The official Trump typeface – as seen on hotels, airplanes, and campaign logo (but not on the failed steaks, wine, or university) – is Akzidenz Grotesk.
Budweiser has announced that it’s rebranding its beer “America” for the duration of the U.S. election season. It’s not the first America-first stunt the brewery has pulled, notes Mark Wilson in Fast Co Design: previous summer-only editions have featured the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. But this bit of revisionism is especially thorough: “Almost every bit of type on the Budweiser label has been scrubbed away by Easter Egg patriotism, with new text citing the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful—all rendered in newly developed hand lettering, inspired by Budweiser’s archives.” For what it’s worth, Budweiser’s parent company, InBev, is headquartered in Belgium and Brazil.
I usually can come up with a theory to explain copycat names and naming trends. In the early aughts, many companies chose double-O names (Qoop, Squidoo, Doostang, ooVoo) to sound like Google. All those X + Y names (Mizzen + Main, Standard & Strange, Coral & Tusk)? They evoke Ye Olde Tymes, with the modern bonus of yielding cheap domains. Lately, we’ve seen a cluster of first-name names like Oscar and Emma, the better to blunt the cutting edge of technology.
But the explanation for one mini-trend has eluded me. Perhaps you, dear readers, can help.
What’s so special about “Gateway”? Not much, at first appraisal. The word appears in more than 600 trademarks, including that of a pioneering U.S. computer company founded in 1985 in Sioux City, Iowa. (That company, whose original name was Gateway 2000, used a Holstein cow as its mascot; it was bought in 2007 by Taiwan-based Acer, which also acquired Gateway.com and which now produces computers under the Gateway brand.)
“Gateway” names abound in the San Francisco Bay Area thanks to the region’s association with the Golden Gate and the bridge that spans it. There are Gateway apartments, a Gateway Bank, a Golden Gateway hotel, and a long-planned Gateway Park at the foot of (confusingly) the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.
But the Gateway I want to praise here is Oakland-based Gateway Incubator, which is named for a different sort of gateway.
Good news for liberal-arts majors: “Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.” (“The Next Hot Job in Silicon Valley Is for Poets,” Washington Post.)
I’ve been noticing a mini-trend in corporate naming: personal names. The names are usually (but not always) female, and they’re often a little old-fashioned. At their best, they add emotional appeal, humanize a company – especially a technology company whose actual workings may be opaque – and make a brand seem like a friend or family member.
Here are some of the personal names I’ve been tracking:
A few years ago I wrote a guest post for the trademark-and-branding blog Duets Blog that, if I say so myself, seems as fresh and relevant today – especiallytoday – as it did then. I’ve updated it a bit and am publishing it here as a public service.
I have a pair of related posts up on Strong Language (a sweary blog about swearing) that may be of interest to some of you. In them, I take a deep dive into a word whose offensiveness is variable and subjective: uttered by a presidential candidate, it caused consternation among headline writers; used as a brand name, it may run afoul of trademark laws. Yet it’s unobjectionable as a botanical or fashion modifier.
What in the world am I talking about? See for yourself in Part 1 and Part 2 of “A Feline Profanity.”
* Maybe it sounds dandy in Norwegian, the first language of the company’s founders. But the company’s now based in Palo Alto, the site’s in English, and they’re going after Y Combinator funding, so I figure they may be receptive to a little constructive U.S. criticism.