Blog Archives

A Star in Naming – from 1870

Good naming and good marketing weren’t invented yesterday. Consider the story of John K. Hogg, a manufacturer of soap in Frederick, Maryland.  Mr. Hogg had a concept for a special soap, so he applied for a trademark. Star Soap, he

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A Neologism for the Ages: Aspirin

Neologisms are nothing new.  Today’s flurry of offbeat and oddball coinages can obscure the fact that the practice of coining a new name is an old and proud tradition in commerce. Consider the name of what is perhaps the best-known

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How Did “Oscar” Get His Name?

It’s Academy Award season, with Chris Rock hosting the show on Feb. 28. And this year, there is another “diversity” controversy hanging over the ceremony. There is even a little controversy – or at least, conflicting stories – over how

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The Bruising Battle over a University’s New Nickname

First, the University of North Dakota (UND) scrapped its “Fighting Sioux” nickname – too offensive, too insensitive, claimed its opponents. Then came a lengthy, bruising battle to find a new nickname – a commotion that is instructive for any organization

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“[yourbrand].sucks” Domain Names – This Is Internet Extortion

Now anybody can buy a website domain that ends with “.sucks.” Which means there’s a new way to launch a snarky, savage attack on a target – a politician (Hilary.sucks), a celebrity (Kanye.sucks), a company (Comcast.sucks), or a brand (Nintendo.sucks)

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When Your Name is “Madewell,” You’ve Made a Promise

Your name is your promise.  Not a legal guarantee, of course; not a warranty.  But a simple promise of how the prospect should expect you to perform. So it’s a real embarrassment when your name is Madewell, and you have

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Now There’s an “Uber” for More of Life’s Tasks and Chores

The success of Uber, the mobile-app-based car service, is spawning an array of services with catchy and memorable names for more of life’s tasks and chores:  Shopping, parking, packing, shipping and healing. Taken from the German word for “beyond it

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Their Nickname Outlawed, this College Searches for a New One

A college sports team without a nickname? Say it ain’t so. But yes, the University of North Dakota is in search of a new nickname, after the school’s controversial “Fighting Sioux” moniker was banned in 2012. A little background: For

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The 12 Brand Names of Christmas

‘Tis the season for exuberant gift-giving – and hefty advertising. ’Tis also the season in which a number of companies and brands have become closely associated with the Christmas holiday. Where did those names come from? The inspirations for 12

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Brand Names Taste Better

That’s the conclusion from a study of peanut butter and consumer choice. Brand names taste better. The details were first reported years ago in The Journal of Consumer Research. They resurfaced in a book by German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer about

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