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  1. FUCT Schitt, Piss Off Fat Bastard: Catchword’s Raunchy Name Roundup

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    Whether you prefer Fat Bastard (wine) or Skinny Bitch (apparel), intentionally shocking brand names are nothing new. Particularly for brands under the lifestyle umbrella (beverage, apparel, beauty, personal electronics), choosing a possibly—or even obviously—offensive name is a way to grab attention and make a mark.

    Up until recently (as we learned in last week’s post), the US Patent and Trademark Office’s rejected trademarks it found offensive.

    But as Catchword has noted before, “negative” brand names often work very well. If your brand position is edgy or iconoclastic, a name that pushes buttons may be exactly what you need. Urban Decay makeup, Poison perfume, Spanx shapewear, Bed Head hair products all have names that fit their offerings, target market, and brand personality. These names are a bit naughty, but no one would call them scandalous or immoral (well, maybe Spanx if you’re super conservative).

    What goes too far depends completely on time and place. Offensiveness is societally determined in a know-it-when-I-see-it way. Virgin was considered an edgy name when the company was founded, but few in the US or Europe would bat an eye now. French Connection (known for its infamous FCUK logo of the 90s) raised many eyebrows at the time. (It eventually stepped back from the abbreviation as its Riot Grrrl customers grew up. The company has since relaunched the FCUK line as a capsule collection with Urban Outfitters. A little nostalgia shopping for GenXers?)

    The Supreme Court’s ruling against the practice opens the door even farther for outrageous brand names, so I think we can expect to see marks awarded to the vulgarest of the vulgar in coming years.

    But “Enough theory,” you say. “Where are the raunchy names?” I’m glad you asked. Here is an assortment, in no particular order, of the vulgar, offensive, oversexed, profane, scatological, or just plain tasteless.

    FUCT t-shirt(Of course, how I define those categories reflects my status as a white, college-educated GenX woman, but I think most folks will agree that Happy Ending is a raunchy name for a beer whose label features a geisha and a tissue box and boasts an “explosive finish.”)

    Fuct – We can thank this fashion line for the SCOTUS decision.

    Schiit Audio – The company completely cops to the fact that the brand is trying to sound slightly German tech but mostly the place to find “really good Schitt.” This is a totally on-brand use of a possibly profane name.

    Piss Off – Underwear for women that wicks away pee dribble. I actually love this name, the brand’s attitude, and that there is a product for pregnant women and the gazillion other women post-childbirth who need a little help in this area.

    Jeffree Star Pussy Whipped lipstick, NARS Deep Throat blush, G-Spot Stick, BleachBlack Jizz nail polish, French Tickler eyeshadow – I wonder whether adult women buy these products. Like the beer names below, they seem incredibly juvenile to me.

    There are so many vulgar beauty names that one brand cheekily dubbed itself Pretty Vulgar (a winning combination of sophisticated irony and edgy fempowerment).

    Ranker even has a list of offensive beauty names. Add more! Vote for your favorites!

    Skinny Bitch apparel, Raging Bitch beer, Bitch Australian grenache, and a million other bitch things I see online – Clearly this word is no longer considered profane by the mainstream. I get the argument that using the word this way is taking over and redefining a term originally meant to be insulting (in the way that queer was redefined by the LGBT community), but personally I just can’t find the use of bitch empowering.

    Fat Bastard wine, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Dirty Bastard Ale, Backwoods Bastard beer – Lots of bastards drinking booze, apparently, but don’t forget Beautiful Bastard men’s hair care products.

    Black Lagers Matter (from Reckless Brewing, appropriately enough), Thong Remover Belgian Tripel, Big Cock Bock, Mt. U Cream Ale, Gandhi-Bot, Polygamy Porter (“Why have just one?”) – Craft beer ties cosmetics for the most offensive—and incredibly sophomoric—names. But customers and brewing organizations have pushed back, and many of these brands are now merely online memories.

    Dirty Dicks’s Crab House – The restaurant chain’s tagline says it all.

    Hooters – I honestly find it hard to believe that this chain is still around after 36 years. There’s one in a neighboring town, and I cringe every time I drive by.

     

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    Are you considering a scandalous, possibly offensive, or edgy name for your company or product? Catchword can help you figure out whether it should be a brand name, or a banned name. Just drop us a line.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  2. Vulgar, scandalous, immoral? SCOTUS says OK for trademark

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    Supreme Court rules on trademarkThe Supreme Court ruled last month that it is unconstitutional for the US Patent and Trademark Office to ban “immoral or scandalous” names.

    The suit arose when Erik Brunetti, founder of fashion brand Fuct, attempted to register the trademark, and was refused. Although Brunetti’s lawyers stated that the name was to be sounded out as an abbreviation “F-U-C-T” (c’mon, folks, really?), the USPTO argued that the name was too vulgar, violating the Lanham Act (the law governing trademark).

    SCOTUS unanimously ruled that the law enabled the government to discriminate against trademarks that espouse particular points of view and there fore violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

    The trademark prohibition hadn’t stopped many companies before now from choosing intentionally shocking names. (It’s common for local companies not to even bother trying to register a mark for their company name.) Lifestyle brands such as alcohol, makeup, and fashion have especially dipped into the indelicate to get attention for their products.

    Stay tuned next week for Catchword’s Raunchy Name Roundup.

    FUCT t-shirt

     

  3. Smart Home or Helpful Home? Catchword partner, Werner Brandl, weighs in on Google’s communication shift.

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    Werner Brandl, a close naming partner of Catchword in Germany, wrote an interesting piece on the use of “smart” to characterize today’s intelligent home products. In particular, Brandl’s piece focuses on Google (including its Nest brand of home products) and considers the search giant’s communication shift away from “smart home” to “helpful home.”

    Here is a link to Brandl’s piece,  and below is a copy of the article.  You should also check out his blog, Namedrop, which is an excellent resource for naming news, insights, and perspectives on brand names!


    Not Just Smart, But Useful. A Paradigm Shift At Google.

    By: Werner Brandl

    A huge shift can be observed within the communication of Google and its home enabler brand Nest these days. As Google released already in May, they have decided to get rid of their smart products or rather of claiming they were smart. For sure you are familiar with the term “smart home“ and all the smart electronic devices that are supposed to, well, what are they supposed to be? Smart? Is that really the point?

    Consequently, also Google has pondered what the actual use and benefit of such products is. Sure, they are supposed to be smart so they can perform services for us. But in the end, they should make our lives easier and more comfortable. The term smart even promises that they may perform some of the thinking we used to do, and now we are available to do more advanced stuff like play vintage Tetris or work longer hours. But this leads astray. Let’s stick to the implications of smart.

    For sure, smart is somehow intelligent, but the core question is – what’s in it for me? What’s the use of it? There can only be one answer, and Google answered it exactly as it has happened in your mind already. The term all such services and gadgets dance around is – helpful. It is very simple: smart without helpful is just a drag. And I guess the term “smart“ has collected some bad vibes in the smart home community over the last 15 years –with millions of hours spent on useless configuration attempts resulting for some users in a useless waste of time.

    It definitely is a smart move to get rid of the promised “smart home“, and introduce the simple, but inspiring, “helpful home.” Helpful resonates far less with complications, confusing instructions, and misconfigurations. It is the plain promise of the state you reach once you have set up the smart home: no matter whether a little smarter or less, it always is helpful. And thus fulfills the real desire of smart home buyers – being assisted and being enabled.

    But what about the true afficionados of “smart“? This daring handful of guys who truly want to experience smartness and techiness in all their shades? They can still resort to millions of existing smart products and spend their time cross-combining, configuring, searching, updating, cursing.

    What’s next not be smart anymore? Is it the Smartphone? Strange enough, but in this narrow explicit context, smart has already become a synonym for helpful–and millions of other properties. 😉

  4. Send me a Textile: Nuuly clothing-subscription name review

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    If you are into (or just currently in) clothes, you may want to try this on for size: Urban Outfitters, Inc. (UO) has just launched Nuuly, a clothing-subscription service. For 88 bucks a month, subscribers can choose 6 items from UO, Anthropologie, Free People, third-party designers and vintage collections—and then swap them out for new pieces the next month. According to the company’s website, “Nuuly seeks to further shift consumer shopping behaviors by giving subscribers access to a wide assortment of current fashion at a substantially lower cost-per-wear than retail, solving the paradox of a millennial’s quest for fashion newness alongside the desire for a more sustainable lifestyle.”

    from www.urbn.com

    To state the obvious, clothing retail is a big sector, and buying habits are changing. Vintage clothing is hip and all, but if you pick a nice top out of the thrift store, there’s no telling how many people have worn the shirt before you. With a dedicated clothing rental service like Nuuly, you can rest assured that a bunch of people have likely worn it before you.

    Enough kidding—here’s my take on the name.

    UO clearly wanted the service to sound like a start-up rather than an extension of the parent company. And as far as start-up-y names go, this one almost rises to the level of parody owing to three oversued aspects of the name: the message of “new,” the double-letter misspelling, and the -ly ending.

    That level of camp is pushing it, but to the first point, maybe it can be argued that emphasizing new-ness to the consumer—new to you, if not actually new—was a smart move. As to the misspelling, does it cleverly carry additional meaning? Possibly, the u’s do recall UO or the multiple “you’s” that wear the clothing—but most likely, the spelling (including the –ly ending) was just UO’s way of securing an exact dot-com domain.

    Push comes to shove, I would have liked UO to try a little harder, but the name won’t come apart at the seams or fold like a cheap red suit. Nuuly won’t hamper the delivery of fresh duds.

  5. Interview with Catchword’s Maria Cypher: How to create a great name for your business or product

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    As Catchword’s co-founder and creative lead, Maria Cypher oversees creative strategy for one of the world’s leading naming firms. She has created names for Starbucks, PwC, McDonald’s, Fitbit, Intel, Unilever, and hundreds of others over the course of over two decades. In this interview with MarkUpgrade, Maria shares current trends in brand naming, the secrets to a successful name, and absolute No’s in naming a business.

    Why is picking the right brand name so critically important for a business?

    A good name is the foundation for a great brand. It’s the first thing people see (or hear!) — and often leaves the very first taste or impression of an offering for consumers. In the case of a company name, it can also do double the work, setting the tone for the culture (think: Microsoft vs. Google) or even establishing an overarching philosophy or premise (a good example being The Honest Company). Finally, a brand name has to be able to flex with changing times and business strategies. Companies are a bit like people, constantly growing, pivoting, and evolving.

    What are some of the trends in naming? Is there a naming trend that you have very strong feelings about?

    Today, real-word names, and especially straightforward nouns, are highly desirable. Think of Nest, an iconic name quickly signaling home; Flow, a task-management tool; or Line, a messaging app allowing for direct “lines” of communication. These names remind us of older names like Word (Microsoft’s word processor) in their honesty and clarity and can do a lot of heavy lifting to communicate the brand’s value proposition to key audiences.

    A second trend we are seeing, particularly in the retail and restaurant landscapes, is names constructed of two words that utilize the ampersand (for instance, Boll & Branch, a luxury bedding company, or Market & Spruce, a proprietary StitchFix brand). These names are popular because they allow for infinite combinations, and in increasingly crowded markets, they make it easier to register the mark. (In fact, this trend is so very hot right now, Catchworddeconstructed its many parts in a recent blog post.)

    As for our own team, we generally avoid naming to trends. But what’s most important is that we build a brand that is aligned with our clients’ P.O.V. and that we have a deep understanding of the marketspace and the target audience, ultimately driving toward the best name given these factors. …

    Read the full story.

  6. Cofense in ZDNet

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    The Dridex banking Trojan is being deployed in a new phishing campaign which combines the malware with a remote access tool for the purpose of credential and information theft.

    Researchers from Cofense said this week that the new campaign is impersonating eFax, a modern, cloud-based variant of the traditional fax machine which is used by businesses to receive faxes across email and mobile devices.

    The phishing emails crafted for this wave of attacks include an attached .ZIP archive which contains an .XLS Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

    The spreadsheet is malicious as it contains an Office macro which, should a victim enable when prompted, will download and execute both Dridex and the Remote Manipulator System Remote Access Tool (RMS RAT). …

    Full story

  7. All about brand naming: Maria Cypher interview with MarkUpgrade

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    Catchword co-founder Maria Cypher shares naming wisdom in an interview this week with Kristina Misic of branding and domain name consultancy MarkUpgrade.

    Tapping on her vast experience leading a top naming firm for 20 years, Maria discusses current trends in brand naming, secrets to a successful name, and some Absolutely Nots in naming. Here’s a taste:

    Why is picking the right brand name so critically important for a business?

    A good name is the foundation for a great brand. It’s the first thing people see (or hear!)—and often leaves the very first taste or impression of an offering for consumers. In the case of a company name, it can also do double the work, setting the tone for the culture (think: Microsoft vs. Google) or even establishing an overarching philosophy or premise (a good example being The Honest Company). Finally, a brand name has to be able to flex with changing times and business strategies. Companies are a bit like people, constantly growing, pivoting, and evolving.

    What are some of the trends in naming? Is there a naming trend that you have very strong feelings about?

    Today, real-word names, and especially straightforward nouns, are highly desirable. Think of Nest, an iconic name quickly signaling home; Flow, a task-management tool; or Line, a messaging app allowing for direct “lines” of communication. These names remind us of older names like Word (Microsoft’s word processor) in their honesty and clarity and can do a lot of heavy lifting to communicate the brand’s value proposition to key audiences.

    A second trend we are seeing, particularly in the retail and restaurant landscapes, is names constructed of two words that utilize the ampersand (for instance, Boll & Branch, a luxury bedding company, or Market & Spruce, a proprietary Stitch Fix brand). These names are popular because they allow for infinite combinations, and in increasingly crowded markets, they make it easier to register the mark. (In fact, this trend is so very hot, Catchword deconstructed its many parts in a piece on our blog.)

    As for our own team, we generally avoid naming to trends. But what’s most important is that we build a brand that is aligned with our clients’ P.O.V. and that we have a deep understanding of the marketspace and the target audience, ultimately driving toward the best name given these factors.

    What’s the biggest mistake you see companies making regarding naming? Are there common pitfalls you see repeatedly?

    Probably the biggest mistake we see at Catchword is companies selecting names that are too limiting or narrow, or that fail to account for growth. Two well-known examples are RadioShack and Dressbarn, both of which have been hampered by semantics and tonality.

    We also see a number of other mistakes during the naming process itself. These include

    • Not creating enough name candidates to successfully navigate the many filters the process requires: trademark clearance, linguistic checks, domain availability, human subjectivity, etc. (At Catchword, we typically create well upwards of 1,000 names.)
    • Creating and selecting the kinds of names that won’t clear trademark.
    • Asking people who haven’t been involved in the naming process to evaluate name candidates (oftentimes, these folks don’t “get” the strategic objectives and come to the table with idiosyncratic thoughts that aren’t productive: “That name reminds me of my Aunt Lucy’s dog, who bit me when I was in the 7th grade…”)

    Read the full interview.

  8. Settling the debate: Truist name review

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    Two global banks—SunTrust and BB&T— merged this year, and launched under a new name: Truist.

    The announcement of the name begat a whirlwind of criticism. What started as Twitter grousing was then legitimized by journalists capitalizing on the controversy, who then pulled in investors to comment about how the new name could jeopardize profits. The articulated criticisms on Twitter largely center around the name being boring and uncreative or hard to pronounce/seeming like a typo, whereas investors largely decried the abandonment of two perfectly fine brand names with robust consumer familiarity in favor of an unknown entity.

    However, the merging banks used a “data-driven” approach in conjunction with naming experts to come up with the name. Did they really make as big of a mistake as the peanut gallery contends? I have six thoughts on the matter.

    Truist doesn’t even have a logo yet, but these folks are still super pumped! (from truist.com)

     

    1) The criticisms about the name being bland/boring are overblown.

    The legitimate aspect to the criticism that the name is bland/boring is, in my opinion, that Truist contains tru, and tru names can feel played. Tru, after all, is a very expected message and word part, it feels dated (i.e., too literal) to some extent, and it defies the strain of modern naming sensibilities that favors showing over telling.

    That being said, it is not impossible to use tru well in a name, and there is no hard and fast rule.  For example, Trulia is a decent name, but Trupanion is questionable. Truist feels farther from Trupanion and closer to Trulia, and benefits from the fact that there are clearly a few different inspirations for Truist that are on-brand—trust, true, and perhaps truism (though most people would consider that association rather negative). And if you squint your eyes just a little bit, Truist seems like a tech name, i.e., decently clever with an implication that the company is agile and fresh (rather than established and stodgy).

    2)  C’mon, the name is not actually hard to pronounce or spell.

    We’ve seen all the word parts before. We know that companies coin words to make names. Claiming the name is hard to pronounce is just the result of twitter users casting about for more ways to dunk the name online.

    3) Consumers will get used to the name. (That’s part of the process.)

    Regardless of whether you think the name is boring or fine, you’ll get used to it. Consumers always do.  From iPad to Accenture to hundreds of names in between, consumers don’t like change and will express annoyance at new names for a few months before they grow accustomed to it. For that reason, hot takes from regular consumers should not be taken too seriously.

    In fact, our friend Nancy Friedman explains this phenomenon really well in a piece in her blog. If you’re curious, read it here.

    4) The name is a decent blend of new and old.

    The banks have stated that their merger was one of equals.  Yes, analysts have pointed out the downsides of abandoning two brands with significant equity and recognition (and of course, they aren’t wrong). But, with a merger of equals, there are downsides to adopting one or the other, such as consumers believing it was an aquisition (leading to complaints such as “As soon as BB&T was acquired by SunTrust, the customer service got really bad”), and frankly the loss of a logical opportunity to rethink your brand for the future.

    And this is where investors don’t actually have much insight. SunTrust was clearly the more evocative of the original names, but as a shorter, coined name with a few different implications, in many respects Truist is better able to carry the company forward. Especially if the company plans to push the envelope of banking from a tech or user-experience perspective, Truist will feel more innovative than the previous names simply because it is new.

    5) The logistical hurdles were surely immense.

    One thing that hasn’t been talked about in the news is that Truist probably faced about as many logistical, globalization, and trademark hurdles as possible for a naming project. We at Catchword have worked on many global corporate mergers naming projects, and from clearing the trademark around the world to finding the exact domain name to finding something that will satisfy two large and (potentially) opinionated groups of stakeholders from the two companies, the process is incredibly challenging.

    Also worth noting is that Truliant (a credit union) is suing over the name, so Truist hasn’t cleared all the logistical hurdles yet. (I won’t speculate as to what the outcome of that suit will be. The company names don’t seem that similar to me. However, apparently Truliant has a number of trademarks derived from its name: Truliances, Truceratops, Truism, and more. So use of the tru word part is really what the infringement claim hinges upon.)

    6) The name does what it needs to do.

    Look, the name of a large financial institution doesn’t need to be Shakespearean in its artfulness—in fact, it shouldn’t be. The name should sound sturdy and trustworthy (and often all you need for that is some hard consonants and a deeper vowel), should have some element of originality or freshness, and should convey some meaning at first glance.

    That is not to say that any old name will do or that the process is anything but difficult. And that is also not to say that Truist couldn’t be better. But consumer expectations and vague ideas about how a brand name should sound are usually wildly different from the reality of a successful company name.

  9. Show me the money: Libra currency name review

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    An announcement rocked the tech and astrology worlds this week: Facebook is developing a blockchain-based currency that can be used throughout the platform for e-commerce, the world over. The name? Libra.

    To acquire Libra, users need to work through a nonprofit, Geneva-based Facebook subsidiary called Calibra—see what they did there with the suggestion that the currency is calibrated to real monetary value?—and show government identification; this is meant to discourage use of Libra for illicit purposes, as is common with traditional blockchain-based currencies. Libra is also unlike Bitcoin in that its price will supposedly be held constant—impervious to speculators (though Bitcoin prices did jump at the news).

    Calibra wallet interface, from www.newsroom.fb.com

     

    It’s fun to think about what this technology could allow Facebook users to do. From easier inter-country commerce or money transfers (for example, from the US to overseas family members), to facilitating new peer-to-peer transactions (a la Venmo), this is big news. And just imagine a marketplace of sorts for brands to directly bid for and pay influencers around the world, or how much simpler it’ll be for my parents to pay people to be my friends! This currency has the potential to shake up all manner of transactions.

    Libra was a Roman unit of weight and the forerunner of the pound—associations which tie nicely to Facebook’s usage. Libra of course is also a zodiac sign, with those born under it said to appreciate balance and harmony—as represented by the sign’s scales. This evokes fairness and precision, which are great messages to counter perceptions that a blockchain-based currency might be rigged or speculative.

    Lastly, Libra gets quickly to liberty and freedom—a heartening and exciting feel for a name if there ever was one. (For the record, it also subtly suggests Lira, the former Italian and current Turkish currency.)

    In short, Libra is succinct, evocative, modern, meaningful, and nuanced all at once. What more can you ask for? Well, there is one thing. Please share this blog on Facebook!

  10. Catchword – First naming agency ranked #1 for three consecutive years

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    Three-peat. Hat trick. Tic Tac Toe. Whatever you call it, maintaining the #1 position for three consecutive years is not easy, but Oakland-based Catchword has been ranked the top naming agency in the world for the third time by Clutch—the leading provider of ratings and reviews for B2B agencies.

    ‘The caliber of Catchword’s clients, paired with its consistent high marks for all elements of naming and superior client relationships, have kept the company in the top three for naming agencies from the start,’ Clutch Business Analyst Jenna Seter said.

    Based on ‘industry leadership, creative and marketing expertise and client feedback,’ Clutch chose Catchword once again as a top agency for its 2019 report.

    ‘The whole Catchword team is thrilled to take the lead position for a third year,’ company principal Mark Skoultchi said. ‘We couldn’t be more grateful to our clients for taking the time to share with Clutch such thoughtful, favorable feedback about our work.’

    Catchword averaged a perfect five stars across the four categories—Quality, Schedule, Cost, and Willingness to Refer—in 42 reviews from well-known companies such as Corning, NBC Sports Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Plantronics. These consistently high marks, together with the company’s significant market presence, high-caliber clients , and broad portfolio , maintained Catchword’s lead in the burgeoning field of 1,400 agencies that provide naming services. (By comparison, last year 615 agencies were listed in the naming category.)

    ‘When we founded Catchword 21 years ago, we were the new kid on a fairly empty block,’ co-founder Maria Cypher explained. ‘Now Catchword is a seasoned veteran, but naming has become a very crowded space, so it’s even more satisfying to see our small agency continue to lead the industry.’

    Clutch evaluates agencies with an analysis of market presence and overall experience, then uses questionnaires and detailed telephone interviews with vetted clients to assess customer satisfaction. These interviews are summarized in the reviews on the Clutch site.

    The client and project details in these reviews—far more illuminating than simple testimonials or star ratings alone—provide valuable, specific insights for potential customers as well as for the Clutch analysts. This format has enabled the Washington, D.C.-based Clutch to become the dominant force in the B2B agency review space.

    Read the full story.