And The Winner Is…

21st September, 2010: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Product News

Naming a product is never an easy thing for me; there are so many things to consider in the process. Is the name memorable? Will it kindle some sort of association with the blend itself? Does it fit with the brand’s perceived image, or the series to which the blend is destined? Will it fit on the label, and be legible when it’s on the retailers’ shelves? I’m far from an expert in these things, and I’ve made some mistakes, but having been through it a few times, I’ve learned a little about the art. It isn’t really any easier, now, but at least, I have gained some appreciation for why it’s so hard.

However, as challenging as naming a product is, judging this contest turned out to be harder; there were some really fantastic entries, names that I really liked, but in the end, there can be only one, and as I read through them again and again, the task of narrowing it down began to seem impossible. When you consider that I’ve had the advantage of smoking quite a bit of this blend, and know its inner secrets, I can sort of “feel” what fits it. The contest entrants, on the other hand, had only my loose description of the blend to work with. Despite this, many did an admirable job of capturing the idea. This doesn’t help the judging much.

See, I was hoping that a single, perfect name would leap off the page, do a little pirouette in the air in front of my screen, sing, “Pick me” in a sonorous alto, and the whole thing would be over. It was a nice dream, but things rarely work out so simply.

So, I needed a strategy. (If you read from that that I didn’t quite have one going in, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.)

My first step was to eliminate anything that was obviously (to me) too similar to another product, either my own or someone else’s. A blend name becomes part of a brand, and creating confusion with similar names is never really a very good idea. For example, while Ashburton would be a great name for a blend, I’ve already got Ashbury in the Fog City Selection, so it had to go. Then, there were a few that are too close to names that are associated with other tobacco products. Out. Names that implied other companies related to pipes and tobacco, even those no longer extant, were also nixed. This turned out to be the easiest part of the pruning process, and it did get rid of a few.

Then, there were a few that just didn’t ring for me, so, out they went, figuring that if it’s going to reflect the brand, it has to resonate with the guy behind it, too. Only a few were eliminated here, so it wasn’t too much help.

I then looked through the entries from the last contest. Even though I hadn’t made it clear, I felt that if an entry existed in the previous contest, it would be important to acknowledge any previous entries as “prior art” in the selection process. A couple of conflicts emerged, and one was proposed by the same entrant as before. So far, so good, but still, too many choices.

Three of the names entered matched, or were close to things that I’d scribbled into my notebook before launching the contest, so these were moved to the short-list in some kind of “Great minds think alike” spirit. Finally, getting somewhere. I then chose others that I really liked, and began gazing at them while smoking a bowl, hoping for an omen in smoke signals.

The blend is sophisticated, balanced, exotic, historical. It’s classic, but not stodgy. It’s traditional. It’s more savory than sweet, but the sweetness is certainly important to its character. It’s sturdy and reliable. It’s a blend that’s great in the morning, but one that really comes into its own after lunch. It’s name should capture at least some of that. Finally, one name stood out above the others: Meridian. Now that I’ve said it to myself a few times, and have typeset the label, it seems almost like it’s always been called that. I think it’s just right.

Within the next few days, I’ll contact the winners via email. This was a lot of fun, at least for me. I just might do it again!


P.S. I’ve been remiss. The winners will be contacted today for their information, but here they are:

First Place - Meridian, submitted by Rick H. at 9.09 on 9th September
Second Place - Houndstooth, submitted by Colin Rigsby at 9.24 on 9th September
Third Place - Camden Lock, submitted by Maxabbate at 3.25 on 13th September
Fourth Place - Whitehall, submitted by Will T. at 19.02 on 16th September