A shitty name

You would think that in naming a product, maybe it would be wise to avoid a euphemism for excrement, right? Seems like that’s a basic proposition that everyone can agree on, right? Well, apparently you’d be wrong. I don’t know why these folks chose CAcafe as their trademark, but I can promise you that capitalizing the first two letters doesn’t stop me from seeing the caca here:

cacafe

Apparently, others are on to the caca too.

 

 

Mag hag

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!

God bless American language skills

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.

 

Drinking with my ladybrain, summer rosé edition

With the usual apologies for the blogging drought, where has summer gone, etc. etc.

Now, I haven’t broken out the ladybrain in some time, but the skyrocketing popularity of rosé wine offers a few more names that skew feminine or girly. Here’s one that was a pleasant surprise despite its packaging:

Wild Thing rose

The name, the flowers, the “Rendezvous Rosé” blend name – all suggest a weekend without kids, or a bachelorette party, or something otherwise trivial and feminized. Yet this wine is a delicious and spicy but dry carignane blend, and at only 13.5% alcohol it complemented our slapdash dinner nicely but could easily stand on its own as an aperitif.

 

Destination: Denmark; or, read this!

Spotted in Denmark: Two brands that fall into the category that Nancy Friedman calls “imperative-verb business names.” I like to call them hortatory marks.

The first is the fabulous hotel we stayed in, STAY Copenhagen. No, the name wouldn’t work in the US. “Where’d you stay?” “STAY.” “No, I asked you.” You get the picture. No matter, it was a fantastic sleek, Danish modern (duh) hotel where they upgraded us to the penthouse suite for no apparent reason, and where we luxuriated in style with views of the up-and-coming neighborhood and the river. Not to mention the heartbreakingly attractive staff and the cute grocery store downstairs with fresh strawberries to die for … Okay, I digress. But STAY plays cute with its name, as you can see here on the Do Not Disturb sign:

stay copenhagen

And if you plunk around on its website, you’ll see they really leverage the “stay” wording, in a way that I’d hate for a US trademark client but can be much more permissive about where English doesn’t reign entirely supreme.

In the same imperative vein, we were exhorted to have lunch at Yo! Sushi at the Copenhagen airport:

yo sushi

My reaction? More like Yo! I’m still hungry but I have no money left!

 

 

Destination: Disney World’s Wee Britain and Japan

Okay, actually it’s the UK, but really, after you’ve seen the episodes of Arrested Development that take place there, would you really call Epcot’s World Showcase land anything else?

The shopping in all of Epcot is excellent, though there’s always some product name that elicits eye-rolling or guffawing. Like this one, for example:

epcot mint balls

 

I could’ve bought some to see how, exactly, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls would keep me all aglow, but I erred on the side of caution.

And this one, from the Mitsukoshi department store in Epcot’s Japan:

Hi-chew

Naturally, the only reply to the question “Would you like a Hi-Chew?” is “Gesundheit.”

Thanks. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.

More is often less

Would, or should, anyone really disagree with the proposition that the food you eat should taste good? I think not. But is that proposition on its own worthy of serving as a trademark? To wit:

Food Should Taste GoodW

I note that it’s registered, but think that registration won’t go far to enabling the mark’s owner to prevent others from saying – not using as a trademark – that food, in fact, should taste good. Your mission statement shouldn’t necessarily be the same thing as your trademark.

Similarly, if asked the question set out in this mark (which is registered, despite the absence of the symbol), I’d of course say “hell yeah,” though I wouldn’t necessarily view that question as a mark:

Wanna Betta Butt

While a slogan or catchphrase may be registrable with the PTO (because “Food should taste good” and “Wanna betta butt?” are not technically descriptive of the goods they designate), that doesn’t mean they’re good trademarks. Multiple word brand names do not roll trippingly off the tongue, are difficult to remember and thus susceptible to misidentification,* and ultimately make me think of one of Saturday Night Live’s most memorable fake brands, Oops! I Crapped My Pants!

 

______________________

*Fun fact: I always refer to the women’s clothing store White House¦Black Market as “Black Tie, White Noise,” the name of a (highly underrated, IMHO) David Bowie album.

 

Portmantickled?

Many years ago, I encountered (and am desperately sorry I cannot remember where) the charming phrase “lying around like a lox.” Anyone who’s seen a full side of lox will find the phrase beautifully evocative. I then extrapolated from that the coinage “loxin’ around the house,” something I do a lot of, often with dogs in tow.

Well, a recent visit to Ulta brought me another variation on the theme:

snoxin

That’s right, snoxin. You’re loxin’? You’re snoozin? You’re both right – you’re SNOXIN!

A visit to the indeed labs (and despite the fancy smooshed “i” and “n” the URL is “indeedlabs.com”) website offers a wealth of other marks to probe, including “Matrixyl 3000 … [with] messenger molecules, Matrikines” and “SYN-AKE … an effective wrinkle smoothing compound”; re the latter, is it short for “synapse ache” or am I just falling into an ingredient name-generation syn-ake pit? See what I did there? Oy. As for Matrikines, that definitely rings of sci-fi and not science to me – perhaps a tribe of female supercows?

Fun fact about “snoxin” as a name? When you say it out loud while shopping at Ulta with your teenaged daughter, you will dissolve into hysterics and people will think you’re crazy.

In any event, would you like a visual aid to better grasp what I now conceive of as snoxin? Because snow’s coming again, and I’m sure we’re going to be back at it soon.

doges snoxin

You’re welcome.

 

Feh

I can’t decide what bothers me more about this product name:

woats

Is it (a) that the mark consists merely of the product’s main ingredient, with an additional letter slapped onto it? Or (b) that said mark rhymes with “goats”? Or (c) that when you try to pronounce it your mouth contorts uncomfortably and you’re not sure anyone can understand you? [Try it. I’ll wait. “Want some Woats?” See?] Or (d) that it reminds me of the egregious and (for me, at least) hackle-raising misspelling of “whoa” as “woah”?

I’m afraid it’s (e) All of the above, which is unfortunate, since the founder of the company has some very laudable goals for giving back to the community.

 

Unfortunate connotations

I’d rather not go into too much detail, but I’ll tell you that this product name –

snip

has the unfortunate consequence of making me think of this. And this timeless (heh) classic joke, which makes me really not want these chips, as if the cilantro weren’t enough to keep me away for life.  

Worse than melty

I can’t believe I haven’t yet found a reason to discuss my visceral disgust at the popular marketing term “melty.” What in dog’s name is wrong with “melted” and “melting,” I implore you? Every time I see a commercial using the term – and it rears its ugly head more and more often (though the public seems to have been cringing about it for many years now) – I scream at the screen. (I mean honestly, why not “meltish” then while we’re at it?)

So it was with even greater disgust that I turned over a package of Starbucks Via to see this fresh horror:

roasty

Yes, that’s “roasty.”

Now for a quick detour: I had the great honor and pleasure of being a guest lecturer on trademark prosecution at the University of Denver Law School last week, in a trademark class taught by the esteemed adjunct professor Marc Levy (okay, I had an in). And one of the topics I discussed my steadfast reminder to clients to look terms up in Urban Dictionary to make sure your new trademark isn’t a dirty word.

Let’s just say that Starbucks should’ve done that before forging ahead with its “roasty” usage.

 

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: 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!

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!

Department of redundancy department

I know in this mad, mad, world of watermelon Oreo cookies that companies often extend their product line with different flavors … but isn’t a pretzel always expected to taste like a pretzel? An apple with great apple taste? [Generic food item] that tastes like [same generic food item]?

Apparently not:

Something about this one just got to me – pretzels with a great pretzel taste. What will they think of next?
 

Double whammy

This just did me in:

No, it’s not white sauce. The closest we get to crème fraîche here at home is sour cream – which is not one of the ingredients found in either an American white sauce or a French béchamel. So “It’s White Sauce” is inaccurate and frankly, unappealing.

Two for the price of one?

I’ll bet that the graphic artist who designed this logo thought it was a brilliant idea to combine the dot on the “i” and the apostrophe here. Unfortunately, my eye thinks otherwise.

Remember, your URL doesn’t contain punctuation! Maybe make it Jenni with two Ns?