Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More client love for Eat My Words

We recently renamed a coffee company with what is our most merchandisable name since Spoon Me. We can't let the name out of the bean bag yet, but in the meantime, here's a gushing testimonial from the client, Pete...

As a startup company, it was important for the Second Chance Coffee Company to find a professional naming company that was as creative, energetic and focused on providing real value, as we are passionate about our business and mission. We have the right company name but "Second Chance" does not work so well for a coffee product that is roasted and delivered fresh the same day!

When our research turned up Eat My Words as a naming company that serves up "fresh names & taglines to go" we were interested. A little digging into the EMW website made it clear that this was no ordinary naming firm. This website, unlike a bunch of others, was clear and understandable, with none of the marketing mumbo jumbo we'd been wading through elsewhere. The simply powerful "Smile and Scratch Test" prompted us to give Alexandra a call. By the end of the conversation, it was clear that her fresh and engaging approach to naming was what we were looking for. Alexandra's enthusiasm, passion and track record convinced us that we had found the right solution to our naming conundrum, and the execution of the project has proven that we were correct.

"Good Value" is an understatement. Eat My Words has been very creative, energetic, and professional in every aspect of our project. I would not hesitate to hire EMW and Alexandra again.

Pete Leonard

Keep an eye on our blog to find out what we named "Pete's coffee."

Monday, February 23, 2009

OpenTable Dishes Up Appetizing Conference Room Names

Kudos to restaurant reservation company OpenTable (my favorite free service) for having a contest to name their conference rooms.

Out of 51 entries, the winning theme was "fictitious restaurants or cafes from TV shows." Congrats to Julie Hall, the clever employee whose prize is a slick new TV. (How fitting!) Now people can say, "Let's meet in...

Central Perk (Friends)
Cafe Nervosa (Frasier)
The Peach Pit (90210)
Cheers (Cheers)
Arnold's Drive-In (Happy Days)
Monk's Café (Seinfeld)
The Regal Beagle (Three's Company)
Phil's (Murphy Brown)
Riff's (Mad About You)
McClaren's (How I Met Your Mother)
Moe's (The Simpsons)

A foodie friend of mine works at OpenTable and was kind enough to let me collaborate with him on some names. These were our submissions:

Cap'n Crunch
Count Chocula
Franken Berry
Shredded Wheat
Special K
Wheat Chex
Boo Berry
Froot Loops

Wooden Spoon
Cutting Board (great name for a board room!)
Pressure Cooker (another killer name!)
Rolling Pin
Egg Beater
Garlic Press
Waffle Iron

We wish more companies would get creative with their conference room names - it's a fun way to add personality to any business.

Open Source - say it outloud - yikes!

Open Source sounds like Open Sores. Ouch!

Name the baby gorilla - his father will pick the winner.

The San Francisco Zoo is having a contest to name their new baby gorilla. Get this - the father of the infant, Oscar Jonesy, a dominant silverback gorilla, will choose the winner by selecting one of five colored bamboo sticks. I am not making this up. From the website. "A panel of judges appointed by the Zoo will choose five finalist names. Each name will be connected individually to five colored bamboo sticks and placed out in the Jones Family Gorilla Preserve exhibit for Oscar Jonesy. The first colored bamboo stick he chooses will be the winning name."

They are looking for "a distinguished name of African origin," so don't try to be cute. For the record, I will be submitting the name "Jambo," which means "Hello" in Swahili. (Swahili is the only language I have ever picked up in my world travels.)

Go here for full contest details.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Announcing the worst name of 2008

What happens when software engineers drink and play Scrabble?
Thanks to all of you who voted in the 2008 Head Scratcher "worst name of the year" contest. This cheeky annual award, created by naming firm Eat My Words (that would be us), is inspired by our no-brainer philosophy, "A name should make you smile, instead of scratch your head." Contenders are judged on their "ick factor" and ability to pass the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH Test, which has been featured in Wall Street Journal, a fact that we like to mention as often as possible.

Drumroll please...

E1234118741 The name that chalked up the most votes was a new "financial literacy" site for children out of Oklahoma named Shryk. A name that made us shriek.

The tacky pink trophy was ready to be engraved and then...

Another drumroll please...
We were tipped off that Shryk renamed themselves with an even worse name: iThryv.

E1234072834 Whaaaaaat? Did one of their software engineers say, "Hey, we need a name with vowels so let's get drunk and play Scrabble again"? (Why not iShryk?) The website explains it all by saying "Shryk changed the name of the corporation to iThryv in an effort to dispel any confusion related to the name of the company versus the name of the product. Now, when someone mentions iThryv -- you know they are talking about financial literacy." HELLO! What about regular literacy?! The name iThryv is so severely spelling-challenged that an entire generation of children are not going to know that the word "thrive" is spelled with vowels. Isn't it already tragic enough that "No Child Left Behind" didn't work and kids don't know how to spell "flicker" or "delicious"? And sorry iThryv, the "i" doesn't buy you a vowel. Beginning your company name with an "i or an "e" is so 1998. Just like iStockPhoto and eHarmony, the name iThryv screams, "WE'RE ON THE INTERNET!" Yeah, everyone is. If iThryv is still "thryving" 20 years from now, the name will sound even more ridiculous than it does today.

How can you avoid a Head Scratcher award?
Tip #1: Your company name needs to spelled exactly as is sounds. As anyone from iThryv, Takkle, Xobni, or countless other dot coms will reluctantly admit, when you have to verbally spell out your name (and silly-sounding email address) for people, it's embarrassing and annoying. And if it's annoying for you, how do you think your customers feel when they type the name they hear in their browser and discover what iThrive is?

For more tips on when to scratch your name of the list, check out our Kitchen Sink Blog and the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH Test, which has been featured in Wall Street Journal, a fact that we like to mention as often as possible.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Radisson Blu It

We are all for name changes. In fact we encourage it, in many cases. However, this one from Radisson is odd. First take a look at this from their website:

"As time goes by, your much loved Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts will change their name to Radisson Blu. This is not a revolution but a gentle evolution. A small graphical change that is significant only in that it reflects a corporate transaction of a few years ago that brought about the natural end of Radisson's links with the SAS Group.

Our values remain the same, our beliefs are the same, our ambitions are the same, our people are the same, our hotels are the same, and our Blu box that allows us to stand out from the global Radisson crowd, remains the same. The world's favourite colour will soon come to represent a cool, calm and collective Radisson hotel experience. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Radisson Blu, you'll soon forget it was ever known as anything else."

If that isn't clear, Gordon McKinnon vice-president of branding explains: “Our customers are used to a difference between Radisson SAS and simply Radisson and we wanted to keep that differentiation there by using “Blu” in the title, in reference to the previous use of a blue box in the logo.” He also said he hoped the rebrand would win more customers.


Let's suspend reality for a moment and say that that makes sense. OK, why BLU and not BLUE or even BLEU for that European flair? It just looks like someone forgot to type the "e".

P.S. Hey cybersquatters!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wake up and smell the Amsterdam Coffee House.

An article in today's Wall Street Journal talks about fragrance trends in consumer cleaning products. The scents of pine forests and lemon groves have been upped by "a wildly varied bouquet" including mandarin-lime detergent, lavender vanilla disinfectant and eucalyptus mint toilet bowl cleaners. Although we can't find any mention of it online, the article says a new deodorizer which hit store shelves last month, promises a "Moroccan bazaar."
Have you ever been to a bazaar in Morocco? I haven't, but I have been to bazaars (also known as "souks" or "markets") in Libya, Egypt, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and countless other countries, and I can assure you that the overwhelming scents of these bazaars, should simply not be bottled.

Here are some of the more memorable scents from my travels, and what I would name them:

Egyptian Camel Breath
Zanzibar Fish Market
Vatican Tourist
Fiery Ganges Breeze
Amsterdam Coffee Shop
Indian Milk Market
Rustic Serengeti Jeep
Peruvian Llama Spray
New Zealand Hostel
Mildewy Rain Forest
Durban Bunny Chow
Smokey Chinese Railcar

Okay, I can say it. But please don't spray it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else

The “Butt” in this road, in South Yorkshire, probably refers to a container for collecting water.

We recently found this in the Europe edition of The New York Times...

No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else
Published: January 22, 2009

CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.

Disappointingly, Mr. Pearce has so far been unable to parlay such delicate encounters into material gain, as a neighbor once did.

“Crapstone,” the neighbor said forthrightly, Mr. Pearce related, whereupon the person on the other end of the telephone repeated it to his co-workers and burst out laughing. “They said, ‘Oh, we thought it didn’t really exist,’ ” Mr. Pearce said, “and then they gave him a free something.”

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.

As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.

“It’s pronounced ‘PENNIS-tun,’ ” Fiona Moran, manager of the Old Vicarage Hotel in Penistone, said over the telephone, rather sharply. When forced to spell her address for outsiders, she uses misdirection, separating the tricky section into two blameless parts: “p-e-n” — pause — “i-s-t-o-n-e.”

Several months ago, Lewes District Council in East Sussex tried to address the problem of inadvertent place-name titillation by saying that “street names which could give offense” would no longer be allowed on new roads.

“Avoid aesthetically unsuitable names,” like Gaswork Road, the council decreed. Also, avoid “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,” like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close.

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)

The council explained that it was only following national guidelines and that it did not intend to change any existing lewd names.

Still, news of the revised policy raised an outcry.

“Sniggering at double entendres is a loved and time-honored tradition in this country,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London. Ed Hurst, a co-author, with Rob Bailey, of “Rude Britain” and “Rude UK,” which list arguably offensive place names — some so arguably offensive that, unfortunately, they cannot be printed here — said that many such communities were established hundreds of years ago and that their names were not rude at the time.

“Place names and street names are full of history and culture, and it’s only because language has evolved over the centuries that they’ve wound up sounding rude,” Mr. Hurst said in an interview.

Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire.

The name most likely has to do with the spot’s historic function as a source of water, a water butt being a container for collecting water. But it proved to be prohibitively hilarious.

“If they ordered a pizza, the pizza company wouldn’t deliver it, because they thought it was a made-up name,” Mr. Hurst said. “People would stand in front of the sign, pull down their trousers and take pictures of each other’s naked buttocks.”

The couple moved away.

The people in Crapstone have not had similar problems, although their sign is periodically stolen by word-loving merrymakers. And their village became a stock joke a few years ago, when a television ad featuring a prone-to-swearing soccer player named Vinnie Jones showed Mr. Jones’s car breaking down just under the Crapstone sign.

In the commercial, Mr. Jones tries to alert the towing company to his location while covering the sign and trying not to say “crap” in front of his young daughter.

The consensus in the village is that there is a perfectly innocent reason for the name “Crapstone,” though it is unclear what that is. Theories put forth by various residents the other day included “place of the rocks,” “a kind of twisting of the original word,” “something to do with the soil” and “something to do with Sir Francis Drake,” who lived nearby.

Jacqui Anderson, a doctor in Crapstone who used to live in a village called Horrabridge, which has its own issues, said that she no longer thought about the “crap” in “Crapstone.”

Still, when strangers ask where she’s from, she admitted, “I just say I live near Plymouth.”

If you’re smirking at this sign, you’re mispronouncing the town’s name. It’s PENNIS-tun.