I can’t even

Is this the worst descriptor ever?

IMG_20140909_130115

Here’s a new test for you marketing folks out there: If it sounds obscene when you put it into the question “Is that your [BLANK] or are you just happy to see me?” – IT IS.

Too close for comfort

Just got served an ad on Hootsuite for a company called Vormetric. Sorry, but the font I read it in made the beginning of that name waaaaaay too close to “vomit” for my sensitive stomach.

vormetric

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s late at night, maybe it’s my failing middle-aged vision … but any name that when you squint at it, calls “vomit” to mind? Let’s just say it makes me a bit queasy.

N.B. I also note that my younger teenager returned from her summer adventures with the abbreviated verb “vom” firmly entrenched in her vocabulary, so this could be part of the reason for my strong reaction to this mark.

 

I went back to Ohio

We took our eldest off to Kenyon College this past weekend. Alma mater of such luminaries as Paul Newman, E.L. Doctorow, Laura Hillenbrand, and last night’s Emmy Award winner Alison Janney, it’s a gorgeous campus on a hill in central Ohio – as picturesque an educational environment as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Kenyon’s address is Gambier, Ohio, but Gambier is really inside Kenyon – it’s just that tiny. And because it’s so tiny, commerce there is limited. How limited?

Peoples Bank

There’s just one bank, and it can’t even afford an apostrophe.

 

Suave guava

Those are the only two words that immediately came to mind when I saw this mark:

duavee

I am guessing from the stylization of the word in the lower right-hand corner of the photo that the intention is for the mark to be pronounced “do-a-vee” – and I would have no gripe with that, if the ad didn’t also show the mark in text as “DUAVEE.” It’s that lack of differentiation between the halves of the mark that calls this post’s title words to mind, and makes me want to pronounce it “dwah-vee.”

Still, I’ve seen far worse, and have no quibbles here on the product itself – remember? I’m a femme d’un certain age.

 

For your final destination

Is it me? Or does this brand of luggage suggest a one-way trip to the hereafter?

Eternity Lite

The sightless seahorse doesn’t help, in my book.

Hello Cleveland

Well, you’re gonna be as lost in Paris as Nigel and David and the boys were in Cleveland in This is Spinal Tap if you follow this map:

Paris map

(No, this is not trademark-related; I just love this kind of crap!)

The Colorado angle

So I kind of like this Isle of Dogs product line scheme and the fact that they use a descriptive term for each entry in the line. But I’m sorry, we live in Colorado, and this one just cracked us right up:

Joint

Cognitive dissonance

I don’t know about you, but neither of my bubbes ever made mochi:

Bubbies

Bonus points for tortured translation of “ice cream” into French!

Destination: Germany and Lufthansa

Although our return flight from Frankfurt to Denver was unbearably crowded (how the 6’6″+ gentleman in front of us survived the legroom that crushed my 5′ frame I’ll never know), Lufthansa generally does a good job of feeding and watering its economy class passengers. And on its short hops, such as the one-hour flight from Munich to Frankfurt, you occasionally are treated to local goodies. German treats’ names can be quite entertaining – do you remember Fred Ferkel? Now meet Corny:

corny

Which name, of course, takes me, as it would, straight to Arrested Development. As usual, those who understand, will understand.

Destination: Italy

Of course there were magazines! How else could I have brought back this doozy:

emorroidi

I’m pretty sure that the idea of classical art and sculpture rarely crosses the minds of those creating hemorrhoid cream ads in the US, I’m just sayin’!

A gentle reminder

I can’t tell you how many times in my career (now over 24 years in this trademark biz!) I’ve been asked “but what if we change the spelling?” You mean from candy to “kandy”? From cheese to “cheeze”? Or this:

music skool

The answer, I’m afraid, is still no. It’s neither protectable nor distinctive. You’re fooling no one.

And that, my friends, is my rant du jour.

Say it, don’t thpray it

I’m not sure if this is just a failed attempt at a portmanteau or a mark whose owners never bothered to utter the term aloud before adopting it:

Ultherapy copy

Ultherapy is a non-invasive neck, eyebrow, and under-chin lift from Ulthera. At my advancing age, I can’t look askance at such procedures; I can, however, wonder about a mark and company name that sound like “ulcer” pronounced with a lisp. The moral of my story? Think twice about a mark that contains “th-” when there’s a word in the language that’s the same as your mark if lisped. Or at least I’d think twice …

Like a virgin

Here’s a mark I’ve never understood:

betula

Mrs. Polyglot here can inform you that “betula” is Hebrew for “virgin.” Betula is also the scientific name for “birch” – but in my book, if you’ve got one translation of a word that you wouldn’t choose as your mark in English, even if you’ve got an alternate that’s less troublesome, think twice. On the other hand, I may work at home now, and have long lost the New York lawyer panache I once had – but you won’t ever see me in Birkenstocks, virgin or otherwise! I have to maintain some kind of dignity!

Destination: Caltagirone and Siracusa

Sometimes reality isn’t quite as poetic as I’d like. For example, this Stuffer brand yogurt that we ate in Siracusa –

stuffer

- would’ve been a perfect complement to this gut-stuffing breakfast that we ate in Caltagirone:

Caltagirone breakfast

Not that there was anything to complain about with respect to the actual content of the breakfasts!

Destination: Sicily; or, you might REALLY want to clean that fridge

No, really:

smeg

 

Sally’s own outdoor fridge, whose style and name I chronicled after our last visit, has nothing on Blue Smeg!

Actually, as Nancy pointed out several years ago, Smeg is the name of an Italian appliance company that makes retro, 50s style products. While there’s no denying the appeal of the appliances’ sinuous lines and saturated colors, I agree with Nancy that it’s impossible to get over the name. And yet they persist: the English version of the company website even has a feature called the SMEGazine. Thanks, Smeg!

Destination: Villa Chiara and the power of words

Finally, back in Sicily. And here’s just a reminder of how your faithful blogger’s overactive mind works. I saw this cereal box out on the counter at our friend’s house:

Nice Morning

And all I could think of is Nice-Matin, which is both the Nice, France morning newspaper‘s name; and the name of a great restaurant on the Upper West Side in New York, where I spent a glorious afternoon two years ago sipping rosé alone and reminiscing about my days living in that neighborhood so long ago. Who knew a cereal box could be my madeleine

Destination: MUC (the Munich airport)

I always say that at any given spot in the Munich airport, if you chose to drop to the floor and give it a lick, you’d do yourself no harm: It’s just that clean. Back when we first visited in 2004, with daughters then eight and six, I nearly wept with joy at the notion that I could send the girls into the restroom stalls without fear of their contracting some grave malady (hello, JFK!)

The airport also has gorgeous examples of German cars on display (no, we didn’t bring one home this time), and the usual array of tantalizing retail establishments and their entreaties to spend. One shop I can’t help stopping in is the Swatch store; I am a long-time Swatch owner, having purchased my first in Paris back in 1984 and my most recent last summer in Honolulu. We don’t have a Swatch store here in Denver, which is good and bad: I’d have even more of them if we did, but because we don’t I never get replacement batteries and the watches eventually die and even new batteries don’t work. So my jewelry drawer looks a bit like a Swatch graveyard, I confess.

All this is to say that we dutifully checked out the Swatch store at MUC, and I got a huge chuckle out of this great wordplay:

Scuba libre

 

Destination: Munich; or, Fashion is hell

Mascara isn’t hellish enough? I’m not sure if they’re trying to say here in Germany that fashion is godly, ranges from heavenly or hellish, or what?

Olymp & Hades

Bonus: the y in German is pronounced like “oo” in English, so Olymp would sound like “O-loomp” to us!

 

 

 

 

 

Destination: Munich / Pronunciation fail

Say it out loud without affecting a German accent and you’ll see why:

Uhren World

In fact, yes, one of my teenagers did point this out to me!

Not just culture – trademarks too

We didn’t get enough of Sicily last time, so we decided to take the girls with us this summer after #1 graduated from high school. Once again, we made our way there via Munich, where a Lufthansa flight to Catania was the quickest way to get us to our destination, our friend Sally’s place at Marina di Ragusa in the south.

But first Munich – beer, beer, schnitzel, and beer. The Augustiner Keller and Zum Durnbrau restaurants were excellent, and the Neue Pinakothek a great place to escape the somewhat inexplicable crowds and 86 degree weather. And seeing old friends was the cherry on top of the sundae.

Or maybe this was:

Super Dickmann

Now, “dick,” in German, means “thick.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t save this mark from being absolutely hilarious in English. “Super thick man?” With what that item looks like? The small print doesn’t help either: “dick limitiert” means “thickly limits” or “thickly limited.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

In any event, Super Dickmann was only the beginning of a fantastic and fun-filled vacation. Stay tuned for more! Tschüss!