Archives for posts with tag: brands

Penguin envy.

Just looking at this happy bird cools me down. Nothing like incorporating these cute little creatures into your design to coax kids to drink what could be directly had from the tap, filtered or not. The name incorporated into the little guy’s eyes is clever. (Does that make him four-eyes?) The portability helps, but it’s not refillable.

Which brings to mind public water fountains. They must be lonely without all that gossip. And so quaint. Yet they are the best way to quench your thirst or wake yourself up with a splash on the face…when you can find one.

The whole bottled water culture is so over. Most is brought to you from the same public source via the good ole faucet. Yet, the continuing brand proliferation in this category never ceases to amaze me. In fact, I was involved in the industry in the early- to mid-1990’s, when I sought out U.S. distributorship for a prestigious Catalan producer of bottled carbonated mineral water. They were ahead of the times. It’s a shame; they’d have made inroads had management been more interested in carving out a niche space with spa clients (which is where their product best fit) or sat out things until the domestic market here became receptive to their offering.

Emergency landing deplaning practice.


Shimmy, shimmy, shake.

I bought this for the logo, font style and the brand name. Having worked for a Barcelona-based trade development organization for five years, I’m partial to Spanish brands. This is mild paprika, which in Spanish is pimentón dulce (dulce literally means “sweet”).

Turns out this company from Alicante (southeastern Spain) has been flying since 1918! They took off with a brand of food colorings called “El Aeroplano,” which also means airplane, but that term is less modern for the winged machine we know today. La Cadena (chain) is their brand of food coloring sachets, whereas saffron, paprika, other spices, seasonings, nuts and herbal teas are branded El Avión.

Slow to reach altitude, however, is the website, which had been circling the tarmac since 2009. Too bad it’s no longer got any content, because they could have really covered some ground in reviving the beautiful vintage packaging labels and promotional posters for saffron from the 1930’s and 1940’s.


No, not the latest Asian model or starlet. I’m talking about SILPADA. They’ve got everything wrong, except their craft. I love sterling silver jewelry, preferably the vintage American Indian and mid-century Nordic kind. For the purist, the only silver is sterling. Unfortunately, sterling doesn’t anything along the lines of a Denomination of Origin that would inform the buyer as to what is and is not sterling, much less to the fact that there is a difference. Part of the problem stems from ignorance (intentional and not). Salespeople say “silver” and only the informed know to ask if it’s real…meaning sterling or .925 or above silver content. Thankfully, this brand is upfront about the quality of its silver; it’s praised as “handcrafted,” yet the company never divulges the origin of the goods outside of the “world.” So, let’s get on with what I’m not sold on.

Nothing is credible in this ad, dated or not, or at the website. The tagline here tells me what they’re peddling, but there’s really no need…could this lady have on any more jewelry? So much is bad taste; it just cheapens the idea…and the wearer. Such a display even cheapens sterling, which has a long-standing image issue to the less artistically inclined. (Some people won’t wear anything but gold, even if it is gold-dipped, vermeil or 10-carat.) Sterling lacks fans mostly due to things like this: poor product design (there’s just no depth or soul to what looks and is overly commercial) and even poorer branding. Also, sterling tarnishes, and people are lazy. They don’t want to do any maintenance on their adornments. But, it’s just like most everything…you need to keep your purses, shoes, teeth and earbuds clean. Gold needs cleaning on occasion, too.

I never could figure out this ad (from InStyle, November 2009) of a few years back (yes, I’m going through some magazine clippings) — What do vacation days have to do with jewelry? I don’t naturally associate “controlling my time” with a vacation. Why do I want to escape with jewelry? Is that my retail therapy? The colors of the gal’s outfit? Again, nothing aspirational.

Fast forward to 2011. OK, so you’re trying to sell me on the idea that a lifestyle consists of pushing your products at hosted parties and plugging your brand whenever I can get a word in? Such is not a lifestyle (a word which is altogether deserving of another post); it’s unrealistic,  another job and would alienate my friends. The Tupperware, Mary Kay and Avon of sterling. Sorry, you three. You’re good. Just referencing the channel. Silpada, it’s demeaning to see you pitch success defined as a lifestyle built around not only wearing gobs of mass-produced sterling silver jewelry, but selling the stuff. (Want a little .925 with that salad?)

I see that they somehow have secured the domain (over the previous I wonder how much that cost them. The name is not bad, but it’s not pretty either. It’s got some VCV (vowel-consonant-vowel) going on, making it easy to pronounce, and the “Sil-“ informs me of the metal, but the name sounds more like a pill or a shoe insert. Font confusion: The font in the name has no personality; they try to make up for it with the arrows, but it doesn’t work. The font in the logo on the home page is different from the font in the “Welcome to….” The current tagline: Live Life in Style.” is over-capitalized and doesn’t need two fonts. It is Bonneville flat (without the speed). So far, between the name and the tagline, I have no idea what line of business you are in. “Sil-“ only helps with a visual cue. I figure it out by a few nav buttons and “financial freedom.” You can never have enough jewelry, but you can wear more than enough.


The first few times I experienced this store, I was impressed. That was a decade or thereabouts in Seattle. Time has been relatively good to this brand, but I am not their target audience (if I ever was). I used to enjoy the mix of seemingly old and new, different labels under one “house,” and the discovery that was always a part of their brand. Just seems that they’ve been on a slide to bland. The clothes look and feel much cheaper now, there’s too much of it out (the racks are clogged). The need to hit the refresh button. The merch is increasingly poorly sewn, knit designs are stamped instead of woven, the countries of origin of the independent labels are more and more those hawking cheap labor, the fabrics are flimsy and lack hand, the amount and sizes of goods put on sale reflect a disconnect with the knowledge of their audiences. The one constant is the catalogs — amazingly concepted and shot — and learning about the occasional label that is one-of-a-kind, sometimes from former Anthropologists. The ‘logs “transport” you, even though they keep their locations a secret, which is silly. Their online vintage offerings are remarkable particularly with respect pricing. The stores are still fun for a quick walk-through now and then, less now and more then.

All puffed up and no air to go.

Let’s get one thing straight. The World Wide Web is not a product of Lufthansa. Keep reading…the disclaimers get more granular, yet nebulous as you go down the page. Lufty, I’ll take your word that you offer broadband Internet service across the ocean. But wait. The fine print says it’s only on transatlantic flights. Oh, and with my loupe I now see that it is available only on “select North Atlantic routes.” This ad is as shifty as the onboard service is sketchy. True, there IS a better way to fly, but it’s not with you.

Portable Polynesia

I’m a sucker for packaging if you’ve not figured that out by now. I’d just had my first surfing lesson on Maui, and the waves were calling me back. Since I couldn’t get to Hawaii, I had Hawaii come to me, Kona-style and bottled. They brand the heck out of this carton, yet it still feels as free and open as being out on the Pacific. The story on the bottom of the packaging sets the mood, but it’s what’s on the top that makes me grab for the 6-pack in the first place: “Liquid Aloha.” Aah, Coca-Cola can’t touch that for “refreshing” and “happiness.” There was fun under the bottle caps as well, with each one teaching me a word in Hawaiian:

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya…”

Moana = ocean
Kanaka – person
Wai = water
Honu – turtle
Mano = shark

If only the name were as handsome…

The name of this company is more than meets the eye. True, it looks Greek. Could it be an obscure goddess? Nope. According to Aletheia, their name is ‘the classical Greek word for “truth and disclosure,” of bringing facts into the open.’ So, it is only fitting that “an independent, registered investment advisor dedicated to uncovering investment truth” dug deep for meaning. However, this name came to acquire different shades of that over time (and more than those dealing with truth and then disclosure), particularly in the early to mid-20th century, thanks to German philosopher, Heidegger.

Their ad here implies they are above taglines, but they have one, even if they don’t want to admit it: “Research and Management.” Meanwhile, online, and perhaps since that ad, they have migrated to “Research and Management, Inc.” The “Inc.” does not help them at all. In fact, it looks cheap and detracts from their specialty. A tagline helps you position yourselves in the minds of your audiences. Waving around the fact that you are incorporated adds no relevant value. Further puzzling is whether or not they even do any advertising anymore, as on their philosophy page, they supposedly subscribe to “an avoidance of…traditional information channels….”

While the name has great intention, it is dogged by the fact that most will not recognize the word as having anything meaningful to it. The name looks made up, with the goal being to secure a pristine .com, what with all the vowels. Long ago a more understood word, it is now arcane. As such, the company loses an opportunity in their tagline, by which they could have brought me more into their story. If they told me more about how they do research and management, how they outdo the competition in that area, well, then they’d be talking.

For more truth of the matter, see:

Pringles: all tuckered out.

One way to leave your brand.

These ads are ridiculous. Really painful to see what this brand has become. The circa Laura Ingalls man and loudspeaker look like Mr. Whipple with gastritis. With the 57th way to enjoy these crisps being called “The Pucker-Up,” I cringe to think how they named the other 99 ways, although I can bet you 95 or so don’t exist. The only redemption the Procter Gamble Co. (PG) gets for producing such lame ads and letting the brand flop to irrelevancy is that in April they offloaded Pringles to Diamond Foods (DMND) for $1.5 billion. Yes, with a “b.”

It helps to know that these chips are sold in over 140 countries, often nodding to regional preferences, like the cucumber-flavored ones I found in China. Those were so mild, I had to be reminded of what I was eating. Luckily, I discovered Flutes, which completely outdid them in taste, shape and durability. Yes, there is such a thing with chips — durability, that is; the one reason these have to be sold in a can is to keep them from looking like sand at their destination. As the last of P&G’s food brands to be shed, the company can now focus on its core cosmetics and healthcare units. Let’s hope this is a good buy for Diamond. They have their work cut out for them in bringing this brand back to its game. Let the crisps begin…again!

Maybe it was a contest.

Rota-dent (Circa 2007). That name hurts. I can’t see anyone putting something called Rotadent in his/her mouth. It sounds like something that belongs under the sink, for other cleaning jobs. It brings to mind Fix-a-Flat.

Don’t know what kind of success these folks are having, but I can guarantee you the salespeople would be a lot happier with a savory name. I learned of this product from my dentist, who knows the business I am in. Even she, unsolicited, commented on how bad the name was. That is key, because this electric toothbrush is only available through a dental professional. Not only has Zila, Inc., the parent company, not had their own internal sales force and marketing in mind, they’ve also lobbed a heavy load to the very audience who directly sells them!

Their tagline: The prescription powered brush. This is good. Of course, without context, this could be any kind of brush…for the hair, for the shoes, for the mustache, for the shower, maybe multi-purpose. Also, nouns that modify adjectives should be separated by a hyphen. Showing a relationship between the words aids reading comprehension: The prescription-powered brush.

Yes, I'm sure of it.

Rotadent Plus (Circa 2011). The Professional Rotary Toothbrush. The name, tagline and logo have undergone some hygiene. The name still sucks. The tagline gets them nowhere and is stiff from over-capitalization. Godzillas! However, I see that they’ve decided to throw in the wordpart “tooth” to better message what industry they’re in. Good move, all things considered. The logo is less unique, to the point of not messaging “rotating:” now it’s not technically within the name, but rather lassoing the “d.” They should try making the “d” more like a toothbrush. The hands around the brush could be the rounded part of the “d,” and the rest of the wand could be like a Serif tail. The rotating action could be represented more meaningfully by the brush itself, not those ornamental, lazy swirls there now. Zila, are you listening? I gotta give ‘em this though: these brushes are proudly made in the U.S.A. Go, Zila!

Garden & Gun is a lifestyle magazine about the South. It’s also, in their own words “an idea about…how to live a life that is more engaged with the land, the literature, the music, the arts, the traditions, the food, and the authenticity that has shaped the Southern way of life.  It is about truly appreciating the richness of the South and knowing how that understanding can enrich one’s life and translate beyond Southern geography.”

Cultural Appreciation 101

I first saw this magazine around November 2008 while new-publication-spotting at a local bookstore. I bought that month’s edition for two reasons: 1) the name and 2) to see if what was inside lived up to the name. It did. Even the weight of the paper and cover cardstock had a good hand to it. (I just love it when I get what is promised.) I am happy that this publication is still with us…despite the economic sludge oozing about and this dawn-to-dusk, insufferable heat.

This name has symmetry. The initial hard “Gs” are guts-and-glory strong. It’s a fast, sharp, on-the-money name that promises focus and range. And it delivers.

I’ve lived all over the US and beyond. Most people I’ve met along the way do not know the South, even if they think they do. Worse still are those who’ll never admit (particularly to a Southerner’s face) that they have no interest in getting to know it. Since I am a fan (or as I like to call it, an appreciator) and have seen a lot of it, I can vouch for its ups and downs. In fact, I’ve often found myself an unofficial ambassador for the region — the Secretary of De Fence — helping people climb over from ignorance to enlightenment. Now, I don’t force anybody to see things like they ought to, but I do enjoy sharing with them what I’ve experienced in this large sweep of land from Texas to Kentucky, Virginia, due south and then over to the other LA (Lower Alabama). Don’t forget, folks: Florida is not the South, unless you’re talking old Florida, the backroads kind (what remains). Atlanta is not the South, either. Georgia, yes. There is a difference. Hey, and if the South weren’t so nice, why is it that it has been diluted by Northerners and Otherners moving here in droves and causing such a traffic ruckus?

Now, Garden & Gun needs a little help with that last sentence up there in paragraph one, and they cut themselves a tad short above by not talking about other topics they cover, such as sports and architecture (although the latter are mentioned on their site in their own blurb). No quarrels. All is well in Dixie. The South sneaks up on you. Come see what I mean.

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