My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus takes a look back at ten brands that made a big impact in 2018, and explores the stories behind their names, from all those Amazon private labels (WULFUL, Dreamlish, GiGling EyE, et al.) to WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) and Zara. Full access is restricted subscribers; here’s a taste.
IHOP/IHOB. On June 4 IHOP – founded in Burbank, California, in 1958 as International House of Pancakes, and acronymized as IHOP since the mid-1970s – rattled its flapjack fans by announcing that "we're flippin" our name to IHOb." A few days later, the chain revealed that the "b" stood for burgers, and soon after that, the whole thing was unmasked as a stunt to promote the chain's non-breakfast menu. By August, the company announced that its hamburger sales had quadrupled as a result of the promotion. With that mission accomplished, the company became IHOP once again.
“IHOb Grand Re-Obening,” Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, June 12, 2018. Source
Juul. The electronic cigarette Juul – a device for "vaping" flavored nicotine, minus the tar of conventional cigarettes – was introduced by Pax Labs in 2015; in 2017, Juul was spun off as an independent company now valued at $15 billion. Its name suggests both a precious gem and the amount of energy – one joule – required to produce one watt of power for one second. Although e-cigarettes are promoted as a safer smoking alternative, nicotine is still a highly addictive drug. Juul's success, especially among teens, has made it the target of concern and even alarm. In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would review the sales and marketing practices of the major e-cigarette makers.
Read the rest of the column. And watch this space later this week for my (non-brand) Names of the Year list.