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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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Preferred Fragrance knockoffs

CanCan scentImitation fragrances are big business with a small price tag, and the names can be pretty darned entertaining. Some are inspired. Some, quite frankly, stink.

I browsed a Big Lots store recently while visiting my mom in Virginia. I hadn’t been in one in ages and was very curious about the state of cheap goods these days. While I do love a bargain, as a professional namer and brand enthusiast, it’s also my job to be curious about what’s on the shelves.

What I saw in the fragrance aisle certainly got my attention. (I’ll admit I knew nothing about knockoff scents, so this excursion into shameless copycattery was quite educational.) I’m happy to report that the imitation scent industry is alive and well and provides ample fodder for a master’s thesis in branding, pop culture, or psychology.

The names varied in style (from simple thesaurus raiding to fairly clever creative) but not intention. Both name and package make it crystal clear who you are buying at a discount.

Preferred Fragrance knockoffs

Several opt for straightforward synonyms or translations: JLo’s JLove becomes Amore, Victoria’s Secret’s Bombshell becomes Stunner.

Some choose to repeat a word part or construction: Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck becomes Wonderful, Paris Hilton’s Can Can becomes I do… I do…, and Sean John’s Unforgivable becomes Unstoppable.

And others try to capture the essence of the celebrity whose product they wish to cash in on: Jay Z’s Gold becomes The Man.

TooMuchCroppedMy personal favorite is the almost certainly unintentional meta-branding of the Tory Burch knockoff Too Much (Ms. Burch’s Absolu retails for $105).

Copycat perfumes are not illegal, but the use of the trademarked name or package styling of the original has led to a number of successful US and European trademark infringement lawsuits brought by designers against knockoff companies.

The imitators cite the original clearly on the package (some even copy package design elements) with language like “Our impression of” and “Inspired by” followed by the name of the designer and fragrance (in all caps to make sure you won’t miss whose brand is being ripped off.)

scent namingA frequent target of suits from designers such as Prada, Victoria’s Secret, and Clinique, the scent ‘homages’ of New York-based Preferred Fragrance dominated the Big Lot shelves. Prada sued the company when the imitator offered Party Candy for $4 at drugstores as a sub for Prada Candy ($82 a bottle). Even the box design was similar.

The company tries to give itself legal cover with the line “Preferred Fragrance is not associated with the registered marks above,” but that’s a pretty tiny figleaf.

The most memorable fragrance name of the day, however, belongs not to a knockoff but to BOD Man. I had assumed this was an Axe wannabe, but Google search indicates BOD may have been hawking its bouquet de bro before its better-known competitor.

knockoff scentsI did like the simplicity and double meaning of their body spray Fresh Guy. But is grouping a set of fragrances called Black, Most Wanted, and Really Ripped Abs self-aware meta-branding or simply offensive (or both)? You decide.

Smell ya later.

 

Imitation fragrances are big business with a small price tag, and the names can be pretty darned entertaining. Some are inspired. Some, quite frankly, stink.

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Spy

Now is the time of year where you can read about all the top baby names from 2016, and all the predicted baby name trends of 2017. But as I was perusing those lists, I saw a news story about Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, which Netflix is producing, and it got me thinking: Daniel Handler’s pseudonym Lemony Snicket is perhaps my favorite pen-name of all time.

SpyIt’s a special opportunity and privilege to get to name another human, and a lot has been written about how to pick of the best baby name. But it’s a far stranger exercise to give yourself a new name. Maybe you’re an author, or a pop star. Maybe you’re a secret agent creating a fake identity, or a criminal on the lam, or a college freshman reinventing yourself, or all of the above. Either way, here are 6 considerations that might help!

1) Phonetics. First things first, you want your new name to sound good. To flow off the the tongue like fondue. Rappers Khalif and Aquil Brown perform under the name Rae Sremmurd, which is the name of their home label “Ear Drummers,” backwards. That is an example of what NOT to do. Lemony Snicket scores very high in this category — that name is so darn fun to say, and the combination of hard and soft consonants is magical.

2) Meaning (implicit or explicit). Just like with a company or product name, your new name should be the epitome of your brand. The connotations you want to imbue in your name can be obvious and overt, or almost subconscious. You can get pretty quickly from the name Nicki Minaj to the phrase ménage à trois. Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, Foxy Brown, John Legend… pretty clear connotations to those names, I would say. Then there are softer, subtle suggestions. I would also argue that the impulse to use a common first name as a last name among male performers — Bob Dylan, Elton John (though his given name, Reginald Kenneth Dwight also fits the bill, with a full three consecutive first names), Toby Keith, Brett Michaels, Steven Tyler, John Stewart and many more — conveys an implicit familiarity, personableness, and often folksiness. (Billy Joel, Paul Simon, the Jonas brothers, and others fit into this category, though those are their given names.)

So ask yourself. What is your personal brand, and what do you want people to feel when they hear your name?

3) Search Engine Viability. If you are a pop-star or author, you want your name at the top of the search results. If you are a criminal on the lam, you want a name that blends in. John Doe is not a great pop-star name. Lady Gaga is not a good name for someone infiltrating a foreign government. Frank Ocean is a great pseudonym because it involves two common, memorable words that are nevertheless extremely rare to find together. That ensure that early in his career, his name would be at the top if “Frank Ocean” was searched. (Great job picking Frank over Arctic.) Also, don’t forget to pick a name where the exact .COM domain is available!

Searchability considerations are also why only the most iconic celebrities can get away with only using a common first name, like Madonna or Rhianna. I seem to remember Lindsay Lohan saying a while back that she wanted to be known simply as Lindsay, but I can’t find any evidence on the internet. Anyhow, you get the idea.

4) Memorability. This is a fairly intangible quality because memorability in enhanced by a strong performance in the other categories listed. Here are some other ideas: you can use shock value to create memorability if you’re in the right industry (looking for a pro-wrestling name?), or out of left field strangeness (Chad Ocho Cinco and Metta World Peace come to mind). You can incorporate punctuation (Ke$ha, of course) or you can use repetition (Lady Gaga), alliteration (Meek Mill, Harry Houdini, Marilyn Monroe), internal or external rhyme (Frankie Valli, Norah Jones), or any number of other linguistic tricks.

5) Industry-specific logistics. You may want your pseudonym to be as advantageous for your particular industry as it is mellifluous. For example, you may want to pick a name that begins with “a” so that will appear at the top of an alphabetical list. Sadly, many female authors use androgynous pseudonym or even male name (like George Elliot) because of the implicit bias towards male authors that many publishers unfortunately harbor. (Unless, of course, they write erotica. In that genre, it is not uncommon for male authors to adopt female pseudonyms, because consumers are more likely to buy erotica written by authors with traditionally female names.) Or, you can go by your initials, like N.K. Jemisen or J.K. Rowling. Additionally, some performers or comedians also unfortunately feel the need to adopt a less ethnic sounding name to avoid potential racism, or because their last name might be difficult for their audience to say, spell, or pronounce. (E.g., Mindy Kaling was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam.)

6) Backstory. Having a solid backstory to your name can enhance memorability, and can also make it easier for you to decide on a name. Miley Cyrus adopted Miley because she used to be called Smiley. The name Lemony Snicket was an inside joke among Daniel Handler’s college buddies. Even if you are simply adopting your middle name as your first or last name, having a personal connection to the name is important both for others to understand, and for your own identity transition to be smooth.

That about sums it up. To all those future rock-stars and secret agents out there…Happy pseudo-naming!

Maybe you’re an author, or a pop star. Maybe you’re a secret agent creating a fake identity, or a criminal on the lam, or a college freshman reinventing yourself, or all of the above. Either way, here are 6 considerations that might help!

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top-10-gtlds

It’s been more than two years since the new gTLDs started to be released. Meant to provide companies and individuals with a plethora of options for where to register their domains, these extensions inspired betting left and right as to which would float, which would sink, and how much the gTLDs would be embraced by the average domainer. To tell you the truth, the domain world hasn’t changed much since then. Check out the top 10 new gTLDs, from https://ntldstats.com.

top-10-gtlds

When it comes to the new gTLDs, .XYZ has outpaced the pack by a healthy margin, claiming a full quarter of new gTLD registrations at about 6.5 million. On the other hand, .COM is at or around the 130 million mark, and growing at about 7% year over year, according to Verisign, steward of the .COM extension.

.TOP is second to .XYZ among new gTLDs; however, they are ranked artificially high. The company that created the .TOP extension admitted to having a robot trawl whois email addresses on domain registries, and sending a phishing email to all registrants of other domains, asking whether they would also like to register a .TOP domain. This tactic infuriated many, but also resulted in a spike in registrations. It should also be noted that .TOP is perhaps the cheapest to register, costing only 99 cents in some instances. Its popularity is highest in China, where the company that bought .TOP is based.

Though .XYZ doesn’t quite roll off the tongue or scream cache, its success may stem in part from being inexpensive, easy to remember, and for all intents and purposes, generic, like .COM. It makes sense that extensions like .NYC and .PIZZA and .ATTORNEY are less prevalent because they are more specialized. And it didn’t hurt that Google opted to host parent company Alphabet’s site at www.abc.xyz.

But suffice to say, total registrations don’t tell the complete picture. For that, we’ll need to look at renewals and the percent of domains that aren’t parked (i.e., being held by investors). We’ll have a clearer picture in a year or two, but until the dust settles, our advice from when the gTLDs first started coming out still rings true. The quick and dirty is this: go with the .COM if you can. It’s like owning a store downtown, on Main Street, versus out in the boonies, and it’s still the most trusted extension available.

Unless you are a pure e-commerce business, t’s okay to modify the exact .COM with a short descriptor (health, hi, systems). If you truly can’t find a .COM that’s suitable for your business, well, there are other perfectly serviceable ccTLDs and gTLDs, including .IO, .CO, .ME, .LIVE, and .TV. And, if there’s a specific gTLD that speaks clearly to your business focus, that can be a consideration also (e.g, .CAFE for your coffee and sandwich shop–that makes a whole lot of sense).

It’s been more than two years since the new gTLDs started to be released. Meant to provide companies and individuals with a plethora of options for where to register their domains, these extensions inspired betting left and right as to which would float, which would sink, and how much the gTLDs would be embraced by the average domainer.

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