Udderly confusing

The children’s film & television series “Barnyard”, made a strange branding choice when developing the appearance of their characters. The main characters are cows, both male and female.

namingWhy do characters named Ben and Otis, voiced by Sam Elliot and Kevin James, sport udders??? In this film, cows of both genders do. The protagonist “Otis” is pictured here.

We can understand why they might not want to equip the bulls with their actual equipment, but why transgender them? Why not just do a Barbie and Ken-like omission on the bulls?

We don’t expect a kid’s film like this to be educational, just not bizarrely dis-informational.

Let’s stop feeding the fire. There are too many people out there trying to milk a bull as it is. No wonder they are turning purple.

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Building Equity in a Name

We’ve name a lot of buildings here at Igor: Wynn Las Vegas, Aria Resort, The Signature at MGM, The Address in Dubai, The Wit in Chicago. Here’s a well written piece on the naming of high rise buildings in Manhattan. Via the NY Times:

ONE afternoon over the summer, eight people gathered in an office at the Corcoran Group to brainstorm names for a 29-unit condominium scheduled for completion in mid-2012.

To get the ball rolling, Stephen Glascock, the president of the project’s developer, Anbau Enterprises, reminded the assembled team of sales agents and marketing consultants that the building, soon to rise on West 23rd Street off the Avenue of the Americas, would be in a “a fun location” near Chelsea and the High Line.

“Nexus,” suggested one attendee. “Crossroads,” suggested another.

Not quite.

The building will be energy-efficient, Mr. Glascock continued. It will have fresh filtered air and insulation that dampens noise. His wrap-up: “It’s a good building. It’s a positive participant in the community.”

“It’s a good citizen,” piped up Amy Frankel, a managing partner of the branding agency IF Studio.

“Citizen?”

“Citizen!”

“We all looked at each other and said, ‘What a great name,’ ” Mr. Glascock recollected. “Let’s call the building Citizen.”

A landmark prewar facade or the latest in high-end amenities may be at the top of a buyer’s must-have list, but a stirring or lyrical name can be a powerful selling tool, too. A clunker, on the other hand, can be at best a puzzle, at worst a punch line.

“It’s Branding 101,” said Allen P. Adamson, a managing director of Landor, a corporate identity consultant. “A name tells a story, and a good name can tell a very strong story.”

Read the rest of the article

Focus Groups & Naming

We have always insisted that focus grouping names has a negative effect on the outcome. Our favorite Steve Jobs quote conveys the same idea in terms of product creation.

Via the May 25, 1998, issue of Business Week:

…it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why a lot of people at Apple get paid a lot of money, because they’re supposed to be on top of these things.

It’s true, you either know what you’re doing or you don’t.

Named by Igor – DirecTV announces “Audience”, a new premium network

Via Reuters:

New Name, New Look, New Logo on Tap For DIRECTV’s Original Programming Network

Beginning June 1, DIRECTV’s The 101 Network will transform itself into the Audience Network and become the new home for DIRECTV’s exclusive programming, which includes some of the smartest, most daring entertainment on television. The Audience Network will be accessible in 19.4 million homes on channel number 239.

The newly-branded network will focus on maintaining DIRECTV’s growing commitment to providing subscribers with premium network programming that can’t be seen anywhere else…

…“We’ve spent the last six years building this network into something very special,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development at DIRECTV.

“DIRECTV is the only television operator who provides customers with a premium quality entertainment network for free and the new name perfectly captures who we are doing this for, specifically our demographic, the DIRECTV audience.

When we performed our competitive analysis, it became clear that all of the movie / original programing network names had names that were product-centric and they all contained common terms associated with performance and film: Showtime, Home Box Office, Cinemax, Starz, Bravo, Arts & Entertainment, etc. No one was naming and positioning themselves for the consumer – it was all one-note chest thumping – the names are all interchangeable. There was an opportunity to have a name that was different, a name that was about the audience rather than about the product.

Incredibly, though the word “Audience” appears in virtually every movie review and every article about a television network, it had never been used as a name in the TV / Film production industry or in the entertainment business. It had been hiding in plain sight, overlooked. “Audience”, the essential element of all entertainment.

More on the Audience Network at the DirecTV website.

Igor in today’s “Ward’s Auto”

Cerberus Instinct Letter-Perfect, by Eric Mayne February 18th, 2011

Like me, I’m sure you’ve wondered why Chrysler broke with convention by retaining “LX” as the codename for its new-generation fullsize car platform.

A Chrysler insider recently spells it out for me.

“This vehicle should have been reclassified as LY,” he says of the ‘11 Chrysler 300, the disputed platform’s flagship. “The original vision was that it would gravitate to LY.”

So what happened?

“There was an emotional attachment to LX with our past management, which was Cerberus,” the insider explains. “They wanted to stay with LX.”

Understandable. Especially because LX earned widespread industry acclaim.

It was the foundation of the ‘05 300, a car that rejuvenated American design. Why not keep the original designation? What could happen?

“Frankly, it’s been wreaking havoc with us internally because all of our production-control systems and everything,” the insider says. “It’s been very difficult.”

Separating the old program from the new required “shadow systems and all sorts of crazy things,” he adds.

His disdain for Cerberus is glaring. Like a typo on resume.

But the private-equity firm wasn’t completely wrong to write off the time-honored naming protocol. So suggests California-based branding guru Steve Manning.

“‘X’ is associated with anything that’s experimental or extra,” says Manning, co-founder of Igor, a leading corporate-naming consultancy.

Not to mention sexy, “as in triple-X,” he adds.

“It’s a very uncommon letter in the alphabet so it tends to stand out and has a certain look and sound. Everybody uses ‘X.’ It has a certain cool factor.”

And ‘L’ often is associated with luxury, Manning reminds.

Nothing wrong with that. But what does ‘LY’ communicate?

“’LY is no good,” he says. “‘Y’ is just deadly. Combined with ‘L,’ it’s just something that you put at the end of a word. Like slowly. There’s nothing going on with ‘LY.’”

Forget that platform codes have no market value. Cerberus did at least one thing right.

Give it an ‘E’ for effort.

Kevin Costner’s oil spill clean up machine & patent

At Igor we deal with intellectual property rights every week as we search thousands of trademarks while naming products for our clients. It’s not enough to have a good idea, you need one you can legally own.

Kevin Costner’s much publicized Ocean Therapy Solutions company developed a soon-to-be-implemented oil and water separation machine. BP has ordered 32 of them thus far to help deal with their latest environmental disaster.

You can view the patent filing, description and drawings for Costner’s oil spill clean up machine here. Click on the pic in the upper right corner to see the full diagrams.