If you live in the Seattle area, you’ve witnessed a naming blunder or two over the last few years. Washington State’s “SayWa?” slogan to promote tourism in the state was widely panned and then scrapped.

The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau followed that ditty up with “metronatural,” [lower-case ‘m’ is part of the branding] a word that, while still being used, is more of a punchline than a point of pride for locals.

The South Lake Union Streetcar has continued the region’s trend of naming guffaws. You see, the S.L.U.S. was originally named the South Lake Union Trolley. That’s right, soon you’ll be able to ride the S.L.U.T.

Although the name was changed, the acronym, like the troll under the Fremont Bridge, is here to stay. “Ride the S.L.U.T.” t-shirts sold at the Kapow! coffee shop in the neighborhood are a hot seller.

Time to play armchair naming consultant. Okay, maybe I’m a little more than that. At Outsource Marketing we’ve been naming companies, products, services and more since 1997. With “SayWa?” and “metronatural,” we appreciate the attempt to do something different. Something that’s unique and attention-grabbing. Mission accomplished.

I’m not sure about others’ processes, but when we do naming, we come up with hundreds of options. Believe me, in the initial rounds some of these are out there. We filter the names based on strategically weighted criteria and consider nomenclature, meaning per inch, does it deliver a point of difference, and a host of other factors. The client will typically see 3-5 options–all names we’re proud of.

“metronatural” wouldn’t have made our short list, but I do see where they were going. SayWa? Now that’s a real head scratcher. But the South Lake Union Trolley? Come on, folks. The acronym is one of the first things you look at when you begin filtering.

I hope they didn’t invest much in that one–they are going to have to live with that mistake for a long, long time. I still have my 1995 Mariners playoffs shirt!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • shari storm says:

    Great photo. I do have to say, I wish they had kept it the S.L.U.T. That would have been funny and driven tee-shirt sales.

  • How do these people get their jobs! Only in Seattle/King County can you have this many classic errors, marketing or otherwise. I guess I shouldn’t be suprised…it’s the only place in the world where monorails on two seperate tracks can somehow collide.

    Best,
    CB

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