It’s not enough to say “we’ll spoil you” to jaded film crews – you’ve got to prove it

The Serrano Hotel was a boutique hotel that had a good reputation for supporting film crews shooting in San Francisco and wanted to focus on that lucrative repeat business by emphasizing how they went above and beyond for them.

Ran in "Variety"

Ran in “Variety”

Ran in the LA Times

Ran in the LA Times

Slated to run in the New York Times anniversary edition (cancelled due to the events of 9/11/2001)

Slated to run in the New York Times anniversary edition (cancelled due to the events of 9/11/2001)


Art Director: Janny Yang

Creative Director: John Marin


When a last ditch effort becomes a huge success

The Pacific Palisades Hotel needed a severe boost to occupancy. They had a small marketing budget and were surrounded by big chains that had much more brand recognition. So we looked at what we could do for them. We opportunistically bought cheap, last minute ad space in the local newspapers left over when other advertisers canceled. We wrote ads that were designed to get attention by speaking to the competition, the context and pushing an edgy personality that none of the other hotels could copy in order to draw in the younger, hipper tourist. The results? An unheard of 80% boost in occupancy – and a campaign that got talked about throughout the city.

Pacific Palisades


Ran on Friday the 13th

Ran on Friday the 13th

Creative Director: Dan Elmslie

Art Director: John Marin

Creating a record label on the strength of a music school

EP_records_2When Pyramid, a San Francisco music production school, wanted to create its own music label to give its students wider exposure and a chance to be discovered, it needed a name that sounded like a big record label – and had a serious story.

I led the effort and was the sole namer for the project. After a round of work, I presented the word “epiphyte” – a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic – which was a wonderful story about growth and about the students leveraging the strength and power of the school behind them to get their careers growing. It had a relation to neophyte. It also had the added nod of starting with “EP” – a reference back to the industry that the designer leveraged by combining a sense of musical notation and a turntable.


Extending a healthcare leader into a pharmacy leading brand

WellPoint was getting its pharmacy benefits management brand in order. Not only were they giving it a new structure as part of WellPoint rebranding, they were adding new offers that changed the way the category would be seen.

resize_nextrxI led the effort to develop the deceptively simple, but always memorable brand “NextRx.” The market loved the brand and the customers intuitively understood it was their pharmacy insurance when they received their next healthcare card.

The effort to give NextRx its own personality in the market was so successful, in fact, that it was targeted and acquired by the biggest player in the industry – Express Scripts. Thus sometimes a great name is so successful that it leads to its own retirement.

The work on NextRx built a relationship that allowed me to pitch and win a much larger engagement for our company with the WellPoint master brand for design, voice and brand training.

Giving a spin off a clear purpose

Sensata TechnologiesWhen Texas Instruments was preparing to spin off its sensors and controls business, they needed a name that felt big and trustworthy, close in to sensors and controls, but still had an evocative feel.

I led the effort with the client, found a name they could rally behind and worked closely with design to bring these close-in names to life.

Not only did they adopt the name, the effort went so well, it led to nomenclature, brand positioning, design and even more engagements with the Texas Instruments master brand as well.

Bringing order to a product portfolio

How do you create a cohesive naming system that can accommodate 130 product launches a year? That can span from $4 computer mice to $500 music systems and still feel like a master brand? That could accommodate the constant improvement of technology, but didn’t lose the story of the category? That engineers could get behind and that had room for the big marketing pushes that consumers needed to fall in love with?

Logitech nomenclature

Armed with some research, some insight into the road maps and a (way too deep) understanding of everything the company was asking of its names (including a trip to their factory in China), I created a detailed system of nomenclature that simplified numbering across categories, built criteria for evocative names within the system (and the rules around when numbers had to appear and could be left off), demonstrated how the names would work in each touchpoint and created guidelines and a wiki to allow company-wide visibility of the names in use.

Logitech Touch

While numbers aren’t always the solution, this combination of clear and descriptive naming, supported by tiering numbers with the flexibility for evocative names that could fit seamlessly into the system has been a success in helping customers and sales teams clearly understand the line up – and speeding time to market on the products they create.



Moving from model numbers to emotional engagement

Samsung had always named their mobile phones in the way they had named their microwaves – a strong master brand, a price point and a model number to help with stocking and ordering. But Motorola, with its Razr, had changed the game on them. We helped them develop a tonality and strategy to move from numbers and letters to a story that they could get behind.

samsung-instinct-canadaAnd this phone – the first with an intuitive haptic interface that allowed “soft buttons” to give the user a sense of feedback without staring at the screen – got a name that became Samsung’s flagship for announcing their new evocative push into the mobile and smart phone market.

Creating a new category for the category creator

Adobe LightroomHow could Adobe create a new software suite for true photographers that was differentiated from their flagship Photoshop brand (which began as a photographer’s program and became known as an artist’s tool)? The UI metaphor was steeped in traditional professional photography metaphors – loops, lightboxes, negatives.

With naming, we explored a wide range of options, but coming up with the simple story of “everything you’d do in a dark room, now in the light” led to the name that I’m most proud of.

The best names feel like they’ve been around forever a day after you pitch them. Lightroom fit seamlessly into Adobe’s portfolio. (And once the software package was re-engineered to be compatible with Photoshop, they brought it under their banner Photoshop brand with the nomenclature criteria work I developed for them as well.)