The Norman Awards Announces 2016 Winners of Company and Product Naming
First-ever award to recognize ingenuity, imagination
and excellence in brand naming
SAN FRANCISCO, March 1, 2017: Movies have the Oscars®, music has the GRAMMYs®, advertising has the Clios®, and now brand names have a prize just for them. Introducing the Normans™: an annual award to honor creativity in brand name development.
A company or product name is perhaps the most important attribute of any brand because it invites you to engage in a relationship with that brand. Generating a relevant—yet distinct—brand name is not easy. 500,000 new businesses launch every month while 360,000 name requests stream across the desks of the UPSTO annually.
“It’s important that we honor great new brand names,” said Mike Pile, creative director of Uppercase Branding, a verbal identity consultancy that specializes in brand name development. “We thought it was long overdue to celebrate the most fundamental and enduring element of a brand: its name.”
The past year has been especially fertile ground for naming, bringing us such luminary labels as Boaty McBoatFace, Tronc, Alphabet, Lil’ Marco and Failing New York Times. But many names are not getting the recognition they deserve. Enter… The Normans.
WHY THE NORMANS?
Named for the Norman invasion of England in 1066, which significantly expanded the size and scope of the English language, the Norman Awards recognize creative and linguistic achievement in new company and product names.
Using its proprietary evaluative system, DESLER-Vessel, Uppercase Branding evaluated the nominees based on each name’s fit to concept, descriptive relevance, emotional signals, semantic meaning, linguistic power, and competitive boldness. The Uppercase team scoured news releases, award shows and social media to come up with a shortlist for each category. And then the fun began.
Best New High-Tech Name
Alphabet is a fitting name for Google’s holding company. It is broad, consistent with the company’s unstated desire to rule the world, and a liberal arts counter to the STEM-oriented Google. Furthermore, it is consistent with the company’s taxonomy that favors real words which are generally descriptive of the product.
Best New Name in Food or Beverage
New Primal is a boutique beef jerky brand out of North Carolina. While grammarians and other sticklers might quibble with a potential oxymoron, “Primal” captures the world of paleo and protein and hunters, while “New” modernizes and softens that imagery, rendering it palatable for every consumer.
Best New Name in Consumer Durables
Samsung’s AddWash isn’t going to win a MacArthur Genius grant or an Edison award, nor will it go in the pantheon of great brand names, but it does earn a Norman. For what it lacks in pure creativity it makes up for in elegant simplicity. It is descriptive, of course, but more than that it calls out to everybody who has ever found the one last sock under the bed after the load has started.
Best New Proprietary Drug Name
Cinqair is an asthma drug that navigated the FDA’s gauntlet of proprietary drug naming guidelines to accurately signal to the consumer what condition it addresses.
Best New Medical Device
While this product is older than its competitors, it’s a name so powerful, the judges are making an exception to the rules. Arguably used less frequently these days than when baby boomers were booming, this medical device restrains new-born males so they can be well… addressed. The name? The Circumstraint.
Best New Name in the Automotive Sector
Savari develops and deploys short-range communication systems that let vehicles “talk” to other vehicles and infrastructure. Savari gets the nod because, while it is an invented word, it looks and feels real. It telegraphs safari, a relevant idea for vehicles. And it is linguistically strong, employing an alive and vibrant sound in the letter “v” and its consonant-vowel-consonant construction will be familiar (and thus comforting) to any Romance language speaker.
Best New Name in Sports Equipment
Vert debuted at CES with the singular feature of measuring one’s vertical leap. While the obvious choice would have been vertical, the company has chosen a name that is expansive enough to encompass many new products. Vert stands out in a competitive landscape that is cluttered with alphanumerics — and for that reason is taking home a Norman.
Best New Name in Apparel
Marine Layer, born, where else but in San Francisco, is image-laden on many levels. For those living far from the coast, the name evokes cool, foggy, misty weather that demands the donning of Marine Layer. For the rational minded, layering clothes is simply the smart way to dress. And for everybody else, they can self-select that Marine harks to the salty sea, or is a member of the few, the proud, the brave. In any scenario, we want to wear it.
Best New Name in Beer/Wine/Spirits
While Jameson’s new Caskmates doesn’t blow the doors off from a pure naming perspective, it is exemplary in its expansiveness. It is descriptive enough for the casual stroller of the aisle to understand, yet mysterious enough to engage. What is a cask mate? What kind of cask? What might it taste like? But more than this, they have expanded on the idea via hyper-local partnerships with craft breweries, which will release limited-edition beers aged in Jameson barrels. If you like the beer (and you know you will), there is no doubt you’ll seek out a dram of Jameson Caskmates as soon as you put down your pint glass.
Best New Name in Consumer Electronics
Amazon’s Echo is everything a great name should be. It immediately places the product in context, i.e., something to do with sound, speaking, communicating, and at the same time brings to mind the child-like wonder of shouting across the canyon and hearing your voice call back to you.
Best New Retail Chain Name
Everything about Lemonade, the name, reinforces everything about Lemonade, the brand. This new restaurant chain is fresh, honest, simple and bright —just like its name. While Lemonade conjures nostalgic imagery, the restaurants counter-balance that with a fresh, contemporary experience.
Best New Financial Service Name
Seed represents one of a few bold moves in the otherwise staid and conservative financial sector. It connotes images of spring, growth, birth, newness, and everything vital and alive.
Worst New Name
It is clear that all of a minute-and-a-half of critical thinking was given to the worst name of the year: Tronc. Derived from Tribune Online Content, Tronc is the name of your Cro-Magnon cave-dwelling neighbor who just clobbered you with a mammoth bone. A linguist will tell you that back vowels and hard consonants suggest something heavy and slow, precisely the wrong suggestions for a digital media company. Everybody else will tell you it just sounds stupid.
Second-Worst New Name
Scion, the new hotel chain from Trump. If we know anything about Millennials’ buying habits it is that they don’t want to be sold to. Not only does Scion say “hey Millennial person, this brand is for you because, get it, you’re young, like a scion.” But it gets worse because it stands for everything that contemporary youth rages against: nepotism, privilege, unearned wealth, conspicuous consumption, idle living. But of course, it will be a spectacular success.
ABOUT THE NORMANS
The Normans launched in 2016 to honor excellence in brand name development. It was created and is managed by Uppercase Branding, a verbal identity firm specializing in the development of impactful names for new companies, products, and features. Uppercase employs powerful creative techniques, proprietary evaluative methodologies, and custom research to create evocative verbal identities for companies like Nokia, FedEx, GE, and soon-to-be unicorn startups across every business sector. www.uppercasebranding.com
Tim Cox, ZingPR, 650-369-7784