Category: Naming and Verbal Strategy

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.

Continue Reading

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.

 

Continue Reading

“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 […]

Continue Reading

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

 

Continue Reading

What Does Your Business Stand For?

February 22, 2016 — Kent Lam

Last week in our series of 2016 predictions, we took a look at coming trends in technology naming. This week, we’re turning our attention to B2B brands—and how they’re using verbal strategies to tell more human stories about who they are and what they do.

Back in the day—when shoulder pads abounded and greed was good—the default personality for B2B brands was “big and powerful.” They had functional, impersonal, proudly corporate names like IBM, SAP, Qualcomm. The names—inscrutable acronyms and jargon to the Average Joe—were empty vessels that didn’t mean anything. They did their job, insinuating oversize presence and boundless reach. But they didn’t say anything about what the brands stood for.

These days, every brand—whether B2B or B2C—needs to have meaning, a reason to exist. Big and powerful, intimidating and impersonal—these are not the kinds of brands that businesses want to work with anymore, that consumers want to buy. In a landscape of more personal, more human, more local and transparent and approachable brands, B2B brands have needed to adopt new strategies. Using the same tools as B2C brands, B2Bs are starting to communicate what they stand for. Here are a few examples of brands that are already doing […]

Continue Reading

What Next? 2016 Predictions for Naming and Writing

February 16, 2016 — Jennifer Vasilache

In our last post, we looked back on naming and verbal trends for 2015. Now it’s time to look forward. In this first piece of a series of four blog posts, we share our predictions for what naming and verbal trends we can expect to see more of in 2016.

In this edition, technophile meets word-nerd. This is where CBX Verbal Strategy experts track the latest, most advanced, I-can’t-live-without-it devices and technologies unveiled by industry insiders in the New Year. We are excited and inspired by these cooler than cool innovations, and we are decoding their names to find out what’s hot in technology naming trends this year. Here is what we’ve seen, and what we would love to see going forward.

Super. Human. Technology: Show Your Human Side Move along Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic this year. AI is the graceful technology that gives computer systems human-like capabilities such as visual as speech recognition. AI is fast-moving into the mainstream and our everyday experiences, which we see reflected in the names. Say hi to some friendly new faces in AI: Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, Arlo Q the connected home camera, and Lily the drone. So […]

Continue Reading

What’s That Name?

December 22, 2015 — Lucila Tessi Kent Lam

As the year comes to an end, we wanted to take a look back and recognize some naming work that, too often, goes under the radar. We want to give credit where credit is due and celebrate the strategies that go behind naming. Below are some of the names that caught our eye, made us smile and made us do a double take.

Best name that would also work for a Bond girl: Verily, the new name for Google Life Sciences, has an archaic ring to it, an innocent tone that’s waiting to be sullied by some randy double entendre a la the James Bond movies of the Pierce Brosnan era. (Anyone remember “I thought Christmas only comes once a year?” No?) But it’s this old-fashioned sensibility—it’s how Shakespeare might have said “certainly” or “truly”—that gives the name a humanness, contrasting with the hard data and sterility that science is commonly associated with. This is life sciences, after all. It’s humans working to make human lives better. And that’s a truly worthwhile thing, isn’t it?

Best new clever name: Move over millennials, it’s all about the centennials now. Centennials was the new name given this year to the generation that […]

Continue Reading

Laughing (With or) At You?

November 2, 2015 — Brian Burr

We’ve all experienced embarrassing moments; a clumsy misstep sends you tumbling to the floor; an errant turn of the fork transforms your new shirt into a Jackson Pollock painting; a faulty wheel on a push cart sends half a pitcher of sangria to the ground outside the elevators on CBX’s fourth floor… (OK, maybe that last one was just me).

It’s important to remember that embarrassing moments only define you when you let them. Compose yourself when your face is flushed and your ears are burning so that people laugh with, instead of at you. Being able to play off the moment and laugh with everyone demonstrates an authenticity that people find endearing.

This idea is not exclusive to human-to-human interactions. In a marketplace where consumers are constantly searching for real connections with brands, a little self-depreciation can go a long way.

Brands using humor in their messaging is nothing new, but lately we’ve seen more brands turn the focus of the jokes back on themselves. Things that marketing teams would have once worked hard to hide are now leading the conversation.

Take Dressbarn’s Fall 2015 campaign. After decades of battling consumers’ hesitancy to bridge the gap between women’s fashion […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading