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What's In a Name? Everything, Apparently


Berrett-Koehler Publishers - A community dedicated to creating a world that works for all

V 9:2  Sept 4, 2014
Buckminsterfullerine was discovered today.
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Beware of beginning anew.

BK Communiqué

"We used the word 'Federal' in our name because it sounded trustworthy and solid -- like an established enterprise with government backing, not a bunch of guys going out on, literally, a wing and a prayer.

                   -- Fred Smith, Founder, FedEx


Why Read It? Too many new companies and products have names that look like the results of a drunken Scrabble game (Xobni, Svbtle, Doostang). In this entertaining and engaging book, ace naming consultant Alexandra Watkins explains how anyone -- even non-creative types -- can create memorable and effective brand names.


Watkins also provides up-to-date advice, like making sure that Siri spells your name correctly. And you'll see dozens of examples -- the good, the bad, and the "so bad she gave them an award." Alexandra Watkins is not afraid to name names. 


  Read an excerpt here and buy the book for 30% off here.  
For academic desk copies, please contact Mike Crowley.
For media review copies, please contact Kat Engh.
News, Features, and Free Stuff
Naming Names   

In this issue of the Communiqué, we explore how companies and brands are named and how to create a name like a pro.

Many ideas from within the organization are recognized on the front lines because that is exactly where the most hands-on research and interactions take place. To highlight this fact, Alexandra presents Five Well-Known Yet Terrible Names for Products (and What I Would Have Named Them Instead).
Other News  

+ Sales of the new Amazon Fire Phone are incredibly disappointing.
+ Nobel Prize-winning author Will Self recently attacked the "literary mediocrity" of George Orwell.
+ Retail stores are now boycotting books published by Amazon.
+ What better father-son bonding activity than recreating a 1,000+-page David Foster Wallace novel in Lego?
+ Jennifer Lopez is releasing her autobiography in November, so, um, yeah.
+ If white characters were described the way people of color are in literature, the descriptions would read something like these.
+ Richard Dawkins has apologized for what some thought was a particularly nasty comment about aborting a baby with Down syndrome.
+ A well-known writer decided to speak out about the lack of cultural diversity in children's books and was labeled a racist for doing so.
+ And another father decided he would rap the entire first Harry Potter book for his kid, with brilliant results.
+ A near-mint copy of the first Superman comic just sold for a cool $3.2 million.
+ Consider the story of Amazon and how its tough-guy public relations strategy bombed.
+ Let's kick Amazon in the groin just one more time -- have you heard about Kindle Worlds? Yeah, no one else has, either.

+ Free Excerpt from a New York Times Bestseller: Carsick, by John Waters. Read an excerpt here.

+ Free Resources: Speed-read the web one word at a time using squirt.

+ Free Software: How readable is your writing? Get it rated at
BK Foundation Update
The BK Foundation has already passed a number of major milestones. Let founder Steve Piersanti give you a quick recap.
Ten Years a Citizen
This year, BK's chief editorial flunky celebrates ten years as a US citizen. In this short piece, he recounts the ten lessons about America that he learned in his first year in the United States back in 1989. 
BK Around the World
If we used Google Translate, the title of this Dutch edition of our book -- Leiden Is Loslaten -- translates to "leading is released" (with birds flying free to represent the freedom).

That's one way of interpreting this book's original title (which has no literal translation in Dutch or many other languages). So which BK bestseller is this the Dutch edition of? This one.
Marginally Unethical Life Hacks
Some things are ethical; some things are not. And then there are those things that help you get ahead that, technically, are not unethical, but, well --

This time, we show you how to get into an airplane lavatory when it is locked and occupied.
Speaking of Names
Alexandra Watkins's book is about naming companies and products, and that's great, but even though companies have names, they're not people! That's what the second edition of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations argues.

No matter what Mitt Romney said, author Jeff Clements is on a mission to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling on corporate personhood, and the first edition has already had a major impact.

Free E-Book (for 48 Hours)
For forty-eight hours, we are giving away e-copies of our bestselling Be Your Own Brand, by David McNally and Karl Speak, in a secret place on our website you can access only here.

This offer is available exclusively for BK Communiqué subscribers. But act fast! After midnight on September 5, 2014, you're going to have to plunk down $20.95 like everyone else. Go now.
We Recommend
We all have great ideas for products and businesses and we're also confident that we have the perfect names for them, but how do you know for sure? What if your name is lame? Take Alexandra Watkins's quick SMILE and SCRATCH Test to see if what you've got has game or is lame.
End Notes

Last time, I issued this challenge. And for the second time in a row, no one guessed the answer (though many came close). That answer can be found here. Remember: details! All answers must be detailed!

Your next challenge can be found here.

Email me with any comments or rants. And if you've got time to kill, why not spank the monkey?

Oh, and here's your biweekly dose of random.


P.S. -- my God! These are real!
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