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.
Category: Steve Rivkin
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
1. Do go for quantity. Nine of any ten names generated (by any method or means) fail to get through an availability screening. And this is not a new problem. When the Coca-Cola Company introduced its first diet drink way back in 1963, an IBM Model 1401 computer was programmed to disgorge every four-letter combination containing a vowel. Out came 250,000 combinations. Then 600 names were examined as possibilities. But only 24, a mere four percent, had no conflict with existing trademarks. One of them, Tabb, was shortened to Tab.
2. Do look within. Sometimes good naming is more common sense than courage. Anheuser-Busch decided to spin off as an independent company the large commercial baking company (Campbell Taggart Inc.) it had acquired. Seeking a more expressive name, management selected one of their regional bread brands, redesigned it, and elevated it to the corporate name: Earthgrains Company.
3. Do remember that less is usually more. Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda was a curious and cumbersome name. Seven-Up was better. Dr. Richardson's Croup and Pneumonia CureSalve was going nowhere until it became Vicks VapoRub.
4. Do embrace emotion. Reason alone does not a great name make. Sears could have named its car battery "Reliable." (Practical, logical and very ho-hum). Now consider the actual choice, the evocative and emotionally-charged DieHard. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter acknowledged this right-brain aspect of brand naming when he wrote, "The protection of trademarks is the law's recognition of the psychological function of symbols. If it is true that we live by symbols, it is no less true that we purchase goods by them."
5. Don't be overly obvious. Sterling is a lovely word, especially in the United Kingdom where it defines the basic British monetary unit and has come to mean "of the highest quality." But it is so obvious a choice that more than 700 U.K. companies have the word "Sterling" in their name.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Steve Rivkin
Sponsored By: Brand AidRead More
Ever wondered where the brand names Twitter and Yahoo came from? If you’re thinking there’s going to be a scientific or high-tech explanation, think again.
Interviewed by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, the co-inventor of Twitter, Isaac ("Biz") Stone (pictured), explained the name this way:
"We had a lot of words like "Jitter" and things that reflected a hyper-nervousness. Somebody threw "Twitter" in the hat. I thought, "Oh, that’s the short trivial bursts of information that birds do."
The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift in 1726 and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human. David Filo and Jerry Yang – founders of Yahoo! — jokingly considered themselves yahoos. It's also an interjection sometimes associated with Southerners' and Westerners' expression of joy, alluded to in their commercials that end with someone singing the word "yahoo."
For a list of more than 400 company names and their origins, see "List of Company Name Etymologies" in Wikipedia. You won't get personal stories about every brand name, but you will get interesting answers.
Sponsored By: Brand AidRead More
So the Charleston RiverDogs are offering naming rights to their new baseball stadium. Should you bite? Here are seven questions to ask about any deal with a professional sports team.
1. What’s the connective tissue?
Sporting events and teams certainly breed emotion, particularly at the local or regional level. That’s why the public will not only align itself with a team, but also with a venue and a sponsor. Research from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science indicates that the “sponsor-event fit” and the perceived sincerity of the sponsor are the top determinants in generating a favorable response from a sports sponsorship.
So here is the simple litmus test: Will the average fan “get it?”
2. If you’re not the lead dog, how good is the view?
Sports teams will sell you sponsorships for just about anything associated with their business – from stadium naming rights to your logo on the team bus, from major billboard placements inside the stadium to your logo on beverage cups and napkins. Ask yourself what happens once average fans are saturated with high-profile sponsorships and logo placements.
Do they have any mental storage space left to associate your good name when it’s only splashed across the second floor atrium?Read More