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Hill City name review by Catchword

Hill City name review by CatchwordSan Francisco-based apparel giant Gap Inc. recently launched Hill City, a men’s luxury activewear brand. The new brand is essentially a men’s Athleta (another Gap-owned apparel maker, known for yoga pants, leggings,  sweaters, and other day-to-night activewear for women). Both companies serve consumers who are looking to own fewer and better clothes (and don’t mind paying a premium for them), and both are B corps, striving to integrate sustainability as well as innovation into their business plan.

So what do yoga pants for men look like? Before you avert your eyes, read on.

Hill City offers comfortable, fitness-focused apparel made from high-performance, responsibly sourced materials. Shorts, t-shirts, pants, jackets, underwear, sweatshirts, everything you might need from workout to work to weekend. The look is clean and minimal. The colors are mostly neutral.

Hill City aims to redefine the idea of “high-performance,” expanding it from serious athletes to every man passionate about living an active life, however that may be expressed. As loathe as I am to use the term, this is truly “athleisure” apparel.

Hill City name review by Catchword

photo from Hill City

Currently, Hill City is an online business with sample garments displayed at select Athleta stores. Eventually the company may have stand-alone stores like its sister brand. Given that Gap is considering shutting hundreds of its namesake stores, building a new online brand in the growing athleisure space is a smart move.

But you’re here for a name review.

According to their website, the name Hill City was “inspired by the hybrid nature of our San Francisco roots – the smooth transitions between city and outdoors, the fusion of form and function.”

The colloquial nature of the name suggests a youthful, spirited customer. San Francisco, with a blanket of Millennial energy and angst laid across seven tourist hills, is well-represented.

City connotes sophistication, rubbing against the outdoorsy Hill and the casual attire. Contrast creates interest and suggests story, in this case, the bridging of the gap (see what I did there?) between comfort and high-performance.

Both Hill and City are basic vocabulary, easily understood by an international audience. By choosing these generic words, however, the name sacrifices some memorability and immersiveness. (As we learned in Creative Writing 101, the specific is easier to remember, and more compelling, than the general.) This tendency to the bland is really the only flaw in the name.

Hill City name review by Catchword

photo from Hill City

Graphically, the two words of equal length offer a nice balance, and its length makes it an easy fit on packaging and signage. Plus, the slash that follows the name in the logo does some nice supporting work, suggesting the hills of San Francisco and, more broadly, ascent of body (exercise) and spirit (aspiration).

(By the way, the slash is explained on the site this way: “From above, San Francisco is an organized grid. On the ground, it is much more complex, with unexpected hills, turns, and twists. Our logo signifies the versatility of our brand — its ability to shape-shift and transition. The forward slash, or ‘flash,’ signals the pursuit of continuous improvement. As a brand built on community, our mark is open-ended, representing an invitation to collaborate and progress.” Um, OK.)

Although Hill City may find it an uphill climb to gain share from market leader Lululemon Athletica and compete with Target’s cheaper men’s athleisure wear as well as the emergence of other online brands (hello, Amazon), its name fits the brand like a $78 pair of sustainably produced, moisture wicking, quick-dry, odor-resistant, UV protection running tights.

Contrast creates interest and suggests story, in this case, the bridging of the gap (see what we did there?) between comfort and high-performance.

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Catchword's Laurel Sutton quoted in WaPo

Catchword's Laurel Sutton quoted in WaPoThe Washington Post sought Catchword’s expert input in its recent story on National Landing, the new neighborhood for Amazon’s HQ2a (or is it 2b?) in Northern Virginia. Co-founder Laurel Sutton was happy to oblige.

“When they come up with a name like National Landing, it is not to serve the needs of the people who live there, it’s to serve the needs of the developer,” said Laurel Sutton, one of the founders of Catchword, a California naming and branding consultant.

When a new name is based on something percolating up from actual residents, it can work beautifully. Sutton cited the emergence of SoHo as a Manhattan neighborhood name decades ago. It was descriptive (the area is south of Houston Street) and evocative (it recalled the chic London district of the same name). It made people feel good about living there.

Will people feel good about living in National Landing?

“National Landing, what does that even mean?” asked Sutton, who was doubtful the name would stick. “It’s so bland it doesn’t tell you anything about the area. What? It’s an airport?”

Read the full story, with more of Laurel’s insights, here.

And if you’re looking to name, or rename, your neighborhood, Catchword’s naming guide can help.

“When they come up with a name like National Landing, it is not to serve the needs of the people who live there, it’s to serve the needs of the developer.”

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Archer Education renamed by Catchword

Archer Education renamed by CatchwordHigher education enrollment marketing services provider Campus Explorer has relaunched as Archer Education, a name developed by Catchword to highlight the company’s targeted approach.

The company uses outcome-focused, predictive modeling to help schools pinpoint more of the right prospects. Catchword developed Archer to suggest this precision as well as the overarching, full-lifecycle package of services.

Archer Education’s comprehensive rebrand, which includes an expanded portfolio of service offerings, reflects and elevates the company’s focus on unbundled enrollment marketing, recruitment, and retention solutions to help colleges and universities in the U.S. grow their online programs.

“We believe institutions should be able to focus on their core competencies instead of worrying about how to reach, enroll, and retain right-fit students,” said Executive Vice President Brad Gibbs in a release.

A past recipient of the Deloitte Fast 500, the company has used its unique combination of in-house technology, expertise, and partnership-focused approach to help reach today’s generation of learners since 2007.

Archer is a bull’s eye.

Many congratulations from the Catchword Team!

 

 

The company uses outcome-focused, predictive modeling to help schools pinpoint more of the right prospects. Catchword developed Archer to suggest this precision as well as the overarching, full-lifecycle package of services.

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Catchword wins 2018 Transform Award

Catchword wins 2018 Transform AwardCatchword is very proud to announce that Soluna has been recognized with a 2018 Transform Award for Naming Strategy. Catchword developed the name earlier this year for the groundbreaking blockchain infrastructure firm, the first to be fully powered by its own renewable energy.

The Transform Awards Winners Book explained the win this way: “The judges liked the succinct storytelling, with one saying, ‘The success of this name stems from a strong strategy and widesweeping creative process.’”A coinage of sol and luna [“sun” and “moon” in Latin], Soluna tells a rich story of power, nature, and humanity’s most fundamental aspiration – looking up to the great light in the sky. (Read the full story behind the name.)

Catchword-named Soluna launches blockchain infrastructure project

Transform, the global magazine for rebranding and brand development, honors and rewards the most innovative, creative, and successful brand work across the world each year. The awards recognize best practice in corporate, product, and global brand development work, with categories that focus on strategy, execution, content, and evaluation.

Thank you, Transform judges! And congratulations to the Soluna and Catchword teams!

“The judges liked the succinct storytelling, with one saying, ‘The success of this name stems from a strong strategy and widesweeping creative process.’”

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Nissan Kicks name review from Catchword

Photo courtesy of Nissan

Nissan has introduced an affordable new crossover utility vehicle (that means somewhere between an SUV and a hatchback/wagon): the Kicks. The subcompact will be sold globally, replacing the Juke in the U.S.

Overall, reviews so far have been pretty good, particularly on the value-to-price metric.

But will the name drive traffic? I say it’s green lights all the way.

Nissan Kicks name review from CatchwordLike the iconic song, Kicks suggests driving fun and freedom. (To our younger readers: the R&B standard “Route 66” was a smash hit for Nat King Cole and included the refrain “Get your kicks on Route 66.” You may be more familiar with the song as performed by John Mayer, which appeared in Pixar’s Cars. That film’s setting was a small town on a highway based on Route 66.)

The name sells the light and playful yet very practical personality of the Kicks. It’s the car for kicking around town with family, friends, or other sidekicks. The elevated seats and roomy, premium-for-the price interior allow you to kick back in style.

Expressions like kickstart, kickoff, kick up your heels, and kicks meaning athletic shoes suggest fast, agile action, which may help customers overlook the car’s lack of pickup with only 125 hp. And, that the word has multiple positive associations means consumers can fill in the meaning that most appeals to them, which is a cool, and smart, way to build brand connections.

Nissan Kicks name review by CatchwordAccording to various auto media, Kicks is a vast improvement over its American predecessor, the Juke. As a name, the new model certainly kicks butt. It expresses all the agility and fun of Juke but with a far more familiar word. That’s particularly important for a global audience. (Plus for me, without the addition of joint or box, juke is a bit too close to jerk.)

The only problem I see with Kicks is that the plural form of the word can lead to somewhat awkward syntax. “The Kicks is in the driveway.” But as with the cereal Kix, consumer will adjust to treating the word as a singular.

Nissan Kicks name review by CatchwordIt’s such a fitting car name, and a lexical English word to boot, I’m surprised Nissan was able to get the trademark.

Like the iconic song, Kicks suggests driving fun and freedom.

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