Every once in a while I think it’s important to give credit to a particular brand for listening to their trademark lawyers and branding consultants, and not picking a completely descriptive mark.
Here’s a good example:
Living Proof – a solid, non-descriptive, suggestive mark. I’m assuming that it’s the line name and that Perfect Hair Day, a much less suggestive mark, is the product name. But again, Living Proof is an excellent beauty product or haircare name.
However, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 styling treatment? A mouthful. (Not to mention the cutesy P H D initials …) While I applaud the affixation of a generic term (that’s “styling treatment”), it’s still tough for the consumer to keep track of all of these “long-ass names” (as blogger Poppy Buxom points out) to ensure she’s buying the correct product. Case in point: Garnier recently discontinued my favorite hair goop, and I set out to find hoarded backlogs on Amazon. Well, the full name of said product is “Garnier Fructis Style Survivor Tough it Out Glue with natural cactus extract – Extreme.” It took me ten minutes to sift through the names of all the available Garnier Fructis products and photos for me to verify that I wasn’t buying something that’d make my hair cling to my skull.
Bottom line? All of this fine print really makes it hard on us femmes d’un certain age who need reading glasses!
I don’t create brands; I just clear them as trademarks. I like to assume there’s some master list of rules for branding – at the top of the list being “Never Use the Term ‘Fat’ When Marketing to Women.”
So I was shocked to find this ad in March’s InStyle:
What surprises me most about this name is that the term “fat” isn’t even being used here to suggest enhanced hair volume, which is the only possible reason I could see using “fat” in connection with hair. No, Fat Foam is hair color. So while the trademark lawyer in me says “hey, at least the mark isn’t descriptive,” the weight-conscious woman in me says “Do I want to buy a product that will make me a fat ANYTHING girl”?
I’m sorry, I have had it with bacon and I’ve had it with misspellings as trademarks. Today my friend Leslie offers both in one shot (so to speak): Bakon Vodka. Let me say it again: MISSPELLING A GENERIC TERM DOES NOT MAGICALLY CONVERT IT INTO A TRADEMARK. Sorry for screaming, but apparently not everyone heard me say this before. As for the vodka, while I appreciate bacon-y goodness as much as the next person, I think we have reached bacon overload in this country. Ca se voit, as they say.
So what else can I offer you on this, the three-year anniversary of the day I went public with the thoughts that until then had merely been buzzing around in my brain and inflicted sporadically on my husband?
A few things, again from InStyle Magazine which I now have to score on the sly at my nail salon:
Well, there’s Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand. I know where they’re coming from – “unique clothing” – but once again, the foreign language dilettante in me hears “Klo” and thinks “oh, that’s ‘toilet’ or ‘loo’ in German.” On the other hand, they do use “every day” correctly on their website http://www.uniqlo.com/dress/us/, which I commend.
Spornette, a hair brush brand? In theory I don’t mind it, but in practice, I am not wild about how the logo appears on the website:
That’s right, the mark reads “pornette” with a jazzy “S” swoosh alongside it. Oops? I understand that the mark is a play on the company’s founder’s surname, Sporn, but I think any name that contains the “porn” formative needs to be careful. Google “pornette” and see what I mean. Or don’t, preferably. At the same time, I love their slogan: “A brush with success.”
Finally, Moroccanoil. It’s argan oil, presumably from Morocco. Thus the mark is descriptive if not generic. They got registration under section 2(f) of the Trademark Act, but still, this bugs me. Looks like they’re involved in litigation over the name, evidence once again that when you select a descriptive term as a trademark, you often wind up in disputes with your competitors.
I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for three years. Time does fly when you’re really having fun, and I can honestly say I love doing this. Thanks to my loyal readership (hi Dad and Marc!) and to the friends and family who plant the seeds for many of my observations. Keep ’em coming.
See? I knew the minute I mentioned my InStyle subscription mentioned my InStyle subscription it’d mysteriously terminate. So now I just have to score the stuff on the street, or at least at Snappy Nails, my salon of choice.
So what did I find this time? Mentions of a moisturizer line called CeraVe. Now there’s a name whose pronunciation stumps me. Cera, as in Michael, plus “vee”? Suh-RAVE? Their website doesn’t provide much insight on the topic, but it does offer contact info for their PR agency, as well as convenient jpg photo files. Why thank you, don’t mind if I do:
I don’t know, I find their use of SK*INformation to be somewhat twee, a word I just don’t get to use enough. So I think I’ll stick with Michael Cera, thank you.
Next, I saw an ad for Bodycology skin care products. Well, once again, it’s a mark that doesn’t move me. Why? Because it reminds me of “mycology,” the study of mushrooms. And I really don’t want anything that suggests mushrooms near my body, sorry.
Apart from InStyle, there’s always People. In one Sandra Bullock-riddled issue I did spot an ad for a product whose name I think bears reconsideration: the Always Infinity sanitary napkin. Apart from the fact that I think the term “sanitary napkin” has fallen out of usage, I can tell you that the word “infinity” is one I really don’t want to hear in connection with menstruation.
But without InStyle in my mailbox, I’ll just have to rely on my faithful online sources of information. Jezebel, thankfully, never fails me. Today they report on a doggie nightclub (yes, I recognize the absurdity) called Fetch. Ridiculous concept, but the fact that they actually made fetch happen is pretty awesome. Jezebel also has an outstanding expose on lewd and lurid vodka advertising. These ads have to be seen to be believed.
Finally, Nancy Friedman is a never-ending online source of trademark and branding novelties. Her comprehensive and hilarious account of eye-popping Japantown brand names just makes me hungry for some good ol’ Vermont Curry.