Names reviewed in past newsletters.
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Article Date
Superlatives in Names - "Better Burger" and "Best Value Inn." They work! 7/25/06
Better Burger 7/25/06
Best Value Inn 7/25/06
Today’s Name for Review: Cariso? No, Kerasal 5/6/03
Almond Accents 1/9/03
Sciusia 12/06/02
Dimage by Minolta 11/12/02
Aircast 9/12/02
New Movie XXX with Vin Diesel 8/7/02
Swiss and Euro 7/11/02
Jet Blue and Easy Jet 4/25/02
Great Gorge vs. Mountain Creek 3/21/02
Benecol 1/25/02
Travelocity and Expedia 1/10/02 1/1/01
Ambien 12/12/01

Superlatives in Names - "Better Burger" and "Best Value Inn." They work!
Superlatives in names, such as "better," and "best," are words that can cause a visceral or "gut" reaction in listeners.

"Better" and "best" are words that I term "primary" words, since they are words that we as English speakers learn when we are very young. Phrases we speak as kids such as "This ice cream is the BEST!" and "My dog's BETTER than your dog" attach these superlative words right to the physio-emotional network inside our bodies.
A superlative is defined as "something of the highest possible excellence," in the American Heritage Dictionary.
Read on to see how effective superlatives can be when used in a product name.

Warning! To be successful, a product using a superlative in its name such as "Best" must DEFINITELY deliver on its claim of superiority. If not, the name will soon be spoken in derision and the product will likely acquire a negative new nickname.

This name is excellent!
Who wouldn't want a "better burger"? If you're happy with your regular old burger, that's fine. But the Better Burger chain in Manhattan, makes a big claim using the superlative "better" and happily, they deliver on their promise by proudly offering wholesome foods including:

* meat and poultry that are antibiotic, hormone & nitrate free - some organic
* burgers and dogs made from 100% meat, poultry or fish with no fillers
* a majority of their burgers are lower in fat and calories than the chains

The stores are bright, very clean, slick, modern and appealing. (And by first hand experience I can tell you that the food is very good.)

The name "Better Burger" itself works on several levels.

It uses:
*the superlative "Better"
*alliteration with the B's,
*two symmetrical words, of two syllables each with accent on the first syllable of each, matching length, and ending in matching "er"s.
If that's not enough, the words succinctly and accurately describe the product and are memorable and fun to say.
Teton NameScale Score for Better Burger - 8 out of 10

Every time I spot one of these motels from the highway, I applaud the simple, straightforwardness of this name. It's memorable, and makes a strong claim. I haven't tried the product, but when I am looking for a lodging that will give me my money's worth at the right price, I will certainly remember this name.
The name "Best Value Inn" is not fancy, and doesn't have structural bells and whistles like "Better Burger." But it uses the superlative "Best" and it is memorable in a visceral way with it's simple primary words.
Teton NameScale Score for Best Value Inn - 6 out of 10

Today’s Name for Review: Cariso? No, Kerasal.
Have you ever heard the radio ad for the foot ointment that sounds like Carasow? Keriso? Karisol? Carousel? I have never been able to understand what they are saying. So what would I look for in the drugstore if I wanted to purchase it? (It is actually Kerasal.)

How about the radio ad for eHarmony? They announced the name several times in the ad before I had the slightest notion what they were saying. It was not enunciated clearly, but more or less “gulped.”

Did you know that Chateau Neuf de Pape became one of the most popular wines in America in the ‘70s, (or so the story goes) because it was easy to pronounce? (Or was it because of its unusually high alcohol content, hmm?)

The moral? If you want people to remember the name of your product, first let them hear it correctly. Spell the word out in a radio ad if the sound is ambiguous. Better yet, choose a name with hard consonants and without “sound-alike letters” in it if you plan to advertise verbally.


Lauren Teton is quoted on candy names in the April edition of Confectioner magazine. Excerpts:
FastBreak - "A great name. It’s got a double meaning. It’s sporty, and it also gets the message across that you’re going to take a little break from your work day."

Too Tarts - "The alliteration of the two t’s is good. It’s descriptive. It communicates a meaning."

Overload - "To me the name says sensory overload and that your senses can’t handle it, it’s so good. It hit an emotional button with me, but to others, it sounded like too much fat, too much sugar."

Almond Accents
I spied this new product recently next to the lettuce at my supermarket. What could it be? Well, this name says it all. Flavored almonds used to add a dash of panache to your salad. “Almond Accents” is a simple descriptive name. It sounds good with the “A” alliteration and 2 matching 2 syllable words. “Accent” tells you that you put this onto something else as an embellishment. And what a great way for Sunkist to sell almonds for over

This name isn’t flashy, it just does its job very well. It’s clear to the ear, and mind and sounds good.

Teton NameScale Score for Almond Accents - 6

Sciuscia - This is the name of a new restaurant in Manhattan that I believe may have doomed itself. Rarely is a name so bad or unviable that it actually helps make a product fail. But this may be one.

What is it? How do you pronounce it? And how the heck do you spell it, to find it’s listing in the telephone book so that you can make a reservation?

All right, I studied “Italian Neo-Realism in Film” in college, and I recognized that this restaurant was named after Vittorio De Sica’s film. “Sciusciá” is an Italian attempt at transliterating the word “shoeshine” so that American soldiers would understand, during the war.

And I studied the Italian language. But it still takes me a bit of thinking to spell this word in my mind. And if I didn’t know the story, it would be a very difficult name to pronounce. And what if I hadn’t studied Italian? Can a restaurant in New York City afford to have a name that potential customers can’t spell or say?

It’s true that a product name with an ambiguous pronunciation will be learned by its users in some cases. Witness “Verizon,” and “Shania Twain,” for example. And it’s true that when something is cool enough, knowing an unusual pronunciation makes you a member of a “secret special club.” Remember “Sfuzzi,” the hip restaurant chain that was pronounced “foozie?”

Maybe Sciusciá was created to appeal to a small group of cognoscenti?

But is that a smart marketing strategy in these days of economic hard times? I think that this name is a little too “smarty-pants” for it’s own good. Instead of struggling to work this spelling out with the telephone information operator (or Google) might it not be easier to just dine at La Primavera?

On the NameScale, Sciuscia scores points for it’s pleasant sound, but loses points for its lack of verbal clarity and difficulty of spelling.

Teton NameScale Score for Sciuscia - Minus 1

Minolta’s new line of digital cameras is called Dimage. To me, this word looks too much like the word “damage.”

I do get the point, “Dimage” is a contraction of “digital image.” And the camera has gotten excellent reviews technologically.

But in addition to it looking like “damage”, how do you pronounce this name?

DIM-age? That sounds like a contraction of “dim” and “image.” I am quite sure that dim image is NOT the message Minolta means to send.

Dim-AHJ? Sounds like the French word “dommage” meaning harm or shame.Deem-AHJ? DIME-ahj? DIME-age?

With the amount of research and testing that Fortune 500 clients do when choosing a name, I am frankly amazed that a name with this many unfortunate associations and this much pronunciation ambiguity was chosen.

The Teton NameScale usually congratulates a name that has this many things going on. But not in this case.Quel dommage.

On the NameScale, “Dimage” scores 3 points for it’s structure and originality. However it scores negative 6 points for its inappropriate messages and pronunciation ambiguity.

Teton NameScale Score for Dimage - minus 3

After my recent bizarre tennis accident, I have been introduced by my orthpaedist to a product with the brand name “Aircast.”

This name is simple and creates an unforgettable picture in the mind, even if you have never seen an Aircast. It is a plastic cast cushioned with foam filled aircells that one pumps up for a comfortable custom fit around the damaged joint (my fractured fibula!).

Scoring Aircast on the Teton NameScale: This name has a clear, appropriate message and is composed of familiar words that get the point across beautifully and create a picture, in a mere 2 syllables.

Teton NameScale Score for Aircast - 7

New Movie XXX with Vin Diesel
“...pitifully written, with flagrant disregard for reality in the fashion of
a spoof.” David Hunter, The Hollywood Reporter
“...a seldom watchable, misbegotten mess.” Michael Tunison, Diamondback

So why do I predict that this film, opening Friday will be a blockbuster?

"XXX", starring Vin Diesel, has a ...GREAT NAME! and a... STAR with a GREAT NAME! Of course there’s more, the breathtaking action and Vin Diesel’s macho appeal to males and females. But these 2 exciting names give it a big boost right out of the starting gate.

Actor Vin Diesel made a good move when he changed from his birth name of Mark Vincent at age 17. There’s something about the name Vin Diesel that just stays with you. I’m not even sure what it is, but the one syllable first name vs. the 2 syllable last has a good rhythm. And Diesel is an energetic and distinctive last name (with less than 10 listings each in the NY and CA telephone books.)

The name XXX (government code name of Diesel’s Xander Cage) looks great when written (or tattooed). It’s hard for me to score this name on the Teton NameScale because it is meant to be pronounced “Triple X” but registers as XXX to the eye. However it undeniably shouts SEX and EXTREME EXCITEMENT. The critics may hate it, but this movie, like Director Rob Cohen’s last Vin Diesel-powered vehicle (The Fast and the Furious - also an exciting name!) WILL sell at the box-office, ... and beyond.

Swiss and Euro
Swiss?! Is this any kind of name for an airline?

I recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival and made one flight leg on the new airline named "Swiss."

Swissair came to a shocking and ignominious end after a 71-year history, and was replaced in April by a new airline, named "Swiss." The name is just confusing."Swiss what?" I kept asking myself. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that an airline is named by an adjective with no object. (By the way, once you get past the name, the hospitality and comfort offered on the planes of the new airline was outstanding.)

We do call American Airlines "American" for short, but the fact is, its full name is a noun with an adjective and is very clear. Swiss is hard to use, even hard to search online. This name would be much better if it gave more information. Swiss Sky, AeroSwiss, FlySwiss, all would do the job better than calling the airline Swiss. Simple is great in a name, when it can impart the necessary information. Rarely is a name too short. But this name is so simplistic that it is counter-productive. Swiss feels incomplete and unsatisfying as a stand-alone name.

In scoring "Swiss:" although the name is short and sounds nice, it loses points for not having a clear message
Teton NameScale Score for Swiss - 3

"Euro" on the other hand, is a short simple name that cuts across language barriers. It does a great job naming the new money. (And by the way, since a Euro is usually about a dollar, it is very easy for Americans to use in Europe!)

Jet Blue and Easy Jet
Jet Blue is a revolutionary name for an airline. Instead of a regional name like American or Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue is one of the few to use theshort descriptive word “Jet” in the title. It also utilizes the short, out-of-left-field choice of the primary color blue, which became its theme color. Does this airline put a picture in the mind? It surely does! Additionally the name simply could not be clearer and easier to spell. And it has the euphonious, appealing sounds of j and l.
Teton NameScale Score for Jet Blue - 6

An even better name is Europe’s low-cost airline EasyJet. What name could be easier than “Easy”? Is the thought of an easy trip on a jet appealing? You bet! This name evokes a positive feeling, and a clear appropriate message. The founder has a holding company called EasyGroup which controls EasyInternet Cafe, EasyCar and forthcoming EasyCinema. “EasyInternet Cafe” may be a mouthful, but the “Easy” gives the spin-offs strong brand identity in simple words that can be understood in different European languages.
Teton NameScale Score for Easy Jet - 7

Great Gorge vs. Mountain Creek

Now that snowboarding season is over the Talking Names News Review is back. Here is the result of my winter research from the slopes.

A mountain resort in NJ changed its name from “Great Gorge” to “Mountain Creek.”

The word Gorge is not perfect, being “a deep narrow passage with steep rocky sides” or “an instance of gluttonous eating.” However “Great Gorge” creates a spectacular mind picture in 2 short alliterative syllables.
Teton NameScale Score for Great Gorge - 7

Mountain Creek is a pretty, but generic name. Doesn’t every mountain have a creek? The new name is nothing special and a step backwards for making this mountain memorable.
Teton NameScale Score for Mountain Creek - 3



What does this product sound like it is?

a. cough syrup
b. a tasty spread to melt onto your toast

According to the manufacturer “Benecol Spread is a revolutionary new food that reduces "bad" cholesterol (LDL) up to 14%. The name Benecol brings together Bene, meaning "good" and col, for "cholesterol." Yet for me, this blatant message is unappetizing and unappealing. As rated on the Teton Namescale, the name has some attributes going for it. It is easy to pronounce, has a good clean look with the 1 letter /1 vowel structure, and has a very clear message.

But it doesn’t sound appealing as a food, which gives it negative points in the “appropriate word picture” category. Eating a food that sounds like a medicine is a turn-off, not a treat.
Teton NameScale Score for Benecol - 2

Travelocity and Expedia

The name Travelocity contains the messages: travel, speed (velocity), and as a bonus, city, (just in case your travel will be to a city.) You want a travel website to imply velocity; getting you on your way quickly. The name Travelocity gives a clear, appropriate message, is easy for the ear to hear, and cleverly blends the “vel” of Travel and Velocity. It loses one point for being long.
Teton NameScale Score for Travelocity - 7

While we’re on the subject of travel websites to speed you on your way, there is also of course, Expedia. It is another good coined (invented) name with an appropriate message. One of the meanings of “expedite” is “to execute quickly and efficiently.” The name actually contains the word “speed” when spoken. It also uses vowel harmony, (that’s the “ee” sound of “pe-dia”) and the “sexy x.” But it does not say anything specifically about travel.
Teton NameScale Score for Expedia - 5

The name Amazon, as in "" must have taken courage to choose and put in place. What did the world’s second longest river have to do with a website for buying books? Yet the name is memorable and has rocketed to a top place in consumer's consciousness.

Besides the fact that the business was a novel concept, the name Amazon has a lot going for it. It contains one of Scrabble’s four highest scoring letters - Z. The word is a "natural" or dictionary proper noun, so there’s no spelling to decipher. It uses the 1 consonant / 1 vowel construction for clarity. And the name Amazon implies leading you into a vast mysterious exciting place with a lot to explore.
Teton NameScale Score for Amazon - 9


Ambien is a widely prescribed insomnia medication that claims
“Unlike many sleep aids of the past, AMBIEN, if taken as directed, allows you to wake up feeling rested and ready to function.”

The name describes these benefits brilliantly, if you know a little Spanish or French. The AM of AMBIEN refers to a.m. or morning. BIEN is “good or well”. The name tells you you will be well, not groggy in the morning. The excellent secondary message is that the name sounds like “ambient”, and ambient music is a type of soothing, relaxing music, from Latin “to go around.”
That’s a big message packed into a short, pleasant sounding name.
Teton NameScale Score for Ambien - 9