"Lake Effect" brings trouble, but some companies embrace name

Mar 17, 2017
Originally published on March 17, 2017 9:22 am

What’s in a name? Turns out, a whole lot.

It’s how Buffalo's Lake Effect Furies stand out from the crowd.

At first the group was called the “Queen City Roller Girls All Star Team.”

"But that didn’t have a lot of personality to it," said Michael Thomas, one of two team captains.


"So we wanted to do a play on words to the Buffalo city and our snow storms, obviously, so that’s where the lake effect came from. But instead of 'Flurries' it’s 'Furies'."

That’s right. It’s not Flurries as in snow. It’s Furies, a reference to female vigilantes from Greek mythology.

Residents in the Great Lakes region are very familiar with the term Lake Effect.

When cold, dry air passes over the lakes, it generates enough snow to bring white-outs, vehicle pile-ups, power outages and back-breaking shoveling. In the most recent storm to hit the region, the Lake Effect intensified snowfall in some areas.

Despite all those problems, dozens of businesses and organizations have embraced the Lake Effect name.

About 30 miles away, Erik Bernardi was helping a customer decide which ice cream flavor she should order.

He’s an owner of Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream, a shop located in Lockport , N.Y., near the locks on the Erie Canal.

What does this frosty treat of happiness have in common with the troublesome impact of Lake Effect snow?

"We're certainly doing our best to put a positive spin on it," Bernardi said.

Erik and partner Jason Wolf discussed the name of the business at length. They eventually agreed to a name that closely connects with the region and its people. 

"It’s great, it’s part of the region," he said. "But, then we started to realize how far 'Lake Effect' really goes --  around all the Great Lakes, all through Canada. Everybody knows what it is."

When it comes to Lake Effect snow, everyone, particularly in New York state, gets their turn.

Overall, it’s been a mild winter. But with little ice on the Great Lakes, Mother Nature managed to dump lots of snow in some areas, especially along Lake Ontario.

Like more than 16 feet around Tug Hill, N.Y.  And more than 24 feet of snow in Oswego County.

For businesses using "Lake Effect" with a brand, context is key, says Seth Oyer, a public communication expert at Buffalo State College.

"Well I think it has to do with obviously what the product or service is, because sometimes it might be something that is more fun like an ice cream shop or it might be something that is more serious," he said. "A funeral home might be a little bit different in terms of having sort of fun with it.>

Folks at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery in downtown Buffalo, are certainly having fun with it. Hungry patrons scarf down food inside, while outside the Lake Effect man keeps watch.

He’s a statue, at least 12 feet tall. Strung up on the roof, and bundled in a brown coat.

"He’s holding his hat and you can tell the weather is bearing down on him there’s like snow on his shoulders and snow on his face," said Josh Ketry, director of operations.

The statue is the logo for Lake Effect Beer, an American pale ale brewed on the premises.

Ketry said they decided on the name Lake Effect because Buffalo is known for its harsh winters. He’s not worried that all the hardships associated with Lake Effect snow will turn people away from the brand.

"I think it’s done the opposite," he said. "We sold Lake Effect t-shirts one time and they sold out real fast. We embrace the fact that we endure those kinds of storms."

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