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Archive for the ‘Naming’ Category

Paving the Road with Good Intentions

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on August 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog

Paving

The Roaring Twenties were an iconic time in American history. A time of economic and social change, they quite literally paved the way for the age of the automobile. Between the Federal Road Act of 1916 and the Federal Highway Act of 1921, opportunities abounded for cities to embrace the change and grow alongside the booming auto industry. One city in particular did just that: Los Angeles set out to brand itself as the city of the automobile.

At the turn of the century, Los Angeles was much younger than the centuries-old cities of the east coast. Towns like Boston had been built around horse-drawn carriages and pedestrian traffic and thus could not adapt their streets for cars easily or efficiently. Los Angeles, however, could expand alongside—and in conjunction with—the automobile. The rapid incorporation of the car into LA’s identity allowed for car-centric retailing to explode in the area. Not surprisingly, LA soon became the city of angels, drive-ins, and roadsters.

The 2010s may be like the 1920s in terms of automotive revolution. Autonomous cars are just around the corner, ride-sharing is booming, and many individuals are moving away from car ownership altogether. Will the city and state governments of today take advantage of this change in the same way LA did nearly a century ago?

Many places are doing just that.  In 2011 Nevada became the first state to grant licenses to autonomous vehicles. As a result, Google began testing their self-driving cars there, and other companies soon followed. Even European agencies are bringing business to the state in order to test autonomous prototypes. With this accommodating regulatory structure, Nevada has shown its willingness to welcome innovation and change and, by doing so, has attracted companies and stimulated economic growth.

In contrast, Detroit spent the first decade of the 21st century in economic decline. Both General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy during the recession, and unemployment soared. The same companies that laid off workers a decade ago, though, are now developing self-driving cars and launching ride-sharing apps like GM’s Maven. Similarly, Amazon has opened a new corporate office in downtown Detroit: a symbol of the company’s commitment to Detroit’s rapid growth, in and outside of the automotive industry. The city is promoting its base of well-educated residents alongside low residential and operation costs. Recent reports have shown that Detroit is on par with Silicon Valley in tech job growth, and it’s branding itself as such.

Unlike Nevada and Michigan, certain places in Europe are moving in the opposite direction and distancing themselves from the automotive industry. Cars are viewed as detrimental to society because of their high carbon emissions and congestion of city streets. As a result, many envision the cities of the future to be completely car-less. Such cars were never necessary, and some cities never adopted them in the first place. Venice, Italy, for example, has always thrived without them.

Oslo, Norway, is leaning into this idea and has recently announced that cars will be banned from the city center by 2019. The city plans to promote walking, cycling, and taking public transport to enhance local businesses. Lanes once reserved for cars can be turned into public spaces which would knit the city together and contribute to Oslo’s brand image: green, safe, and community-centered.

Autonomous vehicles, however, will introduce new challenges. How will cities fund themselves to keep abreast of this changing cityscape? How will they pay for public safety programs without the steady income of parking and speeding tickets? How will public transportation fare? As the price of autonomous ride-sharing drops, the middle class may abandon public transportation, resulting in a struggle to fund the bus or rail routes still needed by lower income households. In order to transition seamlessly into the future and to improve both their image and brand, cities will have to understand and solve these issues before they even happen.

Efficient and forward-thinking transportation will forever be the hallmark of a thriving city, and cities that capitalize on these ideas will be the ones that pave the way into the future. If successful, they will set up potentials for economic growth, social reform, and citizen safety. The question is: which city will come out on top?

 

– Sarah Schechter

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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

Sharing-Interests

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

Old-Fashioned

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

Sharing

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

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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.

BrazilSkinCare_Nivea

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

Battling

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

Changing Lanes, Changing Names

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on June 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog

Changing-Lanes

As we march closer to the age of autonomous vehicles, it’s clear that there will be a drastic shift away from the car America has grown to love over the past century. What will the transition to autonomous cars mean for automotive branding, and more specifically, what type of names will these new cars have?

The United States has a rich car-culture history that has become intertwined with its identity, built on liberty, adventure, and self-directed freedom. It has been reflected in advertising, communication, design, and most prominently, in brand naming. When thinking about cars from both the past and present, monikers such as Mustang, Firebird, Escape, Explorer, and Navigator come to mind. These brands that dominate the marketplace are just a subset of the cars that were named with the theme of adventure.

But when one thinks of the future of automotive, this traditional, deep-rooted set of values seems to be at odds with the new generation of autonomous vehicles. Instead of taking the wheel, an individual enters a destination into the computer. The feeling of control and the wonder of the unknown will turn into predestination. In fact, drivers themselves may cease to exist and will instead become passengers just along for the ride.

These new themes are difficult to accept and even more difficult to sell. Some automakers, such as BMW, try to preserve the old feeling with cars that play pre-recorded engine noises to match up with the operator’s driving – making him or her feel more in control. But rather than resist, why not embrace change? Will autonomous vehicle makers create a new value set to attract customers? The first companies to pivot may be able to set the tone and have a competitive advantage.

So what will the new trope look like?

In order to come up with names, we have to understand some other, more beneficial aspects of self-driving cars that can stand above what they are losing. What will the new autonomous car be able to offer?

When a person is no longer responsible for driving the car, they are free to engage in different activities during the ride. Entertainment will become a key part of the package. Perhaps cars may position themselves as theaters or concert venues, promising fun and engagement in their name.

Relaxation will also become prominent. Riders may be able to lie down or sleep in a spacious cabin that no longer needs to accommodate a wheel or drivers’ seat. Will autonomous cars become more like hotels in that way and be branded as suites? Hotel chains choose names that impart luxury, quality, and relaxation. Will cars follow?

What about the concerns that accompany autonomous vehicles? Many doubt the foolproof software and do not trust in the safety that automakers are promising. Names that give customers peace of mind will be crucial in assuaging fear. Perhaps something relating to nature will impart serenity.

Another similar concern is the fact that automakers will now be selling “intelligent” robots. Autonomous cars will essentially be robots that people entrust their safety in each day. Lexicon has done extensive research into the naming of robots, finding that humanizing names and terms relating to history and art often prevail in gaining consumer trust. Alternatively, robots named with individual letters and/or numbers are common in reality and in science fiction; they may match well with current vehicle naming conventions. R2-D2 is a robot but E 350 is a Mercedes.

As Lexicon starts naming the cars of the future, we will continue to imagine the new contexts and the new dialogues between brands and consumers. The changing language might be surprising – perhaps uncomfortable at first – but so is arriving at a destination without ever touching a steering wheel. Below are some concepts we developed that could fundamentally change the themes of the automotive industry.

Birch

The imagery from nature used in the automotive world has always skewed rugged and powerful: Tahoe, Outback, and Sequoia. Now, we’re introducing something a little slower – from a sound standpoint – a little more approachable, and decidedly softer. This name feels more suitable for a high-end restaurant or spa, which is why we think it could be an unexpectedly powerful brand name for a car.

 

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Cars have historically been powerful symbols of liberation, freedom, and escape – which is why one of Ford’s SUVs is called precisely that. Now, instead of leaving the city, cars will reimagine the metropolis and how we navigate it. A city-centric car has been executed in design, think: the Smart Car, but not so much in brand. This could be a powerful platform for this first autonomous car in a major urban environment.

 

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Cars lean into playfulness when it comes to advertising and copy, but rarely when it comes to brand names. Cars will look and drive in decidedly different ways, so why not introduce a new personality into the space that feels decidedly different than its predecessors? A great metaphor for protection, this fun name also gets at the new and exciting interiors of cars – which may start to feel more like hotel suite than car cabin.

What other names might we see in the coming years? Let’s start the conversation.

 

– Sarah Schechter and Michael Quinn

The Road Ahead

In Brand Naming, Branding, Business, Cars, High Technology, Naming on June 22, 2016 at 8:30 am

From our Summer 2016 Automotive Think Tank Blog

The-Road-Ahead

The automotive industry has seen momentous, impactful changes over the years — power steering, air bags, antilock brakes — but nothing that has quite reframed mobility in the way that today’s developing technologies will. As the prescient futurist and science fiction writer J.G. Ballard said more than 40 years ago, “The car, as we know it, is on its way out.”

But what exactly are the implications of these changes from a brand perspective?

Rumblings of a revolution can be traced back to when Google started its autonomous vehicle work over five years ago. To many, it seemed like a flight of fancy or a PR stunt. But, 1.5 million self-driven miles later, hands-free driving is no longer a Jetsons-like fantasy, but an imminent reality. And it’s not just Google that is spearheading this movement.

GM has invested half a billion dollars in the ride-sharing service, Lyft, to build out their autonomous fleet. They’ve also launched Maven, a ride-sharing service that flies in the face of outright car ownership. And other major players aren’t passively waiting on the sidelines. Volvo has promised autonomous driving by 2020, Audi is queuing up high-end electric vehicles, and Ford has launched a subsidiary called Smart Mobility to design and build technologies. Clearly, no major player in the industry is sitting on the sidelines.

Even the industries around cars are innovating for this not-so-distant future. State Farm, the largest auto insurer in the United States, and Travelers, a big global player, are filing patents for technologies that are befitting of Silicon Valley start-ups.

From a technology perspective, the road ahead seems pretty clear. But from the branding viewpoint, it’s not. America has a rich car culture embedded in its history, and these changes will undoubtedly affect its future. The outcomes of this transition will be felt at home and across the globe.

That’s why Lexicon Branding has put together a ten-week think tank to speculate about the changes and opportunities automotive brands will face as they drive into the future. Our team here at Lexicon is leveraging our extensive experience in automotive branding to help existing brands, new companies, and consumers successfully navigate the upcoming landscape.

– Kennedy Placek, Michael Quinn, and Sarah Schechter

The ABCs of Media

In Brand Name Development, Brand Naming, Branding, Business, corporate naming, Naming on June 10, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Freeform_FrontPage_HiResIntent on upending the notion that their offerings were strictly family-friendly fare, ABC approached Lexicon to establish a new identity for their network – one that better reflected its fluid audience. The jump from such a descriptive name to a much more imaginative moniker – Freeform – certainly opened the door for the brand to stand for so much more. But it also represents a larger shift in the branding of new media; we are now in an era of entertainment where disruptive freshmen like Netflix and Amazon, which have a keen sense of brand, are seriously repositioning the incumbents. But let’s take a step back.

Readers of a certain age will recall a time when there were only four television networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. These initialisms – or acronyms – stood for descriptive names, American Broadcast Corporation, Columbia Broadcast System, National Broadcast Corporation, and Public Broadcast Service, respectively. These three-letter names were a comfortable choice for these networks: they reflected the established practice of call letters for radio and television stations. They were also developed at a time when such limited choice on the airwaves did not drive the need for differentiation.

Then, as more content and offerings started to emerge, a little personality started to emerge in the space, as well. In fact, it was in this world of acronym entertainment that Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network came to life, with one of its properties being CBN Satellite Service – the channel that would one day become Freeform. During this epoch, other channels in the developing cable world started to present distinct personalities, too: TMC (The Movie Channel), HBO (Home Box Office), and Showtime.

All the previous initialisms to date – ABC, CBS, etc. – had corporate-sounding names as the basis of their abbreviations. But CBN, TMC, and HBO were different: the names of the networks were descriptive of the content itself. This then became the standard in the emerging world of cable networks, and necessarily so; in a world of four channels, it is easier for one of those channels to distinguish itself via its content alone. In a world of tens or hundreds of channels, more communicative names become a necessity to distinguish a network for both viewers and advertisers. Previously, the names only had to identify the source, but in the crowded landscape, they needed to capture the experience, as well – an experience that felt fresh and different.

But HBO and CBN were still familiar initialisms; Showtime wasn’t. Showtime was a suggestive name, evoking the excitement of going to the movies. And it wasn’t reduced to three initials. Its success would help contribute to the dominant approach to naming new (and rebranded) networks. Some of these new network brands would incorporate initialisms (MTV, VH-1, A&E, and HGTV, for example) but many wouldn’t (the History Channel, Bravo, the Discovery Channel, and the Disney Channel). CBN was no different, rebranding itself first as The CBN Family Channel, then later simply The Family Channel. Subsequent acquisitions brought us Fox Family Channel and then ABC Family.

Thus, this new distribution platform (cable television) that allowed a great proliferation of networks changed the naming conventions and the way media outlets thought about establishing a distinctive brand. It then comes as no surprise that this would happen again with the advent of video streaming and ubiquitous access to content via web and mobile. Soon new network brands would begin to eschew descriptive and suggestive names for more arbitrary or coined names.

The break began just before the 21st century with the launch of the TiVo digital video recorder. This new technology offering was not a television network, but it was the first shot fired in the television revolution that continues to this day. The disruptive technology was paired with a disruptive name, one that heralds the current craze for short, fun names. Networks began expanding into arbitrary or coined names, like Oxygen and Palladia. Soon the floodgates were opened and now we watch content on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, Hulu, and Freeform. Far from identifying the source or describing the content, these names evoke a brand experience.

As brands continue to compete for consumer share of mind, whether in entertainment, consumer electronics, or even food and beverage, the need for a powerful brand has become increasingly important. We are no longer in a four-brand marketplace, and the stakes are higher. Newer, more distinctive brands are needed to compete in a marketplace that includes digital streaming, the cable set-top box, and every app on your phone. ABC Family saw this need for newness and this need set the table for creating a bigger, more meaningful brand experience. Stay tuned.

-Alan Clark, Director of Trademark

Meet Our 2016 Summer Interns

In Brand Name Development, Business, Cars, Naming on June 9, 2016 at 9:49 am

This summer’s internship program features four bright thinkers from top universities across the nation. Over the next 10 weeks, each intern will be exposed to and entrenched in every step of our process, from creative development, to consumer research and linguistic analysis.

Last year, Lexicon reintroduced its internship program, which was structured in two groups: 3 linguistic interns and 2 creative interns. At the end of the summer, we were thrilled to offer 2 of those interns permanent roles. This year the interns’ responsibilities will be more comprehensive in nature as each will be involved in all aspects of our services.

Automotive-Think-TankAs an exciting and new aspect to this year’s program, our interns will be part of our new Automotive Think Tank. Their fresh perspectives and varied backgrounds will help us explore the branding landscape of the automotive future – an industry that is on the cusp of experiencing seismic shifts. The purpose of the think tank is to closely examine the current automotive industry structure, how rapidly it’s changing, and what those changes will look like – for everyone from car manufacturers to insurance companies to the government. Our recent and continued work in the space has positioned Lexicon as a leader in the automotive naming space.

Meet the 2016 summer interns:

SARAH SCHECHTER

“I’m a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying for a Masters degree in Product Design and Development. Before coming to Philadelphia, I worked in data analytics for four years and received a BS in Physics from Georgetown University.”

How did you find Lexicon?
“Through the UPenn Careers Site”

Sarah is most excited to “get creative” this summer. Lexicon is excited to see how her design background will shape her views on the future of the automotive industry – perhaps opening our eyes and painting us a picture that no one else could have foreseen.

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KENNEDY PLACEK

“I am a current student at Stanford University, majoring in Political Science. I just finished my sophomore year so to be completely honest, I am not sure where I will end up post-graduation!”

What was your favorite part of the internship last summer?
“My favorite part of the internship last summer was being able to participate and contribute to in-house creative sessions and presentations to clients.”

What are you most excited for this summer?
“I am most excited to bring the new team together for our recently developed automative think tank this summer!”

 

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EVA EPKER

“I am a rising senior at Stanford University, majoring in English, minoring in both Art History and History as well. My academic goals are to make the most of my senior year, finish my degree, and decide what I want to do post-graduation.”

How did you find Lexicon?
“Through an email sent to English majors from a past Lexicon summer intern. I did research last summer and taught middle-schoolers in 2014. [I applied to Lexicon because] Lexicon values some of the same skills as Stanford’s English major, such as clear, creative thinking, and efficient, successful communication”

Eva is most excited to “be able to sharpen her creativity, utilize her love of words, and be inspired by the rest of the Lexicon team” this summer.

 

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Noah Rucker

“I just received my BA in Linguistics from the University of Florida. Grad school is definitely on the table, but I’m uncertain what I’d go into as of yet. Language and technology is one option, but I’m definitely still exploring, trying to find my niche.”

How did you find Lexicon?
“Lots of applications, and a sudden enthusiastic call from Greg. I worked with an educational video gaming company on a science fiction universe where I helped write and worldbuild educational quests, including aspects of naming the galaxy, constellations, people, and places. I also interned with the IHMC (Institute for Human and Machine Cognition) where I looked into social media data for individuals diagnosed with particular mental disorders (specifically, eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, etc.) and then teased out particular linguistic features that were more prevalent in these kinds of users.”

Noah is most excited to “learn an industry and contribute some snazziness” this summer. Lexicon is excited to see how his background in linguistics and technology will add to the unique perspectives our Automotive Think Tank will provide on the potential new naming conventions in this burgeoning industry.