Product Naming — The Art of Choosing a Name

Ever wonder how companies go about product naming or naming themselves?

The Vistage online community is called “Vistage Village.” Nice product naming, I like it. There is a place where you can see a list of members both existing and new. It’s called “Vistage Village People.” As I clicked on the icon I half-expected to be treated to a chorus of “YMCA,” but was disappointed. I think Vistage is missing a great opportunity.

So, as a naming specialist I have to wonder how this product name came about — curious as I am.  I have visions of a bunch of 50-somethings (Boomers) sitting in a conference room with a six pack of Heineken and someone blurting out, “I know, let’s call it “People.”  It will be the Vistage Village People and we can create an icon with a group of “people” each wearing a unique hat. One hat could be a police cap, one could be a hardhat, and the other could be an Indian chief headdress! Far out!”

THIS is how great product naming comes to be…..in case you wanted to know how it is done.

But, alas, the truth is more likely to be that some Millennials came up with the name and thought it was a great fit because it makes sense. And, it does. Then, they probably ran it by some Boomers who smiled and said, “Village People? Really?” They then had to explain to the youthful set who the Village People were. After looking at the blank stares reflected back, the Boomers gently suggested a slight modification to the name might be appropriate.  Thus, “Vistage Village: People” was born — and it was good.

If you are a Vistage member I invite you to visit Vistage Village: People. There is a wealth of information about Vistage members. But, alas, don’t expect to see profiles of your favorite police officer, Indian chief, cowboy, biker, construction worker, or GI. Nor are there embedded sounds files to entertain you, with selections such as Macho Man or In The Navy.  For that you will have to get your Village People fix here: http://www.youtube.com/user/villagepeople.

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Change is good

Change is good—or so the saying goes. Our namesake Oya is the goddess of change, a force of nature that creates the turbulence needed to wipe away the old stuff to make way for new growth. Thus, in that spirit we embarked on a journey which breathed new life into our own story.

On a lazy Sunday morning while walking the dog, I decided to get curious about a small “For Lease” sign that I had been passing for the last 6 months. Each time I passed it I was curious, but not THAT curious.  Finally, we had been in our office on Los Gatos Blvd. for over 8 years and I was itching for a change of scenery.

I am a seasoned mover. I have lived in more places than I can count and I can pack boxes like the pros. Aside from the hard labor, I must confess I really like to move. It’s a great way to clean out the clutter and freshen up the environment.

So, on that lazy Sunday, we took a look at the space for lease and knew we had found our new home. It is located in the bustling downtown of Los Gatos, above a clothing boutique called Nuance and directly across the street from the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co. We have the best address EVER!  One University Avenue! How great is that?

The space is funky, artsy, and cozy. It is the “it” and “happenin’” place!  Everyone who is anyone is meeting across the street for coffee or being served cocktails at Val’s. We even have front row seats for Jazz on the Plazz. It all happens right outside my office window.  And, now we have BRICK!  Everybody knows that to be considered an “it” agency you simply must have brick—and now we do. We have arrived at our new home and it’s all good.

Drop by and see us. I’ll buy the coffee.

Happy Birthday Oya. My Thoughts on Turning Eight.

Happy Birthday to Us.

Ian Gordon turned 12 on July 31, 2009. Ian is my dear, dear, dear stepson. I love him madly. When I tell him that he replies, “Most people do.” And, it’s true. He’s truly one of a kind. Early that morning he texted me with the following: “It’s 8:32 I’m 12!” He was thrilled to have finally made it! We threw him a party. There was fun, food, laughter, and cake. The floor was littered with sleeping bags filled with moppy-headed boys, presents, and video games. It was all good. A fitting celebration for a wonderful kid.

The next day I woke up, thinking birthday thoughts and realized that it was Oya’s 8th birthday. Though I’ve had an agency since 1994, the Oya brand was born on August 1, 2001. I must admit, this birthday kinda snuck up on me. In years past I never even gave it a thought. August 1st always came and went without fanfare. No cake. No balloons. No singing. No party. Just another day…

So, why is this year any different? Why did I wake up and make note? Maybe because it’s been a hard year for business overall and the year 2001 had similar challenges. In 2001 the high-tech industry was in crisis. Many of my friends had lost their jobs and everyone was cutting back and watching every penny. ROI was the most important thing to our customers. The work had to be good, thoughtful, and effective. Then just when we thought things would settle down, the events of September 11th hit us like a freight-train, further eroding our confidence. Everyone was in shock. But, Oya survived and thrived in the following years as everyone went back to work and back to business.

The last 12 months have been very challenging for everyone and when that happens people seek new ideas. Creativity is at a high level as people reach out for new and innovative ways to connect with each other and tell their unique stories. This is both a difficult and exciting time.

So, as we turn 8 years old I would like to celebrate and acknowledge this momentous occasion.

Happy birthday to us! We made it! Let’s have cake!