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.
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 […]
Last week in our series of 2016 predictions, we took a look at B2B companies to see how they use verbal strategies to communicate what they do in a more meaningful way. This week, we’re turning our attention to the new communication that’s emerged from the latest and greatest trends in healthcare.
We’ve seen a new wave of trends emerge that are changing the way we think about healthcare. What’s driving this change? People. As consumers, people are empowered by choice and are used to being heard. We’re now seeing patients engage with the healthcare system with their consumer expectations. While the industry has received a great deal of political attention with policy changes and debate over regulation, what’s remarkable, is that if we move past the political chatter, the healthcare industry’s voice is optimistic.
Evolution MD One company that’s leveraging smarter, more customized care is Sherpaa. Through their app, you can send a message to a physician to see if an emergency room visit is necessary or not. As the name cleverly suggests, this service acts as your guide to “smarter healthcare” and to hoping it’s not as bad as it looks. The company Medicast has shown that empowering […]
Every year the Westminster Dog Show provides an opportunity to see the vast portfolio of dogs the canine species has to offer. From a brand perspective there’s a problem though – the brand portfolio architecture is stuck in the 1880s.
Sporting Photo courtesy of USA Today
Working Photo courtesy of PBS
Hound Photo courtesy of Fox 5 San Diego
Herding Photo courtesy of US News
Toy Photo courtesy of Forbes
What’s wrong with this list? It’s not nice to call your best friend a toy, for one thing. For another, herding is work; ask any parent. Most importantly, this is not how people shop for a dog. Brand architecture should reflect the decisions consumers make when deciding what to buy. So let’s look at this portfolio from the perspective of actual (or aspiring) dog owners and the questions in their minds as they shop.
Will this dog fit in my living space?
Apartment dogs Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Subset – New York City apartment dogs (aka, have enough head room to clear an Ikea coffee table)
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The New York Times headline was bold, “The 2016 Pirelli Calendar May Signal a Cultural Shift.” The piece went on to say that the Pirelli brand, a strong supporter and champion of the quintessential male gaze, had taken a radical departure for the 2016 calendar by featuring whole women of accomplishment vs. pieces of female endowment. Brought to you by Annie Leibovitz.
As a woman, there’s a lot I could say regarding this departure. As a brand strategist, I am interested in Pirelli’s brand message and behavior, and what that says about the brand and about us.
In releasing this calendar, it appears that Pirelli is a brand transformed. The New York Times piece presents this transformation in the form of commitment and responsibility. Yet Pirelli, and a few subjects of the calendar, do not necessarily agree. Both Mellody Hobson and Agnes Gund made it clear in The Times article that, “their relationship was with Ms. Leibovitz, not Pirelli.” And Artist Shirin Neshat said, “I didn’t feel like I was selling out by doing this as much as helping Annie support a new idea about female style and beauty.”
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 […]
When Bic for Her hit it shelves, its intended audience did not rejoice. “Finally, a pen that’s designed just for lady-hands!” said absolutely no one. Instead, it was rightly ridiculed.
When a brand tries to cross the gender divide, the number one rule is to make sure there actually is a divide. (And as far as science can tell, there are no differences in how men and women use pens.) After all, in the personal care category brands gender-bend all the time—for instance, Gillette crossing over to deliver razors for women when it was known primarily as a man-brand. There are enough perceived differences in how men and women care for their bodies to warrant these gender-specific products.
So how can a brand swing both ways, and do it well?
Focus on the new benefit Communicate the benefit in a way that’s appealing to whoever you’re targeting. The shapewear brand Spanx touts that its body-hugging under-shorts are soft and slimming when it’s speaking to women. But, its Spanx for Men line talks about making men “stand taller and feel stronger.” The brand is getting directly to the results that the different audiences (allegedly) want: Women want to feel slim and […]