The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
So you want to register a domain name – let’s call it “www.smith.com” – but that URL is already taken.
No surprise. More than 225 million domain names are registered worldwide, according to Verisign. (That’s something in the range of 30 times the number of existing trademarks.)
So, what should a marketer do? Let’s work from three assumptions: First, you want the status of a dot-com and won’t be happy with a lesser billing. Second, you’re unable (or unwilling) to change the “Smith.” Three, you’ve explored the purchase of the existing domain, but it’s either too expensive or too time-consuming a process.
- Expand the company name. Consider SmithCorp.com or SmithLLC.com. Or consider telling more: SmithTechnologies.com or SmithVentures.com.
- Expand the product or brand name by adding the specific: SmithCoffee.com or SmithOptics.com. (This should also boost your search optimization.)
- Wave the flag. You should be proud to be identified as SmithAmerica.com or SmithUSA.com.
- Go bigger. Consider SmithInternational.com or (using the common abbreviation) SmithIntl.com. Bigger yet: SmithUniversal.com.
- Urge action. Following the lead of the direct-response crowd, consider GoSmith.com or TrySmith.com.
- Underscore immediacy. SmithToday.com might work.
- Be irreverent. With a nod to college rah-rah: WeAreSmith.com.
Join us at The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley May 16-17, 2013 in San Diego, California
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 100 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
Big Ass Fans is a new national advertiser. They sell the world’s most efficient ceiling fans, in diameters from 5 to 24 feet. The company started life as the High Volume Low Speed Fan Company, before adopting an irreverent new moniker. (The company claims it changed names after repeatedly hearing customers say, “Man, that’s a big-ass fan.”)
Christian Dior went against the grain of romantic, flowery perfume names with its Poison brand.
A Louisiana pharmacist concocted a soothing diaper rash balm that worked so well, local athletes started using it. He called it Butt Paste. Now you can buy it at Wal-Mart.
Redneck Bank, based in Mustang, Oklahoma, is the online banking division of Bank of the Wichitas. (As the first line of their website says, “Yep, we’re a real bank.”)
When you pick an irreverent, outlandish name for your brand, is it a desperate way to call attention to yourself? A clever way to differentiate yourself? A tactic only for a fringe brand?
Or something else?
We went to our panel of experts for their points of view, and they cautioned that this approach is by no means for everyone.
JACK TROUT, renowned marketing strategist, best-selling author and founder of a consulting firm with partner offices in 25 countries:
“We are indeed in an era of crazy names that people are using as a way to attract attention. The reason is that in category after category, more and more names are born as categories divide. (It’s the Immutable Law of Division.) Successful brands such as Google, Smucker’s and Roach Motel have encouraged others to get a little crazy as a way to be more memorable. But beware, your product has to have a good story behind it, not just an attention-getting name. (With Roach Motel, the roaches check in but they don’t check out.)”
“Hickory, dickory, dock, the mouse ran up the clock.” That might have been the first nursery rhyme you learned. There are powerful reasons why rhymes permeate early learning – and later in life, too, when the rhymes in popular songs are baked into our brains. Rhymes are pleasing, soothing, entertaining.
“Everyone likes rhymes,” says Dr. Steven Pinker, a Harvard professor, linguist and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works. Chinese writings in the 10th century BC used rhymes. So did Aristophanes and other ancient Greeks. So do today’s gifted orators, trial lawyers and rap artists.
And so do savvy marketers, especially in the food sector, cooking up names such as Piggly Wiggly, Slim Jim and Reese’s Pieces.
What’s the reasoning behind rhymes? Here’s what the linguists and other social scientists have to say:
Rhymes create pleasant patterns. And our brains are wired to recognize and recall patterns.
Consider: Crunch ‘n Munch. Ronald McDonald. YooHoo.
Rhymes create a sense of symmetry and completion. Humans like anything that simplifies the buzzing confusion in the world, says Dr. Pinker.
Consider: FireWire. Lean Cuisine. StubHub.
Rhymes are potent mnemonic devices, enhancing memorization.Read More
If you have ever named a boat, a pet or a child, you know how difficult it can be to choose the right name. Despite the importance of the decision, the process seems hit-and-miss and there seem to be few guidelines for getting it right. After agonizing over lists of alternatives, you reject all but one, with no sense of certainty. Later the name seems inevitable – how could you have considered any other name?
The Challenge of Naming
The naming challenge is compounded in a business environment, where anointing a company with a name is likely to be just the first of many labeling decisions. Products, business units, specific services, marketing programs, features, line extensions, apps, web sites and more all need monikers. Each decision has implications for future decisions, so it’s important to have a plan or ‘rules’ to guide your choices and avoid confusing customers.
Although critically important to brand health and company value, it can be difficult to create the rules for naming brand entities, and for specifying the relationships among them. Here is a partial list of the kinds of challenges faced:
- When is it desirable to extend an existing brand and when is a new brand required?
- How should a new brand be linked to the parent? Should the relationship be explicit or kept in the shadows?
- Which is better, a descriptive name or a fanciful name?
- When should a name be retired?
- When should a feature be branded?
- Should different brands from the same company have different web sites?
When you engage in a naming initiative from the right side of the grey matter, the concern is less on structure and convention, and more on creating a clear mental image that serves the desired positioning of your company, product or service. A great name is just too important a business asset to come just from one side of the brain. The right brain approach is the one that connects verbal cues with clear mental pictures. This is very important because people think and remember in pictures! Before I go deeper, let me share a couple of stories from marketing folklore.
For many years, there was a small but growing athletic footwear company with a check-mark shwoosh logo called Blue Ribbon Sports. Not a terrible name, but not compelling enough to create a powerful mental image of winning foot races. Wisely, the company changed its name to a word that came from a Greek Olympic chant meaning “win, win, win! With this more evocative name, coupled with a more aspirational positioning and promise, Nike took off to the heights of greatness only a few companies will ascend to.
Then there was the Pequod Coffee Company, a name under serious consideration from a start-up company from Seattle. The owners had a fascination with all things Moby Dick. (Apparently one was an English professor). What useful and compelling mental images and associations does the name “Pequod” bring to your mind? Alas, someone said something to the effect “since you are so set on the Moby Dick theme, and you already have a mermaid as your symbol, why not use the name of the Pequod’s first mate, Starbuck? At least it easier to pronounce and it sounds better”. From there, another marketing legend is born!Read More