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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.

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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?

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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

or

  • 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

#INTA2018

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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Catchword 20th anniversary

This week marks Catchword’s 20th anniversary. Woot! woot!

To celebrate, we’ve created a splashy anniversary page to tell the Catchword story, pay tribute to all the wonderful clients that have worked with us over the years (and kept our halogens on), and recall key milestones, favorite names, and other naming successes, such as

  • Serving 500+ clients on 1000+ projects
  • Naming 3 films, 7 phones, 19 beverages, and 43 tech startups and spinoffs
  • Creating 8 brands that start with Z
  • Ranking #1 on Clutch

From very early collaborations with companies such as Clorox and Dreyer’s to recent partnerships with Uber and Kellogg, we’ve had the honor to work with market leaders in virtually every business space, and to name some of the world’s most prominent brands. Our deepest thanks to our clients, partners, families, and a truly incredible staff (past and present) for 20 fantastic years!

– Maria Cypher, Mark Skoultchi, and the Catchword Team

Catchword 20th anniversary

This week marks Catchword’s 20th anniversary. Woot! woot! To celebrate, we’ve created a splashy anniversary page.

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Catchword 20 years of achievement

You can accumulate a lot of numbers over 20 years.

Catchword 20th anniversaryOur anniversary is fast approaching (Saturday!), so we’ve put together a numerical tour of the past two decades. Kind of impressive, if we do say so ourselves.

 

Catchword named top naming agency in the world 2017

Catchword by the numbers.

1: rank given among naming agencies on Clutch

2: officesDoogie Mascot Catchword

7: phones named

11: Catchword team pets – 5 dogs, 2 hamsters, 1 cat, 1 snake, 1 gecko, and 1 shrimp (!)

18: years in Oakland’s historic Tribune Tower Oakland Tribune Tower wikimedia

19: beverages named

20: years in business

35 to 8: ratio of products and companies we’ve named that start with A vs. Z

43: tech startups and spinoffs named

67: times quoted in the media

120+: years combined experience in naming and branding of the CW team

500+: clients

1000+: naming projects

2016: year Catchword recognized by London International Awards for excellence in verbal branding

1 and 1: projects about zombies and larva (yes, we did, though not at the same time)

Stay tuned for more anniversary hoopla later this week! Or check out fave names and fun facts from ’98 today on Twitter.

#Catchword20

Our anniversary is fast approaching (Saturday!), so we’ve put together a numerical tour of the past two decades. Kind of impressive, if we do say so ourselves.

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