In many contexts of our life experience, "fine" sadly seems to have drifted toward embodying mediocrity.

Consider this all too common dialogue: "How are you?" "Oh, I’m fine."  Or, perhaps, "Just fine."

Translation: "O.K.," "average," "acceptable," "passable," "satisfactory," "I can’t complain," "I’ve been better," or maybe "could be much better" . . . .

After all, how interested or excited does someone sound with their "fine by me" response to your generous invitation or suggestion? Especially when accompanied by emoticons or real-life eye-rolling body language?

Whatever happened to the leading dictionary meanings of this orally over-used four-letter-word?:

"Of superior or best quality; of high or highest grade: fine wine."

"Choice, excellent, or admirable: a fine painting."

Outside the context of wine, art, food, china, jewelry, dining, and perhaps blogging, extolling fineness does nothing to draw me in.

Perhaps this recognition is consistent with why the term appears in less than 1,500 live marks on the USPTO database. In fact, there are more dead marks including this term than live ones. In addition, it appears less frequently in the USPTO database than other laudatory terms like "best" or "choice" — by considerable margins. And many of the live marks that do exist lead the adjective with another one (i.e., SuperFine Bakery, Veryfine Juice, or Damn Fine Tea) — futher evidence the f-word seems emotionally weak standing on its own.

I’m left wondering whether the term’s meaning decline began with Toni Basil’s "one hit wonder" from 1982 entitled "Mickey," with the ad nauseam lyrics: "Oh, Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey." Just a thought.

Having said all that, I’ll have to admit, I’m still definitely a sucker for quaint red neon signs appearing in frost-paned country windows reading "Fine Dining," even when the exterior of the establishment might speak otherwise or even beg to differ. My family certainly can attest that these dining adventures have led to mixed reviews over the years.

In the distant world of comic book grading, a "fine" grade is only a 6.0 on a 10.0 scale, according to CGC. Worse yet, a "fine" designation using the Sheldon Scale of Coin Grading yields a meager 12 out of a possible 70 score.

I’d love to hear from our expert naming friends on the question of how and why the word "fine" has lost its "superior" meaning, at least in so much of our day-to-day common English usage.

Now, when it comes to the context of lawyering, "fine" can mean something much more negative than mediocre: As in, you better read the "fine print" in the contract!

References to "the fine print" also can have negative or controversial connotations in the world of advertising and marketing, as in the context of deceptive or misleading advertising.

So, in my humble effort to rejuvenate the "superior," "excellent," "highest grade," and "admirable" meanings behind the four-letter-word "fine," below the jump you’ll find twelve of my favorite and mighty fine guest posts from a diverse collection of our fine guest bloggers during 2011.


Continue Reading When it Comes to Guest Blogging: Fine or Just Fine?

John Reinan, Senior Director at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis marketing agency

I love “orphan” cars — the marques that have gone out of business. Most of them are barely remembered by Baby Boomers, much less anyone younger. Packard, Hudson, Nash, Studebaker, Willys – these and other automakers often were stylistically and technically more

John Reinan, Senior Director at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis marketing agency

Let’s face it: Social media are taking over the world. And the biggest social medium of them all, Facebook, is well on the way to grabbing a premier piece of trademark turf.

Facebook has applied for a trademark on the word “face&rdquo

 —John Reinan, Senior Director at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis consumer marketing agency

With baseball’s annual All-Star game set for tonight, it’s a good time to tell a tale calculated to drive any IP lawyer insane: how the National Pastime concocted and enshrined an entirely fictitious tale of the game’s origins.

Anyone who’s visited

I’m thrilled to have this platform to vent about a long-standing beef: awkward, made-up product and company names. Trademark lawyers call them coined.

Among the worst offenders are automobiles, technology and finance. When I was a kid, cars had names like Roadmaster, Thunderbird and Catalina. Now a prospective car buyer has to wade through an alphanumeric sea of names like IS, GLK350 and FX35.

I don’t blame trademark lawyers … exactly. But the need for a strong, legally defensible name no doubt accounts for some of the odd lexicography we see.

I reserve most of my reproach for the naming consultants who come up with these clunkers and the corporate executives who think that a vague name containing an X will magically transform their company into a paragon of the new economy.

See if you can match these 10 names to the products or services they represent. Warning: One of them is a complete fake, made up by me!

1. Celero                                   a. dental insurance

2. Tolamba                               b. private mortgage banking

3. Onvio                                     c. oil and gas operations

4. Fortex                                    d. email relationship manager

5. Xobni                                     e. fake!

6. Opteum                                 f. motion control equipment

7. Contango                              g. trading software

8. Nexxar                                   h. wealth management services

9. Provantis                               i. money transfer services

10. Graxxion                              j. allergy treatment

Answers are below the jump.


Continue Reading A Marketer’s Perspective: Questioning The Value of Coined Trademarks?

Moore’s Law holds that the power of an integrated circuit will double every two years. That prediction, made in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, has proved remarkably durable.

The continued application of Moore’s Law has taken us in a few decades from crude transistor radios to handheld information devices packing more power than entire rooms of mainframe computers that sent the first spaceships to the moon.

And it’s unleashed an unprecedented burst of creativity, as the reach of the Internet allows people from around the globe to exchange information and build on each other’s ideas at dizzying speed.


Continue Reading Thriving In A Speeded-Up World