Name developers occasionally are asked to develop acronyms for clients. Sometimes acronyms are terrific short cuts that resonate. Who hasn’t heard of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)?
Sometimes acronyms are trouble. The CNN article has numerous examples of “bad luck” with unfortunate acronyms (e.g., when your acronym develops a bad meaning). Perhaps some of these acronyms are a result of bad luck…but I believe most of these cases are unfortunate examples of naming sloppiness and bad branding!
The Urban Dictionary is a web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases. Anyone can submit to the Urban Dictionary, but submissions are reviewed by volunteer editors and are rated by site visitors. Some people in the naming business think the Urban Dictionary is the new “Bible for Branding.” I politely disagree.
Last year a new vodka launched, and there was considerable controversy over its name, RangTang (http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=142601). Apparently in the Urban Dictionary, rangtang has a slang meaning that is sexual in nature.
In the UK, Directgov, the sector of the government in charge of educating the public about the government, recently launched a site to explain Britain’s government to small children. It's called "Buster's World," and it features a cute dog named Buster who leads the site's patrons through a plethora of games, videos, and cartoons with the goal of giving children a basic understanding of how the British government works. Unfortunately, when the words "Buster's World" are entered into a search engine, the top result is not a friendly dog educating you about the government, but rather a gay porn fetish site having something to do with balloons (…?). Needless to say, Directgov is in the process of renaming their website.
Hiring a professional naming service such as NameFlash would have nipped this problem in the bud. We check trademarks, domain names and common law usage of the names we recommend, and very simply, this name would not have gotten through our screening process. Few non-professional namers conduct this type of screening and the result can be a disaster that leads to bad PR and the added cost of changing the name and all the materials associated with the name. In this case Directgov had an interesting idea, but clearly dropped the ball in screening, which is a terrible shame, as Buster the dog really is quite cute!
Can Your Brand Pass The "10 Second" Test?
Aflac, the company that uses the duck as its advertising icon, has started a new "You Don't Know Quack" campaign.
Their new campaign challenges NASCAR driver Carl Edwards to explain in 10 seconds how Aflac policies help protect people. Carl's response, obviously scripted, was "If you are sick or hurt, Aflac pays you cash – fast – to help pay for things major medical insurance won't cover – things like car payments, mortgage and more."
Google is using names of sweets for its codenames for Android Operating System versions. Listed alphabetically the names thus far are: 1.5 (Cupcake), 1.6 (Donut), 2.0/2.1 (Éclair) and now, 2.X –to be named Froyo (which means Frozen Yogurt).
Am I the only one who finds this amusing? Some bloggers are actually attacking Google, saying that their codenames are sending the message that "sweets are good for you." Give me a break!
The photo below pretty much says it all.
Assitalia is one of the biggest insurance companies in Italy. I am sure the company developed its name without thinking about international considerations. In Italy, the name is probably fine. But if they ever wanted to expand to an English speaking country…well, let’s just say there might be a problem.
Most companies for which I develop names for insist that I do some sort of name verification to ensure that the names I develop have no problematic connotations in the major foreign languages. Clearly, Assitalia never thought of that!
Every Sunday I go through the circulars in the paper looking for new products. I usually spend a lot of time with the ads from the national drug store chains (Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid). Recently, I observed that each chain seems to have a radically different philosophy on store brand naming. And while this observation isn’t earth shattering, it exposes the marketing strategies (or lack thereof) of each chain.
For example, check out the allergy section. The big brand names like Benadryl®, Claritin® and Zyrtec® all have store brand/private label competition. Walgreens naming protocol for its store brand is pretty straightforward and seems to be designed to help a consumer find the Walgreens knockoff of the branded product. You can buy Wal-dryl, Wal-itin, and Wal-zyr, and the packaging is color coded to make it easier. This is a very consistent strategy that is designed to make life easier for the consumer and also designed to build the “Wal-“ prefix as a brand.
Full disclosure…I own Google stock. I like their products and their potential. However, I am more than a bit concerned about how they use their names and trademarks.
Microsoft® names its products in a traditional fashion. Microsoft is the company; names like Windows, Silverlight, Bing are clearly the products. A very logical naming architecture that makes it clear where the company ends and the product begins.
Google is a company and a trademark for several goods and services. The Google trademark is perhaps best know for “Search engine services” (International Class 042) but Google can also be “Dissemination of advertising for others via the Internet” (IC 035) or “Telecommunication services” (IC 038) or “Financial services” (IC 036) or any of a number of different product or service ideas that carry the name Google.