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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Monday, March 31 2014 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Crowdsourcing names sounds appealing: companies can get responses very quickly and cheaply. “Namesourcing” has become so popular it has sprouted a bevy of businesses dedicated to the practice. Beneath the appeal of namesourcing’s quick, cheap turnaround (with a dash of consumer engagement) lies its biggest limitation for brands—the wisdom of the crowd doesn’t extend to deep category and business expertise.

    There’s no lack of success stories around crowdsourced innovation and technology. When AB-InBev wanted to develop a brand more attuned to craft beer tastes, it turned to the crowd. The result? Black Crown. And brands like Lego, General Mills and MWV have devoted entire platforms to crowdsourcing initiatives. But crowdsourcing for names can be tricky—or even foolhardy. Imagine if you let the internet name your firstborn. The results might be disappointing, to say the least.

    Crowds are, by definition, loose and disparate. When a brand puts the crowd at the controls for naming, it won’t necessarily get back names that reflect the brand’s positioning or tone of voice. For the crowd, quality and consistency are not always priorities. Aussie web designer Dean Robbins was actually kidding when he suggested iSnack 2.0 as a new moniker for Kraft’s Vegemite—yet the name he coined won. And when Mountain Dew asked consumers to “Dub the Dew” for its apple-flavored offering in 2012, hackers eagerly nominated names like Diabeetus and Gushing Granny.

    Crowdsourcing has the most value as an engagement tool that invites customers to start conversations, share ideas, and feel like they’re being listened to and appreciated. To do that right, a thoughtful plan should trump result. Crowdsourced names might make a temporary splash on social media; some might even end up on a real shelf—but the truth is, companies rarely view or treat crowdsourced names as long-term investments. The stories and campaigns that sit behind them—the stories brands can tell about inviting participation—is where the heart beats.

    Try to think of a crowdsourced name that isn’t on your radar because it was attached to an #epicfail. iSnack 2.0 is the granddaddy of them all, but it’s five years old. And the Gushing Granny disaster is 21 in dog years. But chances are, you’ve engaged with at least one campaign on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed in recent memory. There’s Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, Dunkin’ Donuts Next Donut, Sam Adams’ LongShot American Homebrew, and Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy. What do these have in common (and why have some of them even thrived as global annual campaigns)? They’re inviting you to engage.

    So, go ahead—name a chip Benedict Cumberbatch, and crack a smile the next time you see a Lay’s bag at the deli.

    Paula Pou is Associate Director, Verbal Identity, Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Fell Gray on Thursday, February 13 2014 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

    Aviage Systems
    Best Asian Brands

    A 玫瑰 by any other name

    It’s the start of a new year in China, and the astrologists tell us that the Year of the Horse has the potential to be more successful than last year, but it will require patience and perseverance. And for any brand looking to launch a Chinese brand name this year (or any other), these are words to live by.

    While the appeal of the Chinese market is clear to most, the need for a Chinese name may not be. Given that the average Chinese consumer doesn’t speak English and sees Roman characters as graphic elements, a Chinese name is important just to break through. But there are a host of other reasons: a cultural desire to protect and preserve the Chinese language, marketing support necessary to educate consumers on the English name, and government requirements (e.g., audible Chinese for all TV advertising), to name a few.

    When you do jump into Chinese name development, brace yourself for the realities of the screening process. There are 6.27M active trademarks and more than 600,000 filed each year. And China follows a first-to-file not a first-to-use system, so registration can be a bit of a land grab. Beyond that are language and cultural considerations for a successful name: tonality, harmony checks, dialects, simplified vs traditional characters…. As I said: patience and perseverance.

    Then, Then Again, Now

    To get to the right names, you’ll have a range of creative strategies at your disposal: creation, translation, literation, and transliteration. The right choice lies in determining the importance of meaning vs. sounding the same as your existing name. Elevating the importance of meaning in Chinese over the sound will aid memorability and recall. And a name that sounds similar will strengthen the connection to the international name and its brand equity. Some brands manage to find an equal balance through transliteration (well done, Coke), but many make the decision to pick one over the other. Nike chose a name that sounds identical to the English and means “enduring and preserving,” while Citibank chose a name that sounds different but means star spangled banner bank. All are valid options, depending on your goals.

    Whatever your approach, one of the most important things to remember when evaluating your options is: don’t hear with an English ear. The right word in English is not necessarily the right word in Chinese. Pairings of characters can change meaning significantly, so you can’t look at characters individually. And you can’t underestimate the importance of symbols in Chinese culture, so be sure you are looking at all the layers of meaning the name provides.

    This week's guest author, Fell Gray, is Senior Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand New York. She is also the practice leader for Brand Voice.

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  • Posted by: Stefanie Roshop, Kai Klopsch, Eva Kuhlmann and Julien Dolenc on Monday, January 20 2014 11:30 AM | Comments (0)
    Car Colors

    The world's eyes have been on the new car trends emerging during the Detroit Auto Show. One of the surprise trends? Bright blue cars. As Chris Woodyard in USA Today put it, "For years now, auto shows have bedeviled photographers by showing new models in colors that designers lover, but which make blah images — white, medium gray or silver. But this year, bright blue seemed to be the new gray — the "in" show color. The Porsche Targa, Lexus RC F, BMW M3, VW Passat high-efficiency model, Chrysler 200 and half the Audi stand featured cars in Smurf-like blue."

    Vehicle styles change, and so do the colors they are available in. The first cars were painted black, white, olive green and, in exceptional cases, Capri Blue. Then in the 1970s, manufacturers began offering more bold colors like Fluorescent Orange and Neon Jade for individualists who wanted to set themselves apart. In the late 1980s and especially in the 90s, discreet shades of gray were predominant. Over the past few years, however, cars in more conspicuous colors have increasingly been spotted on our streets and roads.

    Nowadays, if you want to buy a car with a “Curry” paint job, you’re probably in for trouble. Not only because you will have to justify your selection to your friends and relatives, but also because it’s a shade one doesn’t see much anymore – and if you do find a car in that color, it won’t be called "Curry". More likely it will be "Dakar Yellow" or "Mustard Yellow."

    "The colors manufacturers offer, and especially the names they use for them, reflect the current positioning of the various brands,” said Richard Veit, managing director of Interbrand. “They correspond to the respective brand personality and are part of the verbal identity of the manufacturer brands.”

    Why is that? And what does the designation of a color have to say about the interplay between brands and their target groups?

    Some brands exhibit more adventurousness in the wording they use, e.g. in response to quick-changing trends. For example, 40 years ago Opel offered "Cosmic Blue," followed in the 80s with "Smoke Blue." In the 90s they even floated creative terms like "Lifestyle Blue." Today, Opel has come full circle and is offering colors like "North Sea Blue" and "Ocean Blue," which at least have the advantage that people can more or less imagine what they will look like.

    Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, places more store in continuity. Back in the 1970s you could already buy the 350 SL in Manganese Bronze, or from 1980 the 380 SL in Lapis Lazuli. Today you’ll find shades like "Cubanite Silver," "Cavansite Blue" and "Sanidine Beige." The colors of the minerals may not be familiar, but they all impart an impression of superior quality and underscore the high standards typical of Mercedes products – and of the company’s brand communication.

    Another brand that has resisted major changes to its color designations is Ford. Some names have changed, and shades like "Forest Green" have been replaced with "Ginger Ale," but in place of the "Tile Blue" that was once popular you will now find the hardly more specific "Atlantic Blue." Ford continues to prefer designations that invoke pretty clear images, it’s just that the terms have been modernized a bit.

    When Audi began making inroads into the premium segment, it started using more elegant color designations. A good 20 years ago you could choose a "Stone Gray" paint job for the Audi 80; in the 1990s there was the sleek "Diamond Silver," and today the A7 is available in discreet "Oolong Gray," named after the Chinese tea.

    Depending on the model, the VW brand offers both simple and elegant color designations. For example, while the VW Crafter van is available in robust “Steel Blue,” it’s hard to imagine an “Avocado Green” Phaeton. Indeed, that model is only available in subdued colors with names like "Beryllium Gray" and "Campanella White."

    Geographical names are always popular designations for car colors. BMW for example used terms like “Fjord” and “Riviera” in the 1970s, followed by such shades as "Biscay Blue" and "Ascot Gray" a decade later. Today the brand sports elegant hues with mellifluous names such as "Havana Metallic" and "Valencia Orange." Thus BMW maintains consistency while responding to current trends. The sound of the color’s name is more important than specificity – incidentally a tendency that is also apparent with Kia and Toyota, which have chosen the names of relatively obscure places for their "Zilina Black", "Kiruna Silver" and "Pianosa White."

    Then there are the flights of fancy characteristic of expensive brands like Aston Martin and Jaguar, which offer "Viridian Green" and "Italian Racing Red." But not all exclusive brands select highfalutin designations, as evidenced by Maserati, whose Italian sports cars come in minimalistic Nero, Bianco and Grigio. Maserati clearly sets itself apart from its competitors in this regard.

    Chevrolet presents a good example of how color designations can be adapted for potential target groups. Buyers – mostly female – of the Spark model select from emotionally appealing colors such as "Honey Mellow Yellow," "Secret Lavender" and "Bluebell Blue" – names that are reminiscent of nail polish colors like "Raspberry Fields Forever" and "Clubbing with Dracula."

    Some automotive brands have made big changes in the names of the colors they offer, while others have not. As the example of Audi shows, color designations often give an indication of the direction the brand is going.

    The colors themselves are also subject to trends, and some colors – as well as color designations – rotate in and out of popularity with time. Back in the day, the Audi 80 came in "Tornado Red," and now you can buy a VW Beetle in the same color. The selection of available paint jobs is always a featured element of brand communication, and is an important component of the brand’s overall identity.

    No matter what trendy colors the future holds in store fur us, you will likely find yourself choosing from names such as "Aviator Blue", "Mangaro Brown" and "Unicorn White". Just be glad there’s no more "Curry" on offer.

    Stefanie Roshop, Kai Klopsch, Eva Kuhlmann and Julien Dolenc are members of the Naming Team at Interbrand Hamburg.

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  • Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on Wednesday, March 20 2013 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

    All Systems Go

    Freedom of—and from—choice

    We live in a choice-mad world. Choice is part of personal expression. The way we customize, upgrade, and add-on tells people something about who we are. Our choices are badges—Mac or PC, dog or cat, Coke or Pepsi—and we can't help but feel more invested in something when we've picked it ourselves.

    What about when you can't see the product for the names—when too much choice is actually hurting you in the market? When it comes to brands, the amount of choice they present has a powerful impact on the way people understand what they offer.

    Limitless choice sounds like a beautiful concept until you're handed a 20-page spiral bound menu at a diner and asked to hurry up. Contrast that with a single-page tasting menu at a high-end restaurant. There might be no choice at that point. You're going to eat what the chef serves, but in all likelihood you made a choice to go to that restaurant for that very reason. The curation and the expertise behind the menu make the highly limited option the best one.

    Of course there's no magic formula for deciding how much choice is right for customers in your category, but a naming system helps them sort through your offerings in a meaningful way. When like things are named in a like way, and grouped based on principles that are intuitive to the customer experience and authentic to the brand, it's easier for your audiences to zero in on exactly what they want. What a beautiful choice.

    Developing a naming system for your brand is a challenge when you're crafting it from scratch. It's even more daunting when you're designing something for a long-standing portfolio (especially one that's picked up a few acquisitions along the way). We've summarized the top nine things to think about when coming up with your naming system at the right in All Systems Go.

    This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming.

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  • Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on Monday, March 4 2013 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

    After weeks and weeks of debate, our completely unscientific analysis of 2012's best and worst names is finally complete.

    Let's start with the best. Last year was one in which naming got realer: Brands leaned on real-word language and sounds in ways that were unexpected or unprecedented for their categories. This helped them to stand out—and secure some highly covetable real-word trademarks.

    Names we liked:

    Well-named apps kept it short and sweet. Sift is an app that consolidates shopping experiences, sifting out the clutter.

    Burn Note, an app fit for a secret agent, destroys an email once it's been read. It's clever for the "security" and "privacy" apps category, where the majority are named using exactly those words.

    Beard Destroyer, a men's shaving cream, pushed at the boundaries of what was expected for its category—and got away with greatness.

    Red Bull Total Zero managed to say "diet" in a completely on-voice way. Playing up the negative it makes zero calories sound appealing.

    Graymail is Microsoft's new way of talking about the almost-but-not-quite spam that we get every day, stuff that falls into a gray area between "What a great deal!" and "Not another hot stone massage coupon."

    BLK DNM, an anti-trend premium denim line, takes a no-frills approach to its jeans, as well as its naming.

    ZzzQuil, NyQuil's sleep aid, gets a happy, drowsy nod from us. NyQuil already said "night," so Vicks found another way to say "sleep."

    UniMás, the new evolution of Telemundo, took equity from its parent company, Univision, and told us to expect even más.

    Verismo, from Starbucks, was a beaut. This name for the home brewing system wins with lyrical Italian origins and a meaning that melds truth and realism.


    Names that weren't so hot:

    Worst-of-the-year award goes to a name that clearly never went through a linguistic evaluation: VAGX Lumisac. This line of messenger bags for cyclists are sturdily built and well designed—but they stopped short of picking a globally winning name.

    While they're an easy target, As Seen on TV stores gave us two gifts this year: Hot Booties (they go on your feet, in case you thought otherwise) and Edge of Glory (a slightly over-the-top name for a knife sharpener).

    Nectresse, from the makers of Splenda, left a bad taste in our mouths. While we get the reference to "nectar," it's hard to ignore the "tress" sound, which brings us right to hair care.

    Finally, a shake of our heads at Tampax Radiant. While the feminine hygiene category has long struggled with uncomfortable metaphors, this over-the-top language made us cringe.

    The year to come will surely bring us more names to like or loathe—and we'll love every minute of it.

    This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand New York and the creative lead for Naming.

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