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Here comes Zinzin

November 2, 2011 in Branding, Names/Naming by snark

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.

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101 Clichés in B2B Marketing

August 13, 2010 in Branding, Business by snark

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.

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The Branded Candidate

October 31, 2008 in Branding by snark

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.”

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Hasta la Vista, baby.

October 28, 2008 in Branding, Names/Naming by snark

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.

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Cocaine Energy Drink Immoral, Scandalous

October 26, 2008 in Branding, IP Issues, Names/Naming by snark

Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), bars the registration of trademarks that are deemed “immoral” or “scandalous.” “For the past few years, the USPTO has been on a Section 2(a) rampage, and this decision is the latest step in the PTO’s quest to become the commercial morality police,” says law professor Marc Randazza.

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Scratch and Sniff Marketing

December 3, 2007 in Branding by quark

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.
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Managing Your Individual Brand

November 11, 2007 in Branding by quark

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.

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What Brand Means

June 5, 2007 in Branding by snark

“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.

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Better Names for Better Things

April 3, 2006 in Branding, IP Issues, Names/Naming by snark

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.

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Pit Bull Lawyers Muzzled

March 27, 2006 in Branding, IP Issues by snark

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.