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AVITA named by Catchword

AVITA named by CatchwordCongratulations to AVITA for a successful launch in the Americas last month!

The Hong Kong-based manufacturer of laptops, smart home devices, and other consumer electronics designed to fit the modern lifestyle began distribution of its Clarus laptop through Walmart in June. Catchword named the company, which launched in Asia in 2017.

Catchword created the name AVITA to convey the natural way the company’s products facilitate real life and help you explore and express your own vibrant style (vita means “life” in Latin). The company continued this direction with its tagline, “Live it up.”

AVITA’s first American offering has gotten some nice press — here’s a preview from PC Magazine.

AVITA named by Catchword

Catchword is very proud to have partnered with AVITA and wishes the company every success!

Congratulations to AVITA for a successful launch in the Americas last month!

Catchword explains X & Y brand naming trend

Names with the form “____ and _____” have become ubiquitous. The form isn’t new — Ben & Jerry’s, Johnson & Johnson, and Abercrombie & Fitch have been around for years — but recently it seems like this type of name is everywhere, especially in certain industries like food and beverage and apparel.

Catchword explains X & Y brand naming trend

In the apparel category, for example, we have the recent launches of Time and Tru, Terra and Sky (both from Walmart), Ava & Viv (from Target), Scout + Ro, Lark & RoJames & ErinFranklin & Freeman (four from Amazon), and many others. There’s even a name-generating website that mocks the trend. So what gives?

Here at Catchword we love digging into naming trends, and helping you decide whether to embrace those trends or avoid them. So here are our top 10 reasons why “X & Y” (or “X and Y” or “X + Y”) names are so popular.

1. “X & Y” names evoke friendship, family, or, dare I say, romance. Whose heart doesn’t warm at the thought of two close friends? A pair of ideal siblings, angelically playing together (no parental grief here)? Or perhaps two young lovers? And even if the X and Y aren’t personal names, they do evoke an affectionate coupling.

2. Formulas help our memories. Familiar formulas provide a framework that enhances our ability to remember names (as long as there aren’t too many similar names using that same formula).

Catchword explains appeal of "X&Y" brand names3. Pairing two names makes it easy for a brand to express two messages or deepen a single message. James & Erin is for men and women. Terra and Sky is both grounded and aspirational (and deeply natural to boot). Doubling the words also gives you ample opportunity for alliteration and consonance. Franklin & Freeman, Time and Tru, Ava & Viv.

4. The “and” gives the names a pleasant cadence and rhythm. Names with natural rhythms are also easier to remember. Go ahead, say some of the names out loud, nobody’s listening. Now say them without the “and.” See? (For those who prefer explanation to experience: The “and” is always an unstressed syllable, and the syllable that follow is always stressed “and Jerry’s,” “and Sky,” which creates an iamb, to use a term from poetry. An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable. The iamb has been used in literature from Ancient Greek drama to Shakespeare to the present. Many consider it the pattern that most closely resembles natural speech in English.)

5. Juxtaposition evokes sophistication and an earlier era. Putting two seemingly unrelated and even unexpected words together evokes a unique refinement or elegance that elevates the brand’s tone. It also hearkens back to the 19th century and earlier, when companies were named after the founders or used an ampersand before “Co” (Lord & Taylor, Tiffany & Co.). This retro hipness is right in line with the millennial aesthetic we see in, for example, handcrafted cocktails served in an apothecary-like gastropub.

6. Trademark is more likely to be available. The name of the game with trademarks is finding a name that isn’t confusingly similar to other names. Joining two distinct and unrelated words together makes trademark acquisition much simpler.

7. Exact domain name is easier to come by, and cheaper. In fact, the quest for exact domain names was a major driver behind other naming trends as well, like the cute misspelling trend (Digg), the dropped vowel trend (Tumblr), and the “-ly” trend (Insightly).

8. Pairing two things, especially personal names, suggests collaboration and accessibility. Brands who want to cultivate an epic or edgy vibe often embrace a single figurehead (or mastermind, cough Tesla cough). Brands that want to feel accessible can cultivate that by suggesting collaboration and togetherness.

Catchword explains appeal of "X&Y" brand names9. This format makes it easy to use cool, graphic characters. Using symbols or punctuation in brand names can be fun and memorable, and “&” and “+” both give a name a graphical hook for the eyes. You could even place your “and” vertically to increase visual interest without impacting legibility.

10. The echo chamber perpetuates the trend. Once trends reach a tipping point, you can’t stop them. Consumers start to associate a style of name with certain emotions or desires or products, and then names pop up to capitalize on those expectations, which just creates more expectations and associations. The lasting success of brands in the apparel space that use this formula, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Croft & Barrow, surely has played a part as well.

Names with the form “____ and _____” have become ubiquitous. Catchword explains why.


June is shaping up to be media month for Catchword!

Earlier this week, Creative Director Erin Milnes was the subject of a story by her alma mater, St. John’s College.

“A brand name is a very, very short story,” Milnes says.

Catchword's Erin Milnes profiled by St. John's College

And on Monday, 6/11, Senior Strategist and Linguist Laurel Sutton will be the featured guest on Rob Meyerson’s podcast How Brands Are Built.

Laurel Sutton, naming expert at CatchwordHow Brands Are Built podcast features Laurel Sutton 6/11/18

Catchword’s own Erin Milnes and Laurel Sutton are in the media this month.


Philips Lighting has changed its name to Signify. Why is this significant?

First, a little background: in 2016, Philips Lighting was spun off from the Netherlands-based multinational Philips Corporation (which was founded in 1891 by a Philips father and son team).

Catchword name review of SignifySignify is retaining the Philips brand for their products, like Philips Hue. You may have heard of this colorful, smart-home enabled lights platform, which is perhaps the greatest innovation in home ambience control since the dimmer switch.

The company has well over a hundred years of name equity, the products are retaining the Philips name, and, aside from GE, Philips is the most recognizable brand in bulbs … so why make the change?Catchword name review of Signify

Brand authenticity and trust are important yet expansive concepts that can be conveyed in many ways. Names grounded in a place successfully convey authenticity and trust (sugarers from Vermont can charge about 10% more for their syrup because they get to put the word Vermont on the label). Refreshing honesty can convey that too (dating app Bumble is perfectly honest about the awkwardness of dating). One common method is the use of personal names in the company name. That was how company’s were named for centuries. But in this regard, consumer preferences are changing. Last name — especially staid or formal-sounding names — as brand name can now be a detriment, depending on the industry. The use of first names is increasing exponentially. Think Oscar (healthcare), Harry’s (shave club), Tom’s (toothpaste and deodorant), Burt’s Bees, or James & Erin (Amazon house clothing brand).

Another aspect of last-name brand names is they don’t generally convey responsiveness or innovation. Sometimes that doesn’t matter or even is a positive. Are you in an industry that hasn’t changed much, like glass windows? Anderson is just fine. Are you a posh haberdashery? Then Joe’s isn’t for you. Alcohol distiller brands benefit from the perception of history and tradition that comes with use of last names or full names — Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Jameson, and Smirnoff are even more potent than the products they label. (But note that even this sector is changing. The meteoric rise of Tito’s Vodka is a case in point.)

Back to formerly Philips Lighting. If this company sold basic LED bulbs (which are new-ish technology but resemble the kind of bulbs that have been around since Edison), Philips would be just fine. But since the company is making a name for itself in a cutting-edge aspect of the sector — smart-home, smart-phone enabled colored lighting — having a name that points only to its long legacy could be a detriment, especially if the company plans on continually driving the industry to new heights.

So the company split the difference. It is keeping Philips for products to leverage the brand equity, but changed the master brand to something more versatile that will allow it to launch any number of new products in the future with or without the name Philips.

But why Signify?

“The choice of our new company name originates from the way light becomes an intelligent language, which connects and conveys meaning,” said Signify CEO Eric Rondolat in a release. “It is a clear expression of our strategic vision and purpose to unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world.”

Sure, fine. Signify didn’t drop my jaw at first blush, but after some thought I found it surprisingly robust. It sounds positive, mildly energetic, and scientific. It doesn’t limit the company to a sector if it chooses to move beyond lighting. As a fairly short, real English word, it’s in keeping with the millennial-targeted naming trend (the theory being that short, lexical words convey simple authenticity, which are keys to the millennial heart, and wallet).

Note that the name Hue actually benefits from both the short, real English word and the first name trends if you consider sound alone (“Hugh”). Signify even markets the platform’s connectivity with home assistants like Alexa and Siri as “Friends of Hue.”

All in all, Signify is rather unexpected, which is a good thing — like family name brands, names that are too close to what you’d expect don’t convey innovation. I can live with Signify just fine; the real brilliance is in changing the company name.

The company has well over a hundred years of name equity, the products are retaining the Philips name, and, aside from GE, Philips is the most recognizable name in bulbs … so why make the change?

INTA annual meeting

The International Trademark Association (INTA) annual meeting is next week in Seattle, and Catchword will be there for the first time!

INTA annual meeting

It’s INTA’s 140th Annual Meeting, May 19-23, with 10,600+ brand owners and IP professionals from 150 countries.

The team is super excited to discuss how Catchword can help trademark professionals and their clients develop brand names that are creative, strategic, AND ownable.

Come see Maria, Mark, and Leena at Booth 371, and drop off your business card for a chance to win

  • a Fitbit fitness tracker


  • a domain name of your choice from 60 options in competitive sectors like tech and healthcare, including premium names like Geopolitan, Claridex, Everprise, Shoppolis, and Zetect

See you there!

International Trademark Association


The International Trademark Association (INTA) annual meeting is next week in Seattle, and Catchword will be there for the first time!


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