Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remember how people remember

If this is how people who have to memorise new stuff ever so often help themselves remember names, and faces, it's something people entrusted with the task of coming up with memorable names would do well to remember. In simple English: If you know what people do to remember, you'll find it easier to come up with things people will remember. Umm ... ok, maybe the English wasn't so simple. Still, you get the drift.

Gyaanama: Marty on Brand Names that Zag

The author of Zag and Brand Gap has some very strong views on what constitutes a strong name. He's of the view that a Strong name should be:

1. Differentiated. It should stand out from competitors’ names, as well as from other words in a sentence. This is sometimes called “speech-stream visibility”, the quality that lets the eye or the ear pick out the name as a proper (or capitalized) word instead of a common word.

2. Brief. Four syllables or less. More than four, and people start to abbreviate the name in ways that could be detrimental to the brand.

3. Appropriate. But not so descriptive as to sound generic. A common mistake is to choose a name that doubles as a descriptor, which will cause it to converge with other descriptive names. Actually, a strong brand name can be “blind”, meaning that it gives no clue as to its connection with the product, service, or company it represents, yet still “feels” appropriate.

4. Easy to spell. When you turn your name into a spelling contest, you introduce more confusion among customers, and make your brand difficult to access in databases that require correct spelling.

5. Satisfying to pronounce. A good name has “mouthfeel”, meaning that people like the way it sounds and are therefore more willing to use it.

6. Suitable for “brandplay.” The best names have creative “legs”—they readily lend themselves to great storytelling, graphics, PR, advertising, and other communications.

7. Legally defensible. The patent office wants to make sure that customers are not confused by sound-alike names or look-alike trademarks. A good name is one that keeps legal fees to a minimum.

He illustrates his points with some valid examples. Go here to take a peek.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If it flows, it must be a hostel at IIT Madras.

South India's Ivy League Engineering Institution - IIT Madras, has a very interesting naming architecture for its hostels. The common thread is Indian river names. In all there are 13 hostels and they've been christened:

1. Alaknanda
2. Brahmaputra
3. Cauvery
4. Ganga
5. Godavari
6. Jamuna
7. Krishna
8. Mandakini
9. Narmada
10. Saraswathi
11. Sarayu (Girl's hostel)
12. Sharavati (Girl's hostel)
13. Tapti

I hear, four more hostels are on the anvil. They've been named: Sindhu, Pampa, Tamraparni & Mahanadi.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Think about it, Donna

When Donna Karan decided to shorten her name, I am sure someone whispered into her ear that DK might sound like Decay. May be that's why she went in for DKNY. But now, emboldened by her success, she seemed to have decided to milk her name. Hence DK Men. Dunno how many guys would want the smell of Decay? Rotten stuff Donna. Might as well call it, DKaran Men or Donna for Men. What do you say, Donna?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Factonama # 9

Delsey, the No.2 luggage manufacturer in the world had its origin in the Delahaye company which, in 1911, specialized in the manufacture of cameras, typewriters and record players. Mr. Delahaye and the Seynhaeve Brothers joined forces in 1946 to set up Delsey. Their individual and joint experience lead to them setting up a department producing moulded plastic "travel items" in 1965. This resulted in the introduction of the first Delsey hard-side suitcase. Courtesy: Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Factonama # 8

Lieven P. Van Neste is the man who owns the most number of domain names in the world. Some say this Belgian natural medicine doctor has well over 200,000 domain names in his kitty. Originally, his intention in amassing the names was to sell and make enough money for his wellness resort. One wonders, whether he ever achieved his goal. The easiest way to find out is to make a bid for one of his dot coms.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Instore labels now in vogue

The meltdown has started affecting people's buyer behaviour. Instore labels have caught the shopper's fancy. Same quality for less, seems to be the mantra now. MSNBC has filed a story on this trend. I don't particularly like the headline they've used. Gives an impression that brand names don't work. The fact of the matter is, a brand is much more than its name. And brands are struggling now only because they are not able to cogently communicate their value perception. Store labels are just exploiting this value gap. If store labels opt for better brand names, their chances of being lapped up is even more.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eureka, here's another Mysskin!

Mysskin, the director of Anjathey, didn't want to be one more Raja. So he chose to rename himself after Prince Lyov Nikolaevich Myshkin, the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. Looks like, it has set off a trend in Kollywood. The debutant director of Madurai Sambavam is said to be a gentleman named Eureka! At this rate, Karunanidhi will have to soon announce a tax sop for those who choose Tamil pseudonyms.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gyaanama: Steve Baba on Domain Names

The name Steve Baba has something going for it. It makes him seem like a realised soul with a 10-foot blonde beard and a 10 mega watt aura. Jokes apart, Steve is a Ph.D in Economics and the reason why we've featured him in Namasutra is his free and very handy ebook titled How to Select and Buy an Elite Domain Name. The book makes some interesting observations. Sample these extracts:

A domain name can either make you look like a fly-by-night email spammer or an established company. A company with a domain name like AmericanWidgetsOnline.net, tells people that they could not obtain the .com, could not obtain AmericanWidgets.com or American.com.

Generic names such as Hotels.com are not entitled to any trademark protection. Ownership of the .com name can only prevent people from using the same exact domain name. Others can use Hotels.NET, Hotel.com (singular) and so on. On a positive note,
since no one owns generic names, trademark lawsuits are unlikely.

When buying a used car, one could look in the paper for the prices of similar cars. There are publications summarizing the price of used cars. Both buyers and sellers know the prices of similar cars. In contrast, a domain name speculator is comparing your offer with what he thinks someone may offer him in the future. This is often
optimistic, wishful thinking. A speculator may have read that a domain name sold for $100,000. But this is like a beginning novelist hearing that another novelist earned $100,000 and expecting the same, when most novelists get a tenth of that if anything.

Amateur do-it-ourselves naming often leads to discovering "fool's gold" domain names. "We found this great name, and it was free." This reminds me of someone who had his wife make his TV commercial for free, but wasted $100,000 broadcasting the third-rate commercial. An inferior domain name is a drag on all your other efforts.

Assume that you are only going to spend $1,000 to $5,000 for a domain name. If someone else had trademark rights to the name – in a different industry – and really wanted the domain name, they should have been able to obtain the domain name by paying the same $1,000 to $5,000. Or they could use a legal procedure to recover the name from a cybersquatter for $1,000-$5,000. One would assume that no other trademark owner wants the domain name, but this is only an assumption. But as long as you have legitimate trademark rights for one industry, another trademark owner in a different industry can’t take the domain name from you.

If a great domain name compared to a good domain name will increase sales 2% and the margin is 50%, then a great domain name is worth 1% of sales.

Piqued enough to read more? Go here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sound barrier

Was reading my fellow namasutrist's (?) most informative find on material names, the preceding one, when I had this epiphany of sorts. I haven't researched it all that much, hardly actually, but I have a theory on names, which needs more than a bit of time to prove. (And perhaps a lot less to disprove.) Still, I'm going to put it out for those of you who care enough to think about these things. Take a nuther look at these names (I've aligned them into two categories for the purposes of my fledgling theory): in the first corner we have Lycra, Velcro, Tyvek, Formica, Kevlar, Spandex and in the other corner Teflon, Nylon, Cellophane, Styrofoam, Tweed, Linoleum. Maybe it's not that obvious, but put very, very simply what I'm saying is this: 'Hard' sounds like, for instance, 'k' suit a particular kind of product better and soft sounds, like 'ph', for instance, work better for another kind of product. Moving forward, the next time you visit a 'fine dining' resto, yeah, those places where they give you very little for way too much, look carefully at the menu card. I'd be surprised if you found too many dishes with 'hard' sounds in their names. Next, go to a hardware store. There's a distinct likelihood you'll find more 'hard' sound names there. The human mind attaches certain product qualities to the sounds built into a brand name. A brand name that doesn't consider these aural quirks of the brain, trained perhaps to feel this way over years of brand-naming, will be attempting to fight an uphill battle to make an impression. My hypothesis is certain sounds make more sense for certain product categories. Perhaps it's a naming theory someone might find worthwhile to research and debunk. It involves a far bit of research all right. Something I'm too hard-pressed to undertake gratis. (What to do, we all have our day jobs that take up the majority of our time.) Image from here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gyaanama - Material Naming

Lycra, Velcro, Teflon, Tyvek, Nylon, Cellophane, Styrofoam, Formica, Tweed, Linoleum, Kevlar and Spandex - they don't sound like puppy names, do they? There's a technical ring to it. Why have people named Velcro as Velcro? Why not Zipnot? Peter Karlen of Neonym dissected this very issue in a lovely piece for Brandchannel. Digest it if you want some raw material on naming materials.