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November 2006



Great comments.

TIAA-CREF is one of the all-time worst names. Thanks for reminding all of us.

You read Origin of Brands Jim, super. We are having trouble getting out our message out on the dangers of convergence. As evident with all the new music phones out this Christmas. All destined to fail of course. Anyone buy a ROKR? Didn’t think so.

Special K protein water basically has no chance. As you say it is a high-carb cereal brand, they have no credibility in water or protein. There might be opportunity for Protein water that was pure protein delivered in liquid form. Eating protein bars gets tiresome and most are full of sugar. The same with shakes. I know there are some specialty brands like Isopure with a product in the market. But a new brand focused on liquid protein only could be powerful. Of course it would need the right name!


As a daily reader of this blog. I have to make a comment. Since I'm involved in with products in the protein business. And being into fitness as well. First of all in my eyes Special K is a high carb products. Why on earth are the going to position it self as a protein product? Maybe because of the low-carb trend. Still a strange move. Why not establish a new brand. That stands for protein cereal etc.

In the book the origin of brands Laura and Al got a great point. Why convergence products like chocolate milk don't outsell skimmed milk and chocolate syrup. I think that's the same case with protein water. There is a much bigger market for water. And for protein without water. Actually when manufacturing proteins it's very expensive to get rid of the water. Doesn't make much sense adding the protein to the water again.

rajesh rajoo

I'm sorry, I'm way off this stream, but I'd like to know: Is the client always right? I mean, I've heard this thrown around a lot. And I don't ask this for the sake of a debate. But is the client always right?

Steve Woodruff

Other names that need to go:

Fifth Third Bank

Seems like the worst offenders are merged companies that can't give up legacy names. At least when Hoescht Marion Roussel merged with Rhone Poulenc Rorer, they came up with a new name - Aventis - but now they've merged again, into Sanofi-Aventis (sigh!)

colin stevens

Fascinating stuff - reminded me of the article about company names that when merged together to form a url become something else entirely. I seem to remember Pen Island as one and I recently had an email from someone whose url if read quickly had your brain reading something else - texas seo expert.

I think there's a famous article that proves yuor bairn olny rades the frist and lsat lttres and guesses the bit in the middle so we all need to be very careful when thinking up the perfect name!


I lived in Michigan when the BP transition commenced. Years later, several of those stations are still saddled with Amoco logos. These are not old logos that never got updated; these red white + blue logos were tied to the new green signage. It seemed as though those responsible feared that noone would recognize their "old" gas station anymore or that Amoco was so powerful a brand that they needed to retain some presence for it (despite the fact that the green BP markings dominated the site).

Obviously, they felt strong enough to change the stations over to BP (at great expense). Why water down the bold transition by holding on to a small piece of the previous brand!?

Aaron Gray

Fascinating stuff, Laura. You're brief aside on BP got me thinking. At some point in the last several years, the 76 brand reappeared here in Portland, Oregon. I was extremely excited when this happened, because I had mentioned to my wife several times that it was such a strong brand, they ought to bring it back. Of course, it was the Orange globe that really stuck with you, with the blue 76 the only other color. Now they've all gone to a red field, blue numbers, and a white border. They owned orange, and now they're red, white, and blue. Every other gas station brand is red white and blue, it seems to me (Chevron, Marathon, Esso, Speedway). Seems like a bad move.

Paul Kluding

Thank, Laura. And believe me -- a sense of humor is mandatory.


I was just trying to offer a bit of historical perspective, that's all.


Laura Ries

Wow, thanks for your comments Paul, I appreciate the information. Please don't misread my post, I don't think your company should go away at all. You just need to change your name.

We used your station and it was very well run. Your success despite the name issues is impressive and says a lot about the character of the company. But you cannot overlook the issues with your name. All of my readers have had the same reaction as me.

With your nice company, I think you might do even better with better name. Names are sensitive topics especially when they are personal. But sometimes the best thing you can do is change a name. Where would Ralph Lifshitz be if he didn't change his name to Ralph Lauren?

But dear Sir, with a name like Kum & Go you need to have a little more of a sense of humor.


Laura Ries

Thanks for all the great comments and anecdotes. King Dong and A-Hole Bagels are similarly scary branding moves. And I can't believe they changed the name from Git n Go to Kum & Go. Git isn't good but it is better than Kum.

Being into fitness, I agree that protein is good for you and curbs hunger, but if the idea is that powerful give the product a new name don't saddle it with a stupid line extension one. You leave the door open for someone to take the idea and do a better branding job. The winner is the not the one who is better or first on the market, it is the one who is first in the mind. And getting into the mind requires a good brand. Look at Apple's iPod. It was brought on the market 21 months after Creative introduced a hard-drive player.

Paul Kluding

The year was 1959. The country was in the midst of a massive transformation. Middle-class families were becoming suburban families. And with suburbs came an increase demand for cars. The Federal Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway System. People were on the move, and the entrepreneurial spirit was in the air, especially related to travel, transportation and fuel.

Two such visionaries – W.A. Krause and T.S. Gentle – set out to create a refueling destination with a sense of "convenience."

In an age where catchy company names and unique marketing phrases were not only a representation of the times – but also the difference between success and failure – the two gentlemen used the first letters of their last names to create a unique moniker to showcase the ease and convenience they instilled in a shopping experience. Thus Kum & Go was born.

Since then the company has grown.
- 445 stores in 13 states.
- Employs 3700 associates.
- Excess of $1.5 billion in annual sales.
- One of Forbes top private companies in the country two years running.
- Seventh-largest privately held convenience store chain in the U.S.
- In 2006, named top convenience store for customer service by CSP magazine (industry trade).
- In 2006, W.A. Krause inducted into CSN Hall of Fame (industry trade).

Plus, the company gives back 10 percent of its annual profits to charitable and educational causes each year. This distinction earned the organization the "Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award” for 2006 from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

So, with that being said, we at Kum & Go feel quite proud of the brand we've been able to build over the past 50 years, and feel no need to “GO away.”

David Taylor (from Where'sTheSausage)

Special K water really does look like what I call a "brand ego trip", and feels destined for the brand extension graveyard. The only thing that may save it is the (for now) unique product, which as I understand it has protein to curb cravings for snacks... more on my post on this at:

brandon barr

It used to be called "Git n Go," which was a much better name. I noticed the whole chain changed over to "Kum n Go," in college--and of course my imagination went right to work.

Steve Liberati

Reminds me of a business idea my old roommate came up with in college. He wanted to open a shop that sold oversized bagels and call it "A-Hole Bagels." His motto would be "The biggest A-hole's in town" or "We sure know how to butter an A-Hole." Luckily his idea never amounted to anything. Sure you want to get people talking about your brand, but you also have to maintain your respect at the same time. Morals/Values should always come before profits.

Kevin Skarritt

Great post Laura,

"Kum and Go" reminds me of an equally disturbing name (for the same reasons) of an oriental restaurant in Berkeley, CA called "King Dong". What were they thinking!! I don't know if it's still there or if it has survived a decade of snickering ... but I do know that I remember their name but none of their competitors. I guess being bold has it's rewards -- to a degree -- but I'm with you that a name selection shouldn't be taken lightly.

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