Ironheart: Vanquisher of Pointlessly Gendered Names
April 14, 2012 — Eliza S.
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.
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 […]
3 Reasons Why You Should Not Ask The Internet to Name Your Brand
April 14, 2012 — Eliza S.
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
When you’re born, you’re given two things: a smack on the butt and a name. Whether you like it or not, that name is forever a part of your identity. And while we may like to think that our name bears no part in defining who we are, how we act and what we do; truthfully I don’t believe that’s entirely true. Have you ever heard something like this before?
“She looks like a Becky.” “Really? She looks more like a Courtney to me.”
While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that I’m guilty of it. By nature, humans lean towards association. We want to connect dots and make sense of the world around us. That’s what leads us to taking those ridiculous quizzes and watching videos that try to explain how our names impact our personalities.
When you see a little baby called James, doesn’t that feel a little off? To me, ‘James’ is associated with power and presence, not cute and precious. It feels wrong for a baby. So, we nickname baby James to baby Jimmy. But then what about when baby Jimmy grows up and becomes adult Jimmy? Adults need to be taken seriously, to shed […]
When we create brand and product names, we think about how they will travel—across different consumers and even across continents. We make sure they translate appropriately in all the languages that exist in targeted markets. But sometimes, even when you manage to tackle obvious linguistic disasters (no need to remind you of the Nova or Mondelez mishaps, right?), the subtlest pitfalls still lie in cultural savvy. Cultural fluency is key to relevant branding.
Let me give you a personal example.
As a non-English native speaker and semiotician, I am constantly learning, observing, searching, studying, and dissecting new words and expressions that not only expand my vocabulary, but also uncover hidden meanings in my adopted culture.
Everybody knows the importance of idioms when learning a new language. Idioms are your way into a culture; colloquialisms are your linguistic passport. I came from France to New York City seven years ago with the level of English you get out of schoolbooks. But as I was working my way up in my new linguistic environment, I knew I finally got street cred the day I heard myself commenting on my colleague’s work: “It’s awesome!” No more “zees eez hinteresting” or “zat eez not […]
Whiskey’s always been a bit of a troublemaker. From the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s to the freak-out over the whiskey made with antifreeze (Fireball), it’s the spirit that’s kept us on our toes the most (or at least with our heads in the toilet).
In recent years, whiskey’s been stirring up another controversy: What do you call American Scotch? Of course, those who know whiskey know there is no such thing. Scotch whisky is made in Scotland. It’s right there in the name. It’s as descriptive as it gets.
But we’re talking about those whiskeys that are made the exact same way as Scotch—the same recipe, the same process—but on American soil. At its essence, Scotch is single malt whiskey, which means the whiskey is made from malt and comes from a single distillery (again, whiskey wins at descriptive naming). So what do you call American single malt whiskey?
A lot of American distillers just call it “single malt” or “American single malt.” Never mind that when whiskey drinkers think of “single malt,” they usually think of Scotch. American single malt whiskey is in a golden era. Micro-distilleries are popping up all over the United States and thriving. In […]