Sometimes you honestly don’t know where product brand names come from, especially if you’re a bargain shopper like I am and you frequent off-brand, low price establishments like TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning (the latter of which makes me really feel like I’m slumming it). So often at such stores it’s a challenge to separate the wheat from the knockoff chaff. So when I saw this one I was pretty confident it was chaff:

GELA

Where do I begin? Well, how about Sicily? Gela is a small city on the southwest coast of Sicily that is the home of a huge oil refinery. Which therefore makes it the Secaucus of Sicily, and Gela is only prettier because – hey – Sicily v. New Jersey in a cage fight isn’t even remotely fair.

Thus, having been to Gela, I can’t ever consider it a lovely brand name for any product. And I figure that any company that named its product Gela had never been to Gela, and if they weren’t smart enough to research the name of a pretty town in Sicily – of which there are many – for their product, then I can’t trust them to make a product that is worth my investment.

Not sure if everyone else views things my way, but I’m sticking to it!

Catching up again … Great trademarks, in my view, suggest something interesting about the product they’re designating, without telling the consumer exactly what the product is. These two magazine names are among the best I’ve ever seen:

sift

This is King Arthur Flour’s magazine, and I can’t think of a more evocative name to convey the magazine’s mission – to provide baking information and inspiration. SIFT is an example of a mark that, while it is indeed descriptive of a microscopic and discrete aspect of the goods/services identified, nonetheless effectively communicates something evocative about what it identifies, yet without describing what the goods are.

So all hail King Arthur for SIFT!

In a different vein, we have LUCKY PEACH:

lucky peach

What a great magazine name! At best all I can get from the title is that it might have something to do with food; when I look up their website I see a standard food and cooking site. Yet at the same time, any website that runs a feature on the snackability of Trader Joe’s offerings is right up my alley. So as a brand junkie, I can state with confidence that I am far more likely to grab an issue of LUCKY PEACH off the rack at Whole Foods than I am to pick up Real Simple or Bon Appétit.

Don’t get me wrong – as the daughter of a charter subscriber to both New York and Automobile magazines, I understand the value of a descriptive name for a magazine. But sometimes, breaking free from descriptiveness can work for a magazine, I promise!

Apologies for the hiatus. Getting daughter #2 into college is no less time-consuming than #1 was. Stay tuned.

So here’s something from a weekend in Ventura, California this summer:

wienerschnitzel

Crappy photography, but it’s Wienerschnitzel, “The World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain.” Ummm, isn’t Wiener Schnitzel that delicious dish of breaded and pounded veal made famous in Vienna (hence Wiener)? Why yes it is. How did we get from veal to drive-through hot dogs? Well, we borrowed wiener for hot dog long ago and its use was made ubiquitous in the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle that pretty much anyone of a certain generation can sing start to finish. I am guessing that this is one of those situations where Americans hear a certain foreign phrase and use it irrespective of whether it means what they think it means. That is, they hear wiener and know they’ve heard wienerschnitzel so assume the two are related and why not name the wiener joint something that sounds foreign?

Well, they are related, but from a trademark perspective I actually think the name is deceptively misdescriptive! If I see a place called Wienerschnitzel, because I know what real Wiener Schnitzel is, I’m going to be disappointed when I find there’s none on the menu. But once again, I suspect I’m not the target demographic. And what those who haven’t tasted the real thing don’t know won’t hurt them.