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Catchword in Washington Post

Catchword in Washington PostCatchword’s very own Laurel Sutton was consulted by WaPo reporter Hayley Tsukayama on Samsung’s selection of “Bixby” for its new AI assistant.

If Samsung has its way, we’ll all be bellowing voice commands to “Bixby,” the company’s new voice assistant. Yet Bixby could be hard for some users to call upon because of the placement of one letter: the “x.”

The “x” in Bixby sounds essentially like a “k” and an “s” combined, which is difficult for many people around the world to say, according to linguists, including for those in Samsung’s native South Korea.

“Lots of languages do not allow for certain kinds of consonant clusters,” William Idsardi, head of the linguistics department at the University of Maryland, said in an email. …

Bixby can also be a good brand for Samsung because it doesn’t have many preexisting associations with it, said Laurel Sutton, co-founder of the naming firm Catchword, linguist and information officer for the American Name Society. Sutton said that some may remember “Incredible Hulk” actor Bill Samsung logoBixby, or know another person with that name, but it’s not a particularly common word. …

Read the full story here: Why Samsung’s name for its personal assistant may twist quite a few tongues

Catchword’s very own Laurel Sutton was consulted by WaPo reporter Hayley Tsukayama on Samsung’s selection of “Bixby” for its new AI assistant.

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Skinny Bitch beverage

Skinny Bitch beverageThanks to Werner Brandl, our German partner, for the heads up about this German copycat for Skinnygirl brand cocktails. Pretty edgy and aggressive, but perhaps the word doesn’t have the same connotation abroad.

(Photo courtesy Werner Brandl c. 2017)

Thanks to Werner Brandl, our German partner, for the heads up about this German copycat for Skinnygirl brand cocktails.

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vea

If you are what you eat, then everyone is surely part Mondelez. Mondelez is a food conglomerate that owns many notables, from Chips Ahoy to Philadelphia Cream Cheese to Triscuits and Wheat Thins.

Yes, that’s right. The two most polar opposites on the cracker spectrum, Triscuits and Wheat Thins, are actually siblings. And now you can add another cracker to the Mondelez cracker family: Véa.

vea

from www.mondelezinternational.com/newsroom/our-stories/vea 3/8/17

 

This is what Véa is all about, straight from the horse’s mouth:

Designed to drive growth in the savory cracker segment, Véa is a key pillar of our goal to be the global leader in well-being snacks…With a name symbolizing the brand’s purpose of “savoring the journey,” we developed Véa for the on-the-go, well-being-focused millennial consumer – open to discovery, adventure and authenticity.”

And does Véa deliver the goods? Crunch yeah. With a vague romance language tone to it, Véa both links to Mondelez, and to the ideas of discovery, adventure, and authenticity. (After all, don’t European sounding names sound more authentic and more adventurous? Compare, say, Frappucino and Coolata.) And, Véa gets one easily to “via,” suggesting an avenue, a journey, and movement, and those that remember their Spanish conjugations “vea” is the third person imperative conjugation of the verb for to look. “Look!” Commands the name.

And as for sound and mouthfeel, the name is light and airy, making the crackers seem healthy as can be. Some might go so far as to say that the V name even brings to mind vegetables! (If they were actually vegetables, they would be the ultimate double agents. But they aren’t. So I guess that makes them triple agents?)

Anyhow, here at Catchword we dig the name Véa. It totally hits the spot.

Grade: A

Véa gets one easily to “via,” suggesting an avenue, a journey, and movement, and those that remember their Spanish conjugations “vea” is the third person imperative conjugation of the verb for to look. “Look!” Commands the name.

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Caavo
Caavo

from www.caavo.com

Caavo is a device that unifies all the doodads plugged into your TV. It’s a home entertainment bundler, connecting your TV, DVR, videogames, streaming channels, laptop, yada yada yada.

I’m flipping through channels, trying to find a reason they named it Caavo, and the reception is pretty fuzzy.

At first I thought it could be a strange corruption of cavort. And then maybe a rearrangement of avoca from avocation or avocado.  In Latin, cavo comes from the root that means hollow, or to excavate. The latter is more plausible, but to me the product is much more concerned with ease and streamlining than discovery.

And then I was informed that in Italian, cavo means wire. That’s likely it. In essence, the Caavo channels all of your devices down the same wire.

Suffice it to say, they could have done better. Part of the allure of names derived from a romance language for English speakers is that they usually sound fancy. But in this case, the two As are unsightly and unwieldy, and do not suggest elegance.

Further, English doesn’t have a standard pronunciation for the rare double A; Aaron, aardvark, and naan all have slightly different vowel sounds. That means that English speakers won’t be confident in saying Caavo out loud.

And lastly, if indeed it does come from the Italian for “wire,” it certainly isn’t a root English speakers can recognize easily. Throwing an extra A into an Italian word that has no English crossover pretty much ensures that the origins of the word won’t be traced by English speakers.

It’s hard naming a startup. Naming can sometimes be the very last thing you want to focus on. And I know you want a cheap, exact .com domain name. And I know you want to sound cool. But please, take a little time and read our handy naming guide. There’s so, so much to be gained with a good name, I guarantee it is worth your while.

Grade: B-

English doesn’t have a standard pronunciation for the rare double A; Aaron, aardvark and naan all have slightly different vowel sounds. That means that English speakers won’t be confident in saying Caavo out loud.

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Talking_Stick_Resort_Arena (2)

Sad State of Stadium NamingIf you are a sports fan, or have ever lived with one, you know that true fans don’t just know their players’ names, numbers, and stats. They live and die with them every season. But, as arena-naming rights continue to sell to the highest bidder—however ludicrous the result—fans are losing their connection to what once felt like hallowed ground.

To wit, this year’s Super Bowl will be held in Houston’s NRG Stadium, previously known as Reliant Stadium, part of the sports complex formerly known as the Astrodome. (“Astrodome”… how cool was that?)

And that’s one of the more straightforward naming stories. The tortured history of Catchword’s hometown Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s and Raiders play, is more typical. Naming rights first went to UMAX Technologies in 1997, but a court dispute quickly reverted the name to the original. In 1998, the venue became Network Associates Coliseum, which through acquisition in 2003 became McAfee ColiseumMcAfee Coliseum. In 2008, the name reverted to Oakland Coliseum before becoming Overstock.com Coliseum in 2011… and then O.co Coliseum when Overstock.com rebranded. (At least O.co worked nicely with Overstock.com Coliseumboth Overstock.com and Oakland Coliseum). Finally this past year, the name reverted once more to Oakland Coliseum.

(In case you got lost in all those changes, it was Oakland Coliseum > UMAX Technologies > Oakland Coliseum > Network Associates Coliseum > McAfee Coliseum > BACK to Oakland Coliseum > Overstock.com Coliseum > O.co Coliseum > and finally back to Oakland Coliseum again!)

Can you imagine how customers would react to Coca-Cola or Google changing their names that frequently or that arbitrarily? Great marketers know that consistency, appropriateness, and emotional engagement are among the factors critical to brand success (see Catchword’s 10 Naming Criteria).

Fan faith is tested when the field they love doesn’t return that loyalty. In contrast, a consistent home-field experience across generations can engender legendary fan support. Consider the Green Bay Packers, whose home has always been called Lambeau Field, memorializing a former coach. Players even do the famous “Lambeau Leap” after they score.

Enron stadium naming failStadium naming rights were not always for sale. The move from geographic and historic references to corporate names has grown exponentially since the mid-90s, provoking frequent anger and derision, not to mention embarrassing brand bloopers (Enron Field, anyone?). AT&T Park went through so many changes—as communications companies consolidated—that fans referred to it as “The Telephone Booth.” The White Sox’s home’s 2016 switch from U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field was widely lampooned, in part because of the prominence of the downward-pointing arrow in the mortgage company’s logo. It’s hard to imagine more of a downer than that to often superstitious fans and players alike.

Some Sad State of Stadium Namingof the more suitable corporate stadium names have come from beverage companies. Coors Field is home to the Colorado Rockies. The Milwaukee Brewers play in Miller Park—the best fit in MLB. The Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field. But then there’s Smoothie King Center, home to the New Orleans Pelicans, and Minute Maid Park, where the Houston Astros play.

Peculiar, mediocre, and uninspiring stadium names Sleep Train Arenaabound. The Phoenix Suns play in Talking Stick Resort Arena (formerly America West Arena, then US Airways Center). Can you imagine a less energetic name than Sleep Train Arena, where the Sacramento Kings played until last year? The Baltimore Ravens’ field went from PSINet Stadium (PSINet filed for bankruptcy in 2002) to M&T Bank Stadium in 2003. There’s EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners. For the Minnesota Vikings, it’s the U.S. Bank Stadium.

Frankly, selling the name of a team’s home to the highest bidder, with no consideration for anything else, makes a mockery of fan loyalty. These names are cynical, detached from team, sport, city … humanity. Every encounter with a silly or soulless Sad state of stadium namingname like Little Caesars Arena deepens the crack in the happy illusion that sports leagues share fan values. And for non-fans, these revolving-door stadium names only reinforce the narrative of fat cat owners and overpaid athletes.

Most fans know on some level that pro sports are big business, but they expect decisions to be guided by love for the game and respect for the fans as well as profit. A stadium whose name honors team and city is a venerable local institution, a place where people gather to celebrate athletic excellence, a living memorial to the history of the team, the city, the game.

Realistically, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle on selling names rights – this source of income has become too valuable. But the team brand (and the city’s and the sponsor’s) is even more valuable. How can we strike the right balance, so sports venues can be a source of pride for the whole community? They must think long-term, well beyond the immediate bump from a sponsorship.

Here are seven dos and don’ts for stadium naming (and yes, this means rejecting higher offers that don’t meet the criteria):

1. Imagine how fans and media will use the name in conversation. Will they shorten or abbreviate it? Will they stumble over it? (er PSINet Field).

2. Consider how the stadium name pairs with your team’s name. For instance, it would be a pretty big disconnect to find the Bears playing in the Amazon.

3. Consider the volatility of the sponsor’s business and sector (adios Enron and Sports Authority).

4. Veto names with any whiff of silliness (looking at you, Smoothie King).

5. Avoid acronyms or letter soup. These names mean nothing, are utterly forgettable, and have no emotional pull (a la PNC Park).

6. Avoid names or logos that are contrary to sporting excellence (wake up, Sleep Train!).

7. Last but not least, incorporate the history of the park into the branded name. For example, Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High retains some heritage while prominently featuring the sponsor (that in this case went bankrupt – oops!). Or how about Willie Mays Park by AT&T? Mandate such a formula in the team’s bylaws. The sponsor component may change, but the rest of the name will consistently express the brand’s connection to the city, the team, the fans, and the game.

Willie Mays ParkHere’s hoping that 2017 heralds a new era of stadium naming that celebrates park history and the fans who fuel the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a sports fan, or have ever lived with one, you know that true fans don’t just know their players’ names, numbers, and stats. They live and die with them every season. But, as arena-naming rights continue to sell to the highest bidder—however ludicrous the result—fans are losing their connection to what once felt like hallowed ground.

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