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Likes, Loves and Loathes: 2012 Names in Review

Posted by: Caitlin Barrett on March 04, 2013

After weeks and weeks of debate, our completely unscientific analysis of 2012's best and worst names is finally complete.

Let's start with the best. Last year was one in which naming got realer: Brands leaned on real-word language and sounds in ways that were unexpected or unprecedented for their categories. This helped them to stand out—and secure some highly covetable real-word trademarks.

Names we liked:

Well-named apps kept it short and sweet. Sift is an app that consolidates shopping experiences, sifting out the clutter.

Burn Note, an app fit for a secret agent, destroys an email once it's been read. It's clever for the "security" and "privacy" apps category, where the majority are named using exactly those words.

Beard Destroyer, a men's shaving cream, pushed at the boundaries of what was expected for its category—and got away with greatness.

Red Bull Total Zero managed to say "diet" in a completely on-voice way. Playing up the negative it makes zero calories sound appealing.

Graymail is Microsoft's new way of talking about the almost-but-not-quite spam that we get every day, stuff that falls into a gray area between "What a great deal!" and "Not another hot stone massage coupon."

BLK DNM, an anti-trend premium denim line, takes a no-frills approach to its jeans, as well as its naming.

ZzzQuil, NyQuil's sleep aid, gets a happy, drowsy nod from us. NyQuil already said "night," so Vicks found another way to say "sleep."

UniMás, the new evolution of Telemundo, took equity from its parent company, Univision, and told us to expect even más.

Verismo, from Starbucks, was a beaut. This name for the home brewing system wins with lyrical Italian origins and a meaning that melds truth and realism.


Names that weren't so hot:

Worst-of-the-year award goes to a name that clearly never went through a linguistic evaluation: VAGX Lumisac. This line of messenger bags for cyclists are sturdily built and well designed—but they stopped short of picking a globally winning name.

While they're an easy target, As Seen on TV stores gave us two gifts this year: Hot Booties (they go on your feet, in case you thought otherwise) and Edge of Glory (a slightly over-the-top name for a knife sharpener).

Nectresse, from the makers of Splenda, left a bad taste in our mouths. While we get the reference to "nectar," it's hard to ignore the "tress" sound, which brings us right to hair care.

Finally, a shake of our heads at Tampax Radiant. While the feminine hygiene category has long struggled with uncomfortable metaphors, this over-the-top language made us cringe.

The year to come will surely bring us more names to like or loathe—and we'll love every minute of it.

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

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