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We’re all familiar with the non-English words used as brand names, like Kijiji, Bodega, Prego, or Uber. We’re probably more familiar with intentionally misspelled words used as brand names, like Tumblr or Lyft.

Non-English names (especially European and specifically French-derived) can signal elegance, and are often used in fashion. Misspelling can be a cue that the company is techy, or an upstart.

With Phlur, you get both.

From www.Phlur.com

A misspelling of fleur, the French word for flower, Phlur is hoping you will be willing to skip the trip to the department store and buy cologne online. Specifically, Phlur’ll sell you some samples on the cheap, and then give you a discount on full bottles once you find the scent you like.

We usually stick to reviewing newborn names. Phlur has been around for over a year, but saw renewed press recently due to a round of fundraising. Since the name was a bold choice, here we are.

Both non-English names and misspelled names are meant to be surprising; they ask the consumer to go on a little journey with the brand. They are meant to make you take a second look. When well executed, consumers like that. But the heart of the matter is this: can English-speaking consumers handle a non-English name that is ALSO misspelled?

Zappos is one pseudo-precedent. The name comes from zapato, the Spanish word for shoes. But Zappos has many of the hallmarks of a good name in its own right: it has a double letter, a memorable Z to kick it off, and it’s fun to say.

Phlur doesn’t have that. Phlur is awkward to read, and the pronunciation takes work to decipher. We just aren’t used to that letter combination; the only word I can think of that starts with “phl” is “phlegm.” (A quick jaunt through Webster’s also cues me in to phlebitis, which believe me, you don’t want to contract.)

The scent names they’ve created are all elegant, and the copy is cheeky but informative. The scent Hanami, for example, is descibed as “Effervescent and ethereal; a butterfly ice skating.” That’s all great, but the name Phlur just isn’t quite elegant enough, and doesn’t read as playful and cheeky enough to be the face of the otherwise well-branded brand.

Finding an available trademark and domain name is always difficult, and doing so with a misspelled non-English name would be, in theory, much easier than with most other naming directions. (The options are less limited because the territory is relatively uncharted.) Perhaps that was a motivator for the company’s choice of Phlur. Exploring this territory for a company name could be a good call but only if you can develop one that works well on all levels, including pronunciation by English speakers.

I’ll tell you one thing. Phlur definitely got its domain name for free.

Both non-English names and misspelled names are meant to be surprising; they ask the consumer to go on a little journey with the brand. They are meant to make you take a second look. When well executed, consumers like that. But the heart of the matter is this: can English-speaking consumers handle a non-English name that is ALSO misspelled?

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Corning thanks Catchword

What a wonderful surprise! Longtime client Corning just sent us this beautiful thank you for our work! The plaque is a Masterpix (fine glass print) of some of the names we’ve developed for them, including – you guessed it – Masterpix!

Corning thanks Catchword

We’ve had the great pleasure to work with Corning on many occasions over the past decade to create names like Masterpix, including Willow Glass, Valor Glass, Lotus Glass, Versalume, Fibrance, and more.

This gift is especially meaningful to us as we approach Catchword’s 20th anniversary in May. It’s been a great ride, and working with folks like Corning is why.

#BestClientEver

What a wonderful surprise! Longtime client Corning just sent us this beautiful thank you for our work!

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A lot of people have trouble sleeping. Some count sheep. Others get medical marijuana cards. A new option? Som.

Som is a berry-flavored drink that includes vitamins, minerals, and melatonin (a hormone) to help you relax and support healthy sleep patterns.

From www.GetSom.com

 

The company’s marketing team has done a good job leveraging the simple English word the name clearly recalls: some. “Can’t sleep? Get Som.” Note, this slogan suggests we are to pronounce the name to rhyme with tum and slumber (no coincidence there), not tome or Tom.

With the name Som, the company also certainly had in mind the Latin somnus, which means (you guessed it) sleep. You can see that root at work in these sleepy Latin-derived gems: somnambulate (sleepwalk), somnolent (drowsy), and somnific (sleep inducing).

Credit goes to the Romans for how the sound of Som perfectly captures the process of falling asleep. Sibilants (like “s”) tend to convey smooth movement; the “ah,” “oh,” or “uh” vowel tends to evoke depth; and the “m” sound that ends with a decrescendo closing of the lips suggests calm (think ohm). The word is short, yet lingers as long as we want with that humming “m,” a soothing, centering vibration (think ohm again).

You may also recognize in the name the Ancient Greek root soma, which means body and is found in the English words soma (the body of an organism) and somatic (relating to the body). Falling asleep is profoundly physical. Even the metaphor we use for it suggests a body, one in descent.

But what you may not know is that soma also refers to an intoxicating juice from ancient India used as an offering to the gods and as a drink of immortality. (Immortality sounds like a pretty nice benefit for a health supplement.) Now, the makers of Som have made very clear that the beverage is not alcohol or a medication, and don’t recommend mixing it with either. But calmly drifting off is rather akin to intoxication (the mellow kind, not the Red Bull-fueled raging variety).

The name is short and lends itself well to graphic presentation, which is desirable in package design and overall marketing, and helps with memorability.

Catchword Som name reviewWe are very glad the company wasn’t tempted to go the Zzzom route, which is not only an extremely tired construction, but also suggests zonked out rather than lulled to gentle sleep.

Another thing to note about the name Som is how utterly non-medical it sounds.

Let us give a little context. With prescription drugs, which this is not, names have to follow strict rules. In general, for a drug name to be approved by the FDA, it can’t sound or look too similar to an existing drug, lest someone filling a prescription over the phone choose the wrong medication or a doctor’s sloppy handwriting leave a pharmacist confused. Since there are so many drugs already, that means the pattern of letters, vowels, ascenders, and descenders of any new drug name must be unusual.

All of this has resulted in rather wackadoodle names for prescription drugs, and the acceptance — even trust — by the public of those strange names. Som sounds nothing like those and is clearly identifying itself as a non-pharmaceutical, natural sleep aid. (Note that energy drinks, sleep aids, and other supplements are not controlled or tested by the FDA.)

Our only critique of Som is that the desired pronunciation of the vowel is unclear. The English sleep words (somnolent, etc.) have “ah.” Some and slumber have “uh.” And soma has “oh.” In general, it’s best if your customers know exactly how to say your product’s name, when they order it or tell their friends about it, but also in their own heads. However, that’s a tiny disturbance in what is otherwise a branding dream.

We don’t need to sleep on it to know that Som is no yawn — meaningful, memorable, and fresh with a rich story to tell.

A lot of people have trouble sleeping. Some count sheep. Others get medical marijuana cards. A new option? Som.

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Cofense, named by Catchword

Cofense, named by CatchwordCongratulations to Cofense (formerly PhishMe) on a successful acquisition and rebrand!

Founded in 2011 as PhishMe, this rising star in cybersecurity was acquired jointly by BlackRock and Pamplona Capital Management in a deal that valued the firm at $400m.

In anticipation of the move, and to better communicate its current brand, PhishMe worked with Catchword to rename the company and develop product architecture and strategy. “[The name] Cofense reflects the full breadth of our portfolio of enterprise-wide attack detection, response, and orchestration solutions,” said Rohyt Belani, CEO and co-founder, in a release.

Cofense’s collective defense suite combines attack intelligence sourced from employees with automated response tech to stop attacks faster and stay ahead of breaches. “We believe technology and users must work together, creating a seamless cycle of vigilance and response. We think human aptitude and instinct is the perfect complement to the speed and orchestration of best-in-class technology. In fact, we know this marriage is the only way to eliminate email-based threats,” said co-founder Aaron Higbee on the company’s blog.

The company’s new name needed to express this collaborative approach as well as its broad expertise, which extends beyond its original focus on the simulation of phishing attacks (the fraudulent practice of sending emails that appear to be from reputable companies in order to solicit personal information).

“With our new name and branding, we’re ready to blow things out. The Cofense brand speaks to how we’ve expanded our approach. Cofense delivers collective, complete phishing defense,” said Higbee. “Our rebranding and acquisition are serious energizers. It’s been a great ride so far—and it’s about to get crazy fun.”

We look forward to seeing what’s next for Cofense!

Founded in 2011 as PhishMe, this rising star in cybersecurity was acquired jointly by BlackRock and Pamplona Capital Management in a deal that valued the firm at $400m. In anticipation of the move, and to better communicate its current brand, PhishMe worked with Catchword to rename the company.

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PR trade mag The Holmes Report featured an interview this month with Hitachi Vantara’s CCO, Mary Ann Gallo, with whom Catchword was pleased to partner on the development of the new company’s name.

Launched last September, Vantara leverages the broad portfolio of innovation, development, and experience from across Hitachi Group companies to deliver data-driven solutions for commercial and industrial enterprises in both operational and information technologies.

Catchword was delighted to work with long-time client Hitachi to find a name for the spinoff that was on-message, easy to pronounce for a global market, and fully ownable. In a departure from past projects, Hitachi decided the new name should be a suggestive coinage, as Ms. Gallo explains:

“Naming a company is not an easy proposition, and it was something that we wanted to do differently. Within Hitachi we have a very straightforward descriptive naming. But with this new company we wanted to paint a very interesting future that would not be limited by who we are today, but have room for growth. We wanted to take a leap and take a new name that didn’t have any associated meaning to it, a name we would create over time.

“We worked on a name with (the naming agency) Catchword. We also wanted people to know that while we were creating something new, our offerings…social innovation, data-driven solutions, virtualization technology…were going to come with us and be a key part of our strategy. Advantage was another element, that everything we do at Hitachi Vantara is rooted in customer value. Vantara is having a vantage point, having insights into data.”

Read the full interview Catchword in The Holmes Report

PR trade mag The Holmes Report featured an interview this month with Hitachi Vantara’s CCO, Mary Ann Gallo, with whom Catchword was pleased to partner on the development of the new company’s name.

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