Posts by: Rachel Bernard

Ironheart: Vanquisher of Pointlessly Gendered Names

September 6, 2016 — Rachel Bernard

Marvel’s new Iron Man will be called…Ironheart. Well done, Marvel. You could have taken the well-worn and clichéd path for naming female superheroes by calling Riri, the new female hero wearing the iron suit, Iron Woman or Iron Maiden. And while my heavy metal heart may secretly yearn to see Iron Man (a well known Black Sabbath song) together with a hard rocking reference like Iron Maiden, Ironheart bounds over old-fashioned naming conventions and soars into the future.

Ironheart is a name that focuses on the history and soul of the franchise over gender—after all, Tony Stark first put on the iron suit to save his heart and Marvel indicates that Riri will also put it on for not-yet-disclosed heart-related reasons. A gender-neutral name like Ironheart says, this is a superhero. A gendered name like IronWoman would say, this a girl superhero. The implication being this is a franchise designed for a female audience only. By avoiding un-necessarily gendered naming, Marvel signals to a new generation of boys and girls that we can all look up to female superheroes.

Now if only other brands would take Marvel’s cue. Ahem, I’m looking at you Bic Pens for Her and Forbes Woman.

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America: The Land Of The Beer

May 10, 2016 — Rachel Bernard

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” —The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

It’s morning in America, folks. And as America awoke this morning, it found itself transformed into the king of beers. Today, Budweiser announced that starting May 23rd they will henceforth be referred to as America. With that, our nation has manifested its destiny.

E pluribus unum. Where there were once two brands. There is now one. If you think about it, the union between brand America and brand Budweiser could not be more perfect. Both are iconic. Both are red, white and blue. Both have moved their manufacturing bases overseas. And both can get you bombed. #Twinning.

This bud really is for you, America.

Photo courtesy of Entrepreneur.

 

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“Athleisure”, Not In Vogue

April 15, 2016 — Rachel Bernard

Even mighty Anna Wintour with her power to make or break designers can’t kill the word athleisure. There was a time in 2015 she could have, but that time has passed. Beyonce just launched her brand of athleisure IVY PARK. And that has everyone using the word. And if anyone can SLAY Anna, it’s QUEEN BEY. It has 75K hashtags on Instagram, over 401K hits on Google. And the second entry hit on Google for the term—an article titled “The 5 Golden Rules of Athleisure” published in January this year by…wait for it…VOGUE. Wintour herself has contributed to the term becoming “in vogue” as they say.

Usage in Vogue is all it takes to make Athleisure an official word in the fashion world. And its acceptance in Merriam Webster this year makes it an unofficial word for the rest of the world. That said, it’s not truly a real word until the Oxford English Dictionary makes it so. So far they are still holding out on Athleisure. However it’s only a matter of time. The OED loves “blend” or “portmanteau” words like Athleisure that bring two words together to create a completely new word. They brought Fauxhawk, Jorts, and Flatform […]

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3 Reasons Why You Should Not Ask The Internet to Name Your Brand

March 22, 2016 — Rachel Bernard

First rule of the internet—don’t read the comments. Second rule of the internet—do not ask the internet to name your brand.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) learned the second rule the hard way when they opened up suggestions to name their new ship to the internet. The ship is a £200 million polar research vessel described by NERC as “the most advanced floating research fleet in the world and will help put the UK at the forefront of ocean research for years to come.” The internet’s answer for such an esteemed vessel?

Boaty McBoatface. By a landslide.

Here is a list of things the internet cares about—cat videos, bacon, unclad celebrities. Here is a list of things the internet does not care about—your brand strategy, managing a complex trademark landscape, ensuring a name isn’t offensive culturally.

The internet cares about instant gratification. If you want someone to care about creating a name that lives up to your £200 million investment and will stand the test of time, call the professionals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

 

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Consumer Brands: You’re Either In Or You’re Out

March 15, 2016 — Rachel Bernard

Last week in our series of 2016 predictions, we took a look at coming trends in life sciences. This week, we’re turning our attention to consumer brands—what’s in and what’s out when it comes naming and writing for consumer goods and services.

The first millennials turn 35 this year. They are coming of age as leaders of industries and heads of movements, and nearing their maximum earning potential. They are now the holders of the average household’s purse strings. Not surprisingly, the way consumer goods like apparel, food or personal care products are marketed has shifted dramatically to appeal to a generational demand for transparency, authenticity, and purpose. Here is our take on what will be in and what will be out for consumers in 2016.

OUT: Faux Founders IN: Mascots Creating a fictitious founder has long been a trick namers have pulled out of their magic naming hats as a shortcut to authenticity. Sadly, there is no Mrs. Paul cooking up fish sticks in a quaint seaside cottage. Betty Crocker? A figment of marketing imagination. Dr Pepper was never a real doctor, nor a real person, for that matter. This time-honored naming trope may have worked with […]

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C is for Changes

September 2, 2015 — Rachel Bernard

This has been a month full of exciting changes for Google. First there was the announcement of a new parent company, Alphabet. Then there was the spinoff of Google X into a standalone life sciences company. And yesterday, users were greeted with a fresh and playful new evolution of the Google logo.

So what do all these changes mean for the future of the brand? I think Alphabet will spell out a new era in taking much bigger risks.

Creating a new corporate entity is often a protective move to shield a brand from potential harm. The advent of Alphabet creates a separate place for the business to invest in the innovations that may seem too risky and perhaps too strange for a well-established and highly valued brand like Google to endeavor. Innovation is uncomfortable at first—it often looks scary or even silly until it becomes the new normal. For example, would a strange-at-first idea like Google Glass have earned greater permission if it had incubated in a start-up rather than Google, a brand that carries a defined set of expectations? Perhaps.

These changes should signal to investors that the brand is going to stretch significantly. In their announcement about […]

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Shame, Shame, we don’t know your name…

June 19, 2015 — Rachel Bernard

Remember when Domino’s dropped “Pizza” from its name back in 2012? You wouldn’t know it by all the signs with the old logo saying “Domino’s Pizza” still hanging out at its franchisee locations. Enter Domino’s new social media campaign encouraging the public to shame locations yet to embrace the new logo, arming them with the hashtag #logoinformants and the promise of free pizza for a year.

Before we start the play-by-play on Domino’s naming and messaging strategy—can we just take a minute to savor the delicious irony of this? Domino’s wants to be known for more than pizza so much that they are willing to entice customers to narc on franchisees with…wait for it…pizza—the very product they are trying to distance themselves from. Hilarious.

Anyway, let’s carry on with brand analysis of this move.

The good: name-dropping We are big fans of this type of name-dropping. In 2007, Apple dropped “Computers” from its name paving the way for greater innovation in everything from phones to tablets, even watches. In 2012, Starbucks decaffeinated its name by removing “Coffee” from its logo, a move that perhaps overshadowed the Domino’s name-drop that year. All of these brands did one very simple thing when […]

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Innovation hurts, donut?

June 14, 2013 — Rachel Bernard

Well, it’s over. The most wonderful faux-holiday of the year, National Donut Day, has come to a delicious close. Now that the powdered sugar has settled, let’s take a moment to loosen our belts and reflect on the biggest triumph of this faux-holiday season, the cronut. Part donut, part croissant, all kinds of crazy delicious, the cronut not only stirred all of NYC into a gluttonous frenzy, it also stirred up quite a bit of controversy. May we present to you the cautionary tale of the cronut, with two valuable lessons brands should know when it comes to defending trademarks and intellectual property? Lesson 1: Being first to market is a blessing and a curse There’s a lot of debate on who was first to market with the cronut. Most media outlets covering Cronut Watch 2013 attribute the innovation to Dominique Ansel, a humble bakery in Greenwich Village. However, Najat Kaanache, chef at Private Social restaurant in Dallas, Texas, has recently taken to twitter to stake her claim as the true inventor of the cronut. While that social media debate rages, there’s the emergence of the knock-off versions calling themselves doissants, crowbars, or even fauxnuts, all trying to prove that […]

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The NCAA and the Tricky World of Trademarks

December 21, 2012 — Rachel Bernard

If you haven’t heard of Johnny Manziel yet, you will. On December 8th, the 20 year-old from Texas A&M became the first freshman in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy. In a country where football is a religion, the kid with an arm of steel and a heart of gold represents a salvation for a sport still reeling from the aftermath of the Penn State tragedy, and the public controversies surrounding on-field concussions. Manziel represents a return to a squeaky clean Friday Night Lights brand of ball. His Aggie fans have even nicknamed him Johnny Football for goodness sake! It doesn’t get any more squeaky clean than that. And everyone wants a piece of the Johnny Football brand— from the NCAA to the university to the sport’s marketing machine at large. But who will win?

In November of 2011 the Johnny Football name was registered for trademark with the USPTO office for a variety of goods and services. Was it registered to Johnny himself? Nope. It was registered to Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, an entity that appears to be attempting to pirate the trademark by taking advantage of an opportunity NCAA bylaws provide. The NCAA strictly forbids student-athletes […]

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