Nutcase crash helmet

What’s the perfect name for a funky cycle helmet?

I’ve been greatly enjoying the Netflix television series Sex Education recently. It’s a brilliantly funny and rude evocation of the traumas of teenage coming of age.

Sex Education poster

It is also a very odd mix of English teenagers, who appear to be studying in an American High School, set in the present day, but driving around in cars from the 1970’s. Including the infamous Austin Allegro, allegedly the worst car ever made.

Austin Allegro

The final episode of the first series is about the main character Otis Milburn trying to let-go of his hangups about sex. In his role as an amateur teenage sex-therapist he advises his client Lily Iglehart, who has similar issues, to ride her bike down a steep field as a way of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. He ends up he following her down the hill and flies over the handlebars.

But the point of this blog is the perfect product placement that follows. Lily who is something of an eccentric teen with a predilection for writing alien erotica, comforts our hero’s cut head and bruised ego, with her perfectly matched Nutcase crash helmet in full view.

Nutcase crash helmet

Nutcase have even collated images of their helmets spotted on celebrities, TV and movies on Pinterest.

Nutcase on the screen

 

 

 

Jump electric hire bike

The future of cycle hire is bright – really bright

This morning on my daily commute to work, pedaling hard on my Brompton bike, with its muted shade of blue, I spotted a really bright red bike across the road.

BlueBrompton

My ‘boring blue’ Brompton.

On closer inspection it turned out to be a brand new Jump electric cycle from innovative taxi company Uber.

Jump electric hire bike

A Jump bike in all its red glory.

As my eyeballs started to recover from the searingly bright red colour, I started thinking about how business like these really need to stand-out in order to be noticed by their potential customers. A rival to Jump is the Lime E electric hire bike scheme which started in San Francisco and launched here late last year.

lime-e-bike

The Lime E bike is also very eye-catching.

Based on non-scientific observations during my commute, I would say the lime green colour is slightly less noticeable than the red of Jump. And I wonder if potential hirers might be put off by the unfortunate similarity to Limey, the term of insult historically used by Americans about Brits.

The bright yellow Ofo bikes although very visible, failed after just a few months proving that although the market is growing it is also unstable.

ofo-bikeBright yellow, but not successful in the UK.

The original bike hire scheme in London is now called the Santander Cycle Scheme. And I first experienced it nearly ten years ago My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’. Luckily for them they don’t need to be as noticeable as they can only be hired from fixed locations, unlike their ‘free roaming’ competitors above.

Santander hire bike scheme

The first bike hire scheme in London, incorrectly known as Boris Bike.

Update:
I was interested to read a comparison of Jump and Lime E in the Evening Standard on my way home last night, Uber vs Lime: London’s dockless electric bikes are put to the test.

Vurger

What do you call a vegetarian beef burger?

Regular readers of this blog will know I am somewhat obsessed with the names of companies, products and services.

So often during my advice clinics I ‘help’ my clients discover the name they had chosen for their business has already been registered as a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. At this point some of them say they will no longer be able to start their business without the name they had their heart set on.

I explain that any name can work for a business. As long as it is legal, available and memorable. For example who would have thought these names based on fruit would have become associated with successful ventures (including the most valuable brand in the world).

fruit

 

logos

But, if you can come up with a great name for a business then so much the better. For instance what would you call a vegetarian beef burger? A Vurger of course. And that is exactly what The Vurger Co has done.

Vurger

 

You can read their story in detail here, but it is interesting to see that the idea started with health issues in a similar way to Deliciously Ella. And they way they initially tested the concept with a market stall. The best way to get feedback on a new edible product. I’m looking forward to finding out if they taste as good as they look.

Now I think about it, perhaps Vurger is too good a name, and they risk committing ‘Genericide’ in the long-term. This BBC website article explains how some brands that became household names lost the rights to their very own trade mark. ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success. Maybe they will need to follow Google’s example and publish “rules for proper usage” of all its trademarks.

 

The coolest names are the best

Regular readers of this blog will know I live in Eastbourne, basking in the delights of the  ‘Sunshine Coast‘.

However our weather doesn’t always live up to expectations…

Sunshine Coast

As residents of Eastbourne we are very aware of our much cooler and trendier neighbouring town of Lewes. There are too many hip aspects to list in full, but here are a few:

  • Lewes is probably most famous for its anarchic Bonfire Night. Held every November 5th, with five competing bonfire societies marching noisily through the town, and the burning of controversial effigies.
  • It has had its own brewery since 1790 in shape of Harveys Brewery. They produce a beer in honour of Tom Pain their local celebrity revolutionary and founding father of the United States.
  • They print their own currency in the form of the Lewes Pound, designed to help support the local economy.
  • It has an internationally recognised opera house nearby at Glyndebourne.
  • The local football team founded in 1885 is now owned by the fans, and in 2017 became the first in the world to introduce equal pay to the mens’ and womens’ teams.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when the logs I needed for my wood burning stove turned out to come from a Lewes company called Just Log It.

JustLogIt

Which on further investigation turns out to be a subsidiary of Just Cool It.

Just-Cool-It-Logo

Which on goes to reinforce Lewes’s status as the King of Cool.

Lewes
The town is so pretty, old and curious – all tile-hung cottages with the whiff of hops on the air from Harvey’s Brewery – it could be an exhibit on Antiques Roadshow. But don’t be fooled. The town is full of Marxist lecturers from Sussex University. They like to burn effigies of David Cameron at their famous/infamous Bonfire bight. The Headstrong Club has been revived. And they still print Tom Paine’s scorching pamphlets at a press on the High Street. The revolution may still come.
Let’s move to Lewes, East Sussex: ‘Once a hotbed of radicalism’  From the Guardian Newspaper

Bonfire night Lewes

Putin_effigy

Lewes Pound

Tom Paine Ale

 

British Library fashion

There’s sustainable fashion and then there’s Tom Cridland and his clothes guaranteed to last 30 years

tomcridlandlogoLast Tuesday on my way to get my early morning coffee, I stumbled across our own little bit of London Fashion Week at the British Library.

British Library fashion

It got me thinking about this year’s event, and how the media had picked up on the theme of sustainability in fashion. The London Fashion Week events putting sustainability in the spotlight.

But none of the stories mentioned Tom Cridland and his clothes that are guaranteed to last 30 years. What might have remained a tiny niche business started with a £6,000 loan four years ago, has grown to £3 million turnover with a long list of celebrity customers.

His approach is certainly the opposite of high street brands such as Primark, who are known for their very low prices and disposable approach to fashion.

My only concern is whether his clothes can really last that long. I guess time will tell.

30-year-t

My new favourite brand name is Ugly

Triple BerryIf you read this blog, you will know I am slightly obsessed with brand names.

And I seem to spend quite a bit of my time at work trying to persuade people not to obsess about their trade mark. As long as the name is legal (check here for the UK) and not owned by someone else in your area of business (search here to check), the only thing that matters is how memorable it is.

And you can’t get much more memorable than Ugly. This big and bold name certainly caught my eye as I browsed the drinks available in our restaurant at the British Library yesterday.

Ugly flavours

On visiting the Ugly Drinks website, I was glad to see a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section explaining their unusual name.

Ugly Drinks FAQ

I haven’t yet managed to taste one of their range of drinks, but I’m looking forward to asking for an Ugly Drink.

Ugly Drinks

 

The shoelace is dead – long live the Hickie

Hickies lacesA while ago I wrote about the shoelace knot that never comes undone, but it seems my efforts to learn this amazing knot may have been wasted.

According to Gaston Frydlweski and Mariquel Waingarten, the inventors of the Hickies Lacing System, no one will ever need to learn to tie a shoelace again.

This inventive way of keeping shoes on your feet was launched via a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. And they managed to raise over $150,000, six times more than their initial target.

Since then the company has sold over 2 millions sets in 45 countries, and continues to grow.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not quite ready to ditch my trusty old laces for this futuristic replacement. But I do admire the founders for persevering with their 20 year dream of improving how you lace you shoes.

Hickies patent US D686909

 

 

Celebrate World Radio Day with a station just for builders

World Radio Day logoToday is World Radio Day, created by the United Nations cultural body UNESCO to “remember the unique power of radio to touch lives, and bring people together across every corner of the globe”.

Given the global presence of social media and streaming television, it is perhaps a little surprising that such an old media as Radio remains so popular. In fact it is nearly 100 years since the BBC started regular radio broadcasts in the UK. And yet it’s flagship show the Today Program on Radio 4 is now more popular than ever with a weekly reach of 7.66 million listeners.

In 2017 there are around 600 licensed radio stations in the UK, with the latest Radio Fix aimed at builders. It’s another great example of a niche product, catering to an untapped audience.

Fix Radio logoFix Radio says it will provide music, banter and information targeted at bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, roofers, painters and decorators whether they work on building sites or in people’s homes.

The new station is the brainchild of Louis Timpany who came up with the concept while working on a building site to earn extra cash after graduating from Leeds University.

“I noticed builders listen to the radio all day but there was no one station they could all agree on,” says Louis. “I thought it would be great to create a station specifically with them in mind”.

“One thing that came out strongly, for example, was the need for detailed weather forecasts throughout the day as builders depend on knowing what the weather is going to be like to plan their work,” says Louis.

“The main weather forecasts on Fix Radio every day will, therefore, be very detailed and accurate – almost like the shipping forecast for tradespeople.”

Sponsorship and advertising packages have already been pre-sold for the first six months. “We can offer our commercial partners a very pure, very targeted audience so they can engage with their customers with little ‘wastage’ on people who don’t work in the trade,” says Louis.

Fix Radio to target tradespeople in London

Loos for Doos – a name Thomas Crapper would be proud of

I can never resist a good business name, and today I spotted Loos for Doos as I crossed the road when when popping out for lunch today.

But when I did a quick trade mark search on the UK IPO database, I noticed they don’t yet have a registered name.

Hopefully they will read this little note and take action…

trailer-standard

 

Harry Potter A History of Magic wandmakers

Harry Potter and the real wand-makers

sixpenny-large-carved-vineOne of the surprises of the recent BBC documentary Harry Potter: A History of Magic (repeated on Christmas Day) were the two real-life wand-makers from Kent.

Dusty Miller XIII and XIV are Master Elfin Craftsman from the “Saelig Silverdobbs”, a tribe which lived in Great Britain since the last Ice Age. Together they make “unique handcrafted magickal Tools which inhabit a benevolent Tree Spirit”.

The long line of family craftsmen goes back hundreds of years and the Millers have the same given name handed down from one generation to the next.

Dusty XIV explained: “We work for the tree spirits so they tell us where to go to collect a piece of wood and which tree to collect it from. “It’s all very complicated and often involves getting up in the middle of the night to be in the forest at daybreak.

“Why it always has to be daybreak I don’t know. Why can’t it be lunchtime?” he asked. “Trees don’t have lunch,” retorted his father, Dusty XIII.

The Millers sell their wands all over the world for a variety of magical and healing purposes. Kent wand-makers: Wood you believe it?

Harry Potter A History of Magic wandmakersThe Wand-makers BBC website

So many wand-makers in the UK

A quick Google search reveals lots of rival wand-makers in the UK. It seems there is a demand for this niche product way beyond Harry Potter memorabilia.

Thornfield Handcrafted Wands

Thornfield Handcrafted Wands

Daniel and Daniel

Daniel and Daniel

Spirit of Old

Spirit of Old

British Originals

British Originals

And we must not forget our American cousins, who also have a variety of wand-makers including the wonderfully named Acme Wand Supply Ltd

Acme Wand Supply