naming posts

ChittahChattah Quickies April 13th, 2012

Robots Ate My Job [Marketplace] – “Robot” is a bit of a red herring…the series is really an investigation of automation, when we interact with other devices instead of a human. Not sure there are too many surprises here but it’s still great to have this topic receive some focused attention.

Special Correspondent David Brancaccio takes us on a week-long series on air, online and on social media, called “Robos Ate My Job” to explore how technology is impacting the future of jobs in America. Find out who’s winning and who’s losing at the hands of the robots.

The Strange Art of Picking a TV Title [The Hollywood Reporter] – I’d be interested in knowing if the TV people design for nicknaming. Battlestar Galactica comes BSG among the cognoscenti. Does that little hook let people take ownership as the narrative pulls them in? Around my house we call “The Simpsons” by its shorter form “Simpsons.”

Would Friends have been the same hit had NBC executives approved its original title, Six of One? Would Lost have lasted six seasons with its earlier name, Nowhere? And would Grey’s Anatomy be able to charm nearly 12 million weekly viewers had it remained Surgeons? These are the questions now haunting studio and network executives as they look to attach the perfect title — catchy, but not cheesy; clever, but not confusing; inclusive, but not vague; provocative, but not inappropriate — to their crop of pilots in contention for the fall schedule. Producers and executives agree that getting a title right is more important than ever given the increasingly crowded and fragmented television landscape, where standing out is as important as telegraphing what a show is about. And while a great title can’t carry a poor show, it can get an audience to show up, which is why networks and studios have been known to rely heavily on focus groups and the occasional consulting firm.

Alphabet Soup [More Intelligent Life] – More on the ‘how does stuff get named?’ theme. Ever dine at QV? Me neither.

Some names come out of the blue. While seeking inspiration for his new London venture in 1926, an Italian restaurateur called Pepino Leoni saw a poster for the 1925 film “Quo Vadis”. The restaurant that bears its name can still be found in Soho. In 2002, about to open a place specialising in French food, the British chef Henry Harris was forced into creative thinking by his signmaker. “He said if we didn’t come up with a name right then, we wouldn’t have a sign in time. So I put together a long list of French words, including a few writers as fillers: Beaumarchais, Moli?┬«re, Racine-Going through them, we went, ‘Crap, crap, crap’ until we reached Racine and someone said, ‘Racine, of course, French for root. Absolutely brilliant.’ So there it is. Both interpretations are true.” The restaurateur Will Smith explains the origin of Arbutus, in central London, thus: “We discovered there used to be an arbutus, or strawberry tree, around the corner in Soho Square. The name felt good and sounded great. It was a bit like naming a child. At first, people went, ‘Eh?’ but soon said ‘That’s interesting’ and accepted it. Also, arbutus fruit have a culinary application in Portugal, where it is made into a spirit.” So does Arbutus sell arbutus spirit? “No.”

The Personal Analytics of My Life [Stephen Wolfram Blog] – I was pretty surprised to see this was just about his email. Email is one lens into someone’s life, but it doesn’t provide much detail into what you are doing when you aren’t using email. I was hoping for something along the lines of the good ol’ Americans Use of Time Project that took a broader look. The title is definitely an overreach.

What is the future for personal analytics? There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting “stories” from personal data.
And in time I’m looking forward to being able to ask Wolfram|Alpha all sorts of things about my life and times-and have it immediately generate reports about them. Not only being able to act as an adjunct to my personal memory, but also to be able to do automatic computational history-explaining how and why things happened-and then making projections and predictions. As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there’s a risk of that). But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is-and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t “lost” their earlier years.

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ChittahChattah Quickies July 1st, 2011
  • [from steve_portigal] Odd Color Names Offer a Primer in Marketing [NYTimes.com] – [Questionable strategy to break through meaningless by piling on the irrelevance with a smidge of quirk. How's about "help me choose" over "confuse and provoke me"?] Some paint companies are hoping to distinguish their brands with names that tell a story, summon a memory or evoke an emotion — even a dark one — as long as they result in a sale. What they do not do is reveal the color. “For a long time we had to connect the color name with the general color reference,” said Sue Kim, the color trend and forecast specialist for Valspar. “But now we’re exploring color names that are a representation of your lifestyle.” Sherwin-Williams offers Synergy. From Ace Paint comes Hey There! Benjamin Moore has Old World Romance…“I am perfectly fine if a certain name gives them a perplexed, thoughtful moment,” Ms. Kim said, “if the three-second glance gets us another five seconds as they pause to think, ‘Why is that Metro at 5?’ I think that’s a good thing.”
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ChittahChattah Quickies December 3rd, 2010
  • [from steve_portigal] Tesla Motors resolves nagging trademark dispute [MarketWatch] – [Good contrast between brand meanings] Tesla Holding is a successor to the massive, state-owned Tesla conglomerate that churned out ubiquitous, communist-era electronics. Prior to the overthrow of the totalitarian regime in 1989, visitors to what was then Czechoslovakia were often treated to hotel rooms outfitted with a small, black-and-white Tesla TV, capable of picking up only a few channels. According to Tesla Holding’s website, the company also at one point provided transceivers for more than 60% of the radio and TV broadcasts in the former Soviet Union. In its current form, the Czech firm offers technologies for water treatment and military communications, while guarding a trademark it claims to have registered in dozens of countries…In spite of its frequent identification as a household name from the communist era, the modern Tesla Holding has sought to popularize its brand. The Tesla name adorns Tesla Arena in Prague where recent events have included a concert by 50 Cent.
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ChittahChattah Quickies August 5th, 2010
  • [from steve_portigal] 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre: WORST. NAME. EVER. [TampaBay.com] – Live Nation's announcement that they were renaming the Ford Amphitheatre the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre is the ugliest naming rights agreement of the past 20 years. It's worse than the PapaJohns.com Bowl. It's worse than the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. It's worse than University of Phoenix Stadium. It's worse than the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre. By now, everyone has to understand that naming rights and sponsorship deals are an immutable aspect of society. Corporate sponsorships make possible many things that consumers take for granted.Ford's naming rights deal is over, and the Amphitheatre needed a new title sponsor. The Florida-based lawyer referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY was willing to pony up the cash, and for good reason — the next time Toby Keith or Kings of Leon or Aerosmith launches a summer tour that inclues Tampa, the announcement will include the phone number "1-800-ASK-GARY." But … but … Aesthetically. Thematically. Visually. It's awful.
  • [from steve_portigal] frogMob – frogdesign using social networking to gather data (or insights, they don’t seem sure which is which) – [If I get past the horrifyingly shortsighted copy "All photos and insights due back within one week"; "trend scrape"; "anyone can be an ethnographer for an hour" I think this is pretty fun and interesting and of course framed as an "experiment"] frogMob is based on the idea that anyone can be an ethnographer for an hour, just by paying a little more attention to the world around them. A frogMob is a trend scrape that gathers a quick visual pulse on behaviors, trends and artifacts globally. We publish the call to action on a select topic and gather original photography and stories that describe how products are used globally. The methodology and spirit of frogMob lend themselves to open collaboration. frogMob builds on the trend of using social media to run research studies, and the ability of these tools to conduct research remotely. This is where the experiment really begins.
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ChittahChattah Quickies January 12th, 2010
  • The Beaver gets a new name [CBC News] – An iconic Canadian history magazine is changing its name to avoid a variety of misunderstandings. The current issue of the 90-year-old Winnipeg bi-monthly, The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine, is the final one to have that name on the cover. In April, the magazine will be known as Canada's History.

    "Use of the word 'beaver' on the internet has taken on an identity that nobody could have perceived in 1920," said Deborah Morrison, president of Canada's National Historical Society. "And increasingly, if we put 'The Beaver' in a heading, we would be spam-filtered out."

    The society also conducted market research last year with readers, and the conclusion was that the current name was just not working as an appropriate title, she said.

    "Canadians were twice as likely not to subscribe because of the title of the magazine, even if they showed an interest in Canadian history," Morrison said, adding there were also a lot of people who thought the magazine was a nature publication.

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ChittahChattah Quickies October 4th, 2009
  • Things I Would Rather Read On Paper – I recently built up a hefty backlog of unread articles, and the prospect of reading them all on a laptop or iPhone screen seemed like more of a chore than a pleasure. I should really get around to actually reading some of these things that I'm saving to Read Later. Something had obviously gone wrong. I had personally curated a series of articles, blog posts and essays that I was genuinely interested in, but somehow the resulting collection felt like a to-do list, yet another inbox on my computer waiting to be un-bolded. What I really wanted was a nicer user interface to these articles. So I copy-and-pasted the text of my unread articles from Instapaper into a PDF, uploaded it to Lulu.com, and ordered a single book.
  • As innovative products are introduced, category boundaries are continually shifting and new categories emerging – Lexar Media, a digital photography start-up founded in 1996, sold memory cards. They used a variety of signals to persuade early adopters, especially professional photographers, to classify the memory cards that store pictures as similar to the silver halide film used in analog cameras.

    Lexar Media’s product was put in gold packaging similar to Kodak’s film cartridges, given a speed rating to create an analogy to ISO ratings, labeled as “digital film” on the package and in advertising, and placed in the camera section of retail stores.

    Sony promoted a competing categorization, labeling its cards “Memory Stick” and advocating their use for many of the company’s consumer electronics devices, including digital music players, handhelds and digital camcorders. Other companies also adopted this broader memory classification, so Lexar Media’s success in establishing memory cards as analogous to film was short-lived, and the company stopped promoting the cards as digital film.

  • Will Piracy Become a Problem for E-Books? – Until now, few readers have preferred e-books to printed or audible versions, so the public availability of free-for-the-taking copies did not much matter. But e-books won’t stay on the periphery of book publishing much longer. E-book hardware is on the verge of going mainstream. More dedicated e-readers are coming, with ever larger screens. So, too, are computer tablets that can serve as giant e-readers, and hardware that will not be very hard at all: a thin display flexible enough to roll up into a tube.

    With the new devices in hand, will book buyers avert their eyes from the free copies only a few clicks away that have been uploaded without the copyright holder’s permission? Mindful of what happened to the music industry at a similar transitional juncture, book publishers are about to discover whether their industry is different enough to be spared a similarly dismal fate.

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ChittahChattah Quickies August 3rd, 2009
  • A thoughtful consideration (that could have so easily gone curmudgeonly) on the changes in how (and how much) we consume art – Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look. It became possible to imagine that because a reproduction of an image was safely squirreled away in a camera or cell phone, or because it was eternally available on the Web, dawdling before an original was a waste of time, especially with so much ground to cover.
  • Michael Pollan on the cultural shifts revealed by themes in food-related TV entertainment – The historical drift of cooking programs — from a genuine interest in producing food yourself to the spectacle of merely consuming it — surely owes a lot to the decline of cooking in our culture, but it also has something to do with the gravitational field that eventually overtakes anything in television’s orbit…Buying, not making, is what cooking shows are mostly now about — that and, increasingly, cooking shows themselves: the whole self-perpetuating spectacle of competition, success and celebrity that, with “The Next Food Network Star,” appears to have entered its baroque phase. The Food Network has figured out that we care much less about what’s cooking than who’s cooking.
  • Nine Reasons RadioShack Shouldn’t Change Its Name – Best one is " RadioShack has problems beyond any issues with its name." Also they did already change name from Radio Shack to RadioShack.
  • Radio Shack: Our friends call us The Shack – Do they really now? More proof that you can't simply declare yourself cool. Promo or overall rebranding, it reeks of inauthenticity.
  • Understand My Needs – a multicultural perspective – A Japanese usability professional compares the norms of service that retailers provide in Japan with those elsewhere (say, his experience living in Canada), and then contrasts that to the common usability problems found in Japanese websites. Culture is a powerful lens to see what causes these differences, and how usability people can help improve the experience.
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What’s In A Business Name? July 28th, 2009

hannibal
Lunchroom Hannibal, Amsterdam, May 2009
Don’t order the fava beans with the chianti.



challenger
Challenger Copyprint, Amsterdam, May 2009
Not the most encouraging association.



IMG_2600
Synergy Project Management, San Francisco, July 2009
Needs a better illustration of the concept of synergy besides a plain ol’ pipe!


webringyouapizza
we bring you a pizza, Amsterdam, May 2009
doggie
U-Wash Doggie, Los Angeles, February 2009

Some names tell you what the business does.


hand
Hand Car Wash, Los Angeles, February 2009
trashy
Trashy Lingerie, Los Angeles, February 2009
ethical
Ethical Drugs, Los Angeles, February 2009

Some names tell you something about how they do it.

See more pictures from Amsterdam here and Los Angeles here.

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ChittahChattah Quickies July 19th, 2009
  • Chicago's Sears Tower is now Willis Tower – Willis Tower was to be introduced to Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Daley and others on Thursday during a public renaming ceremony hosted by Willis Group Holdings. The London-based insurance brokerage secured the naming rights as part an agreement to lease 140,000 square feet of space on multiple floors of the building, and has said it plans to bring hundreds of jobs to the city. The 110-story skyscraper has been known as Sears Tower since it opened in 1973. Its original tenant, Sears Roebuck and Co., moved out in 1992 but its sign stayed. The company's naming rights had expired in 2003, but it continued to be called the Sears Tower. A real estate investment group, American Landmark Properties of Skokie, now owns the 1,450-foot-tall building.
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ChittahChattah Quickies June 16th, 2009
  • American Airlines' 'Nerd-bird' flights between San Jose, CA and Austin, TX to end – The flights of mostly electrical engineers, computer programmers and other tech-savvy passengers have been run by American Airlines daily since 1992. Because the recession has cut sharply into business and other travel, American has announced it will discontinue its twice-a-day nonstop flights between the two tech centers as of Aug. 25.
  • Derivative (or, if you prefer, rip-off) book titles that capitalize on other successful books – Ultimately, the best locutions are those that credit quotidian, trivial objects with earthshaking influence, like “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” by Mark Kurlansky. The more obvious the significance of the subject, the less successful the title. After all, where’s the element of surprise or wit in “A Man Without Equal: Jesus, the Man Who Changed the World”?

    Some of the more unlikely candidates endowed with superhuman powers by authors include “Tea: The Drink That Changed the World,” “Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World,” “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” and “Sugar: The Grass That Changed the World.”

    The tricky part is gauging just when the magic wears off. “Essentially it works until it doesn’t work,” Mr. Dolan said, “and you hope you’re on the right side of that line.”

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Good and Bad Business Names March 6th, 2009

Two L.A.-area business with names that just make sense:
rightofway
Right of Way, exceeding all of your traffic control needs

greenset
Green Set, motion picture plant rentals. This truck was traveling with a another, both with palm trees hanging out the back.

And, for contrast:
gotkosher
Got Kosher? Provisions is a retail outlet for the much better-named Got Kosher? but if you don’t know that, the sign reads quickly as Got Kosher Provisions? which is perhaps one of the worst business names possible.

See more of my L.A. pictures here.

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ChittahChattah Quickies February 21st, 2009
  • Report: Real-world police forensics don't resemble 'CSI' – Even before the popularity of shows like CSI, there was presumably a cultural belief in the "science" behind these techniques. But the report finds that:
    - Fingerprint science "does not guarantee that two analysts following it will obtain the same results."
    - Shoeprint and tire-print matching methods lack statistical backing, making it "impossible to assess."
    - Hair analyses show "no scientific support for the use of hair comparisons for individualization in the absence of (DNA)."
    - Bullet match reviews show "scientific knowledge base for tool mark and firearms analysis is fairly limited."
    - Bite-mark matches display "no scientific studies to support (their) assessment, and no large population studies have been conducted."
  • NJOY electronic cigarette – Looks like a real cigarette, complete with glowing tip on inhale, and exhaled vapor that resembles smoke. Gives an inhaled nicotine experience, while messaging to the rest of the world that you are really smoking a real lit cigarette. Paging Erving Goffman?

    Someone was using one a party last week; someone else got out their simulated Zippo lighter (an iPhone app) and lit it for them.

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ChittahChattah Quickies February 14th, 2009
  • LinkedIn has a mascot? – From 2007, here's the LinkedIn Wizard.
  • Rob Walker on the origins of Twitter's Fail Whale (the indicator that the service is down). – "As with many Web-popularity stories, there’s a lot of flukiness to Fail Whale’s rise." Groan! Can anyone explain LinkedIn's completely off-brand Wizard?
  • How Google Decides to Pull the Plug (with a perspective on product development and innovation) – For many ideas, Google’s first and most important audience is its employees, and it typically tries products internally before releasing them. Google and other technology companies refer to this as “eating your own dog food.” Through such “dog-fooding,” Google learned that the early version of its calendar program was fine for parents tracking children’s soccer games, but not robust enough to meet a corporate user’s need to book rooms, reserve equipment and delegate scheduling.

    Equally important is listening to users. Most products have an official blog to explain changes, and customers are encouraged to share their thoughts.

    Google’s willingness to take risks offers a lesson to other companies about the nature of innovation, said Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?” “Perfection closes off the process,” Mr. Jarvis said. “It makes you deaf. Google purposefully puts out imperfect and unfinished products and says: ‘Help us finish them. What do you think of them?’ ”

  • 15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009 – Including Rite-Aid, Chrysler, Dollar-Thrifty, Sbarro, Six Flags, Krispy Kreme and Blockbuster
  • Blackwater Changes Its Name to Xe, chooses to spend more time with its family – Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning the brand name that has been tarnished by its work in Iraq, settling on Xe (pronounced zee) as the new name for its family of two dozen businesses. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training, has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., Blackwater’s president, Gary Jackson, said in a memo to employees that the new name reflected the company’s shift away from providing private security. He has said the company is going to focus on training.
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namespace iNcursion August 12th, 2007

logo.jpg
Not quite sure it’s really a new story, but still amusing/disappointing to read about the lower case leading i and its incursion into branding and naming

Just about anywhere consumers look, they will find products, brands and other commercial offerings that begin with a lowercase “i,” inspired by popular technology names like iMac, iPhone, iPod and iVillage. [Which of these things is not like the other? Although the article later points out that iVillage came before iPod -- SP]

A contest sponsored by the Friendly’s restaurant chain, for instance, is called iScream. A television show that made its debut Tuesday night on ABC is titled “i-Caught.”

Other examples include iWireless, a line of prepaid cellphones available at Kroger supermarkets; iCare, a brand of liquid hand sanitizers; iBoxer, underwear with pockets for MP3 players, sold by the Play division of Intimo; and i-Report, video clips contributed by viewers of CNN and visitors to the cnn.com Web site.

“It’s a nice strategy for borrowing some equity” from the better-known i-brands, said Michael Cucka, a partner at Group 1066, a consulting company in New York specializing in corporate identity and branding.

“It seems to work because you’re associating yourself with the idea of trying to be cool,” he added.

“But when you start to do what everyone is doing, you start to lose the power of borrowing that equity,” Mr. Cucka said. “And perhaps the more people who do it, the less cool it becomes.” [Umm, yeah, can you say "i-played-out?" -- SP]

The piece also acknowledges the earlier trends for e-names and even u-names.

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iPhone – More than Talk! February 1st, 2007

p1000302.JPG

Cisco and Apple were in a dispute over the ownership of the iPhone name. There was news that a deal fell through right around the time of the announcement. One might assume this is Cisco raising the stakes a bit, trying to push Apple to make it all go away. Because this is certainly confusing the issue.

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