Friday, December 12, 2008

Vote For the Worst Brand Name of 2008

All year long we compile the biggest brand name "Head Scratchers" in our blog. Now you can vote for the worst one and help induct it into the Eat My Words Name Shame Hall of Fame. Based on criteria from the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH name evaluation test, here are what we consider to be the top ten offenders that we've discovered this year:






Airphoria - a new "airline experience"

Authonomy - post your manuscript online

Chumby - a newfangled Linux-based gadget

Cuil - a not so cool search engine name

Cranergy - Ocean Spray's latest trainwreck

Naymz - a professional "reputation network"

Salesify - the new name for SalesBuild

Shryk - online banking platform

Traackr - social networking popularity site

VivaKy - integrated digital media universe

Please vote for the worst here. (Write in candidates welcome.) We'll announce the winner in our blog in late-January. The company behind the winning name will receive a big pink trophy, courtesy of Eat My Words. (We're still waiting for our thank you note from last year's winner, Xobni.) NOTE: Feel free to post this in your blog and spread the word around.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bad to the Xohm

One of our favorite really really bad names and contender for 2008's Eat My Words Name Shame Hall of Fame, XOHM, has met an early death. We previously ranted about this abomination as being wrong in so many many ways back in March and our opinion has not improved.Xohm2

The merger with Clearwire has provided an opportunity to euthanize XOHM with the announcement that the new name will be "Clear". Sources at Clearwire have said that present XOHM customers will not experience any impact from the merger other than not having to say or read the name XOHM ever again.

We're not saying Clear is the best name ever, especially with the trite tagline "Let's be clear", that goes along with it, but at least it does not provoke our gag reflex.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Love at first sight doesn't just happen on eHarmony.

Imagine never having to spend a dime on advertising or PR because your brand name was so magnetic that people were instantly drawn to it. And your name was so infectious, your customers were excited to tell other people and generate buzz for you. We've seen this happen over and over again with names we create. The frozen yogurt franchise we named Spoon Me. The commercial cleaning company we named Eat My Dust. The iPod clock radio we named Moondance. The laundromat we named Stuff a Sock In It. The ice cream store we named Frigid. The home cleaning robot we named Neato. The charity reward program we named Angel Points. The dips for kids we named Monkey Dunks. And of course our own name, Eat My Words.

How likable is your own brand name?
Do people smile when they hear it?
Do they say, "I wish I thought of that!"
Do they say, "I can't believe that name wasn't taken!"
Do they say, "My friend was just talking about that!"
Do they ask, "Where can I buy the t-shirt?"

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you're in great shape (and chances are, you are an Eat My Words client).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NameTag®, You’re Not It

E1228856003We are always amused by our competitors when they glorify their naming processes as “proprietary” methodology and come up with mumbo jumbo voodoo jive to describe what’s behind the curtain. Sometimes all that behind the curtain is empty space. Let us say it again:

Everyone names things the same way, but some just do it better than others. When you can stand by your names proudly, you don’t need falderal to sell your names.

Which brings us to worldwide brand strategy, naming firm and falderal experts, NameTag® International, Inc.

Nametag Logo Nametag unforgetable

( who claims their names are…)



Here is their International mumbo jumbo voodoo jive:

“Our proprietary Idiotics™ Ideonics™ process encompasses BrandVision™, strategic ideation, trademark assessment, brand testing and brand rollout assistance.”

Falderal to English translation:

Our process, that is like everyone else’s, involves thinking up names, checking for conflicts, testing it and stuff then pretend that we came up with great names (although we won’t tell you that part). Then, in our downtime, we sit around and think up junk like Ideonics™, BrandVision™ and:

InSight Research, which breaks down into four distinct options for your brand research needs:

· 4Sight™ provides our clients with rapid market indicators of the viability of their brand name.

· EquiTest™ measures the brand equity of an existing name.

· WorldTest™ serves as an international brand inference testing procedure providing a preliminary, global linguistic analysis in languages specified by the client.

· VeriTest™ addresses global research and is designed to assist clients with name assessment and final name candidate viability

Yikes. Nothing new there.

Here is what you get with Ideonics™ et al ; Everything from Amazara to Zintrepid, with STŌK, Sorian, Aerius, Cognis and Teligen in between.

They say:

Nametag unforgetable


We Say:

Nametag unmemorable


Eat My Words creates truly unforgettable names like Spoon Me frozen yogurt, Cake Financial, Frigid ice cream, BackBeat ear buds and iPod clock radio we named Moondance. We can do the same for you….and we promise never to say falderal ever again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What’s The Worst Band Name, Like, Ever?

What’s The Worst Band Name, Like, Ever?

Posted Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:16pm PST by Martin Aston in The MOJO Blog

Puddle Of Mudd? Toad The Wet Sprocket? Or one of those terrible emo groups called things like Car Parked Selfishly or Boy Raised By Chimps? Martin Aston referees MOJO's Terrible Band Name Smackdown.

What's in a band name? An explanation, a badge, a cri de coeur? A window, perhaps, onto an artist's soul. Those most cherished of acts have a name indivisible from their DNA--The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, The New York Dolls, The Smiths, The Clash. I only mention this because I was recently sent an EP from Surrey emo band, You Me At Six--arguably as pointless a band name as it gets. It made me think of Manic Street Preachers Nicky Wire's rant against mimsy shoegazers Slowdive--"worse than Hitler," he opined.

Lazy art can get to you like that. Now, I know there can only be one Beatles, one Mercury Rev, one ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. But with the entire lexicon at their fingertips, You Me At Six is clearly not a band name that looks to the stars. Unlike, say, the enlightening They Came From The Stars, I Saw Them--themselves victims of Crappy Band Name hate blogs I encountered while researching this monograph.

Shoegaze was defined by its one-word band names--Blur, Lush, Ride, Spin. Repetitive, yes, but you can see the intention: to mirror the music's gauzy textures. At the other end of the bluster spectrum, emo band names extol the art of saying nothing, importantly: Christie Front Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Hot Water Music, Dogs Die In Hot Cars--make up your own shameful version at The Emo Band Name Generator.

At least an inexcusable name can be constructive. I know without hearing a note that I'll never enjoy Scouting For Girls or The Pigeon Detectives. A flick through a gig guide last week turned up the following bands that I can happily avoid--Apples For Everyone, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, Bill Posters Will Be Band, My Tiger My Timing.

Chronic monikers can also be intriguing. Had I not known indie feys Grab Grab The Haddock, winners of BBC Radio #1's Worst Band Name poll of 2003, I'd have wondered what music deserved such risible baggage. Runners-up were Spandau Ballet, which expertly nailed New Romantic pretension, while the fact Crispy Ambulance came third also shows how the crux of a great name escapes some folk.

I haven't even begun to recount the horrors of the goth/industrial scene (hi, Anaal Nathrakh! you are named after a spell uttered by the wizard Merlin in John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur that means "serpent's breath"). But it's not only rock; rap has its share of name shame. Calling yourself after a cotton bud, Q-Tip? Chali 2na, what were you thinking?

News just in: Nickel Eye is the solo project of The Strokes' bassist Nikolai Fraiture. From names sunk by puns to those calculated to annoy (Does It Offend You, Yeah?) and unintentionally induce yawns (sorry, The Milk & Honey Band), there are many reasons to get riled. I haven't decided which category the following fit into, but I know, on a cranky day, they're worse than Hitler: Puddle Of Mudd. Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Baboon Torture Division. Enuff Z'Nuff. Bowling For Soup. Dysfunkshun Junkshun. Mr Mister. Toad The Wet Sprocket. Crazy Town. The Hobbits Of The Shire. Keane. Come share some healthy anger and let MOJO know your worst.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Houston, We Have A Naming Problem!


Our good friend and fellow name pro, Phil Davis of Tungsten Marketing, beat us to the punch by posting this in his blog. (His post was also picked up by CNN and we wanted to give it a shout out as well.)

Houston, We Have a Naming Problem!

The amazing story just broke today that “astronomers at NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used direct-imaging techniques to capture pictures of newly discovered planets orbiting stars outside our solar system.” The names of these new found cosmic neighbors?

HF8799b

HF8799c

HF8799d

These are not to be confused with the mother star they circle… HF8799. (And people thought Sarah Palin had naming issues.) It’s not bad enough that beloved Pluto got booted from our solar system’s list of the planetary elite. But now these distant alphanumeric newcomers are pulling rank on our former ninth planet? If they deserve planetary status, then don’t they also deserve good names?

Since they are a mere 130 light years from earth, in the constellation Pegasus, and seven to ten times the mass of Jupiter, why not brand them by size…

PegaMinor

PegaMajor

PegaMonster

Even Dr. Seuss was able to come up with Cat A, B and C. So why can’t NASA have a good trio of planetary brands? They could use legacy names such as…

Planets Armstrong, Shepard, and Glenn.

Or celebrity names…

Peter. Paul. Mary.

Moon. Unit. Zappa.

They could get Disney sponsorship money by naming them Planets Huey, Dewey and Louie. Or by referring to them collectively as The Disney Worlds. Planet Hollywood could sponsor one of them by calling it… well you get the idea.

So help our left minded team in Houston come up with some right brain ideas for these future travel destinations. Post your suggestions for these three planet names, and the winner will receive a handsome Tungsten Branding coffee mug and possible interplanetary immortality. I can’t promise that NASA will launch these new brand names, but it’s worth a try.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alexandra wows Pow.wow

Powwow Alexandra Watkins chosen as November's Featured Pow.wow Member

Pow.wow is the brainchild of Dava Guthmiller. In 2004, Dava invited 14 women to her office to exchange ideas and discuss the challenges of running a small business. Pow.wow is now over 400 strong and growing.

Their goal is to support the success of its members by:

  • Creating a supportive and positive learning environment
  • Empowering through education and exchange of ideas
  • Increasing the visibility of its members
  • Giving back to the Bay Area community of women

Alexandra is pleased to be featured and proud to be involved with such an important organization.

Below is Alexandra's Pow Wow profile & interview..

Alexandra Watkins

Alexandra is the founder of Eat My Words, creating brand names that generate buzz and revenue. She is also a Make Mine a Million $ Business Awardee. Congratulations Alexandra!

Why did you start your own biz?

I saw a huge opportunity in the marketplace to create brand names that were likeable and conceptual as opposed to the mangled, unapproachable words that old-school naming and branding firms invent using Latin and linguistics.

What did you do before you started your own business?
I was an advertising copywriter for 15+ years, where I mastered the art of creating clever headlines grab attention. Our names have the same effect. They are instantly likeable, make powerful emotional connections, and are absolutely unforgettable.

What was a challenge or obstacle to start your own business?
A few naysayers didn’t think I could sustain myself by only creating names and taglines. They said I needed to keep copywriting in the mix. I loved proving them wrong. Some people would say not having a college education would be a challenge, but I disagree. Unlike other namers who have degrees in linguistics and understand Latin, I have not been tainted by “The Curse of Knowledge.”

What is one thing that is responsible for the success of your business?
Creativity. Although I cite passion as being a key factor of my success, without my creativity, I wouldn’t have a portfolio of wildly creative names and taglines that is unmatched by any other naming firm. My creativity has also allowed me to build my business through innovative marketing approaches.

In your opinion, what makes women good business owners, and what holds them back?
The best women business owners are fearless. They are not afraid to charge what they are worth, speak their mind, or compete in a man’s world. The major downfalls of many women business owners are they have low self-esteem, don’t know how to negotiate, aren’t financially saavy, and are afraid they will hurt someone’s feelings if they ask for more money.

What are a few tips you’d give a woman starting her own business today?
1. Do not launch your business until you have professional business cards printed and a polished website up, which have been designed by a true identity designer who understands the importance of having a cohesive brand. You only have one chance to make a first impression.

2. Make sure the name of your business sounds like a brand name as opposed to your own name. When you sell your company 20 years from now, it will be much harder to sell if your name is attached to it and you won’t be there any more.

3. Don’t give up on a great brand name if the domain name is out of reach. No one expects a company to have the exact dot com any more. Just as we ran out of 800#s for toll-free calls, everyone knows the free-and-clear dot coms are a thing of the past.

What are your goals for the business?
Our long term vision is to become the most widely influential naming firm in the industry and get businesses to stop naming their companies things like Learnia, Xohm, and QualComm.

Our short-term goal is to get on the radar of more consumer package goods clients who have on-going naming needs.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Our many naming successes include Spoon Me frozen yogurt, Neato home cleaning robots, Monkey Dunks dips for kids, Cake Financial, Bloom energy drink, Frigid ice cream, an iPod clock radio named Moondance, a luxury-on-installment website named Venue, Stuff a Sock In It laundromat, Mixin’ Vixens bartenders, and Wavelength, a forum for the world’s most progressive companies and social entrepreneurs.

We are the only naming firm who monetizes names. For instance, Spoon Me is making a fortune selling Spoon Me t-shirts, sportswear, pajamas and booty shorts.

Our adoring clients include Del Monte, Frito Lay, Altec Lansing, Guthy Renker, SIGG water bottles and Intercontinental Hotels Group.

Our SMILE & SCRATCH name evaluation test has been featured in the Wall Street Journal.

Our wildly colorful loft office has been featured on TV, design books, and magazines.

I didn’t go to college and am an inspiration to women everywhere that you CAN be successful without a college education.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Violent Offender: Cranergy



We have come up with a new name for the worst Head Scratchers - "Violent Offenders." These are the names that are bad beyond belief. The first contender is the new drink from Ocean Spray called CRANERGY, the forced combination of CRANBERRY and ENERGY. What old-school naming firm got Ocean Spray to drink the Kool-aid and actually believe that this trainwreck of a name is good? Too bad Ocean Spray didn't run this name through the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH Test and save themselves the misery of a bad name and expense of pouring millions of dollars into advertising so consumers will actually remember the name.

Falapalooza Party a Scorching Success

Our annual Fallapalooza cocktail party was a huge success, with nearly 80 guests at the Eat My Words party pad, including Eat My Words' Gina, Rena and bartender Tina. Held on a warm fall evening, the outdoor patio was the perfect place to marvel at Chef Ciado cook his delicious paella and sip homemade Sangria. Guests included clients and friends from Landor, Perspective Branding, Deutsch Design Works, OnRequestImages, USA Today, Aerielle, Smart Design, Firewood, Sandbox Suites, and Wunderman

Here's what you missed...









Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alexandra Fashions Naming Advice

We love Project Runway, so when Alexandra was asked to share her naming style to the fashion trade, she stitched together a stunning ready-to-wear tailored collection....

How To Create Brand Names That Stick

Posted by Guest Author on Nov 5, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Today’s guest entry is written by Alexandra Watkins, CIO of Eat My Words . After writing advertising copy for 20+ years, including five years at Ogilvy and Mather -where she flogged everything from Microsoft to Mighty Dog- Alexandra got hooked on naming when Gap hired her to create cheeky names for their first line of body care products. Since then she’s generated thousands of names for snacks, software, sunscreen, social networking sites, sportswear, shoes, sugar scrubs, serums, and seafood -and that’s just the S’s!

Click here for full post.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Palin Bailin'

Someone from Alaska, who has the same name as someone who works for the Central Committee of the Alaskan Republican Party, has purchased the following domain names:


Palin2012.com

SarahPalin2012.com

PalinForPresident.com


Scarier still is that the domains were purchased on August 24, 2007.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tasty Tidbits from the past week...

Choking Hazard

Sometimes we find juicy news not worthy of a full blog post, yet too darn good to not share with you. These "Tasty Tidbits" are digestible bites of news about new names and the naming industry and what we think of them here at Eat My Words. Bon Appetit!

______________________________________________________

Scary name for new roller coaster - The North Carolina State Fair's Toxicshocknewest roller coaster has been named "Toxic Shock," as a result of a naming contest. We are not big fans of naming contests and this is just another example of you get what you pay for. We are not sure of the connection between a roller coaster and a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection that has been most often associated with the use of superabsorbent tampons and occasionally with the use of contraceptive sponges. However, it is better than the two runner-up names, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Necrotizing fasciitis.

_________________________________________________________

Death Doesn't Sell - There is a movement afoot in Israel to change the name of The Dead Sea because as one business owner says "our clients from abroad are uncomfortable buying products that have originated in a place whose name is associated with death. It's problematic." They have not offered any alternatives, but we think any change to such a historical name with eons of brand equity and a rich reputation for its health benefits would be misplaced and would undoubtedly end up sounding silly.

_________________________________________________________

Company wins rights to sewage facility - T. Wayne Hill Trucking, a bio-solids (nice word for you know what) management company, had the winning bid of $6,100 out of 26 bids on eBay for the naming rights to a school's new sewage plant. We can't wait for the sign. The company logo is of a smiley face holding it's nose. We think it was a brilliant marketing move.

_________________________________________________________

We bet the real "Joe the Plumber" is getting a lot of hits on his website.

Joetheplumber

_________________________________________________________

Father names baby without mother's consent, may be dumbest man ever.

McCain Palin

Here it is...Sarah McCain Palin. The father, Mark Citpak, did it "to get the word out" about the campaign. He goes on to say, "I took one for the cause, I can't give a lot of financial support for the (McCain/Palin) campaign. I do have a sign up in my yard, but I can do very little." Finally, in a statement that will seal his fate “I sort of secretively went behind her back and changed the paperwork.”

_________________________________________________________

Here is the Namethis.com lame name of the week:

This week we have another tie:

For "a mobile application and associated web site for quickly sharing your life with friends. Initially this will be sharing photos ."

The winner is Manifestivity.com The client has not snapped this winner up as of 11:15AM 10-19-08

For "a free service where you can find, share, and store recommendations easily and privately with the people you trust- See instantly what your friends have already recommended (no more wading through past emails to find stuff)"

**preference for domain names that are short, can’t be misspelled, random words that don’t mean anything are ok too

The winner is Ourpinionis.com. The client has not snapped this winner up as of 11:15AM 10-17-08

Prior week's winners, Pixelouvre.com, Mevolutionfitness.com and Communinnty.com are all also still available.

So this crowdsourcing thing is not really working out for their clients. If these names are indicative of the ones rising to the top, there is something definitely broken in their methodology. At least that ourpinionis.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Entreprenuer's StartUps magazine asks "Does your business moniker have people smiling or scratching their heads?"

Alexandra is quoted in the Fall 2008 issue of Entrepreneur's StartUps magazine, which was inspired by our proven name evaluation method, the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH Test. Here is the article in its entirety:

All in the Name

Does your business moniker have people smiling or scratching their heads?

After creating catchy names for everything from energy drinks to sportswear, Alexandra Watkins knows what goes into a good business name. In 2005, the former advertising copywriter founded Eat My Words, a boutique naming firm in San Francisco with 2008 sales projected in the six figures. The firm's Smile & Scratch Test, available at eatmywords.com, evaluates names "based on our philosophy that a name should make you smile instead of scratch your head," says Watkins. Here are some tips to ensure your name gets people grinning:

  • Make an emotional connection. Eat My Words creates company names that entertain and engage the consumer, including Spoon Me for a frozen yogurt chain and Neato for a home cleaning robot. "If you have a name like Spoon Me, and you're making that [emotional] connection, you're instantly building an affinity for your brand, because people like it," says Watkins, 44.
  • Stand out. With Pinkberry's success came a wave of name imitators. But jumping on the bandwagon is the wrong way to go. "People try to be copycats," says Watkins, "but the only way you're ever going to get noticed and stand out is if you do something unexpected and different."
  • Don't ask others for ideas. Try to test your name against an objective set of criteria rather than asking for opinions. "People make the mistake of asking their friends and family what they think," says Watkins. "That's the worst possible thing you can do; it really waters down your name."
  • Keep it clear. Names like Flickr and Xobni might be unique, but they can be confusing and hard to pronounce for consumers. Names in different languages or that hide the meaning from the consumer should also be avoided.

What we all need is a Tightwad Bank. Take that WaMu!

We didn't name Tightwad Bank, but we kind of wish we did.

Especially these days, depositors might opt for a fiscally constipated bank. Granted it is one small branch at the moment, but what fun to brand it for the next stage. They are already selling shirts, hats and mugs. That's great, but we think they could make bank with branded Tightwad Visa cards.

This name hits all cylinders on our SMILE & SCRATCH Test.

SMILE - qualities of a powerful name
Simple – one easy-to-understand concept
M
eaningful – your customers instantly "get it"
Imagery – visually evocative - creates a mental picture
Legs – carries the brand, lends itself to wordplay
Emotional – empowers, entertains, engages, enlightens


It also follows our EMW=ROI formula.

We believe that a name is an investment that should promise many happy returns for years to come by producing Return On Investment in the following ways:

  • Generates buzz without spending advertising dollars
  • PR magnet -- editors love our names (Hello, free PR!)
  • Instantly likeable, creating affinity for your brand - people talk about our names
  • Its evocative nature easily allows expansion into future brand extensions while retaining its original charm
  • No time is wasted telling people how to spell it, pronounce it, or what it means
  • Creates differentiation, which builds brand recognition and visibility– an EMW name gets noticed in a sea of sameness
  • Emotionally connects with your target making an indelible imprint and inspiring loyalty
  • Rich in wordplay for editorial coverage, marketing materials, tradeshow themes, launch ideas and more
  • In essence, the name becomes a “product” that can be creatively monetized through merchandise and licensing further expanding exposure, with people paying you to advertise your brand
  • Vivid imagery is ripe for eye-catching identity designStays fresh and vibrant and never becomes dated - an EMW name has an indefinite shelf life
  • Makes your company and its products trendsetters, and makes you look like a rockstar
  • Creates an improved image for your overall brand
  • Lets you sleep at night knowing your EMW name is working around the clock

So, we were pleased when the TheStreet.com gets the Eat My Words way and reported on the strength of Tightwad Bank name in their words as a " media magnet and marketing engine, resulting in a flurry of new accounts".

We're opening our account tomorrow.

Here is the article in its entirety:


Small Business Center

Tightwad Bank: A Lesson in Branding

Entrepreneur.com

10/13/08 - 12:29 PM EDT
Elizabeth Wilson of Entrepreneur.com



Sometimes it's all in a name. Six-month-old Tightwad Bank in Tightwad, Mo., uses the double-take factor to drum up business without even trying. It hasn't spent a cent on advertising, yet it can rattle off personal and business accounts from California, New York and even Carrot River, Saskatchewan, Canada.

It's a bank without a Web site (although it plans to offer online banking by the end of 2008), and its 112 accounts already exceed the town's population of 63. Passing the town's name on to the bank was the draw for Don Higdon, the entrepreneur and chairman of the bank, when he purchased the then-shuttered building last year.

Indeed, the unusual name has acted as a media magnet and marketing engine, resulting in a flurry of new accounts. However, the last thing Higdon intends to do is open Tightwad Bank branches cheek by jowl across America.

Instead, he'll consider a few additional Tightwad branches while maintaining his current focus on leveraging the power of the name to encourage tightwads across the country to open accounts at the two branches he presently chairs.

"It's a difficult name to forget," Higdon says. "You typically have two reactions: One is 'What? What is your name?' You're not going to get that customer. And the other [is] there's a smile on their face and they're just dying to open an account. I think that's the kind of excitement from a name that a lot of companies want to have."

He says any reaction to a name, good or bad, can help a business.

"When you can get a measurable reaction simply from a name, your challenge of converting them to a customer is diminished substantially; then all you have to do is talk about price or size or location, and location just isn't an issue anymore."

Higdon, a career banker, his wife, and his business partner Jeff McCalmon decided to pour all of their collective personal assets into purchasing Reading State Bank in Kansas in 2000. They purchased Tightwad Bank as a second branch in 2007, and opened it six months ago. At the same time, they changed the name of Reading State Bank in Kansas to Tightwad Bank. Since Tightwad Bank opened, the bank's deposits have grown from $11 million to $13 million at both branches Higdon chairs. The newer Tightwad assets are worth $1.7 million.

"This bank in 2000 was in a lot of ways a start-up. It was a little country bank; the town had shrunk because of technological and societal changes and demographic changes. It was only $4 million in total assets in the beginning, prior to doing the Tightwad branch conversion," Higdon says, referring to the Reading, Kansas branch when they first opened it in 2000.

Name Recognition

He's well aware of the pros and cons of using an uncommon name in business.

"People see the name and a number of them say, "Is that a real bank, and you're FDIC insured?' We go 'yes, yes, yes' . . . so the unique name gives us opportunity that other banks don't have; the flip side of that is the credibility issue," Higdon says.

With a name like Tightwad, which has negative connotations like stinginess, Higdon says they're pushing positive interpretations of the word, letting consumers know this is a bank that's "going to deliver real goods and services in a cost-efficient manner that would be consistent with someone who's prudent and responsible with their finances."

"We're going to appeal to a fairly narrow scope of potential customers," Higdon says. "Some people just won't get it and will have no interest doing business with a bank of that name, and I would suggest to you that they're probably the more high-brow or snobby types. The others totally embrace it."

Rita McGrath is a professor at Columbia University's Business School, where she teaches MBA and executive MBA courses in strategy and innovation. She says using a different kind of name is a "strategy that's used by many firms to add an empathic or emotional appeal to their products that enhances the basic functionality of what they have to sell."

"A quirky name like this can often provide valuable differentiation for a company, particularly in a relatively commoditized (and, to be frank, boring) industry like banking," McGrath says.

She thinks it will be interesting to see whether the name becomes even more salient during these tough economic times, "when being a tightwad may well be seen as more honorable and intelligent than being a silly, credit-consuming spendthrift."

"I bet there are a lot of banks who wished more of their customers were proud to be tightwads today, for sure," McGrath says.

Tightwad isn't the only bank with a strange, name-brand appeal. There's also the Fifth Third Bank (FITB Quote - Cramer on FITB - Stock Picks), a Midwestern bank headquartered in Ohio. Higdon's heard of the bank. "It's kind of a weird name, but it sets them apart," he says. "You remember that name, unlike so many that are called first national bank or community bank and on down the list."

And there are plenty of strange town names to come by in the U.S. Many of them are geographically close to Tightwad: Wisdom and Peculiar in Missouri, and Fairplay, Colo. There are also Rough and Ready in California and Happyland, Okla.

One of Tightwad's customers is Henry Leonard, who was a career banker before deciding to take over Marthabelle's Printing and Mailing, the printing business his mother started in Kansas City, Mo. Leonard enjoys a bank with a lively name, and that sends a clear message about his "tightwadness" to his business's vendors.

"Too many [banks] are so dry anyway . . . and there is a bit of levity in sending someone a check that says 'Tightwad.' I think that part of it is fun. I tell people when they get ready to charge me, 'be easy on me 'cause I'm a poor kid,' so I hand them a check that says 'Tightwad,' and they hand it back like, 'riiight.'"

He uses the checks with vendors and for repair services to send a message that he's serious about not being overcharged. "Those are the guys who can really run you a lot of cost."

The checks are also a conversation starter. They get a reaction from his vendors and customers. "You send them a check and they're like, 'What is this doggarn thing?' and they're liable to call you up."

He even muses about incorporating the 'tightwad' theme into his business a bit more. For example, he's thought about creating a penny-pinching logo for his business. "Like a Monopoly guy running around with a bag of money. Guess I couldn't do that, though."

Tightwad Bank has great success with its own money bag logo. It sells items in the lobby after drawing anywhere from two to more than a dozen carloads of people who pull off the highway each day to snap pictures next to the large, white Tightwad sign. Available for purchase are $25 to $500 gift cards to "give to that stingy uncle," Higdon says, or a $14 ball cap, $30 polo shirt, $11 T-shirt, $9 mug or $7 cozy.

In the end, if business success isn't in the stars for Tightwad Bank, Higdon has a backup plan. Before he bought it, the building was a branch of UMB Bank, which closed in January 2007. Already equipped with the old signage, they'll call it United Missouri Beverage "and make it a drive-through liquor store," Higdon says.

While "Tightwad" on a check might not appeal to everybody, for those it does appeal to, it probably does so strongly, Columbia University's McGrath says.

"That will have second-order effects, such as making them more likely to be loyal, less willing to consider competing offers and more likely to spread word-of-mouth around about their bank."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tasty Tidbits from the past week...

Choking HazardSometimes we find juicy news not worthy of a full blog post, yet too darn good to not share with you. These "Tasty Tidbits" are digestible bites of news about new names and the naming industry and what we think of them here at Eat My Words. Bon Appetit!

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A new government acronym is born. Mccain

Watch politicians for the next decade talk about EESA, or the... Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. This 3 page, then 110 page and now 451 page document spells out how the $700 billion will be spent. We are geeks and read it. What is interesting is that everything past page 113 are extras having nothing to do with the bailout. We especially love the addition at the bottom of page 300 (Sec 505: Exemption From Excise Tax For Certain Wooden Arrows Designed For Use By Children).

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Palinwink Sarah Palin apparently thinks David D. McKiernan, the current Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is in fact George Brinton McClellan a major general for the Union army during the American Civil War.

Also loved when she called her opponent O'Biden. One heartbeat away, you betcha!

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Virgin Airlines wusses out and names their airline experience Airphoria.

AirphoriaWe get it, you get euphoric while you are in the air. Why not just use the real word? Lame.

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We love House. In this week's episode, the patient du jour was having a reaction to three unnamed clinical trial drugs he was taking as a guinea pig. House wanted to give the medications a name so he based them on his three minions. The names of the medicines were, Bisexidrine, Cuckoldisol and WorldSorestKneesisil. Watch the episode, it'll make sense then.

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Here is the Namethis.com lame name of the week:

This week we have a tie:

For "a gym which have been in operation for some time in Sunshine Coast are looking to change names and change business direction to become more of a boutique personal training studio than a gym."

The winner is Mevolutionfitness.com. The client has not snapped this winner up as of 2:37AM 10-04-08

a Global Lifestyle Hotel that is Unconventional, Transgenerational, Social, Eclectic, Sexy -but not obviously so."

The winner is Communinnty.com. The client has not snapped this winner up as of 2:37AM 10-04-08


Last week's fav, "Pixelouvre.com", is also still available.

According to the website they have "rewarded" $20,670 to their crowdsource community to date. Since they "reward" 80% of their income, that means Namethis.com's gross profit is $5,176.50 for the four months they have been active. That equates to $1,291.88 per month. From this they have to cover all payroll, rent, latte's, antacid, cell phone charges to their VC investors explaining how $1,291.88 a month before expenses is an adequate return on their $3,000,000 investment, aspirin, therapist fees, thesaurus to come up with new terms for "start up phase" and Internet access to Monster.com for searching for their next job.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another toast for Eat My Words - Square One Vodka


Longtime Eat My Words client and Square One Organic Spirits Founder and CEO Allison Evanow is the rockstar Make Mine a Million $ Business winner who encouraged Alexandra to enter the competition. (See these posts for more on Alexandra's big win.) Here's what Allison had to say about working with Alexandra and the team at Eat My Words over the years...

"Alexandra is a top-notch naming consultant thanks to her creativity and innate abilities to find highly impactful naming solutions for her clients. She has named several of our cocktails and written taglines for us that we have used in our products and marketing materials. She is definitely our go-to person when we need a great name, tagline, copywriting, etc. for our products. She is very easy to work with and very quick on the turn-around. We will be certain to work with her again on future projects."

For more gushing testimonials, see our bragadocious Reviews page on the Eat My Words website.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey Name Boy, Don't Quit Your Day Job

Every week, wannabe namers from around the world stumble upon our Dream Jobs page and take our naming test to see if they have what it takes to be an Eat My Words namer. (So far, only 5 creative geniuses have passed.) The test is simple (at least for us)... "Send us 20 names for a sleek new external hard drive that stores an enormous amount of data." While we certainly have seen our share of hideous names that appear to have been created by our old-school competitors, at least the people that send them in are usually quite humble, sometimes even begging. But today, a wannabe Name Boy had a little attitude. Here is the email he sent:

From: (name withheld to protect the identity)
Subject: Just one
To: dreamjobs@eatmywords.com.
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 9:24 AM

new external hard drive that stores an enormous amount of data:

Drive Outside

Go on and play with this . . .

Just one? One bad one? Don't quit your day job, Name Boy. Or as Mik says, "Hey Name Boy, go drive off a cliff." For more bad namer test submissions, check out this previous post.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gushing Testimonials from our Happy Clients


Here are some recent testimonials from clients who loved working with Alexandra and the talented team at Eat My Words. For more glowing recommendations, visit our Reviews page.

"Alexandra is truly innovative and distinctive in the business she has built. Recently, a naming exercise came into play at IHG. Because I had experienced good work with Alexandra while VP of Consumer Insights at Dunkin' Brands, I reached out to her company once more.


I received from Eat My Words, on very short notice, a very thoughtful and creative list of potential names for a new Holiday Inn venture. The creativity of Alexandra and team allowed us to perform true "due diligence" as part of our branding work, and we hold her in high esteem for that. We definitely plan to tap into Eat my Words for a project in the Spring ... and what higher advocacy measure is there than, "I plan to use this group again!"


Truly, Alexandra and team are smart boutique shop masters who take you to levels in your marketing work that are not experienced amongst more traditional suppliers. "


- Regina Lewis, PhD

SVP, Global Insights, InterContinental Hotels Group


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"I engaged Alexandra to work on the naming of a new business - Wavelength. I would describe the experience as seamless, professional and quite frankly inspirational! From the outset the questions posed made us really think about what we were trying to achieve, and the 100's of ideas Alex and her team generated made us pause, ponder and often quite often laugh!!


We were truly delighted with her final recommendation, we'd never have come up with the name without her and can't recommend her services highly enough."


- Adrian Simpson

Chief Connector, Wavelength Companies, Ltd


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"I hired Alexandra to help name my company because she thinks out of the box, but also is very down to earth in her approach - for example, no bizarre spellings! But most importantly, she really understood my business and me, and took a very human approach to the task. Moreover, she delivered things on time, professionally, and held my hand throughout the entire process, including getting the name and URL registered. Can't recommend her enough."


- Charlene Li

Founder, Altimeter Group

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tasty Tidbits from the past week...

Choking Hazard Sometimes we find juicy news not worthy of a full blog post, yet too darn good to not share with you. These "Tasty Tidbits" are digestible bites of news about new names and the naming industry and what we think of them here at Eat My Words. Bon Appetit!




Oracle announced its first hardware product this week, called Exadata. Yawn. Apparently, Oracle has been working on this product for three years. However, it sounds like they started working on the name part about three days ago and grabbed something off of a whiteboard at the last minute. We can't find a description anywhere on the Oracle website on the meaning of Exadata Exadata, but they show a picture of the product that has an "X" on it, so that makes it clear....

Also, there is a joint HP /Oracle product that is being simultaneously released, which they are calling....wait for it......the

HP Oracle Database Machine

Really? Isn't that a description rather than a name?

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison refers to the products as "radical new thinking". Maybe, but not so much for the names.


In the "Sure, That Will Fix the Problem" files comes this "rebranding" news from WPP Group's MindShare:

Mindshare "The agency's North American senior executives are relinquishing their formal job titles. For example, Scott Neslund, CEO of Mindshare North America, will now be identified simply as Scott Neslund, Mindshare North America, the agency said."

In phase 2 of the job title changes to be implemented early next year, he will be identified simply as, "The Scottmeister".

Also, for no apparent reason, they will now be known as Mindshare, not MindShare. In related news, they are negotiating with the City of New York (their headquarters location) to change the city's spelling to neW yorK.


Interesting Trademark Lawsuit of the week: Intel is suing Intellife Travel for trademark infringement. We are all for protection of your trademark, but come on.....

Intel

One is a small travel agency specializing in travel between North America and China and one is the world's leader in semiconductor technology. Well, we're confused, but not in the way Intel thinks we are.

Techcrunch lays it all out for us.


We can't help our fascination with the trainwreck of an idea, Namethis.com. Watch later for our discussion why it cannot possibly succeed as a real business (hint: it has something to do with venture capital backers wanting an actual ROI). If anyone wants to give us $3 million, we'll tell you how to make it really work.

In the meantime, here is the Namethis.com lame name of the week: "Pixelouvre.com", an original name for a modern e-commerce art gallery. The company preferred a "one-word name" that "must be available as a .com". That one sentence alone explains dreck like Pixelouvre.com.

As anyone who knows anything about domain names knows, one-word names are all gone. Also, emphasis on names that must be available as .com forces the production of junk names. In any case, the explanation behind the creation of Pixelouvre.com is:

"pixel + louvre. pixel represents the ecommerce." (a pixel is a single point in a graphic image..how does that represent e-commerce exactly?) "louvre: an art museum that is a famous tourist attraction in Paris (Right.... Lucky it starts with an "L" or else it wouldn't have worked with pixe"l") "the domain is available" (there is a reason for that).

P.S. As of 6:00 am Pacific time on 09-26-08, Pixelouvre.com was still available, so maybe the company that bought the name doesn't want to waste another $9.99 to lock up this winner. We were going to buy it on a lark, but decided we didn't want to face a Pixelouvre.com domain dispute dustup. For free, we offer the following (domain names available) as backups: PixelSmithsonian.com, PixelMuseumOfModernArt.com and PixelTheGetty.com.