On July 25, the fourteenth Summer Special Olympics World Games will open in Los Angeles. Over the next seven days, 7,000 athletes will compete in sporting events at venues around the city, supported by 30,000 volunteers and cheered by 500,000 spectators. ESPN will broadcast the opening ceremony. It sounds festive. It sounds inspiring. But what makes it "special"?  Continue reading...
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Here are the names of three products currently sold in stores and online: Pout Polish, Pout-à-Porter, Pout-o-matic. Here are three business names from around the United States: Kool Smiles, Smileworks, Smile Wide. And here's a question: What do those names tell you about what's being sold and to whom?  Continue reading...
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Earlier this month, Apple pulled back the curtain on its new wrist-borne technology, the Apple Watch. Much of the subsequent chatter centered on pricing ($349 to $17,000), features (digital crown, sapphire crystal), and release date (April 24). Some of us, however, directed our curiosity elsewhere: to the device's three model names. Why "Watch," "Watch Sport," and "Watch Edition"? What do those spare yet evocative names tell us about Apple's objectives?  Continue reading...
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If you've spent time lately in the world of startup brands, as I have, you've almost certainly noticed a conspicuous trend. Maybe the penny dropped as you searched for recipes on Yummly or bought home-delivered meals from Feastly. Perhaps you've skimmed headlines on Reportedly, Collectively, or Newsly. Or you've played games on Scopely, tracked gasoline usage with Fuelly, or researched colleges on Admittedly.  Continue reading...
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Over the last week, I have exercised on an elliptical trainer that had a SmartRate heart monitor; watched movies on a smart TV; applied a product called Smart Serum to my face; and checked messages on a smartphone that has Smart Stay, Smart Pause, and Smart Scroll functions.  Continue reading...
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At the end of each year, while linguists and lexicographers cast votes for words of the year, I'm compiling a different list: the brand names that distilled the mood of the previous twelve months. To narrow the field, I add another criterion: the brand names must have linguistic or onomastic significance — onomastics being the study of names.  Continue reading...
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When the ABC-TV sitcom "Black-ish" debuted in September, it joined a growing set of titles and brands built on the odd little ish suffix. There's a lot more to ish than "sort of" and "more or less." Here's a brand-by-brand rundown of the ish spectrum.  Continue reading...
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