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.



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

Prior week's winners,, and 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, 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
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 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

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

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!


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).


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!


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.


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.


Here is the 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 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 The client has not snapped this winner up as of 2:37AM 10-04-08

Last week's fav, "", 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'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 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.