Last October I called Teenflo, the chic, 35-year-old Canadian fashion label, "one of the worst brand names I've seen." To quote myself: "The name suggests teenagers (who go with the flow?), but one look at the clothes tells you the label is targeted at sophisticated adult women with money to spend."
Apparently someone at Teenflo concurred, because the name is about to change to "Judith & Charles."
A recent post by Abusing the Comma (in real life the lifestyle editor at Yahoo! Canada) shared the news:
The Teenflo name came from the names of the original founders Martin and Florence when the line launched in Paris in 1975. However, deciding enough was enough (and probably tired of explaining the name's origin to the media), Teenflo's Judith Richardson and Charles Le Pierrès have launched a re-branding initiative moving from Teenflo to the eponymous Judith & Charles, gradually removing all mention of "Teenflo" from the line."We're transitioning in the new name," said Judy Richardson at the store opening in Bayview Village. "You will still see the Teenflo name on some items but eventually it will all be Judith & Charles."
The new name is less misleading, but I wouldn't call it distinctive. In fact, shopping malls are overrun with "X & Y" (or "X + Y" or "X and Y") labels right now. ("X & Y" is also a major trend in restaurant naming, but that's a topic for a different day.)
Here's a list—far from comprehensive, I'm sure—of fashion brands that follow the formula.
Alice + Olivia
Elizabeth and James1
Graham & Spencer
Holmes & Yang2
Ingrid & Isabel ("The most versatile maternity accessory you'll ever need")
Lutz & Patmos3
Mac and Jac
Mars and Valentine
Martin + Osa4
Max and Cleo
Me & Ro
Mike & Chris
Nic + Zoe
Nick & Mo
Rag & Bone
Robbi & Nikki
Rock & Republic
Soia & Kyo
Truth & Pride
Whistle & Flute
Of course, there's a long tradition of partnership names in fashion and retail: Sears & Roebuck, Abercrombie & Fitch (founded in 1892 as a purveyor of sporting goods), Baume et Mercier. But the current trend goes beyond actual partnerships. Often, the linked names or words communicate a story, real or fictional (in the case of Martin + Osa, a historical one; in the case of Elizabeth and James, a vague narrative about "a young girl and a boy"); borrow bits of obscure slang (a "rag-and-bone man" is a junkman; "whistle and flute" is Cockney rhyming slang for "suit"); or simply juxtapose words for the hell of it. (I've never figured out "Rock & Republic.")
To be sure, it's easier to secure a double-barreled Internet domain name than a single-word name. But remember: a domain name is just an address. To succeed, a brand needs to stand apart from its competition. And in a world of "X & Y" brands, "Judith & Charles" becomes just two more names customers will struggle to remember.
1 The line was started in 2007 by the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, who named it after two of their siblings (who aren't connected to the business).
2 "Holmes" is Katie Holmes, a k a Mrs. Tom Cruise.
3 The designers' surnames.
4 The parent company of Martin + Osa, American Eagle, recently announced that it will close all 28 retail stores and the online business by mid-year.