Here comes Zinzin

Set your brand free. I have just launched a new naming agency, Zinzin, that creates powerful product and company names to propel and differentiate brands beyond their competition. We help elevate a company’s messaging above the generic brand chatter that clogs cultural discourse.

At Zinzin, we believe that creating powerful names is both a science, for which we have a rigorous, battle-tested process, and an art, for it is the art and poetry of great names that separate brands from their uninspired competition. Great names become brands that foster emotional engagement with their audience, and these are the names we are passionate about.

The Zinzin website has many features to help you get a handle on the naming process, including the Naming Guide and Manifesto PDFs available for free download.

Wordlab will continue to be a great free naming and branding resource for people and small companies who can’t afford to hire a naming firm. For companies in need of professional naming and branding services, Zinzin is here for you.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @ZinzinLive.


101 Clichés in B2B Marketing

smashing a lightbulb extinguishing an ideaCourtesy of a British company with the uninspiring name IAS, here is their own “viral marketing” campaign called 101 Clichés in B2B Marketing, from the “Lightbulb” (#001) to “The cliché within a cliché” (#101). They plan to continue the vigil with reader submission into the great uncharted territory beyond “101”, so send them yours now. I just submitted one on behalf of Wordlab, and of course I couldn’t resist what should be obvious:

The numbered list in general is one of the most overused  marketing clichés (just look at any magazine cover), and for some reason 101 is especially popular. Did it get started with 101 Dalmatians? Can “101” still be such a magic number to capture the consumer’s attention if everything has been turned into a “101 Things” list?

I’m working on my own list: 100,001 really smart business decisions. I’ve got the first one (“Make a Big List”), but I’m stuck coming up with the other 100k. Perhaps Wordlabers can offer suggestions here in the comments.


The Branded Candidate

One of TIME’s 50 best inventions of 2008: the branded candidate.

Barack Obama hat: $15.

Barack Obama special-edition Beyoncé T shirt: $60.

Devising a system to make and sell your own swag and garner millions in profits, not to mention the phone numbers and addresses of hundreds of thousands of potential volunteers? Priceless.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has a hilarious analysis of Obama’s half-hour infomercial — complete with “unfortunate product placements.”


Hasta la Vista, baby.

Today, Microsoft introduced what it said would be a slimmer and more responsive version of its Windows operating system, while unceremoniously dropping the brand name Vista for the new product. The new version will instead be branded Windows 7, because it is the seventh of a long line of operating systems for PCs developed by the company since the 1980s.
Via: New York Times

It will be interesting to see how Apple revamps its popular “I’m a Mac” advertisements mocking the Vista operating system.

Yesterday, Microsoft launched a new series of ads — a new “I’m a PC” campaign — “part of Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s $300 million marketing ploy to help the computer maker regain some positive buzz lost to competitor Apple,” according to Advertising Age. Computer users can upload to their own “I’m a PC” ad.

In the frequently asked questions section of the site, it says: “I have a Mac, can I participate?” Microsoft’s answer: “Of course you can. A Mac can be a PC too, most notably when it runs Windows Vista.”

Oh noes, there’s that V-word again.


Scratch and Sniff Marketing

Have a listen to Weekend America’s piece: Forget Ads, What’s Your Brand?, which chronicles the unconventionally successful marketing approach of Hollister Co., the $1.4B annual sales boost for parent Abercrombie and Fitch.

Almost every Saturday, 15-year-old Emily Erickson is at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Most of its 500 stores don’t interest her, except Hollister, a clothing store for teens. Hollister is odd. It’s dark, with music so loud you can’t hear yourself shop. The air is filled with a deep citrus scent that stays on your clothes for hours. But Emily loves it and keeps coming back. Hollister’s “brand” invites her to become part of a particular tribe, and to show her allegiance by wearing its clothes. It’s part of the way that branding has taken over from traditional advertising. We hear from brand designer Joe Duffy about the concept of “brand” for clothes, kids and even countries.

…So Emily and Hollister have found each other. It’s not just about cute clothes. It’s about being part of group, your tribe, the people who care about the things that you care about, who think about the things you think about. Duffy says this has been part of a massive change in marketing. It’s becoming easier and easier to ignore and even avoid ads, so they have to speak to you in other ways.

A kinder, gentler brainwash? I can’t help thinking of Kramer’s beach scented cologne.

Managing Your Individual Brand

Big Brother is watching you.

You knew that.

But how about all the little brothers and cousins googling you from time to time?

“Everyone is an individual brand — the ‘you’ brand. If managed incorrectly, this can have negative consequences when it comes to getting a job, advancing your career or maintaining a positive reputation…” more….

So, can you remove unwanted search results about yourself from the search engines? It may be possible and there are steps you can take, but according to Leo Notenboom ( it is pretty much a lost cause.

Think carefully then about profile information you attach to yourself online; screen names, interests, etc. If you jokingly listed a serial killer as personal hero in a forum profile several years ago or even if you gave yourself your a seemingly innocuous screen name like Skaterdude at some point, the information remains and can influence how a potential employer, co-worker, customer, mate, etc., might perceive you.

Be careful with your brand kids. It’s the only one you’ve got.


What Brand Means

“The link between brands and trust is strong,” says Charles Green, co-author of The Trusted Advisor, in the first Carnival of Trust at his blog, Trust Matters. There, Charlie points us to a recent post by Sun’s CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who writes this about what brand means:

The saying goes, “a brand is a promise.” On a personal level, I’ve always felt that statement was incomplete. A promise is the lowest common denominator of a brand – it’s what people expect. Think of your favorite brand, whether search engine or sneaker or coffee shop or free software, and you’ll know what I mean – a brand is an expectation. If you experience anything less, you’re disappointed. A promise seems like table stakes.

But a brand must go beyond a promise. To me, a brand is a cause – a guiding light. For fulfilling expectations, certainly, as well as dealing with the ill-defined and unexpected.

Read more here at Jonathan’s Blog.


Better Names for Better Things

DuPont: From the Banks of the Brandywine to Miracles of Science is a lovely coffee-table book commissioned by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company to commemorate its 200th anniversary. It’s a study rich in American corporate history, and a treasure trove of naming and branding.

Countless brand names and trademarks have been developed by DuPont in the past couple of centuries. Many of its trademarked products are global brands, like Corian® and Kevlar®. But the book has some lesser-known stories about well-known products that the DuPont Company has made into household words. Words like neoprene, and nylon.

There’s an interesting graphic in the book, depicting this announcement:



to describe our chloroprene rubber which has previously been sold under the trade mark “DuPrene.”

The product itself has not been changed in any way and is exactly the same as that previously sold under the trade mark “DuPrene.”

In addition to providing a short generic name for polymerized chloroprene, NEOPRENE can be used to describe the products made from it which display its many distinctive characteristics.

Rubber Chemicals Division
DECEMBER 16, 1936

DuPont dropped its DuPrene trademark in 1936 and referred to its synthetic rubber afterwards as “neoprene.” DuPont made only the material itself and not the many products, such as insulated electrical wire, hoses and shoe soles, made by the manufacturers who purchased DuPrene and then shaped it for their own uses.

DuPont marketers such as Ernest Bridgwater feared that the company would not be able to control the quality of the actual end-product that reached consumers. Under those circumstances, the generic term “neoprene” was more appropriate to DuPont’s role.

A more colorful reason for withdrawing the trademark, according to the Organic Chemical Department’s Oliver M. Hayden, was the complaint by a West Coast entertainer that DuPont was infringing on her stage name, Duprene. “Perhaps she thought DuPont would buy her off,” Hayden speculated. By that time, however, DuPont had already withdrawn the trademark.

Around the same time, in the mid 1930s, DuPont eschewed trademark protection and embraced market awareness for one of the company’s most popular products ever.

DuPont decided not to make “nylon” a trademark but to keep it as a generic product name. Just two years earlier the company had lost a lawsuit against the Sylvania company, which referred to its own moisture-proof wrap as “cellophane.” DuPont was unable to persuade the court that it had taken sufficient pains to protect “cellophane” as a trademark; instead, it had allowed the name to pass into common usage, as King-Seeley had done with “thermos” and Bayer with “aspirin.” Indeed, the term “nylons” so quickly became the popular way to refer to women’s hosiery that retaining the name as a trademark would have meant enormous effort and expense for DuPont, with no assurance of final success in the courts.

But there is no story about the naming of a DuPont product that resonates with experienced naming and branding professionals more than this anecdote about nylon.

DuPont expected great things from Fiber 66. Eager to give the product a catchy name, the company appointed a special committee to screen suggestions. The Rayon Department’s Dr. Ernest Gladding must have had tongue in cheek when he offered “Duparooh,” for “DuPont Pulls A Rabbit Out Of the Hat.” Other ideas were “Wacara,” a tribute to Wallace Carothers; “Delawear,” Lammot du Pont’s favorite; and 350 other creations, like Dusilk, Moursheen, Rayamide and Silkex. After Gladding’s second suggestion, “norun,” was rejected because the new fabric did run, the naming committee, composed of Gladding, general manager Leonard Yerkes, and his assistant Benjamin May, settled on the prefix “nu.” The second syllable, however, remained a problem. “Nuron,” a flip-flop of “norun,” sounded too much like neuroanatomy. The determined Gladding then struck out the “u” and the “r” and substituted an “i” and an “l.” But “nilon” could sound like “neelon” or “nillon,” so “y” went in for “i” and nylon emerged as the winning name of what DuPont was sure would be a prodigy in its product line.

DuPont’s new tagline “The miracles of science™” replaces the company’s famous motto “Better Things for Better Living through Chemistry™” the inspiration for this post’s headline.


Pit Bull Lawyers Muzzled

Motorcycle Injury Lawyers Pape & Chandler have come to the end of a very short leash. Today, legal arguments advocating their rights to use the image of a pit bull in law firm advertising were refused to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, or SCOTUS, as legal beagles like to call the alpha dogs of the federal judiciary.

f/k/a EthicalEsq has the poop, including this sound bite.

I’m afraid the professional Dignity Police have too many allies on the Supreme Court bench — or maybe, consumers and the First Amendment have too few. Treating the public like fools and acting pompously self-important (and above mere commerce) is not the way to win respect for the legal profession.

It’s really too bad that lawyers who know how to communicate effectively with their customers are muzzled by a self-regulated profession that is so out of touch with reality.


Coca-Cola Slogans, Taglines, and Jingles

Coca-Cola’s new slogan, “Welcome to the Coke Side of Life,” is an attempt to make the drink more relevant to customers. Mary Minnick, Coke’s head of marketing, says, “We believe there are times or a moment in the day when only a Coke will do, and that is the framework for our advertising.” Not the greatest Coca-Cola slogan of all time, is it?

1886—Drink Coca-Cola
1893—The Ideal Brain Tonic
1904—Delicious and Refreshing
1905—Coca-Cola Revives and Sustains
1906—The Drink of Quality
1908—Good To The Last Drop
1909—Drink Delicious Coca-Cola
1917—Three Million A Day
1922—Thirst Knows No Season
1924—Pause and Refresh Yourself
1927—Around the Corner From Anywhere
1929—The Pause That Refreshes
1930—Meet Me At The Soda Fountain
1932—Ice Cold Sunshine
1934—When It’s Hard To Get Started, Start With Coca-Cola
1935—All Trails Lead To Coca-Cola
1936—It’s The Refreshing Thing To Do
1938—The Best Friend Thirst Ever Had
1939—Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Refreshment Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola
1939—Thirst Stops Here; Makes Travel More Pleasant
1939—Coca-Cola Goes Along
1941—Work Refreshed
1943—A Taste All It’s Own
1944—High Sign of Friendship
1945—Coke Means Coca-Cola
1947—Relax With The Pause That Refreshes
1948—Where There’s Coke There’s Hospitality
1948—It’s The Real Thing! (First time this slogan was used.)
1950—Time Out For Coke
1950—Help Yourself to Refreshment
1951—Good Food And Coca-Cola Just Naturally Go Together
1952—Coke Follows Thirst Everywhere
1952—What You Want Is A Coke
1954—For People On The Go
1955—Americans Prefer Taste”
1956—Coca-Cola – Makes Good Things Taste Better
1957—Sign Of Good Taste
1957—There’s Nothing Like A Coke
1958—The Cold, Crisp Taste of Coke
1959—Be Really Refreshed
1962—Enjoy That Refreshing New Feeling
1963—Things Go Better With Coke
1970—It’s The Real Thing
1971—I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke
1975—Look Up America
1976—Coke Adds Life”
1979—Have a Coke and a Smile
1982—Coke Is It!
1985—We’ve Got A Taste For You
1986—Catch The Wave – Red White & You
1989—Can’t Beat The Feeling
1990—Can’t Beat The Real Thing
1993—Always Coca-Cola
1993—Taste It All
2000—Coca-Cola Enjoy
2001—Life Tastes Good
2002—All the world loves a Coke

“It’s the Real Thing” and “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” are two of the most memorable slogans that have helped to define the Coca-Cola brand.

“True Love and Apple Pie” was the title of the original version of the song released on the New Seekers album We’d Like To Teach The World To Sing after the commercial success of the advertising version, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” The song was made famous in 1971 by the outstanding Hilltop ad campaign for Coca-Cola in which children from around the world, dressed in ethnic costumes on a hilltop in Italy, sang:

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,

Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,

I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

The Hilltop ad campaign is regarded as one of the greatest television advertisements of all time, and is one of the highlights of the 50 Years of Coca-Cola’s Television Advertisements recorded by the Library of Congress.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola reprised the “Hilltop” theme with a controversial ad campaign code-named “Chlltop” for the introduction of a new diet soda named Coca-Cola Zero. The introduction of the new slogan this week coincides with the announcement of a new Coca-Cola drink combining regular Coke and coffee, named Coca-Cola Blak.

There’s also a short chronicle of the first century in Coca-Cola’s creative history at allaboutbranding that’s a good overview. And, Snopes has lots of Cokelore, aptly described as “a collection of Coke trivia and tall tales sure to refresh even the most informationally-parched reader.”


The Trouble With Lawyers and Advertising

Lawyers don’t have a clue about branding.

Some don’t advertise at all. They’re “too professional” they say. Others insist that, in order to be a successful professional these days, you have to run your practice like a business. Here’s where it gets a bit fuzzy for most lawyers. They don’t really know what business they’re in.

Most lawyers think of the legal services they offer as the business. So, to them, running a law practise as a business means “selling” legal services, and advertising those services is a necessary evil—and necessarily evil. It’s not surprising that lawyers who advertise their “services” often do a disservice to themselves, and the profession.

Believe it or not, most lawyers don’t understand that the professional services business they’re in is the business of the Trusted Advisor. Trust me, this book should be required reading for law students. It might be too late for lawyers.

In 2002, Robert A. Clifford, Chair, Section of Litigation of the ABA, put it in words a smart lawyer might understand.

We live in a world based on trust. Every day we are forced to trust strangers. We trust the school bus driver to get our children to school, the airline pilot to get us safely to our destinations, the hospital staff to administer the proper medication, the police officer to enforce the law, the other motorists not to drink and drive. Sometimes, though, we are let down. Lawyers are among those who can jeopardize trust, whether by not fully communicating the frailties of a case to the client or not being upfront about a fee. In any event, the lawyer becomes just another in a long line of those who do not follow through on a promise, and, with that betrayal of trust, however small, the entire profession suffers a bit.

Certainly lawyers are advocates for their clients, but, first and foremost, they are counselors. Maybe more than in any other profession, people turn to lawyers for their advice, their logic in seeing through a problem and perceiving issues, and their decision-making ability after examining all the options and likely consequences. Although consumers describe lawyers as greedy, manipulative, and corrupt, they also say that lawyers are educated, intelligent, knowledgeable, hard working, aggressive, outgoing, well spoken, and confident. These are traits they admire and even would like to emulate. It is on these virtues that those in need of legal services rely. On the basis of these strengths, each of us must formulate a plan to do our jobs better. We discussed and debated that very issue in the second part of the Town Hall Meeting April 25 in Faneuil Hall during the Annual Meeting.

Public confidence in our profession is critical in doing our jobs right. We must live up to that great responsibility, and how we handle it is what distinguishes us as true professionals. Lawyers must earn the right to be trusted once again.

Lawyers, as a profession, will never gain the trust of the public as long as they continue in their business practices to advertise like car salesmen and political candidates and talk like pirates.

This piece was written as a Guest Blogger’s post for the entertainment of lawyers and law students on Evan Schaeffer’s Notes from the (Legal) Underground, a lawyer’s weblog with a difference. It’s not so stuffy.


Mercedes and alphanumeric car names

Oh Lord won’t you buy me a AMG Coupe CLK 55: Mercedes has long named their car models using alphanumerics. It’s a system we’ve commented on before that is used by most luxury automotive brands (save Rolls Royce) designed to direct the bulk of brand equity to the Mercedes brand name rather than to a particular model. It’s very effective when you need consumers to remember three basic concepts and one or two specialty offshoots. Audi and BMW get there with the 4|6|8 and 3|5|7 designations, respectively.

Mercedes, however, is trying to get consumers to associate alphanumeric labels with nine-plus different ideas.

The bare basics are: C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLK-Class, CL-Class, SLK-Class, SL-Class, M-Class, G-Class, with a sprinkling of AMGs, SLRs, CDIs and MLs tossed-in where needed for greater obfuscation. And those are just the alpha vegetables in the alphanumeric soup.

Here is the whole 36-car pile up: C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe, C230 Kompressor Sport Sedan, C240 Luxury Sedan, C240 Luxury Wagon, C320 Sport Coupe, C320 Luxury Sedan, C320 Sport Sedan, C55 AMG, E320 Sedan, E320 CDI, E320 Wagon, E500 Sedan, E500 4MATIC Wagon, E55 AMG, S430 Sedan, S500 Sedan, S55 AMG, S600 Sedan, CLK320 Coupe, CLK320 Cabriolet,CLK500 Coupe, CLK500 Cabriolet, CLK55 AMG Coupe, CLK55 AMG Cabriolet, CLS500 Coupe, CLS55 AMG, CL500 Coupe, CL55, AMG CL600, Coupe, CL65 AMG, SLK 350 Roadster, SLK55 AMG Roadster, SL500 Roadster, SL55 AMG, SL600 Roadster, SL65 AMG, ML350 SUV, ML350 SUV Special Edition, ML500 SUV, ML500 SUV Special Edition, G500 SUV, G55 AMG, and SLR McLaren 4MATIC.

The vehicles are priced between $25,850 and $452,750, and the names do nothing towards differentiating one from the other; so bye-bye “envy” sales factor. Why pay a hundred and fifty big ones for a car that everyone thinks cost thirty? That’s no fun.

Cadillac, in its quest to muscle Mercedes aside has jumped into the fray with the vehicle “names” ESV, EXT, ETS, SRX and XLR, basking in the image mingling.

The only people crazy enough to learn and love the distinctions between the Mercedes C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLK-Class, CL-Class, SLK-Class, SL-Class, M-Class, G-Class, AMG, SLR, CDI and ML spend the remainder of their time playing “Prince of Persia, Warrior Within” on the Xbox and aren’t likely to purchase a car without parental consent.

Here is how some of the hairs are split:

C-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers more value and choice than ever before with the most models and body styles to choose from, and MSRPs starting under $30,000.

E-Class Overview
Offering European sophistication and performance, the exhilarating Mercedes-Benz E-Class combines the best of sedan luxury with the comfort of a wagon.

S-Class Overview
The premier luxury sedan in the world, the S-Class is the unparalleled expression of elegance, technological innovation, charismatic styling and pure driving pleasure.

CLK-Class Overview
Available in both luxury convertible and pillarless coupe models, the CLK-Class is one of the world’s most desirable and exhilarating forms of pure driving pleasure.

CLS-Class Overview
The CLS-Class redefines what a coupe can be. It offers expressive style, poised performance, a 4-seat cabin, but with four doors.

CL-Class Overview
The CL-Class is not just a distinctive and exclusive leader in the luxury coupe market. With its intense performance and refined style, it demands to be driven.

SLK-Class Overview
From its muscular stance inspired by Formula One racing to its athletic performance, the SLK-Class roadster delivers aggressive sports car styling and an exhilarating driving experience

SL-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is the latest incarnation of an unmatched automotive legacy, combining unrivaled technological excellence, passionate performance and timeless elegance into flawless perfection.

M-Class Overview
The M-Class is an ever-ready companion whose exemplary design, comprehensive safety features and unmatched versatility make it perfect for active and adventurous lifestyles.

On the edge of your seat for the Mercedes definitions behind G-Class, AMG, SLR, CDI and ML? Of course not — it’s too much work and there’s no reward — two things luxury should never be.


Supermarket brand positioning: the movie tie-in

Safeway going where no supermarket has gone before: Safeway will become the first supermarket chain to participate in a multi-brand motion picture tie-in promotion when the new “Star Trek: Nemesis” invades movie theaters in December:

“This is the first time that a major supermarket company has brought all of its regional groups together to leverage a high-profile entertainment property to drive traffic,” said Jay Slater, head of Promotion Connections, Los Angeles, which worked with Paramount and Safeway on the tie-in.

Be on the lookout for strange creatures from another world at a Safeway near you — they’ll be invading 1,700 stores nationwide as part of the promotion.


Branding the Chinese financial industry

A brand new China: China’s financial industry has a new mantra these days as its markets open up to the world: branding. This, according to a story in China Daily, is an industry that used to be tightly regulated, based on networking, unwilling to compete, and was in a country with no awareness of advertising or brand building. Now all of that is changing very quickly, and competition is building:

“Brand reputation is a company’s largest single intangible asset,” said Tian Rencan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Fortis Investment Management Asia Ltd….

“Buying a fund is actually buying a brand,” said Xu Xiaosong, Southern Fund’s chief economist and deputy managing director.

We’ve lost track: is China still considered a communist country?


Green machines: Toyota and Nissan coming clean

On the heels of last month’s announcement by Toyota and Nissan that the two silverbacks of the Japanese auto industry will, for the first time ever, team up to produce hybrid gas-electric automotive engines, comes today’s shocker by Toyota that it plans to have only hybrid engines in ALL of its cars by 2012.

This news, coupled with the Toyota-Nissan alliance, is sure to send shock waves through the U.S. auto industry. The Detroit automakers have been downplaying hybrid engines and focusing their R&D efforts on fuel cell technology, which may take longer than ten years to move into widespread availability.

On the fuel cell front, GM’s prototype car using fuel cells and electronic “drive-by-wire” technology, Hy-wire, could use a new name. After all, this is a major new technology that could completely revolutionize the automotive world and eventually lead to a serious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; shouldn’t the name of this breakthrough driving experience capitalize on the emotional implications of such a revolution?

Also, it seems risky to couple the innovative propulsion system of the Hy-wire with a new driving mechanism that would effectively force all drivers to abandon everything they know about how to drive and instead learn to drive electronically, giving the X-Box Generation an unfair advantage out on the freeway. This could be a situation developing where, while GM is designing a great lunar rover to be piloted by astronauts and fighter pilots, Toyota and Nissan are covering the earth with hybrid vehicles that the rest of us can drive.