Monday, June 18, 2007

Every once in a while #1


What a lovely name. I could write an essay on why I think 'Remember the milk' is a great name for a web app that helps you manage tasks. Fortunately for you, I shan't.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Off

I'm going take a break from this naming business blog and spend my free time writing my Magnum Flopus. My blogging diversion and mental exercises will continue here. Thanks for the company. If you'd like to get in touch with me, please write to dopppsy@gmail.com

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pixetra v/s Anything else

An acquaintance of ours came up with the name Pixetra for a store that sells digital cameras and related equipment. I love it. The name says it all. It says pictures. It says pixels. It says digital. It says etcetra. It's what a great name should be. It might even get by without the need for a tagline. An almost perfect brand name for the product it is advertising.

Will it work? Ah well, that's a different matter and has much to do with things more than just brand names. Incidentally, the logo for the name is great too. We wish we had come up with it. All this just goes to re-iterate something we've been saying all along about portmanteaus; that they make for memorable brand names. Given the task what would we have come up with? I'll need a little more time for that. It's not that easy coming up with names. Fortunately.

Pixetra
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 28/40

Thursday, May 17, 2007

FedEx Kinkos v/s Finkos v/s KinkEx

Before we go on to the next post on this blog, take a little time out for this monstrosity in naming brought to us by The Name Inspector. Proof that not all portmanteaus work. Only the ones that come a lot closer to sounding like actual words. For instance, Pixetra

I believe the reason FedEx and Kinkos chose not to go with a compound word is that doing so would have meant sacrificing the immense brand equity Kinkos and FedEx already enjoy in the North American marketplace. Admittedly, the new name in the form of a compund word might have tried to salvage some of the old equity by going in for a logo design that drew from the colours of both brands. Eventually, I think they just decided to do the easy thing and stick both old names into a new brand.

If you ask me, what they've settled for is not such a bad move. FedEx and Kinkos are in a space where memorable brand names don't count as much as say in a more crowded arena like fast moving consumer goods. (No puns intended.) On the other hand, if FedEx Kinkos were communicating to people other than office managers and the like who want little more than to get their documentation done, they might have had to work much harder.

Let's say FedEx Kinkos have to come up with a brand name for a product they choose to retail under the FedEx Kinkos umbrella. That's when they'll have to think of something far more elegant.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sepia Mutiny v/s India Uncut

India Uncut, run by an internet acquiantance of mine, is a great name for a site that positions itself as a daily source of interesting, Indiacentric and, most of all, independent news.

The India in the name says...well, India and the 'Uncut' qualifier says independent. A perfect example of a simple name that stands out in a milleu where people tend to ignore the simple when choosing names. Like the name, there's not much more that needs to be said about how effective it is. When something is simply effective, it doesn't need an essay-like explanation to tell you why it is. It just is.

Sepia Mutiny on the other hand goes in for the interesting, USA-relevant tactic of colour-type plus aggression.

Sepia (a darker shade of brown) and Mutiny (an aggressive word that blasts into your brain) combine to deliver South-Asiacentric news to a desi audience. I'm not sure how they came up with the name but I suspect it might have something to do with setting right certain misconceptions about brown people in USA. Well, whatever it is, it certainly is an intriguing word combination that does a good job of cutting through the clutter. And no, 'Brown Mutiny' wouldn't have worked. (It sounds too crass.)

Thanks to some smart naming ideas, and good marketing, these two names have established themselves as credible news sources in a space that's very, very hard to make a name in. My heartiest congratulations to them. And for those who'd like to see how the numbers for the two names add up, here are the Übermeters.

India Uncut
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 29/40

Sepia Mutiny
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 29/40

Desi Pundit
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 6/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 27/40

Adden for the dumb: The first two names are not competing with each other but are beng compared purely from the point of view of how they sound, originality and linguistics that matter. And then there's Desi Pundit, which is kinda like India Uncut without the Uncut and thus not as clutter-blasting as Uncut.

Moredendum: Abhi, one of the clutch of fine writers in the mutinous bunch, writes back to me with the origins of the name Sepia Mutiny. As is sometimes the case, the truth is far more prosaic than fantasy. Here it comes. The name is not much more than a combination Sepia, which is a kind of ink, and a riff on the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. I got the the Mutiny of 1857 part but I didn't think the Sepia was meant to represent writers' ink. Ah well, I wonder what the audience thinks about the origins of the name. Or maybe they don't. After all, not everyone has time for such trivial obsessions. Thankfully.

Aside from all that: Another thing we can learn from the above comparisons is which names require taglines more than others. And for those who haven't learnt anything from all my yammerings, a name like India Uncut says it all without the need for a qualifier. Sepia Mutiny doesn't.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Koolickles v/s Kool-Aid Pickles

The retailers of this new brand launched in USA include Double Quick, a chain of more than 30 stores, which has even applied for "a trademark for Koolickle, a name coined by Rick Beuning, its director of food service, who says: "I'm a white boy from the Midwest ... This isn't my food, but I know a good product when I see one."

Personally speaking, I know a good name when I see one. Koolickles is a good one. Very.

Why do I like Koolickles? Many reasons. For one, it's not as prosaic and simply descriptive as Kool-Aid Pickles, which doesn't even sound appetising. For two, Koolickles makes it sound like a treat of some kind, which it is and which is good. For three, Koolickles leaves a bit to our imagination, which is a good thing to attempt with communication. For four, Koolickles is a neologism, which, like all smart namers, I have a weak-in-the-knees weakness for.

And then some, more. Koolickles satisfies the bare necessities of good naming principles that say Stop-start scale, Story meme, The long and the short cut and Urlability. Check it out in the Übermeters at the bottom of this post. And for your winning Koolickle like name, you can either write to me or Rick Beuning from Double Quick, who seems to have just as fine a mind, and ear, for good names.

Koolickles
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 29/40

Kool-Aid Pickles
Stop-start scale: 5/10
Long and Short cut: 5/10
Story meme: 6/10
Urlabilty: 5/10
Übertotal: 21/40

Apple v/s Big Blue

An old classic in naming strategy is being debated over at Thingnamer and I can't help but attempt a deconstruction.

When Apple was introduced, Big Blue ruled the roost. Steve Jobs and his Gang of Blue-busters needed to come up with something so memorable that people would make an instant connection with the new product without having to be told about it time and again; Apple, you see, would never be able to match Big Blue in terms of marketing muscle.

Before that path-breaking 1984 commercial directed by Ridley Scott, Apple did something very elementry and very brilliant by deciding to call themselves so. Apple, in terms of colour, is diametrically opposite to the cool blue of blue. Apple is red. Apple is warm. Apple is fresh. Apple is very different. Apple is...well, Apple Computer. It's a different matter that Apple chose to, very smartly, go with a rainbow coloured symbol.

A red Apple logo for Apple would have been too common. Instead, what they did was choose something else with a very powerful story meme and own the Apple meme by rejigging the colours of the common fruit most inventively and most inclusively. The Rainbow, you see, has an equally powerful story meme, which they combined with the Apple story meme to communicate different and inclusive; again, most unlike Big Blue.

More about Apple: Apple draws positive memory cues from The Big Apple. Apple is a biblical symbol of universal recall. Apple is the oldest, the most tempting and the most basic fruit known to the human race. The Rainbow Apple is most emphatically not Big Blue. That's why deciding to call the new entrant Apple was less an abstract and more a simply brilliant naming move.

Apple
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 9/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 31/40

Adden for myself the dumb: Steve Jobs says he decided to go with Apple because he admired The Beatles. Ah well, maybe the credit should then go to the naming expert in The Beatles who chose the word Apple for their records. Sir Paul, take a bow.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Neue Haas Grotesk v/s Helvetia v/s Helvetica

Helvetica is a font that has been used to communicate some of the biggest brand names in the world. Thankfully, the people who decided to call Helvetica, Helvetica chose well. Imagine if they had decided to stick with Neue Haas Grotesk.

For many obvious reasons, Neue doesn't make for a smart naming choice. Helvetia (The Latin word for Switzerland), on the other hand, is certainly a simpler naming idea, but not quite as mindpacting as Helvetica or, even, Neue Haas Grotesk. And why is Helvetica better than both? Think about it. Those who decide they'd rather hear my thinking on it are directed to the Übermeters.

If you'd like the meters on the matter on hand elaborated to you in lovingly explained terms and a detailed case study, please do write to me. Right now, though, we'll all have to settle for a quick take on the issue.

Neue Haas Grotesk
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 5/10
Urlabilty: NA
Übertotal: 18/30

Helvetia
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 5/10
Urlabilty: NA
Übertotal: 17/30

Helvetica
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 6/10
Urlabilty: NA
Übertotal: 20/30

Adden for the dumb: Yes, I believe Neue Haas Grotesk makes for a, slightly, better name than Helvetia. Hmm...right, write to me.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

iGoogle v/s iApple?

No, how about iGoogle and iApple? Don't be surprised if this mini-renaming move ends up being the first in the many small steps these two Microsoft enemies and personalisation giants will take in their war against the evil empire.

They may not become one giant company, but they most likely will end up as partners in the near future. (As the great strategic thinking saying goes, "Your enemy is my enemy.") For now, though, let's restrict ourselves to evaluating how the new name adds up.

iGoogle
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 8/10
Urlabilty: NA
Übertotal: 22/30

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fossil v/s New

In a world of 'New this!' and 'New that!', it's so refreshing and memorable to come across a brand name that strives to be known as not just old, but very, very old.

Fossil: Now that's what you call new thinking. For a detailed dissection of the brand name and a white paper on how to come up with names like this that work, write to me.

Fossil
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 10/10
Übertotal: 31/40

New
Stop-start scale: 4/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 4/10
Urlabilty: 0/10
Übertotal: 15/40

Mental Floss v/s Pundamentals

A name like Mental Floss demonstrates the importance of playing with words to come up with a unique brand name.

Now, more than ever, brand names need to be urlable. Since all the usual words have been squatted on, you need to play with the extraordinary to come up with a unique brand name. Or else, you're going to be stuck with a name that's already long 'gonline'. And if you're not online, you're going nowhere into the future.

The other great thing about the Principle of Pundamentalising is it allows you to riff on the equity built by two things instead of one.

'Pundamental', for instance, combines the story memes people associate with Fundamental and Pun, which is better, more memorable and more impressionable than just fundamental or just pun. Good fun.

Mental Floss
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 28/40

Sunday, April 29, 2007

T-hee v/s Teehee

A fellow criminal, Unantha, has spewed out something else from his devilish workshop called Lucifer Labs (also known as the brain) and has chosen to call it 'Teehees'.

Now I don't know the gent very well but in case he has plans to launch it as a brand, I'd not-so-humbly and rather vehemently suggest he call it 'T-hees'.

Here's a quick why: 'T-hee' is a superior traffic stopper. 'T-hee' alludes in a more smart-alecky manner to the product category. And 'T-hee' is a punnier, typier take on 'teehee'.

And before you tee hee at me for my take on his 'teehee', hear what the world's most superior and most objectified parameters have to say about them. Here. (Or else, research.)

T-hee
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 28/40

Teehee
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 6/10
Urlabilty: 4/10
Übertotal: 22/40

Saturday, April 28, 2007

27th state v/s Story meme

A name like '27th State' demonstrates the value of the need for a story in every new name. Anybody who reads a name like '27th State' will wonder what it means. That, my friend, is one of the most important things a good name must do. And the value of that little known Übermeter called 'Story meme'.

To check out what the '27th State' looks like and the story meme behind it, go here.

Incidentally, something else you will find there is a great name for a range of ironic T-shirts, called 'T-Hee'. No, the name was not coined by me but if somebody asked me, I'd say 'T-Hee'.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Spelling v/s Spellng

An interesting, easy, fun and unusual way to come up with a unique brand name is to play with spellings.

It's a proven fact that people recognise words even if they are spelt wrong. (An award-winning and very memorable commercial has been done demonstrating this effect.) Furthermore, people tend to remember words better when they are spelt wrong.

If you want to come up with a brand name that alludes to a particular product category or common quality or generic feature, try spelling it wrong enough for it to be perceived the right way; kinda like how I have in the headline to this post.

A great example of a memorable product that is read the right way despite the wrong spelling is FCUK. Shown below is a quantified, objectified and scientified example of what I am yammering on about. For the rest of my case, FCUK off.

FCUK
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 8/10
Übertotal: 29/40

FUCK
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 0/10
Übertotal: 20/40

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Etsy v/s eBay v/s Sex

There, now that we've got your attention with the 's' word, time to get down to the prosaic business on hand; before we lose your ADD addled attention again.

The Name Inspector has done a post on Etsy and missed out a very important reason Etsy is working but is not like eBay; sex.

Etsy is not competing with eBay because it has chosen not to. Smartly enough. Etsy is not in the same space as eBay. Etsy is not talking to the people eBay is. What Etsy is doing is trying to segment the e-selling space and go after people who aren't as e-savvy as eBay users; mostly women.

This marketing tack (and fact) will be borne out by research, which will prove that eBay has more male users than female and vice versa. This is also why the Etsy site has softer colours, easier navigation and a more fluid design aesthetic; for women.

Etsy works well for its audience because it's a female name. Names have sexes and eBay is male. Etsy is the eBay for handmade goods, which tend to be made by and indulged in by the female of the species; not because they are inherently better at it but because they just happen to have more time on their hands to.

What does this little discussion teach us about the naming game? Nothing more significant than this: It makes sense to consider the sex of the name you're plumpng for, keeping in mind the sex of your primary target audience.

Quick demo: The 'ee' sounding 'Y' in Etsy make it, like, girly. The 'way'-sounding eBay is utilitarian and functional; in other words, more male. An Überwhite paper with male and female pictures in multiple colours will be made available if and when demanded for, nicely.

Etsy
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 26/40

eBay
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 26/40

Addendum: Nobody wins this war because they don't happen to be fighting each other. Ta da!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Übernamer v/s Übernamiam

So why did I go and, thrice again, change the name of my Über naming company from Übernamiam to Übernamer? For those of you who think the reasons for doing so are obvious, stop. And for those of you who don't and would like to be gently enlightened on this virally important matter, here goes.

The thing about Übernamiam is it sounds too much like Übermaniam. The second thing about Über/namiam is it needs a visual separator (as demonstrated) to communicate the product it's marketing. The third thing about Übernamiam is research showed that it's not better than Übernamer.

The name I have corrected myself to and opted for is simpler to spell, easier to read, says 'super namer' and will not be confused with anything else more complicated like 'titanium', 'plutonium' or 'subramaniam'. Nicer still, it's just as unique a name as Übernamiam and continues to communicate, rather well, that it comes from the House of Übermaniam.

All of which pretty much sums up how you should dissect, debate and pick a name from a set of myriad options I will present you with, the next time you come to me with your naming problems. See, how flexible I am. Now isn't that what you'd like from your branding solution provider? Thank you.

Übernamiam
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 26/40

Übernamer
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 28/40

QWERTYpie v/s Why I don't like QWERTYpie

A friend of mine asked me to think of some names for her website and the one, among a few others, I pushed for was QWERTYpie. Why not?

Yes, why not? For a change, let's look at why you shouldn't go with a name like QWERTYpie for a site about random musings, which is what most blogsites are anyway; except, of course, this rather serious, seminal and considered musing on the earth-shattering importance of names.

Well, after much hand-wringing and many mind-numbing jaunts into the myriad facets of namingnomics, I can't think of a single reason why not. Can you?

Meanwhile, if you'd like to read a polemically daunting analyses on the merits, and demerits (if any), of the Übername, please write to me with generous offers of money, real estate, stock options and TLC. We'll take it from there.

QWERTYpie
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 5/10
Übertotal: 26/40

Addendumb: Thanks to my naming counter Tate the Thingnamer, I was exposed to some of the other ways in which Qwertypie may not work quite as well as, say, QWERTYpie. And so, I've incorporated a few adjustments, which will make it a more workable naming solution. Back to you.

Names v/s Names with taglines

A lot of people don't do taglines because they force you to capture the essence of your product in a few words. Taglines are good because audiences want to be told what's important in double quick time. Taglines are an efficient way to maximise scarce advertising resources. Taglines give your brand name and logo a story, which helps people remember things better. So why do some people say taglines are pointless? Because they are hard to do. If something is hard to do, the first thing people will do is try and do away with it.

Does this mean taglines are a must? No. You don't need a tagline if your name tells a story, but it helps. Besides, if you're only going to consider names that tell a complete story you are eliminating a lot of unusual and memorable naming combinations from the mix (Example: The Name Inspector v/s Übernamer v/s Brandnama). Instead, consider both sets of branding directions. Look at names that tell stories without taglines and others which can be buttressed with a tagline.

Taglines talk about your philosophy without launching into reams of philosophy. Taglines can help differentiate you from the competition with a few carefully chosen words. Taglines advertise your pedigree. A good way to decide whether your name needs a tagline or not is to consider the leading names in your segment and see whether they have taglines. If they do, there must be some merit in it. Here's a simple thumb rule for taglines: If you're a new entrant, you're better off with a tagline.

Cliche v/s The Daily Unusual

In the creative field, one of the things we, rather desperately, steer clear of is cliche. The reason for this aversion is that judgements in this business are, first, made on how original your ideas are, or aren't and then on how practical they might be. But, sometimes, this obsession with being creative can be damaging. Very.

Cliche has certain advantages; the greatest of which is familiarity. When you know something, you don't have to be told what it stands for. And if you have to come up with a name for a product , it might not be such a bad idea to carefully look at a name that sounds cliched. The Melting Pot is one such name.

Most people in the advertising business will tell you that The Melting Pot is a run-of-the-mill name to go with for an organisation that offers a range of creative services. They will also tell you that it's the first name that comes to mind; something creative people are absolutely against plumping for because they've been brought up on a diet of constantly trying to come up with ego-swelling ideas of startling originality. (Not always such a good thing to strive for.)

Yes, you must try and do something people haven't done before. But, you must not get caught up with always trying to be different. You need to find the middle ground. You cannot let your ego drive a business decision. The danger of letting it do so is that such a decision might end up being impractical. And that's why you need research.

If you're stuck between trying to decide whether to go with a name that is clutter-breakingly original and something that's not, research it. At the end of the day, it matters less what you think of your name than what your target audience thinks of it. What you need to be careful of, though, is making sure you're researching it properly.

For example, if your name is unfamiliar, make sure it has a tagline. (Taglines are a very important part of the branding mix.) Consider what your name will look like in a logo - after a while, names become design elements. Think about how easy it is to type your name as a url; if it is hard to spell out, stay away from it.

All this to say, The Melting Pot might not be such a bad idea, after all, when compared with a name like Bhelpourri, Missmash or Mixed Fruit Jam. How bad or how good an idea it is, research will tell you.

Incidentally, if you need some brand related research to be done, do get in touch with us. We do it well and our reports are beautifully written, well compiled and generously embellished with colourful bar charts, pictures and wise aphorisms. Not to mention in an universally accessible pdf file formatted for power points.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Melting Pot v/s Mixed Fruit Jam v/s Miss Mash v/s Bhelpourri

Now nobody asked me for a name but somebody I know is starting a company and has decided to call it The Melting Pot. Lovely, albeit rather basic, name.

Some of the other names I would have considered throwing into the research mix for this product concept would have been Mixed Fruit Jam, Miss Mash and Bhelpourri, to name just three I have had the pleasure of cooking up in the last 5 minutes.

The question, though, is why put in the effort to check out more names and see how they compare with the chosen one? Because the first product that comes up when you google the words 'melting pot' is a restuarant and the dotcom extension is not available.

In this day and age of integrated marketing you need a name that can be snared as a url, also. And as people who have been good enough to read some of the naming-principles I have been yammering on about for the past few months know, urls are very play to get unless they happen to be multilingual compound words.

That said, how does Melting Pot stack up against the others I have taken the enthu-cutletness to suggest? A detailed pdf'ed white paper on all the matters that matter will follow, once the payment, the request for one and the investment comes.

Readers may note that I have added another Übermeter to the mix, which I believe is a crucial decision-maker today. It's called the 'Urlability factor' and, as the name cleverly suggests, it's all about dotcom extension availability.

The Melting Pot
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 5/10
Übertotal: 24/40

Mixed Fruit Jam
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 6/10
Übertotal: 25/40

Miss Mash
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 6/10
Übertotal: 25/40

Bhelpourri
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Urlabilty: 7/10
Übertotal: 28/40

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stupid v/s Simple

I was reading a web reaction to the name of a band I'm currently tripping all over called Postal Service. The person, I forget who, thought the name was stupid. I thought it was interesting. And then I thought to myself; if you had to choose between a stupid brand name and a simple one, which one would you go for?

I'd go for stupid. Simple is less likely to grab people by the eyeballs than stupid. People love to take a stand on something that appalls or makes them seem smart. People love to criticise. People are likely to pay more attention to something negative, over simple. It goes without saying, and thus is worth repeating, that stupid isn't something you should choose over smart.

And since everything marketable must be quantified, here's my Übermetric on this rather controversial, and subjective, matter. Interestingly enough, I've chosen to rate this war only on one parameter. For a properly pdf'ed white paper on this thoroughly researched and scientified subject, you are advised to invest some time in talking to me.

Stupid
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 7/10

Simple
Story meme: 5/10
Übertotal: 5/10

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Facebook v/s Friendster

I prefer the former. Even though, I've known about the latter for much longer. And no, I'm not a member of either. Note: Facebook continues to grow at a faster rate than Friendster. Think it might have something to do with the name? Yes.

Facebook gives me a face to remember the name with. A name like Facebook is a more efficient way to talk to people who remember faces better than names and also to people who remember names better than faces - because face is a powerful cue to build into a name.

People who aren't good with faces will remember the name and people who aren't good with names will remember the fact that it has a face in the name.

What I like about Friendster is that it uses the 'st' memory factor very well. Most names that have an 'st' grouped together will be more memorable than names that don't. (That's just the way the mind remembers things.)

Friendster is a pretty good name with more than a few memory cues built into it. That said, Facebook triumphs because in this highly visual age, a word like 'Face' just has a more powerful visual meme than the latter.

Smart analysis, eh? That's the thing about analyses, they're pretty damn easy to put together. It's the coming up with things worth analysing which is hard. And that's why you need a naming consultant who can give you a name or three worth analysing. Thank you.

Facebook
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Friendster
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 5/10
Übertotal: 18/30

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bagelsquares v/s Bagelbread

Thomas Squares is a company based in Albany, USA that came up with an innovation in the bagelspace in the form of square-shaped bagels. Initially, they named their product Thomas' Bagelsqaures but then decided to change it to Bagelbread. Let us try and understand why they felt the need to.

The thing about a name like Bagelsqaures is that it only focusses on the immediate change in the product. People exposed to the name Bagelsquares are likely to percieve it as little more than sqaure-shaped bagels. The probelm with this kind of perception is that it doesn't talk to people who aren't too enthused by bagels. What Bagelsquares doesn't do is use the intrinsic perception value in square-shaped bread products. Bagelbread on the other hand does that rather well.

Bagelbread talks to people who are into bagels and people who prefer bread. What a name like Bagelbread does is it expands the scope of the product by using the potential of the shape innovation to the maximum. What Bagelsquares doesn't do is plant the 'bread meme' in the minds of the buyers. It expects buyers to look at a square bagel and make the 'bread connection'. Consumers have too much going on in their lives to be able to make that kind of leap. A name that makes that leap for them is a smarter choice to go with.

Once people see the words 'bagel' and 'bread' in the name, they're open to experimenting with bagels, if they haven't in the past and are already thinking about the ways in which they can have the bagel like they are used to having their bread. What a name like Bagelbread does is it brings to bagels what bread has and to bread what bagels have. Bagels are more nutritious than bread. Bread is softer than bagels. Bagelbread is both. Way to go, Mr. Pankaj Talwar.

Bagelsquares
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 5/10
Übertotal: 18/30

Bagelbread
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twitter v/s Thotpurge

When thinking of a url for this website, what if the creators had chosen to go with a name like 'Thotpurge'? The url is available. Thotpurge is in a similar ballpark. So why didn't they go with the latter?

Maybe the name never occured to them. And even if it did, it might have thrown up in searches as this very well-written blog. But 'Thotpurge' is only a blog. It's not a full-fledged site. So they could have taken the name and drowned the little thing out.

Perhaps they wanted a unique name. In which case, it makes complete sense to go with 'Twitter'. That said, I do believe 'Thotpurge' is a more memorable name than the one they plumped for. 'Thotpurge' has a powerful word like purge in it. It's also a more active word than 'Twitter'. What it isn't, is twitter.

Twittering is a different kind of activity from thotpurging. A twitter is chattier than a thotpurge. Twittering feels like a more casual thing to do than purging. Blogging is more like thotpurging. Twittering is closer to sharing. Purging feels like something you do without bothering about whether anybody is recieving your inputs or not. All this leads me to believe that's why the creator or 'twitter' chose to go with it.

I'm guessing the people behind 'twitter' wanted it to be a social activity site, a hangout, a chatroom of sorts. Purging is not that kind of thing. Purging is aggressive. Twittering is not. Interesting call. This naming business is a nuanced one, isn't it? Think about it. Carefully. Better still, leave it to me.

Twitter
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Thotpurge
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 5/10
Übertotal: 18/30

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Agnostics v/s Believers

There are some very thoughtful people who have told me that they don't care to give much thought to names and naming matters. Blaiq is one of these people. He calls himself 'a naming agnostic'. What can I say to him?

First up, I've got to ask myself whether names really matter? After all, if you manage to make a good product and communicate the benefits of it well enough, it shouldn't matter what you call it, right? Perhaps.

On the other hand, if you don't have a memorable name, you start the marketing conversation on the backfoot. Consider the names we brand ourselves with? Why do human beings give it so much thought? Because names matter.

In this day and age when we are saddled with so much to process, it seems quite useful and necessary to have an introduction that registers easily. As the old adage goes, first impressions matter.

If you don't bother about what you call yourself, you're leaving people with too much to recall you with. What a distinct name does is amplify the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of whatever it is that you are communicating about yourself. Your brand.

Believe you me, names matter. Of course, they only matter so long as you think well about some of the other things that also matter in marketing conversations. And, sadly enough, most conversations nowadays are marketing conversations. But that's a different matter.

Language v/s Language

A good way to pick interesting brand names/words is to mine languages that are not from the country in which you plan to launch your brand. For instance, if you want to launch a brand of something in Europe, try and pick a name from Japanese.

One thing you must keep in mind, though, is make sure the word you pick from the other language doesn't mean something uncomplimentary. That's all.

A very ordinary word from a foreign language can sound rather unique and turn out to be very memorable to people elsewhere. This is a smart way to overcome 'local word fatigue'.

Happily enough, if you happen to be looking at launching a brand in the Indian market you don't have to look beyond national boundaries for foreign words. There are some 35-odd languages spoken in different parts of India that you can turn to for an exotic sounding brand word.

Just remember, after you pick your foreign words, that they ought to be evaluated on the Überscales to ensure they satisfy some of the basic, and universal, meters which make for long-lasting brand names.

No matter in which language, the brand name must still break up nicely around consonant and vowel sounds, roll of the tongue comfortably and have a story meme or two. At least.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Wordlab v/s Thingnamer v/s Namewire

What we have here are three of the more popular naming blogs in the blogosphere. So how good are they at what they do? The proof of the pudding would have to be in the self-naming. Well, let's get down and see where they stand when it comes to generating brand names for themselves. After all, if you can't come up with a decent name for yourself how good can you be at branding somebody else?

Wordlab, to me, sounds like a name for a word-generating application. It says little about names. What's nice about Wordlab, though, is that it says words, words and not much more than words. And since names are, first, words, Wordlab does own the thing that defines names. Fortunately for Wordlab, it comes from the House of Igor, the leaders in the branding space. Thanks to Igor, the demerits of the name Wordlab don't matter as much as they should. If Wordlab were a name for standalone naming company, they'd have a much harder time making a splash in this space.

Thingnamer is interesting and stands out because it drops the space between two more ordinary words. If you had to read 'Thingnamer' as 'Thing' and 'Namer' you wouldn't give it as much thought as you are likely to, minus the space. Minus the space, 'Thingnamer' becomes much more than just 'thing' and 'namer' and registers, at first, as something unknown, exotic and unusual; and in this space, first impressions count. A lot. I wonder whether Thingnamer would throw in the space between the words if he had to design a logo for himself? My humble advice would be not to. All that said, about Thingnamer, good call.

What about NameWire? Yes, what about NameWire? Well, it tries to do the same thing Thingnamer is doing by dropping the space between two very functional words but the effect isn't as memorable. Why so? Because NameWire comes across and looks like a normal sounding single word, unlike Thingnamer. (For instance, sorta like Limewire.) As a result, it doesn't make as much of an impression. Admittedly, NameWire isn't the name of the company and the logo does try and make the name stand out by presenting it as 'NameWire', with the words 'Name' and 'Wire' in different colours. Sadly, that's just too elementary a branding tactic. Even the parent company for the Namewire blog is an oh-so-dull 'Strategic Name Developement'. (I suspect their choice might have something to do with Google key words, but they could have done better. much, much better.)

So who wins this name war? Thingnamer. And yet, Thingnamer is not as interesting as, say Brandnama or, even, Brandaclaus. Learning: Portmanteau words work better as brand names. Not that any of that matters. At the end of the day, for whatever reason, all the three names being compared here have more clients than both Brandnama and Brandaclaus put together. Just goes to show, again, that a name is only a small part of the branding game. Unfortunately.

And guys, before you label me as a troll or jealous or dysfunctional or any such thing uncomplimentary, try honest and objective. Because all this is, is an evaluation based on certain scientifically devised Übermeters. Please don't take offence. As is evident, I'm too small a fry to make any difference to your already established credentials. Feel free to jump in and rip this post to shreds. The learning that will result from such an attack will be most welcomed by yours truly. Rest in pieces.

Wordlab
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 6/10
Übertotal: 18/30

Thingnamer
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 20/30

NameWire
Stop-start scale: 6/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 5/10
Übertotal: 17/30

Friday, April 06, 2007

007s v/s Unpants

If I had to launch a brand of apparel what would I call it? One of the names I'd consider is 007s.

007s for apparel you can wear 7 days of the week. 007s because it's a number people are already aware of. 007s because Daniel Craig has done much to make 007 rugged, contemporary and cool again. Will I run into copywright issues? Hmm...

Another name I would consider, and probably drop, is 'Unpants' because, unfortunately, 'Unpants' is a name that's limited by the word 'pants'. That said, 'Unpants' is a pretty interesting thought. (Kinda like 'Uncola'.)

Then again, maybe I won't. Maybe 'Unpants' will manage what a brand like 'Pantaloon' has and overcome the limitations of the category word it carries within the name.

All thought-provoking names and all worth investing some thought, and research, into. What's more, both names lend themselves to some funtresting communication possibilities. (Very useful when you are considering a name for a new brand.)

Anyone looking to launch a new brand in the burgeoning off-the-shelf apparel space in India? There's more than the few where this came from. Meanwhile, I can't quite decide who wins this name war. Can you?

007s
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 21/30

Unpants
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 21/30

Glueteus Maximus v/s Stick Stick

After feeling like a doofus maximus for mistaking Brandnama's interesting name suggestion for a brand of glue stick to be for a brand of Post-its, here's my take for a fictitious-for-now brand war between two yet-to-be-born brands of glue sticks.

Now I do like, rather much, Brandnama's suggestion but I prefer mine for one reason more important than the fact that the name came from me. Indeed, GlueteusM and Stick Stick tote up equal scores on the three basic (and a few other) Überscales, but for one unquantifyable reason I'd stick my neck out and wager your not-so-considerable petrodollars on Stick Stick.

Why so? Two words, repetition. Long-lasting brand names feed off repetition. Stick Stick wins, only just, this brand war.

Point to be noted my jury: If you were launching a brand of premium glue sticks for smart people like Brandnama, GlueteusM would be the name to plump for. Unfortunately, glue sticks are a mass market product and intelligent puns of the GleuteusM kind are not likely to work with this audience. Stick Stick on the other hand is utterly low-brow and, happily enough, quite distinctive without being incomprehensibly discerning.

Readers who'd like to disagree with me are encouraged to get stuck into to my views and prove, inconclusively, how much more of a doofus maximus I am, here. Any takers?

Glueteus Maximus
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 6/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Stick Stick
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 6/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Post-it v/s Mind-it

Making a splash in a category owned by the pioneer in Post-its, Post-it, is going to take some doing. And doing so by going for a radical name is a great place to start. But how does one come up with a name that can displace the category owning Post-its from the consumer's mind? Well, if I were an Indian company and wanted to launch an alternate brand of Post-its in India, I might want to call it Mind-it.

What I like about mind-it is that it's close enough to the product benefit. What I also like about Mind-it is that Mind-it is already established as one of the most famous throwaway lines in popular culture in India. What I also, also like about Mind-it is that it's close enough to Post-it and will riff off the equity built by the undisputed leader brand.

Mind-it, in my mind, wins this hypothetical brand war. If anyone out there has a problem with Mind-it, now's the time to...well, speak your mind. Rest assured, I won't mind it.

Post-it
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 6/10
Übertotal: 20/30

Mind-it
Stop-start scale: 7/10
Long and Short cut: 7/10
Story meme: 7/10
Übertotal: 21/30

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Übermeters v/s No meters

An old colleague, and new acquaintance, Iqbal (of Blaiq fame) suggested I put in place some parameters for comparing names. The belief is that these parameters will remove, or reduce, the element of subjectivity from the conclusions I arrive at in the name wars I construct and deconstruct. Well, here goes. (And here come the parameters.)

But before I go on, let me say this: nothing in this world is objective. Even quantifiable parameters will be subjective. Objectivity is an illusion. And yet, what parameters will do is reduce the feeling of subjectivity that anything without numbers comes attached with. That's the power, and the limitation, of numbers; they foster an impression that isn't necessarily true.

Speaking now of my parameters, they're not parameters. They're what I'd like to brand as 'Übermeters'. Why Übermeters? Because, like all good brands, these parameters must convey what is unique about them, which in this case, is a method I have come up with to compare brand names - a methodology I will proceed to expose you to, in part, in the paragraphs to follow.

In my experience some of the things that make a name memorable are how well it rolls of the tongue, how easy it is to read and spell and the kind of associations it makes people call upon. It's a proven fact that words with alternating vowel and consonant sounds are easier to pronounce and remember...on second thoughts, this is hard to do.

The way my mind works is not worth quantifying. Besides, I don't do this for a living. If someone were to come to me with a naming problem and was willing to pay me to solve it, I'll put down a complete list of Übermeters in a well-written and properly pdf'ed white paper with quantifyable reasons for recommending some names more than others.

Then again, what I will do for the benefit of Mr. Kite and other people who do take the trouble to kindly, patiently and not-so-religiously read this blog (for the fun of it) is put down the three basic Übermeters I evaluate names on and, then, tag a descriptive paragraph (or three) alongwith each name-war I set up in the posts to come.

The three Übermeters I'll expose to my audience to are the 'stop-start factor', the 'long and the short cut' and the 'story meme'. Each of these Übermeters will be on a scale of 1 to 10. As we go down the road of this naming trip, we'll see how well (or not) they work. Anyone who wishes to contribute to this metering scale is welcome to do so.

Caveat: Like everything else good and evolutionary, this is a work in progress. So help me dear non-creationist God.

Brandaclaus v/s Übermaniam

There's a feeling doing the rounds that Brandaclaus sounds like the brand name for someone who dishes out brand names and other happiness-inducing brand ideas for free. Kinda, like Santa Claus. Interestingly enough, Santa Claus doesn't give you anything for free. (Remember, you've got to be good to get something from Santa Claus)

Anyway, yours truly has decided to set the record straight once and for all by excising the cause of this misconception. Brandaclaus is now Übermaniam. Which brings me to what I enjoy doing most, comparing names. Who wins this brand war? For starters, we'll have to wait and see. But going by the Übermeters, here's how the two names compare.

Übermaniam does have a lot going for it. It's riffs, rather smartly (if I may say so myself), off one of the more popular family names in the world. It also incorporates a very powerful word 'Über' in the name. And it tries to set right the impression Brandaclaus wrongly conveys. Goodbye Brandaclaus. Long live Brandaclaus, as Übermaniam.

And what are the Übermeters? I'll do a separate post outlining the various issues I have taken into consideration while putting together the Übermeter. It will need some detailing and a little more space. Until that time and space comes, watch this space.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Names v/s Übermeters

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the thing I have been doing the past few months is comparing names and trying to understand which names work better than others based on certain Übermeters I've come up with. (Based on experience, gut feel and inexact memory sciences.)

One of the things that struck me about this is the possible question people might pose to themselves about whether right the way to come up with good names is to sit down and anally follow the Übermeters I have come up with? Not. These parameters I have so helpfully thought of are not meant to help you throw up names. What they are meant to do is help you understand which of the names you, or your naming company, have created will work.

My craft of enduringly naming brands is about sitting yourself down with your list of names and using the parameters to understand which of the names you have thought of will be memorable. The way to do it is to first think of names and then evaluate them against the Über-meters. (Not sit yourself down with the rule book and try and churn out names by the book.)

For instance, don't tell your blank sheet of paper you need names with alternating stop-start sounds, euphonious vowels and consonant combinations and good back stories, to name three of the most important qualities good names must possess. Do that and you'll be left with a bunch of hide-bound rubbish. The way to do it is to have fun with names, minus the rules. That done, evaluate/edit the list, seriously, against the parameters to end up with brand names which will register, better.

It's a bit like writing, actually. As David Ogilvy said, write with passion and edit carefully. Or something like that. The point is not about exactly what he said but what he meant by it. Kinda like coming up with good names, without getting inflexible about things. Get what I mean? Good. go play. Or, better still, come to me.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hell's Kitchen v/s Hitler's Cross

The thing I like about the names I'm comparing is that they do, wonderfully, what a name is supposed to: grab you by the eyeballs. I mean, how can you not pay attention to a brand that calls itself Hell's Kitchen or Hitler's Cross? In terms of basic functionality, both names do the job evenly well. So which names scores higher for me?

It's not enough for a name to get your attention. It must do it without being unacceptably offensive. Unfortunately, Hitler has too much going against him to be acceptable in any form whatsover. Maybe the only acceptable place for Hitler as a brand name would be for something hellacious and totally negative like a prison or some such thing. Politically correctly speaking, Hitler stands for everything bad about this world and if you're trying to build a brand you want people to be positively associated with, stay away from what the world considers totally, unarguably and politically unacceptable. In a different time and a more tolerable world, Hitler may have passed muster, but not anymore. We're too conservative and too scared to swallow anything too controversial.

Hell, on the other hand, is a more acceptable word/concept than Hitler. (Amazing, eh?) Besides, the name Hell's Ktichen has the word kitchen in it and cues in the product category (restaurant) - which Hitler's Cross doesn't. (Maybe the people who started Hitler's Cross ought have called it Hitler's Larder or some such thing less inflamatory. Hmm...probably not. Hitler is just not meant to be patronised. Only detested. No matter what, if anything, might be good about the monster.)

History apart, both names satisfy all the basic parameters you need for a name to be memorable. Unfortunately, a back story/History (as I have demonstrated in some of my previous posts) is an important factor when it comes to choosing a word, or set of words, for a name. Hell's Kitchen win. Hands down.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Numbers v/s Words

Do words make for less memorable brand names than numbers? It's difficult to generally agree or disagree with the question I have posed my self here but I am inclined to believe that when it comes to brand names, people remember numbers better than words.

A quick poll will demonstrate that most brand names are words. And if most brand names are words, it doesn't take an Einstein to tell you that a number in a roomfull of words will stand out. In which case, to bring up a case in this point, why is Wal-Mart a bigger brand than say 7/11? Because, as I've repeated time and again and again, a brand name is only a part of the marketing mix. Wal-Mart is a bigger brand than 7/11 because it has a stronger value proposition.

Other non-word aspects of brand naming will bring us to things like hyphens and slashes that are built into brand names. These little bits of non-alphabet cues are smart things to put into brand names. Point is, anything that makes a brand name stand out in a world full of brand words is a good thing to consider when you're looking for a memorable brand name.

Back now to the original topic of this post. Do numbers make for better brand names? Simple answer: Yes. Complicated nuance: Just coming up with a number for a brand name doesn't mean you're on your way to building a big brand. But it is a good starting point. Takeaway thought: The next time you're thinking of new brand names, you might want to spend a little time thinking of numbers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Slate v/s Salon

I love reading off the web and Slate and Salon are names of my two favourite general interest websites. I love the writers that contribute to these websites. I find the views aired by them unusual without being pointlessly radical. I also like both the names. The question of relevance here is, which of the two names is better? Tough call, which is what makes it even more fun to try and take a call.

Both Salon and Slate are short and sweet. Both Salon and Slate have a nice set of alternating vowel and consonant sounds that make them easy to pronounce. And both websites have memorable stories on offer. So what makes Slate a better name?

For starters, it's the 't' in Slate that will make it an easier name to remember. 'N' is a soft sound. The rule of thumb is that if a name ends with a soft sound, it will be less memorable than one which ends in a stronger consonant sound. What else does Slate have going for it?

It has a more vivid imagery. Most people will find it easier to put a picture to Slate than Salon. A Salon, for the schooled, is a living room. (A salon for the unschooled is little more than a hard-to-pronounce word.) A living room is a harder image to remember because it has more complex associations and elements. A slate on the other hand, for the schooled and the unschooled, is a simple black board. (Which is closer to writing and reading than a living room is.)

The proof of the pudding would, of course, be in the checking. Expose Slate and Salon to people who've never heard of them and you'll see that Slate will be the name that will be easier remembered.

Monday, March 26, 2007

General v/s OGeneral

From this post I discovered that Fujitsu has a brand of air conditioners called General, which the layperson refers to as 'OGeneral'!

The post also goes on to wonder why Fujitsu hasn't done much to correct the error that the layperson is, obviously, making by referring to the brand as OGeneral? Simple answer: OGeneral is a more memorable name than General. Clearly the layperson has taught Fujitsu a thing or two about brand naming. I mean, it doesn't take much of a brand namer to tell you that General is hardly a distinct brand name for anything.

In fact, I wonder why Fujitsu, which in itself is such a nice brand name (with strong consonant sounds like 'j' and ts'), decided to go with something as flat as General? (They could well have called it Fujitsu.) General is, well, a general brand name. OGeneral on the other hand is quite unique.

Oddly enough, I don't see the reverse 'G' in the logo that Brandnama is referring to and I'm not quite sure why people chose to see what is clearly General as OGeneral? Strange, and instructive, what people see in a logo, which in itself is a lesson logo designers and people who don't care much for research would do well to make a note of.

Speaking of logos, what does make this very general brand name called General stand out is the dotted 'A'. A simple little touch that elevates what is a very pedestrian brand name, stylishly. (Apart from, of course, the invisible to me but not to the layperson 'O'.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trylateral v/s Cluenatic v/s Whonami

The puzzle pasha of my world, Brandnama, has come up with a new game for the lateral-minded. He has called it Trylateral. The same gent had also come up with a game called Cluenatic. Which of the two names do I like better? Which is likely to score better on the naming charts. Which is better structured to make a greater impact? Let's see.

What does Trylateral have going for it? For one, it has a lovely vowel/consonant rhythm about it. For two, it highlights the product promise upfront and most unclumsily. For three, it's a nice play on the tri-structure nature of the game. So why do I think Cluenatic is a better name? Simply because 'lunatic' is a more memorable word than lateral. (In all other parameters, Trylateral and Cluenatic score almost equally.)

Needless to say, Trylateral is the perfect name for this new game but the point I'm trying to make is this: the more memorable names born out of compund words are the ones that contain more impactful component words. 'Lunatic' is, marginally, a more memorable word than 'lateral' and if you were to put both the names to the test, Cluenatic will score higher on the recall charts.

This is not to say Brandnama should go and look for crazy words to build into Trylateral. All I'm trying to deconstruct are the reasons Cluenatic is a more memorable name than Trylateral.

Incidentally, yours truly, too, has a little game he has come up with called Whonami. I wonder how that scores in comparison to these two names from the pasha of naming and puzzles? Hmm...Tsunami, now that's an impact filled component word. Tick.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Unilingual names v/s Multilingual names

In yet another interesting aside from what you see on most naming blogs, my friend Brandnama has done a nice little post on Tamil brand names, which got me thinking about the unique merits of one particular brand name in that list: Kutcheribuzz.

What is Kutcheribuzz? Why do I think it's a smarter name than all the other brand names in the list? Why didn't they call it Kutcherikadai or Kutcheripet or something else that's all Tamil, like the other brand names on the list? Perhaps because the guys at Kutcheribuzz know a thing or two about coining inventive brand names.

What I like about Kutcheribuzz is that it appeals to and registers faster with an audience much wider than the core segment it is addressing. The smart thing about Kutcheribuzz is that it talks to Tamil and non-Tamil speakers while continuing to retain the ethnic charm contained in the term for its core offering, Kutcheris.

Kutcheribuzz's core audience might well be people who speak and understand Tamil, but in a sea of Tamil names it's biligual nature is a smart, memorable way to stand out. In addition (actually, because of) to the bilingual soundness of the name, Kutcheribuzz throws up a host of memorable sounds that make it much easier to recall. (Sounds like 'tch', the 'k' and the 'zz' to name the most important three.)

Now go back and take another look at that list. Then, forget about it. A few days down the line, try and recall a name from the list. There's a very good chance that the name you will remember is Kutcheribuzz. Lessons for brand creators: In a world where languages are increasingly borrowing from one and other, it makes sense to explore the greater possibilities that lie in opting for mixed language names.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thrifty v/s Budget

Time now for a subtle, nuanced and what some might call simplistic trip into brand naming. Yesterday, while walking down the street, I came across this rent-a-car company called Thrifty. A few minutes later, I spotted an outlet for Budget. And that's when I wondered which of the two names is better?

In terms of vowel and consonant sounds that stop/start any name/word, both Budget and Thrifty score well. Perhaps Budget scores a bit higher for some. But the some aside, aurally speaking it's pretty much a dead heat. They're both visually well-structured and make memorable audio/visual impacts. Now ignore the fact that Budget is an older, larger company with a global footprint. Instead, let's turn our attention to some of the other parameters you as a customer might consider when evaluating which brand to be associated with.

Would you like to be seen wearing, or sitting inside, a brand that advertises itself as Thrifty? Isn't Budget less thrifty-sounding than Thrifty? Considering both Budget and Thrifty are pushing the same benefit, my gut feeling tells me Budget will score higher on positive cues if researched. Why? I think it might have a bit to do with the fact that the word 'thrifty' is more easily used as an adjective to describe a kind of person than 'budget'. Not too many people like to be called thrifty. People are rarely labelled budget.

Lesson for budget brand-launchers: Most people don't want to advertise themselves as penny pinchers, which is something Thrifty is doing more obviously than Budget. Unfortunately, unknowingly and unresearchedly.

Laughing Cow v/s Happy Cow v/s Skinny Cow

Brandnama believes the name Skinny Choice is a bold naming choice by the people at Nestle. I agree. It's a bold choice but I don't think it's a very good choice.

First up, as you can see from the title of this post, it's not very original. Secondly, I don't think the word 'cow' has too many positive associations vis-a-vis people. Thirdly, the word 'skinny' isn't a nice word. And that, pretty much, sums up why I think Nestle should have gone with something else.

If a name is all it took to build big brands, Skinny Cow, would have sunk without a trace. Fortunately for the Skinny Cow, she has Nestle's deep pockets to back her. Personally, I think Happy Cow or Laughing Cow would make for a better name for the same line of slim desserts from Nestle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Depot v/s Home what?


The marketing story goes that women still don't find Home Depot a great place to go to. Is it because of the name or is it because Home Depot is for people who are into home improvement, which is (as Tim Allen so lovably demonstrated) a very male thing? (Perhaps the only male thing still left in this rapidly equalising world.)

It's probably the latter and yet, more and more single women are setting up homes. More single women are living alone. And more single women are doing their own set of home imrpovement activities. So what can Home Depot do to attract more female customers? Should Home Depot go in for a new name? Should it extend the brand and start something targetted only at women? Simple answers: No, no. Indeed, thanks to the strong 'P' sound, 'Depot' is a very masculine word. But 'Home', unlike 'House', is a pretty feminine word. The one thing Home Depot must not do is change the name. What it can do is soften/change the logo, and maybe even the colour scheme. I think that should bring the women in. Would that drive the men out? Probably.

Come to think of it, Home Depot should forget about customising their current store for women. What it should do, if it's so keen on attracting women, is launch a new home improvement brand for women. My punt is that a combination of the high brand equity enjoyed by Home Depot and the perception of caring for the other side that will be derived from this new brand launch will make it a success story.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Long Tail v/s Elongating Tail

My fellow ideator Blaiq says in a paper, which can be found here, that Chris Anderson's Long Tail should actually be called 'Elongating Tale'.

In principle, what Blaiq says makes sense. Accurately speaking, the Long Tail concept is an 'Elongating Tail' concept. The problem though with calling it 'Elongating Tail' is pretty obvious to me. And for those of you out there to whom it isn't, here's why Long Tail works better than Elongating Tail. The word 'Elongating' sounds like a description of a process of/for for something that is an abberation and doesn't roll off the tongue easily. Long Tail on the other hand, sounds pithy, right and familiar; good qualities to have in a name for a new concept. Adverbs and verbs do not make for good brand names. (Great brands, though, might make for good adverbs and verbs!) I'm quite sure 'Elongating Tail' wouldn't have worked.

Indeed, 'Elongating Tail' might be a more correct description of the product but that's not the only thing a good name should aim for. In fact, correctness of description is hardly one of the important principles of naming. Fact is, Anderson wanted to create a brand/brand theory and had to choose a memorable name for it. Good call, Chris.

Madatadam v/s What dreams may come v/s Naming schizophrenia

In a post about this very well-written blog, Brandnama says a few interesting things. He says, sometimes, your blogurl may not be the best name for your blog and that your blogname can allude to some of the more interesting things your url does not or cannot. Hmm...so is it a good idea to give the same thing two different names? I don't think so, and the title of this post illustrates the problem Shyam's naming choice will confront him with.

If you have two different names for the same thing/ person, it only adds to the noise. I thnk Shyam should give his/her blog the same title as that of the url. The descriptor space is where he should look at adding an interesting story. A descriptor is like a baseline and that's where you build in the mystery, the drama and the other juice you want the name to allude to.

Oddly enough, Shyam has chosen to title his/her blog rather more boringly than the name he has chosen for the blogurl. The blogurl, madatadam, is an interesting choice of name and is grounded in some good naming principles. So whatever prompted Shyam to title his blog should be dismissed. If Shyam does want to say something interesting about dreams, he/she should tag it to madatadam.

Shyam, the public face/name/calling card of your url should be the url. Your url is too interesting to be tucked away behind the routine nature of your blog title. People will remember 'madatadam' better than 'what dreams may come'. So why not make it madatadam and tag it with what dreams may come?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

/. v/s ( v/s The rest

All these companies are talking to the same people that live in Slashdot. So why couldn't they come up with a name as nice as slashdot and what makes Slashdot a great brand name?

For one, the word 'slash' has an aggressive personality. Slash registers much faster in the human mind than any of the punctuation words those other companies have picked as names. Slash is also the most familiar software coding character. Dot has universal appeal. Weaker symbol-words like colon, hyphen, comma and even question mark just don't measure up to the cut and thrust in Slashdot. It also helps that Slashdot has a lovely tagline.

Which brings me to an important point in naming strategy that I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts: Taglines, well written, add value to brand names. Why? Stories. Taglines tell stories. And stories are valuable memoray aides.

Speaking of memory aides, only one of the companies Brandnama points us to uses the stopper-value inherent to the punctuation-name well: Open Parenthesis. Instructingly enough, they have a nice-ish tagline and are doing everything slashdot has done to use the character well.

For a parallel demonstration of what I'm saying, go to Slashdot and to Open Parenthesis. Then, look at their respective address bars. See, that's what smart coders, and people, do to own a brand name.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Blaiq v/s Iqbal

I have an acquaintance whose surname is Iqbal. He has chosen to brand himself Blaiq. This move, I think, can teach us a thing or two about clever brand-naming.

I believe Blaiq is a better name to market than Iqbal. Most obviously, it is more unusual. What with the vowels sandwiched between a comfortable 'b' sound and a strong 'k/q' sound, it also has a nice pronounciation-structure about it. Interestingly enough, it's also neutral. Now I'm not sure about this but taking into consideration the times we live in, Blaiq is a radical naming choice that's safe and sound - because Iqbal says Islam.

Make no mistake, I have nothing against Islam. But thanks to the world, Islam does bring out some very negative associations in people with half a brain. I'm sure Iqbal wasn't thinking about this popular prejudice when choosing to brand himself Blaiq. I'm sure, Blaiq, for him, was just a nice, clever, catchy, easy-to-pronounce anagram of Iqbal. And for me, too.

All I'm trying to get at here is this: If your suggested brand name has a back story with something prejudicially controversial about it, steer clear of it. Go for something that's neutral, rejigged and smart; like Blaiq. Inflammatory and bile inducing post, maybe. But hey, I thought it was an interesting naming claus worth thinking about. Diss it if you wish, but don't dismiss it.

Incidentally, Iqbal/Blaiq also calls himself IQ, which is an even better choice. That said, a name like IQ does put a lot of pressure on the brand to deliver on the promise of the name. Sort of like the expectations that come with having a name like 'Best Buys'.

Monster v/s Cruel World


The introductory post on Brandy Candy got me started on why Monster is a better brand name that Cruel World. While I don't have anything against Cruel World, I do have a lot of love going for Monster. For me, it is one of the best named career sites. And here's why: Monster is one word. Monster is an unforgettable word. A word like Monster has one of the most powerful back stories in the history of words. Monster has the very strong 'st' sound in it. Monster is also a term used to communicate one big thing. Moreover Monster gives the logo designer a great name to have fun with. And it shows. Goodbye cruel world. Hello Monster.

Actually, I do have one problem with Cruel World. I find it inherently pessimistic. I don't think that's a good quality to have in a name associated with job search. Just kidding. (Partly.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Obama & Guiliani v/s Hilary Clinton

I came across this post which posits an interesting theory on Presidential brand names. I wouldn't bet on it. If what Brandnama is saying were the case, all you'd need to come up with a big brand is an exotic name. Just like Presidents are decided on the basis of their vision, the promises they make, the values they stand for, brands too stand for much, much more than a name. Yes, brand names will get your attention. But once that's done, you'll need a powerful story to keep people interested.

Guiliani or Obama might well go on to win the race. But if Clinton loses, it will be because of a lot more than just a non-exotic name. Speaking of funny, unusual names for Presidential candidates, I wonder when Arnold Schwarzeneggar is going to run for President?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Froogle v/s Frugal

When Craig Nevill-Manning was looking for a name for his 20% project at Google, he thought up Froogle. Great choice. For those who didn't know what Froogle is, what would they think of it as a name for? It sounds like Frugal. So it must be something connected with saving money? Question is, why didn't Manning go with Frugal? Because Frugal only rhymes with Google, but doesn't look like Google. And therein lies an important naming principle for brand extensions. If you want a brand extension to riff off the strengths of your existing brand, not only must the extension sound something like the established brand, it must also try and look like it.

And for those of you in the boondocks wondering what Froogle is, it's the name for shopping site run by the guys at Google. It's also proof that all it takes to come up with a good name is common sense and bit of simple thinking. It's not rocket science.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rocky Balboa v/s Rocky 5

So I saw Rocky Balboa last night and wondered why it wasn't called Rocky 5? Hmm...would Rocky 5 have made for a better name? I don't think so. I think they got the naming game right. Rocky 5 would have riffed off Rocky 4. And Rocky 4 was shit. In fact, the last 2 Rocky movies before Rocky Balboa weren't up to scratch. Rocky 5 would have had to deal with that baggage.

Strategically speaking, to name it 'Rocky Balboa' was a good move. It took people away from the immediate associations with the previous Rocky movies and made it seem like a new product from 'The Stallion's' stable. A lesson in smart brand extension that other marketer's would do well to make a note of. That apart, the name Balboa has a good ring to it. It's got some strong 'B' sounds and a nice 'aa' to end it.

Never thought Rocky Balboa would make for a marketing case study, did you? Well, if you think about it, why not? Agreed, Rocky Balboa isn't a terribly inventive name. But it doesn't have to be. The brand had some old equity going for it in the form of an already established brand name.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ytivitaerC v/s Creativity

When I was looking for a name for my Creativity School, I racked my brains and that's what I came up with. What do you think? I think it's pretty creative. It's a fine way, I think, to reflect what my product is about, i.e. creativity. Of course, it doesn't adhere to all the necessary naming priniciples I've been yammering about here, but it does reflect the one thing that I've always tried very hard to be: Original. I believe creativity is about looking at things differently and I thought this was a pretty different way of looking at the naming matter.

Of course, the damn thing is nearly impossible to pronouce, very hard to spell and seemingly meaningless...at first. But once you get it, it comes. In other words, it's a lot like creativity. Good choice Über.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Khosla ka Ghosla v/s Khosla ki Zameen

Why is Khosla ka Ghosla a better name than Khosla ki Zameen? Exactly. That's right. You've got it. You've been listening. You've learnt a bit from all my posting. And now you're ready for some cool branding.

It's okay to come up with long brand names. The only thing you must keep in mind when you're coming up with longer names is making sure they have a few memory helpers. Rhyme is one of the most basic and most powerful memory helpers. Thow in a bit of metaphor and it'll make it even better. Trust a bunch of advertising guys to come up with a cool brand name for a movie.

Who says all movie names have to be unimaginative? In fact, they can't afford to be colourless when they don't have any big brand names built into them. The name Khosla ka Ghosla is a reflection of this principle of movie naming: If you don't have the big names, you need a cool name. What movies also need are more guys from advertising.

Advertising may be one of the more reviled professions in the world, but it does have some of the most interesting and sensitive people in the world, too. Dibakar Banerjee, Jaideep Sahni take a bow.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Reebok v/s RBK v/s RBK's

What made Reebok change a memorable and easy-to-pronounce name like Reebok and opt for a non-word? Initials that are brands tend to be two-initial brands. 3 initials rarely work as brand names. Initials that are brands, most memorable ones, can be pronounced as words. RBK can, but only with some difficulty. So why did they do it?

Maybe they expected people to say Aar-B-Kays, which doesn't sound that bad. In which case they should have rebranded themselves as as RBK's. If you want to be an initial you might want to consider being a plural. Plural initials are easier to remember because they're easier to belong to.

In a category like sporting and lifestyle products, the belonging factor can add a lot to building brand equity. If they had come to me, I would have asked them to tag the apostrophe 's' to the initials. The apostrophe would have created a memory cue by way of the visual disruption it causes and the possessive 's' would have engendered a feeling of belonging.

Thankfully for RBK, they didn't go and change the logo. Unfortunately it looks like ADIDAS is going to kill the brand. They shouldn't. What ADIDAS should do is reposition it as a cult, alternative brand.

Lynyrd Skynyrd v/s Lehnerd Skinnerd

Now I've often said vowels in a name make for a good brand name. So how come a name like Lynyrd Skynyrd that's so hard to spell, so hard to pronounce and without any vowels is such a great name? Apart from the fact that they made great music, something which came after the name, what else does the name have going for it?

Well, you don't have to have vowels in a name to make it a great name. Hang on, a second. Did I just contradict myself? Yes and no. A name made up of only consonants in which one or more of the consonants is pronounced as a vowel sound doesn't need vowels because it has consonants. Come again? Most certainly. The thing about Lynrd Skynrd is it has two vowels in each word. 'Ly' is a vowel sound. 'Nyrd' has a vowel sound built into it. What else does it have going for it? Repetition. Come again? Precisely. Visual and aural repetition, that's what the words Lynyrd and Skynyrd enjoy.

Words without vowels look odd and when you make up two odd-looking words that look and end similarly - with hidden vowel sounds - you've got yourself a complex admixture of memorable naming principles which throw up a mind-blowing name. Less interesting is what they would have looked had they chosen to brand themselves Lehnerd Skinnerd, minus the 4 Ys. (Though, repetition would still have stood them in good stead.)

In one way, the name Lynyrd Skynyrd is similar to another name I had spent some time analysing; Red or Dead. Also check out some of the unmemorable names they had before they hit upon Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now I hate saying this but since I did, I'll say it. As you ought to be aware of by now, repetition helps.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

RuDa v/s Puma v/s Adidas

Fact of the matter is, no matter how stale an interesting fact is, it's still interesting. Jumped into this when I read this. And then, I decided to jump into a quick analysis of what if RuDa had been launched as the brand instead of Puma? Would RuDa have made for a better brand name? No. Why? Because the name Puma comes with very powerful back story that adds equity to the word. And while RuDa does sound stronger and more macho, Puma sounds classier, cooler, faster and more graceful - all useful qualities to have in this category. At the end of the day, a brand name for a fashion, sports and lifestyle product that riffs off one of the meanest cats in the animal kingdom definitely makes for a better choice than a name like RuDa, which starts without much of a back story and with not much more than a strong 'D' and an end 'A' sound going for it. My gut feel would have gone with Puma. And so would research. Put differently, would I rather have a Puma at my feet than a RuDa? Yes.

Interestingly enough, I think RuDa makes for a better name than Adidas. One reason: 'RuDas' sound way cooler than the shortened form of Adidas, which is 'Adis'. It also sounds stronger. So why is Adidas a bigger brand than Puma? Ah well, if you've been paying attention you ought to know by now that naming is not the be all and end all of good brand strategy.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nike v/s Swoosh

Says Brandnama, "In a country like India where people are more verbal than visual, Nike's decision to drop the name in favour of just the Swoosh is a Himalayan Blunder." Is it? There's no doubt about it, Nike is a great brand name. It has everything that a good brand name ought to possess. It's short. It has a 'K'. It's has a good ring to it. It also has a perfect balance of consonant and vowel sounds. All of which makes it a memorable brand name. So why did they drop it in favour of the Swoosh?

I don't think they have dropped anything. I'd argue the Swoosh is Nike. In an attempt to simplify communication, they have decided to drop the words. The world is going more visual. Visual is the word of the day. Even literate people take a little time to get the pronunciation of Nike right. Significantly, words are easier to plagirise. Visuals make for more powerful and more integral symbols of brand ownership and memory recall than words. I don't think the Swoosh is anything else other than Nike. I do know that there are more than a few versions of the word 'Nike'. I think Nike's decision to drop the name from the Swoosh is an interesting one. I think it's a emotional step up in an evolutionary direction that makes some communication sense.

The big problem: People who don't know Nike are going to look at the Swoosh and wonder what it is. That, I think, is the biggest and the only challenge Nike's communications partner is going to have to address. An interesting debate, to say the least. Contribute.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Eklavya v/s Ghost Rider

Last night I watched two movies. The first thing I noticed about them were their respective names. And then, I wondered which of the two names is better? (I can't help it, my hobby is analysing names.)

For this argument's sake, let's take our audience to be English-speaking. The people who don't speak Hindi and with little knowledge of Indian mythology will be unaware of the story of 'Eklavya'. For such people, 'Eklavya' will be little more than a strange sounding, hard to pronounce Indian name. For them, the name 'Ghost Rider' will win the day. For them, the story of 'Ghost Rider', the comic book hero will be an instant aid for brand recall. That said, 'Ghost Rider' will not make much of an impression on people from India. In fact, 'Eklavya' will triumph in the Indian mind for almost the same reasons 'Ghost Rider' will in Western minds. Both 'Ghost Rider' and 'Eklavya' are edgy, legendary characters in their respective societies. What does this little digscussion teach you about naming techniques? Simple. Keep the stories your target audience knows in mind and then think of a name that can draw on these stories.

Now let's assume for a moment, neither of the names had any back story. In such a scenario, which is the name that is likely to make a greater impression? Without a doubt, 'Eklavya'. Why? It's one word. It ends with an 'A'. It has a 'K'. It has a 'V'. It has stronger consonant sounds. Test it. It'll prove me right. The only thing 'Ghost Rider' has going for it is 'Ghost'. Sounds, stories, breaks...these are some of my faourite pings, when it comes to better brand names.

Incidentally, the above two movie names prove what I had to say about the seeming blandness of movie names. They don't have to be exciting. The stories these movies tell make for a far more intensive, packaged, rapid-fire brand experience than any of the things we conventionally know and buy as brands off store shelves.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Googled v/s Torrented

If your brand name can turn itself into a verb, it's destined to be a winner. The secret to coming up with brand names that have a better chance of being used as verbs lies here: Choose a brand name in which the last letter is an 'E', preferably preceded by a consonant. This thought bubbled into my mind when I was trying very hard, and very clumsily, to use the brand name 'Torrent' the way I use 'Googled'.

Idea v/s Airtel v/s RIM

It's IPO season in India and one of the most high-profile IPO's is from Idea Cellular. An Aditya Birla Group company, Idea is easily the best named cellular operator in the country. Why do I think so? Well, because some things just have to be repeated. It's a word with positive associations. It's a simple word. It's a word. What else? It has a 'D' in it. It ends with an 'A' (which is one of the smarter things you can do with a name). The reason Idea is not the number 1 cellular operator in the country has less to do with the name than the fact that they were one of the last entrants in the market. And yet, it happens to be the top-rated IPO of the season. The way I see it, a good name can overcome a lot of things. Parting shot: Another top name with a 'D' and an 'A' in it.

Ditto v/s Same


If you had to choose between 'Ditto' and 'Same', which one would you go for? Ditto. Rule of thumb: When you're down to one of two brand names in which one of the two names has two letters in it, go for the one with two. Double vision scores higher points on the brand recall charts. That apart, 'Ditto' also qualifies on some of the other parameters of good brand-naming that I have referred to many a time in my other posts.

Speaking of 'Ditto' on the web, I don't think the name fits. A name like 'Ditto' would work very well for a very different kind of product; one that still hasn't been made. Sometimes, an interesting name/word can become a product idea.

Monday, February 12, 2007

David v/s Goliath

Goliath - A clumsy mover. Difficult to pronounce. Slow across the surface of the tongue. And with no hard sounds to stop-start the word. The name that's nimble, comfortably ensconced between two strong 'Ds' and with a more positive back story, David, wins this war, too. There's an advertising agency in India that calls itself David. They started off as RMG-David. And then, decided to drop the meaningless 'RMG' for just 'David'. Good choice. 'V', 'D' and 'A'; these are just some of the letters you should consider using in your proposed brand name. Don't take my word for it. Do some research on the most popular brand names in the world and you'll see.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Name gallery #23: 7/10


Great logo that adds value to the interesting name.

Edun v/s Nude

If you've been good students of brand-naming you might be inclined to believe 'Nude' is a better name for a brand than 'Edun'. No, not just because 'Nude' is nude. Leave your dirty minds out of this and put your mind to the principles of phonetics that I've been trying to hold forth on. Strong end word sounds, strong end word sounds and, that's right, strong end word sounds. There you go. See how firmly the word 'Nude' ends? Doesn't that make it a better brand name than 'Edun'. Edun is soft. 'N' is mild. 'Nu' is easier to pronounce than 'un'. Right? Wrong. Maybe. I suspect Bono was looking to subversively plant the place 'Eden' in our minds with the name 'Edun'. So which works better as a brand name, 'Edun' or 'Nude'? Tough call. Both have strong 'D' sounds. Both have interesting back stories. Both have potential. (And you thought it was easy being a thing namer.) If I had to choose between 'Edun' and 'Nude', I'd go with 'Nude'. And you? Think about it. Meanwhile, let's all thank the trivia star Brandnama for this discussion.

Post script: Bono does seem to know a thing or two about brand naming. He has 'RED' as the name for the campaign to make AIDS history. And now he's got 'ONE' as the name for the campaign to make poverty history. So much nicer than some tired weak line thrown in as an after-thought urging people to make this or that history. The great thing about brand-naming social causes? Brand names are easier to remember, and market, than sentences.

Taurus v/s Touareg

You'd think a zodiac sign would make for a more memorable brand name than something new, wouldn't you? Well, you're wrong. Research will prove that 'Touareg' is a better brand name than 'Taurus'. And I don't need research to tell you why. When it comes to brand names, the brakes in the name are important memory-helpers. Crisply translated what that means is that the 'G' in 'Touareg' is one of the important things that makes it a better brand name. The 'G' is a better stop sound. Try it. Say 'Touareg' and see how cleanly the name stops on the last letter. Now say 'Taurus' and then think about how much easier it is to slide off the end 'S' sound. When it comes to brand names, you need firm stop-start sounds in the name to make a greater impact. In this brand war, full marks to 'Touraeg'. Other strong stop sounds, to name a few, are 'D', 'P', 'K' and 'T'. Interestingly enough, the 'Touareg' also riffs off the existing memorability of the zodiac sign and adds value to this by throwing in a great stop sound in the end. (It also helps that the 'Tuareg' is the name of a desert tribe from West Africa.)

Agreed, the Ford Taurus and the VW Touareg are not the same category of car. But we've already seen how in competitive times like ours, names from other categories can cannibalise mindspace from one and other. All said and done, 'Touareg' has got many of the things that make for a great brand name. I repeat: A great back story, a smart feed off an existing association and a strong stop sound. Stop.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Stock tickers v/s Non-tickers

Brandnama has done a very interesting bit of digging around and come up with some memorable NYSE stock ticker symbols. I've been following the stock markets for a year now and the thing that makes for a memorable stock ticker symbol, for me, is whether it can be read and pronounced as a word. In my diversified portfolio of stock tickers brand names, the ones I remember most easily are the ones that have vowels and consonants in them and can be made into words. Stock tickers that cannot be remembered as words don't tick. Now go back and look at the list of interesting stock tickers Brandnama has compiled. Every one of them is a word, isn't it? Then, think of the stock tickers in your portfolio. The ones you can recall are words, aren't they? Thank you.

Rule number basic: Make sure your stock ticker can be spoken like a word. Rule number value add: Link it to your category.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TJ's v/s Tihar Jail

TJ's is an Indian brand of potato chips, pickles, jams, bread, biscuits and cakes made by the inmates of Tihar Jail. (Hat-tip to Bradnama for this bit of information.) Whoever thought of the name for this product has done a fabulous job. Apart from the fact that Tihar Jail would never work as a brand name for products patronised by the judgemental middle-class, TJ's also works because it looks better than 'Teejays' and has all the phonetical virtues of 'Teejays'. A strong consonant sound to start and break the name. The most common vowel sounds in the human mind to continue and end the name. The dynamic 'way' sound to cut through the clutter. And the coolness factor all initialised nicknames have.

Initialised nicknames have spaces in our mind that reference qualities of familiarity and peer-group approval. Another case of the 'TJ's-effect' is the case of 'PJ's' for an Irish pub called 'P. J' O'Reilly's' in Abu Dhabi. All this to say two things. One, if your brand name is an initial, you've got a better chance of being remembered and admired (important when it comes to a brand name). And two, if you don't want to go with initials for a brand name, at least pick a name that can be shortened and remembered as an initial. Interestingly enough, if you study some of the branding tendencies of whisky makers in India, you'll see how well initials work for them. Initials are easy to ask for. Most people don't like asking for things. And that's why you could do worse than choose an initial as a brand name.

The problem with initials: They're common. Solution: Make sure the story behind the initials is an interesting one. Interesting stories help people remember the abbreviated form better. And abbreviations are a better way to remember the story. Caveat: The second initial of your brand name must not be a vowel. Research will show you that the best remembered 'initial' brand names all end with a consonant.

Name gallery #22: 7/10


Case in point of a name being made more memorable because it has three 'i's, 'i', 'j' and 'i'. Look at it and the first thing that will strike you is how lovely the three dots look back at you. Meaning what? Meaning, how a logo is designed to take advantage of certain interesting things in the letters contained in the name go a long way in making the name more memorable.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Red or Dead v/s Red or Yellow

Came across this lovely site via Brandnama which made me think about why 'Red or Dead' works better as a name than say something like 'Red or Yellow'. Apart from the stronger impact that a word like 'Dead' makes on the human brain - seeing that we're so obsessed with mortality and other such matters - it's also down to rhyming. Nursery rhymes are like memory sticks that have been planted in our head early. They've taken root in our subconscious. As a result, anything that rhymes is likely to work well as a brand name. If you had to choose between a name that's a rhyme and one that isn't, the roots of our learning patterns say you're better off with the name that does. In other words, memorising a poem is a lot easier than memorising this paragraph.

Naming claus: Repetition, rhyming and shyming are good tactics when you're trying to come up with memorable names.