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  1. Pastafazool! Helping to name Cascatelli

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    Cascatelli - new pasta shapeWhen The Sporkful podcast contacted Catchword back in November 2020 to be a guest on air, I had to admit that I hadn’t heard of it or the host, Dan Pashman. As a frequent consumer of podcasts, I really should have—they’ve won awards, there’s a book, they have cool famous guests, and even a show on the Cooking Channel.

    Despite my ignorance, their email totally drew me in: “We find ourselves in a bit of a pickle because we have to finalize the name of the pasta in the next few days, and we’re not quite decided on what to call it.”

    Who could resist the opportunity to weigh in on a new pasta shape name?

    Dan and I chatted over Zoom for an hour, during which time he shared with me his list of 5 finalists, which included Battistrada (the Italian word for “tire tread”), Millepiedi (Italian for “millipede”) and Cascatelle, meaning “small waterfalls” and used in Italy for many waterfalls or the tourist spots nearby (Cascatelle di Carano, Le Cascatelle Sappada, Agriturismo Le Cascatelle.) All of the names were aimed at suggesting the unique shape of the pasta: curled, with ripples running along one side and a groove down the center to improve sauceablity (a real word).The science of sauceability

    Like the other folks on the podcast, I immediately vetoed Millepiedi, because no one wants to eat pasta and be reminded of bugs. Battistrada was an interesting candidate, as the pasta shape does resemble tire treads, but no English speaker would make the connection; the word isn’t transparent enough. The clear winner to me was Cascatelle; it sounds beautiful, it’s easy to pronounce, and it’s cognate with English words like cascade. My only advice was to spell it “cascatelli,” which isn’t correct Italian.

    Here’s the reason for the change: English speakers, the target audience, are already familiar with a lot of pasta shape names that end in “-elli”: gemelli, cavetelli, vermicelli, etc. Here the “-elli” suffix is a diminutive, meaning “little.” Although there are pasta shape names that end in “-elle,” such as rotelle and pappardelle, they’re often misspelled as “rotelli” and “pappardelli,” because, well, it’s easier for English speakers to remember, because there’s already a pattern to follow. Why not take the path of least resistance? Spelling the name “Cascatelli” makes it easier for people to pronounce right away, and easier to remember when asking for it. And it makes the name unique. I suggested—and Dan agreed—that all these benefits were worth the risk of being scolded by a few Italian speakers.

    Many emails, texts, and phone calls later, we’d settled the -elle/-elli issue, the placement of the words and translation on the box, and the copy that explained the science behind the shape. The final product is beautiful and by all accounts, delicious.

    Catchword is delighted to have played a very small part in the epic journey to Cascatelli! Mangia bene!


  2. Clutch ranks Catchword #1 naming agency in the world for 5th year

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    Catchword #1 Naming Agency 2021For an unprecedented fifth year, Catchword has been ranked the top naming firm worldwide by Clutch, the leading provider of B2B agency ranking and reviews, in its annual Leader Award report.

    The report lists the top 15 agencies in three branding categories, including naming. Clutch Sales Development Representative Nate Weavill explained, “These leaders represent the best of the best in their respective categories. We’ve been blown away by the creativity and drive exhibited by these companies.”

    With 63 reviews from well-known brands such as NBC Sports Group, Corning, and PwC, and despite steep competition from thousands of agencies, Catchword’s expertise, brand presence, award-winning portfolio, and consistent 5-star reviews have kept the company in the #1 spot every day since Clutch began recognizing leadership in naming.

    “Clutch is honored to recognize Catchword as the top naming agency for five consecutive years. This achievement shows the company’s experience, customer satisfaction, and commitment to delivering creative work.” said Clutch Content Editor Anna Peck.

    The Catchword Team couldn’t be more thrilled. Catchword principal and co-founder Maria Cypher observed, “Each time Clutch has ranked Catchword best in the world, we’ve been delighted, but the 5-year award is truly exceptional. I’m both humbled and prouder than I’ve ever been.”

    Clutch utilizes a rigorous selection methodology to determine the top-performing B2B companies. In addition to evaluating services offered, clients, market presence, and brand reputation, the Clutch analysts conduct in-depth interviews with clients and partners. These conversations are turned into detailed case study reviews, not just star ratings, which offer deep insights to potential customers and ensure that the agencies profiled truly deliver the goods.

    “Many of our clients find us through Clutch because of its detailed reviews and ranking methodology, which makes this recognition especially rewarding,” noted Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi. “We are so grateful to our clients and partners for taking the time to offer their feedback. We wouldn’t be here without you!”

    Catchword awardsCypher noted that while Catchword has remained consistent over this period, the naming industry itself has not. “What was once a tiny niche specialty has exploded into a highly competitive field over the past five years.” Only 159 agencies offered naming when Clutch started tracking it in 2017. More than 4,700 are listed today.

    The branding category has also grown exponentially, with more than 30,000 agencies now listed for branding services on the site. Over the past few years, Clutch has recognized Catchword as a standout agency for the entire branding field (of which naming is a subset), ranking the agency #1 for the category in 2019 and 2020.


    About Clutch
    Washington, DC based Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Each month, over half a million buyers and sellers of services use the Clutch platform, and the user base is growing over 50% a year. Clutch has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. and has been listed as a top 50 startup by LinkedIn.

  3. Much ado and much adon’t: Name review of Nothing

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    Nothing logoLast month Carl Pei, co-founder of Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus, announced the name of his next venture: Nothing. Describing itself as a London-based consumer technology company with investors such as iPod inventor Tony Fadell, CEO of Reddit Steve Huffman, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, and Google Ventures (to the tune of $15mm), this startup is big news. Does the name do it justice, or is it a big, well, nothing?

    Pei explained the name in a release, “We believe that the best technology is beautiful yet natural and intuitive to use. When sufficiently advanced, it should fade into the background and feel like Nothing.”

    Nothing’s site tells a brand story of “tech like it’s supposed to be.” Smart phones, earphones, watches, computers that “improve our lives without getting in the way of them.” The video promises the simplicity of sun-dappled trees and a young woman napping in a field of daisies. The friendly voiceover proposes to scale our daily technology down to the essentials, to tech “so seamless it feels like nothing.” Although the video offers no specifics on how this vision will be realized, it’s certainly a compelling story, especially now, when screen overload is unavoidable and technical difficulties impact our work, our kids’ education, even our courts (looking at you, emotive kitten filter).

    The name and company announcement have had mixed response, with some calling it “as forward thinking a name as it can be” and others skeptical whether it can live up to the hype. Initially, we were similarly torn.

    Nothing is bold, edgy and has a powerful point of view. It’s short, easy to spell and say, and memorable as heck. It stands out from the major players in consumer tech such as Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Verizon and is sufficiently distinct from the new kids on the block. (Although many tech startups are named with real English words, and a number of their names play on the ideas of air/atmosphere and essentiality, as far as we know none have explored the nothing metaphor. Notably, Nothing just acquired failed phone startup Essential.)

    The name tracks elegantly to the company’s essence and practically writes the brand copy itself. Plus, the founders were able to trademark the name—not an easy task, particularly for a real English word name in international tech. Sounds like it checks all the boxes on our 10 Qualities of Great Brand Names—A+, done!

    Hold on. Despite all the name’s strengths, we keep coming back to Great Name Quality Number 5: great names are free of serious negative meaning. Nothing is literally a negative, an absence of substance, which doesn’t sound like an appealing message for a company that makes things. The name not only suggests that there’s nothing between you and this tech but that there’s nothing there at all—no value added, no benefit.

    Given these concerns, how will this name sound in context? “I just got a Nothing phone. Wanna see it?” Many brand names lose their dictionary meaning after the brand gains equity (no one thinks about an Apple Watch as fruity), so this limitation of Nothing may fade if the company is successful, but initially it’s likely to hang up a few customers.

    Additionally, Nothing lends itself to uncharitable punning, of course, with several journalists noting that as of yet nothing is known about Nothing. Even the company’s own blog launched with “Here Comes Nothing.” Future product reviewers have been served a buffet of criticism wordplay with “nothing sandwich,” “next to nothing,” “thanks for nothing,” “nothing much,” and so on.

    However, turning the negativity of nothing on its head is what makes the name brilliant, and likely to evoke strong feelings in customers, furthering brand loyalty. Names with “bad” meanings can be used very effectively, especially for consumer brands. (See Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi’s piece in How Brands Are Built on this very topic to learn more.)

    So does Nothing have “serious negative meaning” or cool edginess? Is it a brilliant name or a bit of a gimmick? Both. And that’s part of what’s provoked the buzz (Great Name Quality Number 2). Nothing is a compelling name with attitude, and it prompts us to skeptically scrutinize the brand and its products harder than we would if it had a milder name. The fact that we’re thinking about the name this much shows its strength, and strong brands naturally create hype. (But if they don’t live up to it, they’ll fall even harder.)

    In the end, we prefer names that say something similar to Nothing but in a positive way, such as Seamless (food delivery), Intuit (bookkeeping), and Organic (branding and experiential design). An affirmative name suggests taking a stand for something rather than reacting against, which leads to broader appeal and more positive associations for customers, media, and other audiences. But if this startup is targeting an audience that tends to the meta and nihilistic—qualities often attributed to millennials—and doesn’t plan to expand beyond it, then Nothing may be an exception.

    For all these reasons, we give Nothing an A- (a fitting negative). The name’s weaknesses are built into its strength. And although they are notable, these flaws will ultimately only hurt the brand if it doesn’t deliver something of value.

    The first smart devices are planned to be released within the next six months, so we’ll find out soon.

  4. Catchword wins Transform Award for WomenLift Health

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    For the third consecutive year, Catchword has been honored with a Transform Award for Best Naming Strategy, this time for WomenLift Health, developed for the new nonprofit within Stanford Global Health that improves health internationally by supporting women’s leadership.

    Winners were announced online in a virtual awards event earlier this month, rather than the usual November New York gala.

    “We are delighted to be recognized again by Transform, particularly for work with such a visionary organization,” said Catchword co-founder Maria Cypher. “WomenLift Health is literally changing the face of health leadership in our world, which will lead to healthier, better lives for everyone.”

    The Bronze Award for Best Naming Strategy from Transform follows two Golds for the name earlier this year, from the MarCom Awards and the Hermes Creative Awards. (Details about the name and project in the Hermes award link.)

    “For namers, this is really the Triple Crown,” Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi said, referring to the three naming competitions. “We are thrilled to share these awards with Stanford Global Health, whose collaborative work to increase equity in health is the true winner.”

    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.

    “This is the sixth year that the Transform Awards North America has celebrated the transformative power of brand strategy and design. … We’ve seen a challenging year, but the number of entries and especially the caliber of entries has just been fabulous,” said Andrew Thomas, publisher of Transform magazine.

    Congratulations to the Catchword and Stanford Global Health/WomenLift Health teams!

  5. Clutch names Catchword a worldwide leader for 2020: #1 for branding and #2 for all B2B services combined

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    Once again, Clutch, the foremost ranking and review site for B2B service providers, has recognized Catchword as the #1 company worldwide for branding and as a Clutch Global 1000 agency—the reviewer’s most exclusive award.

    The Global 1000 includes leading companies from around the world across all B2B services ranked by Clutch, including SEO, web development and design, app development, IT, and business services as well as advertising and marketing. Fewer than the top 1% of agencies make the cut. In 2020, the pool of competitors included more than 200,000 companies from 35 countries.

    The Branding Agency category incorporates companies that offer specialized branding skills, such as naming, as well as general branding services.

    “Well over 30,000 firms are profiled for branding on Clutch, and Catchword ranks highest … wow,” said Catchword principal and co-founder Maria Cypher, “but what really blows my mind and makes me prouder than you can imagine, is our position as second in the world amongst 200,000+ B2B service providers.”

    The Branding Agency Award was new last year, when Catchword also took the top spot, a complement to the Naming Agency Award that Catchword has captured every year since the competition began in 2017.

    The Clutch Global 1000 is in its third year, with Catchword moving up to the #2 position in 2020, from #3 in 2019 and #9 in 2018.

    For all its awards, Clutch analyzes each company across four criteria:

    • Recency, number, and quality of Clutch-verified reviews
    • Portfolio of clients
    • Services offered and experience providing those services
    • Brand reputation and market visibility

    “Each year, our company takes the time to highlight the top tier industry leaders in the global B2B market,” said Clutch Founder Mike Beares. “With an impressive background of projects, responsive customer service, and superior skillsets in their fields, these companies have proven time and again that they’re the best choice when selecting a B2B provider.”

    Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi weighed in on the importance of clients to the Clutch ranking: “I can’t emphasize enough how grateful we are to our clients for the consistently fantastic reviews we’ve received through the Clutch platform. It is entirely because they took the time to talk with Clutch analysts that Catchword’s renown continues to grow and that potential new clients can find the partner they need.”

    Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Each month, more than half a million buyers and sellers of services use the Clutch platform, and the user base is growing over 50% a year. Clutch has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. and has been listed as a top 50 startup by LinkedIn.

  6. How to avoid creating culturally insensitive brand names

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    How Brands Are Built podcast features Laurel Sutton 6/11/18Laurel Sutton - Senior Strategist & Linguist, Catchword BrandingIn recent months, many heritage brands have had to come to terms with their harmful histories and culturally insensitive brand names. From acknowledging their perpetuation or promotion of stereotypes like Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima, to recognizing their racist or sexist worldviews like Fair & Lovely, to taking on their appropriation of culture like the Washington Redskins, many long-standing brands have had to reconsider their identities: changing their logos, overhauling their packaging, and revamping their names. …

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  7. How to avoid creating culturally insensitive brand names: How Brands Are Built guest post

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    From Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s to Fair & Lovely and the Washington Redskins, a number of heritage brands have recently had to come to terms with a history of bigotry and cultural insensitivity.

    This week on How Brands Are Built, Catchword co-founder and resident linguist Laurel Sutton examines the recent backlash and provides expert tips on how to avoid these kinds of branding mistakes and establish a positive, lasting legacy.

    How Brands Are Built is a blog and podcast where branding professionals get into the details of what they do and how they do it, practically and tactically.

    Read more


  8. MarCom Awards recognizes Catchword with gold for WomenLift Health

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    For the second year in a row, Catchword has taken gold in the Brand Naming category of the MarCom Awards, this time for naming WomenLift Health, the new nonprofit organization within Stanford Global Health that improves health around the world by investing in women’s leadership.

    Catchword’s efforts on WomenLift Health were recognized earlier this year with a Gold trophy from the Hermes Creative Awards. (Details about the name and project in that post.)

    “What a thrill to be recognized again with this high honor, especially for work on such a meaningful project,” Catchword co-founder Maria Cypher said. “WomenLift Health is literally changing the face of health leadership in our world, which ultimately will lead to healthier, better lives for everyone.”

    The MarCom Awards honors outstanding achievement in marketing and communication. The 2020 competition included more than 5,000 entries from the US and 28 other countries. The Gold Award is presented to entries judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm.

    MarCom is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, an international organization of several thousand creative professionals and the industry’s preeminent third-party evaluator of creative work. AMCP has judged more than 200,000 entries since its formation in 1994.

  9. Catchword named a top branding agency for 2020 by

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    Independent review site has listed Catchword among the 15 best branding agencies of 2020. A leading resource for small business online tools, products, and services, ranked Catchword #3 nationwide.

    Catchword is thrilled to be included in this list of industry leaders,” said Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi. “ is a great source of information for small business owners.”

    Experts at conducted a 40-hour assessment of more than 140 branding agencies. Only companies with the capacity to work with clients across a variety of industries were considered for the list.

    “Branding is an essential service for every business, but finding the right agency can be a challenging process,” says Christelle Feniza, Communications Manager of “This guide was designed to help business owners identify the best branding agencies for their budget and campaign needs.”

  10. MUSE Creative Awards honors Catchword with gold for URSA: Music Extreaming

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    In its first entry to the Muse Creative Awards, Catchword has taken gold for URSA: Music Extreaming in the Corporate Identity category.

    URSA is the first music streaming platform to be developed by veteran music professionals. Their mission to place artists at the center of the streaming experience gives listeners an opportunity to go deeper with the music and artists they love while they are listening. Catchword worked closely with the founders to develop an engaging, memorable name and tagline for the company and its platform that appeals to both artists and fans.

    “We are thrilled to receive a gold MUSE,” said Catchword principal Mark Skoultchi. “The Catchword team are musicians and music lovers, so helping URSA brand its service that focuses on artists was especially rewarding.”

    The 2020 MUSE award is the second gold for Catchword’s work on URSA, which already captured the high honor from the MarCom Awards. (Details about the name and the project in that post.)

    The MUSE Creative Awards is a worldwide competition for professionals pushing the boundaries of excellence in their industry. Judged by a panel of 50+ seasoned creatives from the US and 21 other countries, and under the administration of the International Awards Associate (IAA), the awards honor work that exemplifies the qualities of a Muse.

    With more than 4,600 submissions from 57 countries, and despite the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic, the 2020 awards saw groundbreaking work across categories. “It is our privilege, as always, to honor these remarkable individuals,” said Kenjo Ong, CEO of the competition. “They have more than earned their achievements.”