Domain Considerations vs Strategic Name Development
I have been approached numerous times about developing a name “…with a .com domain available and no more than 6 letters” or something like that.
Limiting the number of letters and requiring a .com domain means you will end up with a random letter name/domain such as ksnhent.com (which is available!).
Clients who insist on making domain availability the primary reason for choosing a name are making a huge mistake.
A far better approach is to hone your brand’s strategy and test it with consumers until you find the positioning that is going to make all the difference in your business, then develop a name based on that positioning.
David Ogilvy once said “The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than on how your product is positioned.” The same is true for your name. Spend time developing a positioning that rings the bell with consumers and then go find the perfect name that brings that positioning to life.
Sound like a difficult thing to do? Not really. I know I am biased by my 25+ years of experience in building great consumer brands, but this task is not difficult. Time consuming? Yes. At times painful? Yes. Expensive? Could be. But in the end, the process of honing the brand positioning and using that as a basis for name development will pay dividends for years to come.
The one downside is, it is unlikely that a name based on a strategic foundation will have a short .com domain available. However, you can add modifiers to the beginning or end of the name to get a .com domain.
Here is an example. Let’s say you have developed a strategically based name of “Regal” for your brand name. Of course, www.regal.com is already taken. But here are a few ideas for domains that are available for a minimal cost:
Tell Me A Story
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).
Naming Faux Pas
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!
Is It Smart To Throw Rocks At Yourself?
HEY EVERYBODY! Our Pizza Tastes Like Cardboard!
Trash Talking Your Own Product
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!
Lessons in Branding From Anti Monkey Butt Powder
A few weeks ago I posted a Twitter Poll (Follow me @NameFlash) to gather opinions on Anti Monkey Butt Powder…Good Name or Bad Name? The results indicated that about 70% of people thought Anti Monkey Butt Powder was a bad name.
However, the real learning came from the comments I received about the post. The people who thought it was a bad name were making fun of the name and talking about how they would never buy such a product. The people who thought it was a good name were people who suffered from what might be described as a “chafed butt” due to extended horseback riding, motorcycle riding, or truck driving. Some of the people who responders were actual consumers of the product and were very defensive about the name—they thought it was perfect!
So the owners of this store probably think they have a terrific name for their business: “Kids Exchange.” Well I beg to differ. First of all, what is a kids exchange, anyway? What do you do here? Swap your kids out when you get tired of them or turn them in for cash like those gold-buying places that seem to be cropping up everywhere? A naming professional could have helped prevent this confusion.
However, this picture goes one step further—why did they not put a space between the words “Kids” and “Exchange”? Proper capitalization would have been helpful as well. Not sure why this is a problem? Look at it a bit more closely…there it is. These 12 letters could just as easily spell…Kid Sex Change. I don’t think that’s what the store is about, but who am I to judge? Either way, it’s obvious that not only the name, but also the logo and signage could have benefited from professional help.
You Should Always Check International Communication of Your Name, or Risk This!
The photo below pretty much says it all.
Assitalia is one of the biggest insurance companies in Italy. I am sure the company developed its name without thinking about international considerations. In Italy, the name is probably fine. But if they ever wanted to expand to an English speaking country…well, let’s just say there might be a problem.
Most companies for which I develop names for insist that I do some sort of name verification to ensure that the names I develop have no problematic connotations in the major foreign languages. Clearly, Assitalia never thought of that!
The Single Most Important Marketing Effort For Your Product
In the spring of 1971, a new marketing idea was hatched. Today, over 38 years later, the idea is still the most important thing you can do to achieve marketing success.
In an ad in the April 7, 1971 New York Times, David Ogilvy outlined his 38 points for creating “advertising that sells.” He called the #1 item on the list “the most important decision.” He went on to say that “the results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than on how your product is positioned.”
His message was clear…you need to start with a clear positioning for your product. With a clear positioning, you can establish your marketing territory versus your competitors. Without a clear positioning, you will forever struggle to establish your marketing message.