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April 2007


Susan Gunelius (MarketingBlurb.com)

I remember over 10 years ago when I worked for AT&T and the infamous "trivestiture" happened when the company broke into 3 parts. I recall being summoned to an all employee meeting where the new brand name for the telephone company was announced as Lucent. A huge amount of money was paid to a California branding company to create a name, and that's what they came up with. While I don't dislike the name as much now as I did then. I still don't think it's as good as it could be.

Scott Miller

Names are truly important to a brand. For example, Tivo is a great name, but I have no idea what to call all of Tivo's competitors, because they have such generic names.

I think the iPhone is horribly generic. While the name, iPod, is unique and cool.

As for Ries & Ries, I don't find much fault with this. But, there's a picture on this site showing Laura leaning against her dad and looking at him, and the message of this picture is crystal clear: I am not an equal to my father, he is the clear leader of this team. I recommend removing this picture in a heartbeat. This may seem like a little thing, but it sends a strong message -- the wrong message. Even the pros (like Laura) often don't see the forest for the trees.

Melisa Teoh

You make a valid point about the importance of a name in branding. What would you think if Proctor & Gamble suddenly became Proctor & Proctor or Gamble & Gamble? The name Al Ries & Jack Trout is a well-respected and loved brand in marketing consulting and publishing. By naming yourself Ries & Ries, you confuse the public by declaring yourself to be a replacement for Jack Trout, one of the world's best marketing strategists. Although the rub-off effect from Al Ries has its obvious "springboard" benefit, the downside far outweighs the benefit.

There are enough examples of children of celebrities who have made a name for themselves without leveraging their parents' names. Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn. Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. Liza Minelli and Judy Garland.

Unless you plan to forever live in your father's shadow and be perceived as a poor substitute for Jack Trout, perhaps it is time for you to re-evaluate your own brand?

Laura Ries

No one called the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD battle over. But I am willing to bet that the better brand is likely to win in the end.

These early results show that Blu-ray is powerful. In part because they have a better name with more potential to make an impact in the mind.

As for Bluetooth, perhaps you have not read the recent stories about the turnaround success of the Bluetooth brand.


Sales doubled in 2005 and hit 520 million last year. I haven't seen an executive that doesn't have a Bluetooth headset implanted in their ear.

Bluetooth is a fantastic name. I believe they have been able to turnaround initial glitches in part because of the strength of the name. A weaker, generic name might not have survived.

Wi-Fi isn't bad either of couse. As is BlackBerry and iPod. If you look at the biggest business success stories of recent years, you will usually find a powerful name.


How do you go about choosing a brand name? To me, it's possibly the hardest aspect of creating a new business. While there are many times a personal name is appropriate, sometimes it's just better to have a made-up name. What's the process?


Steve Woodruff

If the name is not memorable and "sticky", the product or service may still win based on merit...but the job is simply that much harder. For the life of me, I'll never understand why so many technology companies put out products identified as "PL 550-BV Plus" and other such incomprehensible nonsense.


"Or how about artist Andrew Warhola? His 15 minutes of fame was only accomplished with the name Andy Warhol."

I stopped reading there, although I can now see the last two paragraphs ... drivel.

Bob Gilbreath

Really?? You're going to call the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray game already over after barely a few months in market? And it's all because of a name?

There are so many noise factors in the numbers so far, including Sony PS3 giving away Blu-ray discs, that it's not wise to call this a victory.

As for naming, I believe that HD-DVD will still win the day because it is a name that people actually can understand - i.e. "oh, it's High-Def DVD". The point is not to create differentiation in a standards war, but rather to plainly explain what your technology is.

A "cool name brand" hasn't worked for Bluetooth. In fact, I believe that goofy name is part of the reason the technology is barely used - in spite of the hype and certain benefits.

I believe the naming and differentiation battle will be fought over the content, not the technology.

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