Igor’s CEO on NY1

July 30, 2015

How One Man Helped Name Many of Today’s Popular Travel Brands

By Valarie D’Elia


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One man’s agency is behind the names of many popular travel brands. Time Warner Cable News’ Valarie D’Elia filed the following Travel with Val report.

Vegas hotels with names such as Wynn, Aria and the Signature at MGM Grand come from a partnership with the creative mind of Steve Manning. He is the founder of Igor Naming Agency, a 13-year-old business in Marin County, California.

“You’ve got to do something that taps into people’s brains and makes sense, and makes them sort of say, ‘Oh yeah, I get it,'” Manning says.

Sure, naming the Wynn hotel after the owner might seem like a no-brainer.

“He really signed the hotel, sort of like an artist would sign a work of art,” Manning says.

He got into the name game not long after a stint at the Travel Channel, so he knows the territory.

“Northwest, Southwest, United, American – those are all really the same types of names. They’re just moving a few key words around,” Manning says. “Until somebody comes along and names something Virgin, and suddenly that’s a different game.”

Manning usually presents 45 names to a client before one sticks, so he knows how tricky the process can be.

“Somebody’s going to raise their hand and say, ‘What if we have an accident? The headline will read JetBlue-up.’ It takes them a while to realize that people won’t associate car theft with Hotwire, nor do people think that the pilots at Virgin are inexperienced,” he says. “But that’s people’s gut reaction when they try to name something and you have to help them get over that fear.”

And that in-flight wireless at our fingertips? Yep, Manning named it originally for Richard Branson.

“You know the name GoGo worked with the Virgin brand, like go-go dancers – plus it’s on the go and it’s kind of fun and exciting,” Manning says. “But also, once it starts going on the other aircrafts, you don’t think of Virgin.”

Trading Faces

NY Times summarized a study from  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on company names, language and money:

A stock ticker symbol or company name that is easy to pronounce may be a significant factor in short-term increases in stock price, according to a report published online yesterday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Two researchers created a list of fictional stocks and then had a group of students rate them according to ease of pronunciation. “Ulymnius,” for example, was rated complex, while “Mayville” was not.

They then asked a second group to estimate the future performance of each of the stocks. As the researchers predicted, “fluently named” companies were estimated to outperform the hard-to-pronounce ones by a significant margin.

…People respond positively to easily processed information in other areas as well. For example, they are more likely to believe an aphorism that rhymes (”woes unite foes”) than one with an identical meaning that does not rhyme (”woes unite enemies”). Studies cited in the report demonstrate that people more often judge easily processed information to be true, likable, familiar and convincing than more complex data.

The Times fails to mention two other curious reports in Sunday’s PNAS, notably, “Polarized axonal surface expression of neuronal KCNQ channels is mediated by multiple signals in the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 C-terminal domains” and “A hybrid two-component system protein of a prominent human gut symbiont couples glycan sensing in vivo to carbohydrate metabolism”, which are basically concise summaries of the Interbrand and Landor naming processes, respectively.

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