“The Principle of Negativity”

All the best names are provocations: Virgin, Yahoo, Spanx, Caterpillar, Pandora, Apple, Oracle, Banana Republic, Hotwire, Crossfire, Typo, et al. To qualify as a provocation, a name must contain what most people would call “negative messages” for the goods and services the name represents.

As long as the name maps to one of the positioning points of the brand, consumers never take its meaning literally, and the negative aspects of the name just give it greater depth. The negative becomes an engaging positive.

Nothing is more powerful than taking a word with a strong, specific connotation, grabbing a slice of it, mapping that slice to a portion of your positioning, and therefore redefining it. This naming strategy is without question the most powerful one of all.

Caterpillar is the most effective name in the earth-moving equipment sector precisely because it is not “Bull” or “Elephant” or “Workhorse” or anything else that is linear and obvious. Caterpillars are weak and easily squashed, yet Caterpillar is the most engaging name in its industry. And of course the word “Apple” is the antithesis of high tech, and an “Oracle” is not scientific nor reliable.

Here are some of the strong, specific negative images that were instantly overcome by powerful, provocative names:

Abbott Labs’ Inexplicable Explanation For ‘AbbVie’

Via WSJ:

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) on Wednesday unveiled the name of its planned pharmaceutical company spinoff, “AbbVie,” which Abbott says evokes its heritage and the Latin word for “life.”

Of course ‘Vie” is not the Latin word for “Life”, but hey it is only one letter off. Like “Dead” and “Deal”, or “Good” and “Goop”. What’s one letter? Everything — not to mention the crazy notion that Abbott believes we all speak Latin.

The Naming Agency of record on this one? None have dared to come forward.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Inside the AbbVie naming process:

Kraft names separate snack business “Mondelez”

Quick, what does “Mondelez” mean to you? Does it even infer anything? Conjure any imagery? No. Will you remember it five minutes from now? No, you won’t.

But you needn’t put Mondelez through any such tests to know how truly bad it is. The surest signal of a really bad name is when the company feels compelled to explain it.

Via USAToday:

The company says the name (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ) was inspired by the suggestions of two Kraft employees. It is intended to evoke the idea of a “delicious world” as “monde” is derived from the Latin word for “world” and “delez” as an expression of “delicious.”

Kraft is claiming the name has meaning. The difference between “Having a meaning” and “Being meaningful” makes all the difference.

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Company & Product Naming Workshops

We offer full & half-day naming workshops, onsite at your offices. Whether you need help to kick-start a project, are stuck in the middle of a naming exercise, or need assistance choosing a final name and getting approval and buy-in, we will customize a workshop to ensure the most powerful results for your naming needs.

A proven, logical and transparent process is essential to ensure the strongest, most effective results for any naming project. It is essential to establish agreed upon criteria within your organization on what your new name needs to do for you and provide a shared set of tools for your team to best create & evaluate names with.

These workshops are designed to assist you in the hands-on process of naming via the best practices outlined in our definitive Igor Naming Guide.

Our intensive workshop will take you in-depth through:

• Competitive Name Analysis
• Positioning
• Name Generation
• Name Evaluation
• Trademark pre-screening
• Naming Architecture Design
• Naming Process Design

And of course, the naming experts of Igor will be able to answer any and all of your questions about naming.

Have physicists discovered the evolutionary laws of language in Google’s library?

Via WSJ:

Can physicists produce insights about language that have eluded linguists and English professors? That possibility was put to the test this week when a team of physicists published a paper drawing on Google’s massive collection of scanned books. They claim to have identified universal laws governing the birth, life course and death of words.

The paper marks an advance in a new field dubbed “Culturomics”: the application of data-crunching to subjects typically considered part of the humanities. Last year a group of social scientists and evolutionary theorists, plus the Google Books team, showed off the kinds of things that could be done with Google’s data, which include the contents of five-million-plus books, dating back to 1800.

Published in Science, that paper gave the best-yet estimate of the true number of words in English—a million, far more than any dictionary has recorded (the 2002 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary has 348,000). More than half of the language, the authors wrote, is “dark matter” that has evaded standard dictionaries.

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Igor Naming Firm Appoints Zoe Sexton Managing Director

Igor, a Sausalito, CA based naming & branding firm that has created names and brands for Turner Broadcasting, Nokia, MTV, Hasbro, Wynn Resorts, Dupont, Seagate and Cisco, has appointed Zoe Sexton as its Managing Director.

Zoe Sexton

Sexton, a strategic business consultant and branding coach, has lead innumerable start-ups and established companies through their branding and marketing efforts for the past 15 years. She has solid experience across multiple sectors and in personal brand identity. She began her new duties as of January 2012.

Zoe will manage operations, client services and brand strategy for Igor’s global clients. Ms. Sexton has designed and implemented a new suite of services for clients, including workshops and research models to help growing companies and expanding firms embrace the most effective naming and brand strategies.

Steve Manning, founder and CEO, said Zoe is a unique communicator who brings a new perspective to Igor, as well as an unmatched ability to analyze highly complex and competitive market sectors invaluable in strategic planning for Igor and its clientele.

“Zoe brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role, and we look forward to her contributions and leadership in expanding our agency and services while exceeding both our revenue expectations and those of our clients,” Manning said.

Zoe Sexton holds an MBA in Strategic Leadership from Dominican University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in film from University California Santa Barbara. Zoe, who lives in Mill Valley, CA, is an author, speaker and is well-known as an established, charismatic member of the Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area communities.

Ben & Jerry’s Re-names Flavor in Support of Gay Marriage

Via Creativity Online:

Ben & Jerry’s is renaming its Oh My! Apple Pie ice-cream to ‘Apple-y Ever After’ in the UK, in support of proposed government legalization of gay marriage. It has also redesigned the product’s packaging with a new motif of two grooms atop a wedding cake. The move echoes its 2009 effort in the US, when it renamed Chubby Hubby to ‘Hubby Hubby’ to celebrate gay marriage legalization in its home state of Vermont.

Full respect to Ben & Jerry’s for launching another amazing product name while (once again) simultaneously drawing attention & support to a pressing human rights crisis.

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