In this edition of AlphaWatch, it appears another major brand owner is flirting with truncation and wants to be g too (of course, not to be confused with G2 or even G for that matter), despite the fact that the products associated with each brand might be considered complementary (assuming you’re looking to break a sweat):

So, guess who appears to be working on developing their own family or series of lil’ g marks (of course, not to be confused with another’s G Series)? Visual answer below the jump:

Continue Reading GeeWhiz: Another Edition of Trademark AlphaWatch

Losing a trademark challenge is bad news, right? It’s costly, it’s embarrassing, and it can damage a brand’s reputation.

And yet in one well-known instance, losing a trademark challenge didn’t hurt a brand at all. In fact, it ensured the brand’s immortality.

The product name I’m thinking of existed for just three years in the 1990s before the death-dealing trademark challenge. The company name survived in slightly altered form; the product name was replaced by a series of successor names.

Now, more than eleven years after that legal defeat, the original product name is still used, erroneously but ubiquitously, to describe an entire class of products—products that themselves exist mostly as fading memories.

What’s the product name?

I’ll give you one more hint: it’s a technology brand.

Answer after the jump.

Continue Reading Name That (Zombie) Brand

Frequently brand owners find themselves in the position of wanting or needing to explain the thinking behind their name, mark, and/or brand. Sometimes the explanations appear publicly on product packaging, websites, catalogs, brochures, advertising, and frequently in press releases, or perhaps in statements to reporters, especially when trademark litigation concerning the brand is involved. Such explanations about the brand’s

It’s a jungle out there in corporate America. A hot, steamy, ardent, passionate jungle.

You’ve seen the evidence. Whole Foods is hiring “people with a passion for healthy living.” Bose seeks “people with a passion for innovation.” The South Florida Water Management District wants “good people with a passion for water.” Grant Thornton is looking for “people with a passion for the business of accounting.”

There’s plenty of heavy breathing outside the help-wanted ads, too. At last count, there were 960 live trademarks in the USPTO database that incorporated “passion” or “passionate,” from Dark Passion coffee to Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion perfume to Tango Passion, which turns out to be a brand of slot machines.

Some of the marks strain credulity, to say the least. Passion hearing aids—eh? “A Passion for Packaging”? (Packaging?) How about “Experience Our Passion for Flow”—the slogan of a company that makes, uh, flow meters.

And the lawyers—the lawyers! A random sampling of passionate legal slogans includes “Law. Life. Passion” (Nashville), “Passion. Knowledge. Strategy. Action” (Chicago), “A Passion for Justice” (West Palm Beach), and “Compassion for People. Passion for Justice” (Little Rock).

All together now: Get a room!

In all seriousness, when it’s overused like this, “passion” is drained of distinctiveness. The word may have had some shock value back in 1985, when Tom Peters published A Passion for Excellence and spawned a generation of passion-pitching management consultants and self-help gurus—and thousands of books with titles like Creating Passion Teams, Leading with Passion, and Turn Your Passion into Profit. Thanks to Peters, being a breadwinner was no longer sufficient: you had to fall head over heels in love with your job. Again and again.

“Passion” used to signify something special. When it first came into English from Old French in the 12th century, it retained its Latin meaning of “suffering” (as in “the Passion of the Christ”). Four hundred years later it took on a new meaning, “sexual desire,” and in the 17th century became synonymous with “deep, overwhelming emotion”—often caused by love or anger. And now? “Passion” sometimes means “enthusiasm,” sometimes “self-sacrifice,” and sometimes “a word we use to convince ourselves the long hours and tedious work are worth it.”

If you’ve been thinking about using the P-word in your own company brand, I suggest you first take this little quiz. Simply match the passionate slogan with the company—or even just the industry—that created it. Warning: although many of these slogans and brands are national or even global, I don’t expect anyone to ace the test. In fact, it’s so tough that more than two correct answers qualify you as a Passion Pro.

Answers after the jump.


1.      Experience Our Passion!

2.      Unwavering Passion. Endless Dedication.

3.      Passion and Precision.

4.      Precision. Passion.

5.      Passion & Patience

6.      A Passion for Excellence

7.      Passion for Excellence

8.      A Passion to Perform

9.      A Passion for Performance

10.    A Passion to Go Beyond

11.    A Passion for Quality

12.    Sharing Our Passion

13.    Your Potential. Our Passion.

14.    Your Passion Is Our Obsession

15.    Trust. Integrity. Passion.


a. Banking

b. Tires

c.  Credit-union services

d. Golf equipment

e. Ice cream distributorships

f.  Computer data storage

g. Employment recruiting

h. Computer software and operating systems

i. Salami, cheese, and condiments

j. Sporting goods

k. Retail jewelers

l. Investment brokerage

m. Radiation therapy

n. Winery

o. Public relations

Continue Reading The P-Word

What’s the first thing you think about when you’re naming a company or a product? Securing a domain? Avoiding trademark conflict? Sounding different from your competitors?

All are important concerns. But I contend that the first thing you should think about is this:

A name is the title of your story.

Yes, you’re naming your company or your product. But what you’re really doing is putting a title on the story you’re telling investors, shareholders, customers, and employees.

If you’re smart and lucky, the name you choose will be the title of a great story. A best-seller. A legend. A tale told around the campfire for generations.

If you’re haphazard or confused or pretentious or timid, your name will end up on the equivalent of the remainders table at your local bookstore: piles of copies at 70 percent off.

You can have a great story that nobody wants to read because the title is pedestrian or perplexing or pompous.

Or you can create demand for your story by giving it a title that tells just enough without giving away the plot.

So before you do any internal namestorming or hire a name developer, spend some time thinking about the story your company or product needs to tell.

Continue Reading The Title of Your Story