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How did you come up with the name your product?

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We are going through a process right now to name our next product. We named our vodka after the distillery, "Grand Teton Vodka". Fairly basic naming strategy there.

Now we have something else entirely unrelated and we are trying to figure out a different naming strategy for it.

So I just wanted to toss this question out there for everyone. How did you come up with the name for your spirits? Local connection? Totally unrelated? Anything....


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It's funny that you're asking this question - I mean you, specifically.

Probably it wouldn't be funny to most people, but me... I'm a huge geology buff. And you... are smack in the middle of some of the best, most intricate and most unusual geology on the planet with some correspondingly fabulous names:

Timbered Island

Gros Ventre

Sundance Sea


Fossil Mountain



Cascade Canyon

Wind River


The takeaway, if you care to take one, is that if you let yourself unwind and think about the things that resonate with you... you'll come up with something pretty quickly. :)

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We used East Texas History to come up with our "Dog Trot" Vodka. Named of course after the Dog Trot style log cabins in east Texas before A/C with 2 rooms divide by a breezeway. They were common in east Texas and the "Big Thicket", and had originated from Appalachian regions of Tennessee and Kentucky. We wanted something with local roots and a conversation starter.

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is the Hawaiian word for sugar cane. Hana is the Hawaiian word for Work. Since we exclusively grow only native Hawaiian sugar cane, we decided to call it Kō Hana, the work of the cane.

We would have just called it Kō, but the trademark was already taken by a whiskey maker. All of the names of our products are Hawaiian words that describe the contents. For example, our white agricole rum is called KEA, which means White in Hawaiian. Our barrel select product is called KOHO, which means choice, select, or vote in Hawaiian. Our cask strength product is called KOA, which means strong or warrior in Hawaiian.

I think keeping to a theme is essential in branding. If you want to create something iconic, it better be consistent.

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"RedRum"..? Haha... I see what you did there... :)

Ours was easy - when it came. A namesake distant ancestor, in the town in which I was raised, turned his estate house into an inn in the early 1700s. During the Revolution, a British spy was captured and hung in the courtyard of the inn, which became known forever after as the Old Spye Inn.

What's funny about it is that during business planning we came up with - and tossed - all kinds of names. The central premise of our marketing story is colonial New Jersey, its deeply rooted history both on land and at sea. The marriage of our concept with the long-lost inn simply never occurred to me until one morning, literally in the shower, the entire narrative just popped into my head. I shopped it to all the key stakeholders that day and it soared. The team working on my marketing plan (headed by a former Madison Ave exec) literally threw up their hands when they read it, declared the entire exercise over and tossed everything they'd done to that point.

A good name is like falling in love - you don't know how to do it, you can't make it happen, but when it does happen you'll know it - for sure.

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Is my opinion there are seven essential qualities of a great name:

• Meaningful – communicates the essence of the brand, supports the image that the distillery wants to convey

• Distinctive – unique, easy to remember, spell, pronounce; differentiated from the competition

• Future-oriented – accommodates change in the structure or focus of the distillery

• Modular – facilitates easy building of brand extensions

• Protectable – can be owned and trademarked; the domain name is available

• Positive – has positive connotations in the relevant markets and doesn’t have negative connotations

• Visual – well-suited to graphic presentation (logo, text, etc.)

When we name products for our clients, we run all the possibilities through this list of criteria to weed out the weak choices.

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