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  • Posted by: Fell Gray on Thursday, February 13 2014 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

    Aviage Systems
    Best Asian Brands

    A 玫瑰 by any other name

    It’s the start of a new year in China, and the astrologists tell us that the Year of the Horse has the potential to be more successful than last year, but it will require patience and perseverance. And for any brand looking to launch a Chinese brand name this year (or any other), these are words to live by.

    While the appeal of the Chinese market is clear to most, the need for a Chinese name may not be. Given that the average Chinese consumer doesn’t speak English and sees Roman characters as graphic elements, a Chinese name is important just to break through. But there are a host of other reasons: a cultural desire to protect and preserve the Chinese language, marketing support necessary to educate consumers on the English name, and government requirements (e.g., audible Chinese for all TV advertising), to name a few.

    When you do jump into Chinese name development, brace yourself for the realities of the screening process. There are 6.27M active trademarks and more than 600,000 filed each year. And China follows a first-to-file not a first-to-use system, so registration can be a bit of a land grab. Beyond that are language and cultural considerations for a successful name: tonality, harmony checks, dialects, simplified vs traditional characters…. As I said: patience and perseverance.

    Then, Then Again, Now

    To get to the right names, you’ll have a range of creative strategies at your disposal: creation, translation, literation, and transliteration. The right choice lies in determining the importance of meaning vs. sounding the same as your existing name. Elevating the importance of meaning in Chinese over the sound will aid memorability and recall. And a name that sounds similar will strengthen the connection to the international name and its brand equity. Some brands manage to find an equal balance through transliteration (well done, Coke), but many make the decision to pick one over the other. Nike chose a name that sounds identical to the English and means “enduring and preserving,” while Citibank chose a name that sounds different but means star spangled banner bank. All are valid options, depending on your goals.

    Whatever your approach, one of the most important things to remember when evaluating your options is: don’t hear with an English ear. The right word in English is not necessarily the right word in Chinese. Pairings of characters can change meaning significantly, so you can’t look at characters individually. And you can’t underestimate the importance of symbols in Chinese culture, so be sure you are looking at all the layers of meaning the name provides.

    This week's guest author, Fell Gray, is Senior Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand New York. She is also the practice leader for Brand Voice.

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  • Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on Friday, December 6 2013 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

    Microsoft Advertising
    Give your name a voice

    When your name says it all

    Hurdly. Find.ly. Reachli. Optimizely. Earlier in the year, The Wall Street Journal diagnosed Silicon Valley’s me-too naming problem: It turns out the default way to signal “quirky start-up” is to end your name with “ly,” “lee” or “li” (as 161 already have).

    While established brands often look to convention-breaking startups for naming approaches that signal “new,” the current gaggle of double consonant-ed and lyrically suffixed names aren’t much help right now. Which is what makes an often-overlooked naming approach look really good right now: the descriptive name.

    Names like Booking.com and Dollar Shave Club skip the misspellings. They skip the optimistic metaphors and references to the founders’ backstories and the weird-for-the-sake-of-weird imagery. Instead, they use their name to get a very important question off the table, “What does this business do?”

    The Then Again Now

    The obvious objection to this approach to naming is that it’s boring, and that, from a trademark perspective, it’s difficult to own. But smart brands know there’s more than one way to build distinctiveness into their names.

    Booking.com adds edge to its name by subbing “booking” for the type of swear word you’d use when you get a room that really blows you away. It made booking a feeling, rather than an action. Have you seen Booking.com's commercials? They’re booking awesome. And the brand used its voice to make Booking.com a name that’s pretty booking exciting (see how fun it is?).

    Dollar Shave Club, too, skips the fluff. Its subscription business model and message are simple (“For a dollar a month we send high-quality razors right to your door”), and its name doesn’t say much more than that. And through a video featuring the founder’s dry humor against a backdrop of absurd imagery, the brand took off—and the name took on the idiosyncratic tone set in the video.

    While there’s no single “best” kind of name, it’s refreshing to see an often underutilized naming approach made a hero in the most heroic sense. It also forces brands to be crystal clear about who they are and what they do—something the Zaarlys, Xtifys, and Kaggles of the world will have to do through some pretty serious messaging.

    This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming.

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  • Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on Wednesday, September 18 2013 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

    Message in a Bottle

    The secret of successful (name) sharing

    Some things, you just don't want to share: your toothbrush, single-serve ice cream, the last piece of bacon. You might think your brand's name would fall on that list too. After all, it's "yours": you filed an application for it; gave it its own logo and story; built value into it. How could it be okay for another brand to use your name to sell its own goods or services?

    While every brands seeks to be unique, there are plenty of cases where the same name is successfully owned by two (or more) brands—and if they appear in distinct trademark classes and there’s minimal risk of confusion, it gets the greenlight from a trademark standpoint. So Delta Air Lines can be successful in Class 39 (Transportation and Storage Services), Delta Faucet Company can thrive in Class 21 (Houseware and Glass Products), and Delta Dental can spread smiles through Class 36 (Insurance and Financial Services).

    With each brand in its own category—or categories—there’s plenty of space for each to grow into its own identity and build unique relationships with customers. Trouble only starts when one brand creeps into another brand’s turf. Brands can take action if their offerings overlap, their services are sold through similar channels, or their commercial impressions (their look and feel) are confusingly similar. For example, if Delta Air Lines wanted to sell its own line of faucets, they might find themselves in hot water.

    The challenge with adopting the latest tech trends in your naming approach is the speed of tech adoption. In a year or two, innovation will more than likely be recast as tablestakes—and your name might not hold up to changing expectations.

    Then Then Again Now

    Beyond trademarks, it's just as important to consider mindshare. If both brands are highly visible to the same broad audience, each has to work hard to carve out a special place in customers’ minds. Consider Dove chocolate and Dove soap. In the absence of differentiated naming, each has a distinct visual system (and a clear communication architecture that leaves no room for confusion—neither brand would benefit from consumers mixing up their chocolate and their soap).

    There are countless examples: Penguin Group publishing and Penguin menswear, Lincoln Financial Group and The Lincoln Motor Company, Getty petroleum and Getty Images. As long as each brand is happy within its own terrain, and committed to managing any potential confusion, there’s no reason not to share. After all, there are only around 600,000 words in the English language, arguably, and close to 30 million trademarks. When you do the math, it makes sharing practical.

    This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming.

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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Thursday, April 11 2013 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

    Spiriant's Visual Identity

    LSG Sky Chefs, an international brand known for its airline catering, galley equipment and in-flight management, called upon Interbrand Hamburg to help develop Spiriant into an autonomous brand. After conducting market research and analyzing the scope of its in-flight equipment business in relation to its total offerings, it was clear there was great potential for an independent brand.

    Under the flagship LSG Sky Chefs brand, the company’s in-flight equipment has won the Crystal Cabin Award, the Observeur du Design Award, the red dot: best of the best award and the Gold Mercury Award. As LSG Sky Chefs expands its portfolio of food management, onboard retail management, supply chain management and operations management to include lounge and train services, as well as school and hospital catering, Spiriant will carry on its award-winning tradition of in-flight product and equipment design.


    Spiriant provides the Enlight product line, an eco-friendly series of lightweight, compact and durable porcelain tableware, trays and sugarcane tableware and meal boxes. The brand also provides a line of natural toiletries, linens, 100% cotton hot towels and ergonomic galley equipment.

    To differentiate the newly independent Spiriant, Interbrand Hamburg created a verbal and visual identity for the brand. "The name and the slogan Spiriant bring 'Where Inspiration meets Performance' brand promise to the point," said Richard Veit, Managing Director of Interbrand Hamburg.

    Spiriant's New Logo

    Combining the essences of innovation, inspiration and initiative, the name expresses Spiriant’s work and vision for the future. The logo, incorporating a soft ampersand symbol (&) and plus sign (+) conveys the value proposition of Spiriant: creating value through the combination of emotion & function, design & technology and inspiration & performance. The secondary design element playfully embodies Spiriant’s creative process with its clients, personalizing work to meet individual needs.

    Erdmann Rauer, LSG Sky Chefs, Sales Director noted, "The introduction of Spiriant underlines our intention to invest in the equipment activities even more. With more than 20 years experience in this business, we have the product knowledge, a qualified supplier base and the purchasing power to tap the existing market potential further."

    Spiriant's Palette

    Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.

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  • Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on Wednesday, March 20 2013 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

    All Systems Go

    Freedom of—and from—choice

    We live in a choice-mad world. Choice is part of personal expression. The way we customize, upgrade, and add-on tells people something about who we are. Our choices are badges—Mac or PC, dog or cat, Coke or Pepsi—and we can't help but feel more invested in something when we've picked it ourselves.

    What about when you can't see the product for the names—when too much choice is actually hurting you in the market? When it comes to brands, the amount of choice they present has a powerful impact on the way people understand what they offer.

    Limitless choice sounds like a beautiful concept until you're handed a 20-page spiral bound menu at a diner and asked to hurry up. Contrast that with a single-page tasting menu at a high-end restaurant. There might be no choice at that point. You're going to eat what the chef serves, but in all likelihood you made a choice to go to that restaurant for that very reason. The curation and the expertise behind the menu make the highly limited option the best one.

    Of course there's no magic formula for deciding how much choice is right for customers in your category, but a naming system helps them sort through your offerings in a meaningful way. When like things are named in a like way, and grouped based on principles that are intuitive to the customer experience and authentic to the brand, it's easier for your audiences to zero in on exactly what they want. What a beautiful choice.

    Developing a naming system for your brand is a challenge when you're crafting it from scratch. It's even more daunting when you're designing something for a long-standing portfolio (especially one that's picked up a few acquisitions along the way). We've summarized the top nine things to think about when coming up with your naming system at the right in All Systems Go.

    This week's guest author, Caitlin Barrett, is Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming.

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