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December 30, 2008

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Signed up for GOOP's weekly newsletter after you mentioned it previously. If by "weekly" they mean "whenever", they're fairly prompt. But I admit I got a kick out of her newsletter on how to look within to put up with Christmas.

The name NrGize is another unpronounceable brand name from 2008, this time for smoothies introduced at Cold Stone Creamery (itself a fairly good name). It took me several head scratches to realize it's pronounced "energize" and not or "nur-guys," and the wacky capitalization does nothing to help. I'm not entirely sure if Cold Stone is to blame or if the name originated with NrGize Lifestyle Cafes.

Thanks, I enjoyed your list. I agree with everything except the Honda Fit. Honda is going for young demographic with this car and using a video gamer tone to communicate their message. Look at the crazy animated, video game-like ads, complete with the computerized voice that says "The Fit is Go". The tag-line itself matches the grammatical errors of a widespread gamer nerd inside joke: "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" (Google it for more info). I think it's clever for a Japanese car company to embrace a bad Japanese to English translation in its English advertising. Plus, it makes me chuckle every time I see it.

I thought Cuil was a terrible name and a bad search engine. Ndoi is bad too. What's up with making your brand name hard to pronounce, and therefore hard to read and harder to spread word-of-mouth?

@Julie: I agree that NRgize (that's the way the company spells it) is problematic, but it's neither unprecedented nor impossible. For one thing, the spelling strongly hints at the pronunication, and the logo--"NR" in red, "gize" in black--reinforces it. The tagline makes it explicit: "NRgize Your Mind. NRgize Your Body. NRgize Your Life." In addition, there's a slew of "NRG" brands that signifiy energy: NRG Innovations, NRG Systems, and even the redundantly repetitive NRG Energy.

However, if you were puzzled--and assumed a different capitalization--obviously something about the brand strategy isn't working.

@Brian: Interesting point about the Honda Fit. I hadn't considered the Japanese-gamer connection, although I'm certainly familiar with "All Your Base..." and its variations. Funny--most of the Fit-owners I know are not in that youthful gamer demographic. Honda had similar issues with the Element, which was targeted at 20-something surfers, as I recall. Old folks loved how easy it was to get in and out of the Element, and they quickly made it their own. The car became known as the "Elderment."

In Japan there is a popular line of plastic drawers and boxes named "Fits" that fit into closets,although I often have fits trying to get them open. I think the Honda Fit takes it's name from fit used in that sense. "It's a go", means "it's on" or "let's do it" in the UK. "The Fit is a go" seems to be a combination of Japanese and British English.

Nancy, this is off-topic, but you've mentioned the baby name somewhere--Twitter, if not here on the blog. Is Bristol Palin nuts?? Two years from now, Palin family events will have two toddlers in attendance named Trig and Tripp. I'll bet even the boys' mothers will mess up and use the incorrect name half the time.

@Nancy Ha. Hadn't heard about the Elderment. The only two Element drivers I know are 20-somethings, although they're definitely not surfers.

@Nick: The tagline is not "The Fit Is a Go"; it's "The Fit Is Go."

@Amy: I've been restricting my Palin snark to Twitter. The short answer to your question is: Yes.

@Fritinancy, thanks, I slipped on that one!
My point was that Japanese namers for the larger companies seem to follow a word pattern rather than a theme . For example: "Inspire the Next"- Hitachi and "Drive your Dreams"-Toyota. "The Fit is Go" is ( I fully agree with you)just plain weird especially outside of Japan. I don't think much thought was put into the name. They were just following a pattern with a bad brand name. Car salesman answering the phone," I have a lot of Fits in the parking lot."
By the way, I have enjoyed all your wonderful posts this year and look forward to many more. Wishing all the best for a Happy New Year!!
thanks,

The catchphrase from the old BBC show Thunderbirds was "Thunderbirds are go!"; I have no idea how well this show is known in Japan, but if they're really after the otaku market, the resonance might be intentional.

Ndoi sounds like mid-80s teen slang to me -- nuh-doi, a-doi, and doi were all synonymous with duh and no duh. (I've never seen these spelled, so maybe it was "doy" instead?)

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