as well. (Or even I spanka your bottom).

These are the kind of names that may sound clever when someone finds the domain free, but cost you an enormous overhead in sales and marketing. Imagine being a salesman and calling around and explaining that to each new prospect. Or marketing trying to craft a message around it. What imagery comes to mind? None of course. Even their logo lacks any style or class and I don’t blame the graphics designers, given that meaningless name.

This is where some professional naming help up front could have saved them hundreds of man hours and dollars and given them a name that is much easier to pronounce and identify with – hence making all the branding so much easier. After all, you are selling to humans – and by and large they don’t buy anything ugly.


Rotten names for shopping sitesNow I discover that one of Ibotta’s big competitors is called Rakuten. What is going on? Another strange name for western ears – with no meaning at all. Yes it is a big Japanese company. Yes it is a cool word in Japanese meaning “optimism”. But how many know that?  Even their own commercials are pronouncing it Rack oo Ten completely ignoring normal Japanese syllabary. Even beginners in Japanese know to break it apart as three Japanese characters: Ra, Ku and Ten.  Ra pronounced like in Rah Rah. Or like in Ramen – the cheap Asian noodles we lived on in college.

Of course their old name is EBates which was pretty rotten too. At least it didn’t sound like some Asian noodle or rice cracker dish.

(C) 2019 Brighter Naming


Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, International Naming, Name Origins, Naming Education, Retail, Rotten Names, Strange Names

French Bee instead of French Blue – except in logo

While the current news is sensationalizing the potential airstrikes over the end of August in France and British Isles (and outside Europe too), the budget French airline company is buzzing  along nicely amongst happy travellers. They really are flying  higher and further from Paris Orly Airport, with their new re-branded name from Frenchblue to Frenchbee, while preserving their blue logo image and colour schemes

There previous name was similar in the descriptive of two simple words joined together and the pattern has followed. So why did they change it?

American Aviation objected loudly to FrenchBlue for another airline waving BLUE in it. Yet I wonder why it was deemed reasonable for them to have and maintain the names: JetBlue Airways; Airblue or Blue Air and not be thought confusing to one another.

Why haven’t the British aviator authorities not seen fit to comment when they have names bordering on Frenchbee? Namely: /ˈflaɪˌbiː) orFlybmi. (unfortunately the latter has gone into administration.) Homonyms work well in naming if kept simple and with clarity.

Another interesting aspect of this name is that it has an alternative meaning as well. Remember when you used to do spelling bees in school? Well French Bee could be your French language test!

air travel naming servicesThe French were very astute in naming the suffix as an English word from the entomology of bee  instead of the more difficult for foreigners to pronounce or spell as bee in French  = abeille. Somehow, FrenchAbeille  is not as smooth and doesn’t roll off your tongue. Whereas, irrespective of the language bee is ponounced as the letter B in English. Also the letter B in French is similar but said softer and shorter thus easily to be understood by Europeans and global travelers.

Curiously all logos are BLUE. Is this co-incidental, unimaginable or deliberate to mislead /confuse travelers when browsing to book with them while searching for a competitor? Surely the bees in France are not blue – except maybe the sting in their tail! At first glance on sides of planes we thought this was a 3 leafed clover. Only now do we start to see it is maybe a bee!

Please do your research to avoid costly, expensive and possibly legal costs in forcing you to re-name your company for which you have already run-up a small fortune in logos and advertising costs and chic uniforms for land aircrews.

Naming Alphabet Soup 101 (c) Rosie Reay

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Hospitality & Travel, International Naming, Name Changes, Name Origins, Naming News, Retail, Strange Names, Transportation

$12 million to get their own names back!

What is a name worth?

The National Park Service (NPS) and their concessionaire Aramark for Yosemite National Park have announced they recently settled their trademark dispute with the former concession licensee Delaware North Corp. (DNC) for a mere total over $12 million dollars – for their own names no less!

Wow.  Now you know what those specific names are worth. Of course, DNC lawyers had been asking for a lot more money. And yes, DNC had been granted trademark rights in certain special names like Ahwahnee, Wawona, Curry Village and others. And they had helped promote them over the years, but mostly only on merchandising items. So how did they get a claim anyway on names that clearly in practice belong to NPS?

Iconic names of public spacesThis is what happens when you are asleep at the wheel – especially when dealing with nefarious, greedy partners with lots of money and lawyers. I am not sure how it is supposed to work, but why did the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) not alert NPS in the first case before allowing the filings?

Anyway, I bet many other government agencies got a big wake up call, though some, like US Post Office have been way ahead of the curve for years. If you are starting a mail business of any sort, best you not use any words or images that are even close to present US Post names and symbols. Don’t even bother to check – believe me they have them all carefully and extensively trademarked – especially that flying eagle symbol.

The good news in the Yosemite case is that the public is breathing a big sigh of relief as the park goes back to using most of their iconic and famous names like Ahwahnee, Wawona and Curry Village. Names we grew up with that made such an impression on us, just like this wonderful gem of preserved nature does every day to visitors who come from far and wide. Names we know will be properly preserved forever as the trademarks are now owned by NPS even though they have licensed them to the new Aramark for use during the term of their contract only.

What makes a name iconic?

This big fuss over Yosemite names was played out in the public arena over and over again. I happen to live near Yosemite National Park and many of us refused to use the new names. In fact we found it difficult to explain to visitors so much so that most maps and guides finally printed both names. But it also gives us a great opportunity to learn what makes a good name into a great iconic name that people love and adore.

Unique hotel and lodging namesIn many other situations, developers and the public alike might think Grand Majestic Hotel is a great name for a hotel. Or Big Trees Lodge – how appropriate is that! Or Half Dome Campsite. Yes, those were the temporary names for the Ahwahnee, Wawona and Camp Curry respectively. But where is the uniqueness, the emotion, the passion, the connection to the locations?

If you are looking for a name for a new brand that you hope will one day be iconic and worth millions, best you start now by deleting all those common descriptive names and work on something truly unique. Most of us have no idea what Ahwahnee or Wawona means, other than we register them as American Indian words when we think about them. Now you also know why so many iconic brands are named with unique family or place names. Put down the dictionary. The names are not in there – yet!

And, of course, a name is only the short hand for an iconic brand. When experts talk about making such a brand connection they talk about emotional connections to the brand. After all, a brand is a promise of an experience. So to accelerate your iconic brand development, involve all personnel in creating those emotional, practical and consistent brand touch points every day and everywhere your messaging appears.

See  What is a Brand and Brand Development for more on this subject.


(C) 2019 Brighter Naming


Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Hospitality & Travel, Naming News, Public Site Naming, Trademarks

When S evolves as an empowered Z – Sandvoort to Zandvoort

Formula One is rife in Europe but Barcelona, Spain has lost its place on the grid to the beach side track in the Netherlands, aka Holland -Zandvoort Circuit.

Naming racing productsZandvoort has risen from the dunes as the Dutch eagerly awaits great expectation from their Belgian import who races under the Dutch flag, Max Emilian Verstappen to race ahead – not if Lewis Hamilton Mercedes or Charles Leclerc Ferrari (Monaco) have a say in it!

Now we have three well-known racing circuits that have all started with the strong letter Z.

Zeltweg in Austria. Zolder in Belgium (Hausden-Zolder, but is always abbreviated for simplicity) and Zandvoort in Netherlands.

Z-A-N-D-V-O-O-R-T  What does it mean?

Zand- is purely sand, implying the beach and relative to the term strand in English etymology. Whereas, -voort is a ford (not the car manufacturer Ford). Fords are barriers and associate with the sand dunes keeping the seas at bay. However the word evolves down from Scandinavia where they have fjord coastlines.

Those who speak Germanic based languages (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Afrikaans, Dutch, Flemish, German, Swiss and so on) will see a different combination in the morphology of the suffix -voort as voor-t. Voor suggests in front / out(side)/leader. When the -T is added our audio links voort  to the Vikings of the olde world in their word fort.This leads you onto fortune or fortitude -all of which are elements of the racing fraternity and sport, therefore, valid in their name formation.

Curiously the sleeping village dates back to 1100. This area of the circuit lies marginally lower than the land area of the sand dunes. Sandford (as single language tourists usually refer to it)  or “Sandevoerde” is still officially the correct name, though by locals commonly referred to as Zandvoort .

Motor sports marketingZandvoort is a beautiful, strong name and stands above many of the other racing circuits name. Graphic designers love the sharp Z symbol, ignited across the billboards and has longevity ever since the popular cinemascope of Zorro. Yes, Zandvoort is memorable and can be pronounced by many language groups without difficulty.

Likewise it would have been amazingly memorable to have witnessed the Test drive of hydrogen racing car on circuit Zandvoort on  9th July 2019 and officially photographed by Koen van Weel. Funny how when I first pronounced it in English mode, and not Dutch idiom, it was “w(h)eel”  and not as V-eel (W is a V sound). A Dutchman snapping the first formula hydrogen racing wheels on that stunning Netherlands track.

Yet, when a name becomes too long, it is over-complicated for people browsing the internet to remember all is facets of its orthography, even though it is a great company like: Zandvoort Draadenindustrie B.V (www.Zandvoort.big)

If you are not sure if your Company name or product  name is appropriate as you may have out-grown the original brand or maybe need a revitalized product architecture (or review), give us a call and we will test drive them for you. How will your customers pronounce your name? Will they recall it? A name needs not be descriptive, it could be coined or classical or many other options as long it is right for you and your target market, and not too close to your competitors so as to cause a trademark infringement issue.

PS Of course, we have the minor discrepancy with Z names that this last letter of the alphabet is pronounced Zed in Europe and other English-speaking countries, except the USA where they say Zee.


Naming Alphabet Soup Chronicles 101 (c) 2019 RosieReay
Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, International Naming, Name Origins, Public Site Naming, Sports Naming

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:

Mar 2019:The Power and Value of a Trademark

Jan 2019:4 common branding mistakes

Oct 2018: You named it What?

July 2018: Sample processes from leading consultants

June 2018: 10 steps to develop a process

August 2016: How to select a naming agency.

July 2016: How to get International Trademark protection.

March 2016: You received a cease and desist letter. Now what?

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

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