There’s a curious little kerfuffle going on between two businesswomen whose flower-shaped logos are suspiciously similar in shape and embellishment. What makes it especially newsworthy is that one of the businesswomen is the actress Reese Witherspoon, and she’s the one being sued.
But that’s not the only thing I find interesting about Ms. Witherspoon’s retail venture, which is called Draper James, after the actress’s grandmother (Dorothea Draper) and grandfather (William James Witherspoon). For me, that name – no matter how sweetly familial – is all too reminiscent of another, much older retail chain, Draper’s & Damon’s.
On the evening of Saturday, January 2, a group of armed protestors commandeered the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal preserve near Malheur Lake, about 30 miles south of Burns, in eastern Oregon. The group, which includes Ryan and Ammon Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – who had his own clash with the federal Bureau of Land Management in 2014 – is protesting the arrest and imprisonment of two Oregon cattle ranchers convicted of arson on federal land. (The convicted ranchers, father and son Steven and Dwight Hammond, have disclaimed any connection to the armed group, and have begun serving their sentences.) As of today, January 6, the standoff continues, with the protestors vowing to occupy the building “for as long as it takes.” (Or until the local community asks them to leave. Or until their food runs out: Ammon Bundy made a Facebook appeal for “supplies or snacks” – to be sent via U.S. Postal Service, that tool of the archenemy. PETA responded by hand-delivering vegan jerky.) The refuge, which is an important habitat for some 320 species of birds, remains closed to the public until further notice.
For more about the motives and legality of the protest, follow the links at the end of this post. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the story from my preferred angle: naming.
On September 30, the Fisker Automotive and Technology Group of Costa Mesa, California, announced a new corporate name and logo: Karma Automotive. The name reincarnates – sorry, couldn’t help myself – the name of Fisker’s only product, a plug-in hybrid that sold for more than $100,000 … when it sold at all. The model lasted only two years; just over 2,000 units were sold before production was suspended in November 2012. The company filed for bankruptcy and was eventually sold to a huge Chinese automotive-parts company, Wanxiang Group.
New logo. Application for trademark registration filed September 30, 2015.
Fisker Automotive had been named for its founder, the Danish car designer Henrik Fisker, who had previously worked for BMW and Ford and who resigned from Fisker Automative in March 2013 because of “disagreements with management.” At the time of his resignation, the New York Times noted that the Fisker Karma had received “mixed critical reviews” as well as “business setbacks and technical problems, including two recalls. In addition, the Karma’s federal fuel-economy ratings were disappointing and its all-electric range proved limited.”
It’s hard to stay clean when you’re sleeping on the streets. A new San Francisco nonprofit, Lava Mae, has an ingenious remedy: transforming old Muni buses into mobile bathrooms, complete with stall showers and toilets, that travel to neighborhoods with the greatest need.
Lave Mae and its founder, former public-relations executive Doniece Sandoval, were featuredin the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week on the occasion of the unveiling of Bus No. 2. Sandoval’s plans include expansion throughout California.
“Delivering dignity, one shower at a time.” For more on the “One X at a Time” sloganclone, seethis 2012 post(and follow the links for more).
According to the Chronicle story:
Lava Mae’s simple solution of providing homeless people with showers and toilets has captured the attention of people around the world, many of whom have asked Sandoval to help them create a similar program.
To deal with the huge interest, Sandoval is working with the International Centre for Social Franchising, which is based in London but also has an office in San Francisco. It seeks to help organizations with a social benefit replicate their work in other places around the world.
Sandoval has decided to focus on serving 30,000 homeless people around California by 2020 — and recently met with state Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles to discuss a Lava Mae-type program there.
There’s a feel-good story behind the Lava Mae name, too. Here’s how the organization’s website tells it (verbatim):
In Spanish, “lavame” means “wash me”
In our culture, we refer to vehicles in the feminine as in, “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
In the South, (where our founder grew up), it’s not uncommon for people to have two first names e.g Billy Bob, Peggy Sue. Putting it all together gave birth to the name Lava Mae
OK, the copy needs some, um, cleaning up. If you want to be picky about it – hey, it’s in my job description! – it’s “lávame,” with an acute accent to mark the stress on the first syllable. And I cringed a little at the bio that reads “Brett is the principle and founder of StudioTerpeluk.”
I’ll stop quibbling now and instead reaffirm that I like the Lava Mae name: it’s friendly, personal, down-home, clever, and bilingual. (The echoes of Fannie Mae and Sallie Mae, which also aim to help people in need, may be intentional.) And I applaud the work Lava Mae is doing. In a region dominated by whiz-kid techpreneurs whose idea of “making the world a better place” is selling an app that does stuff your mom used to do for you, this is a truly creative and, yes, disruptive initiative.
Earlier this week, Sprout Pharmaceuticals announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted approval of Addyi(pronounced “ADD-ee,” as though the “i” weren’t there), a once-daily, non-hormonal pill for the treatment of low sexual desire in premenopausal women. The prescription drug, whose generic name is flibanserin (fly-BAN-ser-in), will go on sale October 17, 2015.
Other reporters have commented on the medical and businessaspects of the announcement. Even The Onion, America’s finest news source, has weighed in. I’m here to talk about the Addyi name—its spelling, its pronunciation, and its brand qualities.
Almost overnight, it seems, the world has fallen head over heels for Slack.
“I am basically in love with Slack,” declares About.me founder Tony Conrad in a testimonial on Slack’s home page. “Slack, a messaging tool designed for team collaboration, is the working digital world’s latest paramour,” writes Scott Rosenberg in an admiring article published earlier this month on Medium (“Shut Down Your Office. You Now Work in Slack”). “Slack is the new favourite tool of newsrooms” reads a headline in Digiday, which calls itself “the authority on digital media.” In April, Slack’s co-founders won a Crunchie—one of the technology awards bestowed each year by TechCrunch—for founder of the year. Slack is also the investment world’s BFF: launched less than two years ago, it has only about 750,000 daily users—more than two-thirds of whom pay nothing for the service—but is worth $2.8 billion, according to Business Insider.
Chart via Business Insider(May 19, 2015), which is shaky on its spelling of Pinterest.
The numbers and accolades are impressive. But how does that name—Slack—stack up?
Weddings are a $55 billion industry in the United States; in 2014 the average wedding—average!—cost about $31,000. Doing their share to boost that sum are wedding magazines: Unlike much of the suffering publishing world, they have a captive, eager, and free-spending readership.
Dozens of wedding magazines succeed, month after month, in spite of their names, which are almost as indistinguishable as their cover photography: Brides. Your Wedding. Southern Weddings. Southern Bride. Martha Stewart Wedding. InStyle Weddings. Weddings with Style. Modern Wedding. Perfect Wedding.
The contents are almost identical as well: gowns, makeup, hairstyles, “destinations,” planning, invitations, food. Oh, and horoscopes. Superstition sells.
This week, a new contender joins the crowd, one that promises to “elevate love and personality over spending and aesthetics” and to explore “the intersections of creativity, community, and feminism in the wedding world.” Its publishers call themselves, naturally, “disruptors”; they envision their target market as “game-changing couples.”
What a refreshing idea! If only the name of the magazine rose to the occasion.