Lexicon® Blog

Archive for July, 2016|Monthly archive page

Sharing Interests, Not Rides

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on July 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog


In the future, cars won’t just be a way to get from A-to-B, they’ll be social hubs.

Services like Lyft Line and UberPool have taken off in recent years because there’s demand for less expensive rideshares. People appreciate the convenience of getting picked up at their front door and dropped off at their destination.

Not only is it easier than hopping a train or catching a bus, but as autonomous vehicles replace human-driven cars in existing taxi and rideshare services, it’ll become cheaper too. And as the cost for door-to-door transit falls, autonomous ridesharing could completely replace public transit.

As this unfolds, the social landscape of our cities will change too. There are many differences between public transit and ridesharing, but perhaps the most important is that cars—as an environment—are more intimate.

We all do it when we get into a shared ride: We offer a greeting, either to our driver or a fellow passenger. Sometimes a conversation develops, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way though, we acknowledge the people we’re riding as though they are, well, people. It just feels wrong not to.

Right now, there’s just barely enough demand to make ridesharing possible. But as it becomes the modal transit choice, something beautiful is going to happen: We will no longer match just for a common destination, we will begin to match on other preferences as well.

This is going to unlock a richer ride for consumers, but it also presents an opportunity for brands to get into the car too. Suddenly, social services like Tinder or Wiith will have a lot more room to play. Each shared car becomes a microcosm of human interaction that can be branded not just to offer you a ride, but a personalized experience.

Going to the game tonight? Why not grab a beer with a fellow fan in a CarBar?

New to the area? Get to know your neighbors by commuting with Block Party.

Still looking for the love of your life? Your “one” may, quite literally, be right around the corner in aHarmonic Convergence.

Maybe you just want to expand your social circle. Summon a Social Drive and you’ll be matched with a recommended rider based on shared interests imported from your social media.

Trying to get your foot in the door with a new company? Sign up for LinkedIn’s next competitor, Vignette, which does one better than connect you via email; it actually puts you face-to-face with people in your desired industry.

Don’t worry, if it’s been a long day at the office you can always request a Paper Shade to match with people who also want a little peace and quiet on the way home.

If a café is more your style, make your way over to a nearby Coffee Stop where you can step onto the next gentle autonomous bus fitted with baristas and barstools. This fresh take on public transit circulates slowly in dense urban communities to allow effective use of the now relatively empty streets reserved for autonomous traffic. In essence, these lumbering giants will offer a dynamic form of real-estate that can be used for restaurants, storefronts, or live performances; it’s a whole new kind of food truck.

Of course, the hyper-segmentation offered by a burgeoning autonomous transit system won’t be limited to simply matching people with people. People can match with things too.

Tired of coming home to “Delivery Attempted” stickers littering your door? That’s a problem of the past if you subscribe to Rendezvous, a car service that makes sure your packages arrive home with you.

Is it your turn to cook dinner tonight? Never mind the supermarket, just place your order for fresh produce with FreshCart.it by noon and, at 5 o’clock, your groceries will pick YOU up.

As these changes take hold, car branding will likely shift away from thematic references to adventure (e.g., Ford’s Explorer, Nissan’s Pathfinder). Instead, it will become more geared toward the service or experience (e.g., Coffee Stop, Block Party).

These are just a handful of easy to imagine examples describing how big data and social media are going to change the way we get around. No longer will we choose Lyft over Uber because surge pricing is less ridiculous for our particular destination; we’ll choose based on how we want to spend our time getting there.

Moving forward, it may be more useful to think of the car as a social medium rather than simply a means of transit. Although these exact services might not make it into a future rideshare with you, there is one thing we can count on: Brands will be built around promised connections with the people, products, and experiences we crave on the road.


– Aaron Snyder


Call Me Old Fashioned

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Naming on July 21, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog


Poor Jackie. She had so much going for her. But as an individual who held onto traditional automotive values, she seems to have been left in the dust.

She considered car ownership to be a representation of freedom, but fast forward to the near future and the automotive industry has shifted to a shared driving experience rather than an individual one.

But is Jackie’s idea of automotive freedom really gone?

Last week’s post touched on Maven, a car-sharing app from GM that’s branded itself a “mobility service.” However, what interests Jackie is the GM mother brand itself as the supplier of tangible products rather than just services. In other words, the GM brand has split its automotive demographic into two groups: those who embrace the changing landscape and those who retain traditional values. Jackie’s a holdout for these traditional values, and so falls in this second category. Will other companies begin adopting this kind of model when they realize they have split fan bases, or can a single brand name hold sway over both tangible ownership and service?

It was mentioned last week that brand loyalty may shift with the advent of ride-sharing services. However, for this group of traditional users, brand loyalty might actually increase due to users associating this dearly held value of ownership with the very brand of the car itself. From here it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the very existence of such users paving the way for a kind of revival of the retro. But wait, does this become a kind of I, Robot thing, now? Is Will Smith going to drag out his dusty old motorcycle that runs on – gasp – gasoline and give it a spin for its money?

Well, perhaps this line of thinking isn’t too far off.

Inspired by this very group of individuals, a return of the classic or the retro may be in order.  In an age where autonomous transportation has become king and few have even operated a car, teenagers may hear stories from their grandparents and get curious. What must life had been like back then, with these “old-fashioned” machines you could control yourself and take anywhere you wanted? How must things have been when you had to remember your car keys, pump your own gas, and physically take your car to shop whenever it broke down?

A fascination with this way of life may excite a younger generation into learning about and even driving some of these now-antiques. The empty parking lots of yesteryear, if there are any still around, may once again see teenagers driving about, trying their best not to stall out. Parallel parking? How did their grandparents manage that? And drifting? Wasn’t that a made up thing from old Mario Kart games? Antique shows may begin catering to younger audiences, and motor clubs themselves may be revived in order to cater to this spectrum of interested attendees.

At the end of the day, what are the automotive companies to make of this revival? Most of their resources will likely be devoted to either car sharing or autonomous markets in order to adapt to the modern automotive landscape. A renewed interest in past models, however, is surely an opportunity. Cars of our modern era may very well be refurbished or emulated in the future: an antique from the past brought back to life. Such models could even be branded a Rebirth, a Revive, a Comeback.

Jackie may not be as out of luck as we first thought.


– Noah Rucker

Sharing is Caring

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on July 15, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog


See that girl up there? Let’s call her Jackie. Today’s her sweet-sixteen, and she’s at her local dealership with her parents, eager to pick out her very first car. Fast forward a few hours, and Jackie’s driving off into the sunset in a new convertible, top down, music blaring – the iconic American representation of freedom and one that car brands lean into heavily.

The thrill of earning a driver’s license and setting off like Jackie – a rite of passage for most American teens – has been such a staple in our country’s 20th century narrative. This idea of ownership and the independence gained from cars has essentially been passed from one generation to the next. But recently, data has started to demonstrate a waning interest in this ideal. Ownership, which has been so fundamental to the American car culture, is on the decline, and it seems like sharing will become the new norm.

Today, teenagers are no longer seeking the thrill of owning a car. In fact, rates of motor vehicle licensure have plummeted among young Americans. Some studies attribute such changes to economic factors, but others point to the changing values of a new generation. For instance, a recent NPR article reported that millennials and members of Generation Z are more focused on owning tech devices, such as smartphones, than on owning cars. Jill Hennessy, a clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, studies the attitudes of millennials toward the car-buying process. She claims that “[millennials] are much more likely to find value in experiences than they are to find value in things.”

What does this fundamental change mean for car companies? How are they to brand their vehicles as “experiences” rather than simply as “things?”

Some companies are already adapting. Maven, a car sharing app, is a subsidiary of GM. Branding itself as a “mobility service,” Maven seems to be cashing in on this sense of experience in the form of a service rather than as a tangible product that entails ownership. Uber and Lyft have also laid such a significant stake in this market that users are associating themselves with one of the services—Uber or Lyft—rather than individual car brands—like Nissan or Toyota.

Will other car companies follow suit, tailoring a specific service to budding demographics that care more about an experience than an actual product?

The very idea of brand loyalty will likely expand into a kind of fractional ownership. Rather than investing in a single vehicle, users will be investing in an entire brand.

Such a notion runs parallel to the idea of air travel, where consumers buy into a shared brand experience rather than outright purchase a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 321. To attract a certain consumer base, some airlines tout economical options for those who want to save some money, others offer luxurious ones for those who want to relax on their flight, and still others promise reliability for those who have meetings to make and families to see. Likewise, the automotive industry may end up branding itself in order to convey the kind of service it wants to offer, such as scenic avenue branding to tourists or romantic getaways marketed to couples.

Simply put, the very soul of the car is transforming as we speak. In the 19th century, horses were the symbol of transportation – companions to settlers, wagon trains, and cowboys. A century later, the car supplanted the horse. Now, the shift from privately owned, traditional cars to shared and autonomous ones is slowly gaining speed. Consequently, the youth of today are leaving behind a once celebrated rite of passage, and the world at large is set to leave behind a once highly valued idea of ownership. Which car company will own this new form of branding that reflects this big change?


– Kennedy Placek

When the Language is the Message: Premium Skin Care Products in the Brazilian Market

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Consumer Goods, Linguistics, Naming on July 13, 2016 at 2:58 pm


People often fall into the trap of thinking that a message’s utility is a simple function of its contents. However, in his now famous aphorism, Marshall McLuhan first asserted that the medium is the message. In other words, the mode of expression used to transmit an idea is a contextual lens through which we interpret and understand the idea, thus influencing our perception. This holds true for the brand naming work we do here at Lexicon Branding, and is key in reaching the most strategic and efficient linguistic form for a given project. This point becomes especially important for products competing in today’s global economy.

In some cases, the medium can actually trump the content of the name, particularly when it comes to the language of expression. I was taken aback when I first noticed that many premium skin care products in Brazilian drugstores are not named in the country’s official language of Portuguese. At first pass this made sense because many of the products in this category are imported. But to my surprise, even country of origin could not account for the names’ language of origin. So where are these names coming from?

To answer this question, I took to the shelves of local drug stores to survey the selection of premium skin care products in Brazil. I found that English forms like Skin, Care and Age appeared in some skin care brand names, but French-sounding ones were much more prevalent, especially if the product had a clear cosmetic use (e.g., Dermage, Avène, Vichy, L’Oréal, L’Occitane). Brands that had a French or French-like name, such as Dermage or Vichy, were generally followed by supporting nomenclature in Portuguese to describe the product’s use. This is in keeping with the traditional notion in Brazil, and many other countries worldwide: that the French are leading cosmetics experts. This is found in the USA as well, where premium American brands include Estée Lauder and Clinique. Across the globe, many people who use these products speak little or no French and are completely unaware that Estée Lauder was an enterprising American business woman in the early 20th century, or that a clinique is a private hospital (hardly where I would look for beautification). It seems these surface level references to French culture are enough to convince plenty of consumers of the brands’ authenticity.


Indeed, some manufacturers go so far as to hide the names of parent companies if they are not consistent with the desired product image. For instance, German-sounding names like Bayer, Stiefel, Beiersdorf, and Daudt, tend not to feature prominently on packaging. Instead, the parent companies’ names are generally placed inconspicuously on the back of the bottle in fine print. Take, for example, the world-famous NIVEA skin care brand, owned by the German company Beiersdorf. As the company explains, the word NIVEA is derived from the Latin word nix, nivis meaning “snow.” So NIVEA means “snow white.” Thus, its German identity is completely effaced. Likewise, their popular Q10 Plus line of skin care creams give the consumer no hint at all that its original maker is German: Beiersdorf is buried on the back of the packaging in tiny, barely-legible print while the brand NIVEA is center-stage on every surface.

This pattern emerges in other lines and sub-brands as well, where French and English are used to sell anti-wrinkle facial cream. This time, they combine the French word Visage with an English descriptor, Expert Lift, followed by detailed information in Portuguese.

Why is it that the German identity is practically erased? One possibility is Brazilians’ lack of familiarity with the German language itself. More likely, though, it’s the prestige that French carries in Brazil. In the past, the upper classes would often study French, especially the daughters of well-to-do Brazilians; it was considered the language of “civilization,” and as such, it was often used for the branding of sophisticated personal items for women and of stores that sold them. German, on the other hand, has often been associated with heavy industry, precision tools, pharmaceutical products, and musical instruments. It also doesn’t help that Brazilians tend to think of German as sounding a little harsh, partially due to certain consonants produced farther back in the mouth, and the sheer length of the words. These cultural biases, together with the legitimate heritage of French expertise in cosmetics, help to explain the preference for French or French-sounding monikers for premium skin care products in Brazil. It’s the language itself that conjures up these images in the minds of regular consumers, even if they don’t actually speak a word of the language at all.

– Aurora Neiva, A member of Lexicon’s World Brand® Team

Battling for the Back Seat

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on July 7, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog


Since their inception, car interiors have been cluttered with pedals, knobs, and forward-facing seats. With little legroom and lots of passengers, backseats can be especially cramped. The rise of autonomous vehicles, though, can fundamentally transform these cabins into ideal places to work, rest, or engage in activities previously thought unimaginable. Although once considered solely a mode of transportation, vehicles may soon offer revamped spaces, limitless interior options, and radical branding and co-branding opportunities.

In 2014, the U.S Census Bureau reported that the average commute was 26 minutes long. Employees who work five days a week and fifty weeks a year would spend a collective 1.8 trillion minutes, 29.6 billion hours, 1.2 billion days, or 3.4 million years going to and from work. But that time is not spent working, checking emails, making important calls to clients, reading, or relaxing. Instead, employees spent those minutes stuck in their vehicles, with their eyes on the road, their hands on their steering wheel, and their minds focused on navigating the streets in front of them.

The rise of autonomous vehicles could revolutionize that commute, and major automotive companies are already offering their own visions for the near future and its reimagined interiors. These potential-to-be-branded modes are distinctly different from the normal regular and sport modes of today’s drive.

Volvo’s Concept 26 (named for the average commute time) envisions an autonomous vehicle with three different modes: Drive, Relax (in which the driver’s seat completely reclines, the steering wheel retracts, and the screen rotates in front of the windshield), and Create (in which the driver’s seat slides back, allowing a small desk-like tray to pop out from the door).

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, pictures a premium “luxury lounge” with walnut wood panels, and four rotating white leather lounge-chairs. These descriptions, which could easily apply to a modern apartment or premium suite, introduce a new type of rhetoric and, subsequently, a new type of brand.

With these designs in mind, will the interiors of cars start to reflect those of airplanes or hotels? Just as first –class cabins on airplanes market complimentary hot meals, priority boarding, and extra legroom, “first-class” automotive interiors could offer hot meals or snacks, priority pick-up and drop-off, and more legroom than an “economy” counterpart.

The potential for change in auto interiors may even expand to include industries previously unrelated to automotive or transportation. Specific profession-based interior offerings would restrict the roles of automotive companies and involve other industries: pairings that Lexicon has envisioned and named.

A Quill class, for example, could offer more desk-space and touchscreens for the busy business professional. This word harkens back to the academics of old. Sophisticated and timeless, “Quill” also implies that the ride would be so smooth that the writer would not have to worry about spilling their ink. Different industries, like banking or tech, could partner with the carmaker in order to ensure that this mobile office space has WiFi, electrical outlets, good acoustics for conference calls, and other company-specific amenities.

The Joule fleet could be equipped with a high-tech entertainment system that is perfect for partygoers. The high-energy name “Joule,” a scientific unit of measurement, would convey the vibrant atmosphere of these interiors, and entertainment venues and bars may sponsor specific cars, each of which provides an idiosyncratic catered experience.

Pond interiors would be known for their focus on privacy for those who desire a quiet commute and a potential spa-like experience.  The serenity of a pond could be the inspiration for aromatherapy, massage chairs, soft lighting, and a choice of teas or infused waters that are available for passengers.

To meet the evolving demand, auto companies would have to focus not on the speed and power of the past but on the in-car experience of the future. As a result, car interiors may become a product of co-branding opportunities. Sleep-deprived start-up founders, like the minds behind Casper, might find their way into BMW autonomous cars featuring their mattresses, and coffee addicts may order, via touchscreen, the latest Starbucks creation: the Venti Volvo. A favorite breakfast spot could turn into a transportation system, in which an individual steps inside their favorite café and steps out, pastry in hand, at their destination.

Although car interiors were once cluttered and cramped, the rise of autonomous cars could change those connotations. New interior spaces would require names and, possibly, co-branding opportunities, that reflect this transformation. With the infinite possibilities and combinations possible, companies should understand that the only way to get ahead in the automotive industry is to take the backseat.

Lexicon has brainstormed some possible themes for the interiors of autonomous cars. Are there others that you would like to see? Leave them in the comments below!


– Eva Epker