I recently purchased some bar stools from Wayfair. As many of you know, much of the furniture sold on Wayfair requires assembly, and these bar stools were no exception. As a proficient assembler of IKEA furniture, I figured I could handle it.
I started out by taking everything out of the box, and reading the assembly instructions. There were 4 legs, two marked A and two marked B (all 4 legs looked to be identical). There were four side supports, two marked C and two marked D. The seat was marked E.
I assumed that the first step in the instructions would involve the legs marked A, but I was wrong. The first step said to mount the legs marked B into the base E. Why start with the legs marked B? Was this just a bad translation of foreign language instructions?
I’ll give the designers more credit than that. In fact, they may have been leveraging a type of cognitive bias. Face it, when things go as you expect them to go, you pay less attention. However, when the instructions start with Leg B instead of Leg A, you read the instructions more closely.
This bias is also useful in name development. Entrepreneurs love descriptive names. A food processor that does a fast job of chopping up food gets named “Fast Chop.” Entrepreneurs think this makes life easier because they do not have to spend money to advertise the benefits of their product…the name says it all!
In reality, “Fast Chop” gets lost in a sea of competitive products with similar names (“Quick Chop” or “Turbo Chop”). To stand out you need a name that is different and causes the consumer to stop and notice. In other words, you often need to put the assembly instructions in BACD order!
Here is a visual way to demonstrate the issue. In the three groups of circles shown below, the circle in the center is always the same size. However, as you can see, the center circle looks smaller or larger based upon the size of the other circles surrounding it. The group of circles on the right has six similarly sized circles, and you can see how it is impossible to distinguish one from another. If you want to stand out, it is far better to be the outlier, such as the center circle in the first two groups of circles.
Smart marketers know how to tell a story. One of Seth Godin’s early books, All Marketers Are Liars, explains the use of storytelling as a marketing tool. It is proven to work.
If you want to up the degree of difficulty, try cueing a story with your name. It is not an easy thing to do. But a good marketer should be able to use the product name as an entry into a story.
Here is an example of how one of our clients did that.
This client was importing a spice liqueur from Goa, India, to the US, and hired NameFlash to develop a name. The recipe for the liqueur is an old family recipe developed centuries ago in a remote village in central Portugal, and includes sugar from Brazil, spices from Asia, and Portuguese fruit, which are then all steeped in strong spirit until the liqueur matures. The resulting dark amber spirit has a unique taste all of its own – it opens with top notes of cardamom, cinnamon and orange, and you slowly get hints of turmeric, cloves and other spices as the taste lingers on the palate.
This liqueur is more complex than Fireball® (cinnamon whiskey) but given the rapid growth of Fireball® to a multimillion-dollar brand, it might have been tempting to develop a similar brand name. However, in working with the client, we developed a storyline that gave this product a unique home in the liqueur universe.
The diverse ingredients in the liqueur emerged from the global explorations of the Portuguese Empire which included the Spice Islands, Brazil, parts of Africa and Western India. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, was the first European to reach India by sea. His initial voyage to India (1497–1499) was the first to link Europe and Asia by an ocean route, thereby establishing a new Spice Route to India’s southwestern coast. This part of India was known as the Malabar Coast, and as trade developed, it became one of the most powerful regions of India.
We recommended that the client name the product Malabar. Malabar is an exotic name that conjures up images of kingdoms ruled by maharajas, and the history of the Malabar Coast is aligned with the development of the recipe for this product. With a strong historical base and powerful imagery, we felt we had a winner. And the client has taken the name and further developed the story around the product on its website. The product has launched and is available in selected states (www.drinkmalabar.com).
A portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words in which parts of multiple words are combined into a new word. Common language examples include smog, which is a combination of the words smoke and fog, and motel which combines motor and hotel.
Some big companies used the portmanteau technique to develop their names. Microsoft is a portmanteau of microcomputer and software. Groupon combines group and coupon.
However, sometimes companies refuse to admit that their portmanteau name doesn’t work.
Consider this manufacturer of pool maintenance products.
Yes, I get that they slammed “pool” and “life” together to get their name, but no matter how many times you look at this name it is hard to not see “Poo Life” isn’t it? And who wants to live a “poo life” anyway?
Here is another one. Yes, I see what they did here by combining “smart” and “tours.” But step away from the page for a second and look at it…what the heck is a “smar Tour” (or did you mean “smarT ours)?
Portmanteau names can be very good when the combination makes sense. But you have to have some common sense (as in most things in life). Combining words together to make a brand name can work or can look very stupid. Don’t be stupid!
I read an interesting post on the Inc. magazine site about how Amazon Alexa will change the way we name companies. While I wholeheartedly agree with the author, there are many more considerations in developing a great name.
My book 10 Steps To Successful Branding contains a simple 10 step checklist that enables you to determine if you have a great name. One of the items involves the pronunciation and spelling so Alexa can understand the name. But the nine other items on the list are also important.
If you want a pdf of the checklist let me know!
Donald Trump is the leader in the race for the Republican nomination for President. A CNN/ORD national survey (conducted after his comments about John McCain) puts Donald Trump ahead with the support of 18% of Republicans, Jeb Bush at 15% and Scott Walker at 10%.
Why is the Trump brand doing so well?
Donald Trump is a celebrity and he has the highest name recognition of any of the candidates by far. A recent Gallup poll puts Trump’s name identification among Republicans at 92%. In fact, a poll by CNN found that only 1% of Americans had never heard of Donald Trump. Is his celebrity fame and name recognition driving his lead in the polls?
As a branding expert, I must say that celebrity fame and name recognition are certainly good. However, everyone has heard of Caitlyn (aka Bruce) Jenner and Kim Kardashian and you would not see them at the top of the polls if they were running for President. Clearly there is something more than just awareness.
I believe it is caused by Trump’s superior execution of a classic marketing technique: understanding your Target Audience. Trump knows he is not going to win over the politicos or the Washington Insiders. Instead, he speaks to the “common man.” His campaign features themes that the common man talks to his buddies about at the bar (but they never mention when they are in public). Trump has even branded this group as “the silent majority.” Trump is a smart marketer who understands his Target Audience!
For example, Trump constantly rails against the “Washington Insiders.” He says he’s fed up with Congress and is tired of “…being pushed around, kicked around, and acting and being led by stupid people.” Attacking the incumbents is often a good election strategy, but Trump has taken that tactic to a new level. Only 16% of Republicans feel like they’re being well represented in Washington (CNN poll), so Trump speaks to the other 84%.
Trump is appealing to what Victor David Hanson of PJ Media calls the “fed-up crowd.” “The fed-up crowd likes the payback of watching blood sport in an arena where niceties just don’t apply anymore,” he writes. “They enjoy the smug getting their comeuppance, as an uncouth, bull-headed Trump charges about, snorting and spearing liberal pieties and more sober and judicious Republicans at random.”
The Washington Free Beacon’s Editor Matthew Continetti calls Trump’s supporters the “radical middle”, who in years past embraced Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich and Ross Perot. “That Trump is not a conservative, nor by any means a mainstream Republican, is not a minus but a plus to the radical middle,” he continues. “These voters are culturally right but economically left; they depend on the New Deal and parts of the Great Society, are estranged from the fiscal and monetary agendas of the Economist and Wall Street Journal. What they lack in free market bona fides they make up for in their romantic fantasy of the patriotic tycoon or general, the fixer, the Can Do Man who will cut the baloney and Get Things Done.”
Trump is a smart and powerful businessman who understands Marketing 101. Understand your Target Market and give them what they want. It is a pretty straightforward formula for success in the marketplace. Is Trump a “lock” for the Republican nomination? It is pretty early in the game to call it, but I’m not betting against him!
Naming contests. Sounds like a good idea, right? A company needs a new name and it decides to engage its employees to come up with a new name. What could go wrong? Continue reading
As a professional name developer, I am often amused by the decisions companies make when naming products. Here are just a few of the naming faux pas I have observed.
1. Poor Visual Communication – Naming is an emotional decision and you often get caught up amongst the trees instead of seeing the whole forest. Sometimes you just need some perspective before you commit to a name. Of course using a professional name developer helps provide that outside perspective! But sometimes all you need to do is take a step back and ask yourself, “What is wrong with this name?”
As an example, the owners of this business probably think they have a terrific name for their consignment store: “Kids Exchange.” It isn’t a bad name, but I bet they get a lot of jokes about people wanting to swap their kids for some other kids. But the “What Were They Thinking?” award goes to the owner who approved their logo/signage. This picture is worth a thousand words!
HEY EVERYBODY! Our Pizza Tastes Like Cardboard!
Um…well…yes it does actually, and your sauce tastes like ketchup. That’s why I haven’t eaten your pizza since my daughter's 10th birthday when it snowed 3 feet and you were the only place open.
The new Domino's Pizza ad campaign explains that they listened to consumer feedback and completely redesigned their pizza based on that information. The video clip shows some focus group feedback that is pretty painful. The obvious question is…what took you so long? The pizza had been lousy for years and I am sure focus groups (if you did them) have been telling you that for years!
This falls into the category of "you can't think of everything when naming…can you?"
Something that will crack me up and usually leave others staring at me is what store signage can spell when the bulbs in some of the letters in the names have burnt out. My personal favorite is from a Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon where somehow the only letters that remained from “Steakhouse and Saloon” were “HO SALOON.” No comments please from people who work at Lone Star as I am not implicating anyone; just thought it was funny!
I’m not saying that you need to evaluate all possible scenarios for burnt out letters in your storefront name—but let’s just say that you might want to keep a large supply of extra light bulbs on hand and check your exterior signage frequently!