naming

    Naming.

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    Some people in the brand business believe naming is one of the more difficult undertakings. I can’t disagree. 

    Naming often occurs before the product is built or generally available. But we name children sight unseen, so what’s the problem? Well, a good brand is remembered for its value(s) so when we imbue values in a name we have a leg up.  

    When I work on a naming assignment I start with a brief. It can be tough if the product or service isn’t completely cooked — a chicken and an egg thing — but you can’t build what you don’t know so let’s start with what you know. Plus a tight brief (strategy) can guide a build.

    I have a hard time believing how any creative projects, not just naming, can start without a brand brief. It’s silly. And a waste of time. 

    Branding is a verb. It happens over time. Without a plan, a brand plan, the verb is lost and you’re stuck with a noun. Name your product or service with a living, breathing plan. Brief it up!

    If you’d like to talk brand briefs, write Steve@WhatsTheIdea.com

    Peace.

     

     

    A Brand by Any Other Name Is Not a…

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    One the newer questions in my fact-finding battery used in brand discovery is “How did you come upon the name of your brand or company?” If the answer is a simplified, shallow or sentimental one, e.g., named after my first dog, that is telling. Conversely, if the stakeholder sweated the details, as one might when naming a child, then it sets up a more fertile ground for learning. It can offer a deep preview of strategy.

    If the story about the name is convoluted and/or meandering, one can expect a similar environment in brand planning. And that’s okay. It’s the master brand planner’s job to prioritize direction. To make decisions easier for the stakeholder. Not unlike which lens is clearer at the eye doctor.

    I know a brand is an “empty vessel into which we pour meaning” but knowing where a brand name came from can provide critical info. Either from a content and strategy point of view, or a psychological/Jungian view.

    A name by any other name is not your brand.

    Peace.

     

     

    Earth Fare.

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    Earth Fare is emerging from Chapter 11 hell with a new ownership org and what hopes to be a bright future. Earth Fare began in Asheville, NC and it will rise from the ashes in Asheville. When it opened, it was branded “Dinner for the Earth.” The current name is head and shoulders better than the original, which to me suggests the earth will eat up the population and return us all to soil. Technically, that isn’t wrong, it’s just not a great brand building strategy.

    (The earth has been a hungry place lately, thanks to Coronavirus, and we’ve all been fighting like crazy to remain on it — not in it.)

    Asheville has a reputation as a crunchy town. We love sustainability, recycling, charity and brother/sister love. In branding? Ahhhh….sometimes we could use a little help. And branding starts with naming. One of my brand strategy discovery questions is “How did the brand get it’s name? And why?”

    I wish Earth Fare all the best. The founding fathers’ hearts were in the right place. But maybe they were a couple of doobies too far down the road the night they picked the original name. Hee hee. Much love.

    Peace.

     

    Brand Strategy Tarot Card Number 1.

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    I am working on a presentation called Brand Strategy Tarot Cards.  My intent is to turn over 6 cards of branded content and do a reading. A reading of what these 6 fairly common pieces of content convey about the brand.  I’ve been playing with what the 6 cards are, but now will lock them down. 

    Up first is brand or company Name. The name is spoken more often than not by consumers so the aural version is important. Therefore the first Tarot card will not be a card at all, but spoken words. “Pass the What’s The Idea? please.” “Hey, would you get Whats The Idea? on the phone?”  Of course, there are full spoken names and shorthand names. Coca-Cola and Coke, are famous examples.

    After I evaluate the communication value of the name, we can turn over the first Tarot card which will be the packaging of the name — including the logo and tagline, if there is one. We’ll assess what the logo does to convey or reassert the name and then look to see if it conveys or furthers any particular meaning or value. When first introduced what meaning did the Nike swoosh bring to the brand communication for instance.

    Lastly, we’ll evaluate the tagline. Has it resonated? Has it changed every few years? Is it an advertising tagline? Many times, when the name is bad and the mark not particularly meaningful, the tagline carries the water. It’s a bail out tactic for branding. A startup I worked at used the meaningless name Zude. The logo was colorful, original typography but to consumers it was meaningless beyond color and playfulness. The tagline “Feel Free” was broadly grounded in the product functionality (a drag and drop web authoring tool) but kind of meaningless without a communicative name and mark.

    Fort Tarot Card number 2, tune in tomorrow.

    Peace.

     

     

    Truist Brand. C Team Stuff.

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    First impressions in branding are important.  I once heard a young woman say she knew she was going to attend Wake Forest after seeing the front gate.  How’s that for branding?

    In branding names are first impressions. Naming is hard but it’s so important. Just look at the name of the bank resulting from the merger of SunTrust and BB&T. Truist. What a cluster fork.  The name has been announced on the web. The video launching the name has launched. The video that sets the stage for the name change has launched. But the mark has not. Not as of this writing (6/25/19).  I was talking to a banker from TruePoint bank last week who told me the Truist name is in litigation by another bank with True in the name. Oops.  Trademarkia anyone? Maybe that’s why the new logo hasn’t been seen.

    The Truist name has something to do with heritage name SunTrust. BB&T seems to have been jettisoned altogether. They would have been much better starting from scratch. Names are as much about the future as the past and if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately you’ll know the banking industry is moving. Moving more quickly today than in the last 100 years.

    Can you say blockchain? Can you say mobile banking? Can you say deposit slip?  Hee hee.

    Truist is C team thinking. A miasma of team-think. The lawsuit may be the best thing that has happened to his effort.

    Peace.

     

    The Branding Institute, Poppe Advisory Center.

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    I’m thinking about rebranding as The Branding Institute, Poppe Advisory Center.  It has branding in the name, sounds like a bigger company and, as an extra benefit, should increase search results. Not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue but, hey, it’s a Monday. 

    Now if you are into semantics or are part of the super-majority of business people you may take this to mean I’m simply changing my business name. Most people default to name change when you say rebrand. A lesser percentage of people may assume I’m changing my logo, package or website.  But real nerds know that branding is way more foundational. Way more than a combination of physical outputs; it’s the means by which you engineer preference. Indelible preference. Bring starts with strategy.

    Just as a psychiatrist will counsel a depressive person that moving to a new city won’t solve their problems, changing the brand name or product packaging won’t cure marketing ills. One must start with brand strategy – an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.  And since I am not going to change my framework for brand strategy, my tool kits or outputs, it really wouldn’t be a rebrand, now would it. It would be a simple name change.   

    Ah never mind.  What’s The Idea? will live to see another day.

    Peace.

     

     

    Plant Based “Meats” Need a New Name.

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    There is a big branding opportunity for someone — renaming plant based meats. It has to happen, it’s just a matter of time. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat had an opportunity, but blew it.  The Impossible Burger is a good product name, but a company?  Not so much. No Evil Foods also took a stab, but missed. The big opportunity is to Xerox or Q-Tip the category. To create a word that encompasses plant-based meats and creates a meat aesthetic without using the word meat, which is and ever shall be animal-based.  

    I understand why comparing oneself to meat is a strategy, but it’s a near term strategy. This category needs a taxon. Readers of Whats’s The Idea? know I often use an Is-Does litmus for good naming. What a brand Is and what a brand Does. First movers to identify a new category claim the throne.

    The growth of the plant-based meat-like market is close to hockey sticking…but still in search of a category-defining brand name. Let’s get to work.

    Peace.

     

     

     

    Naming. And brands.

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    I was driving to Rhode Island last week and happened to notice that a number of really rural road names were quite descriptive. Niatic River Road. Stone Heights Turnpike. Waterford Parkway. Sunset Drive.  It got me thinking about naming. Back in the 1600s and 1700s (and before) when there weren’t a lot of maps and people didn’t travel that far, thoroughfares were named based upon features and geographic realities. Heartbreak hill. Point O’Woods. Tip of the mitt.

    Names that were easy to remember and descriptive were the strongest names. They added value. Names with no endemic meaning, less so.

    The best brand names today follow this old maxim. They are descriptive. They are descriptive of product, value, and uniqueness. The strongest brands in the world are not silly constructs of Madison Avenue, they are like packaging…part of the selling fabric. Coca-Cola used cola beans to build its brand.

    Naming is hard work. Just look at all the silly pharmaceutical brand names on TV today. It’s like we ran out of words to use. So the naming companies put the alphabet in the blender and BAM.     

    While director of marketing at a web start-up, I wanted to name the drag and drop web creation tool Mash Pan. The Chief Technology Officer who used to say “dude” a lot, opted for Zude.

    Opt for communication value. Consumers don’t need to work so hard.

    Peace.                                                                                                       

     

     

    Brand Names

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    Naming is perhaps the most interesting part of branding; especially so, for products that are new, unique and first-mover in a category. Naming that communicates a product’s Is-Does is optimal.  It explains what a product Is and what it Does.  The first light beer, Miller Lite, is a beer and does provide a lighter product profile.

    Brand names with marks, called logos, are able to convey more than just a brand because a picture and/or type treatment offer additional information.

    When a product or service is more complicated, as is often the case in technology or healthcare, the brand name and logo may not be able to convey a full Is-Does. So a tagline offers a fuller opportunity to complete the Is-Does. There are even some cases when all three don’t fully explain — so one completes the story with boiler plate. Boiler plate is found on PR releases and on web sites under the About tab.

    Finally, the best brand names of all offer more than what a brand is and what it does, they offer a little bit of poetry.  A smidgen of humanity and tone.  A smile. 

    Brands are empty vessels into which we pour meaning. Start off with a name that conveys good information and meaning and the pour becomes a little easier. Peace!

     

    Extract This…About Naming.

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    So yesterday I suggested that Starbuck’s misnamed its new fruit flavored iced coffee product Refreshers, jumping straight to the benefit in the name, and not necessarily an uncommon benefit at that. Starbucks missed an opportunity.  Here is link to the video explaining how Refreshers are made. Green coffee extract is the secret to the new product.  Three words that together don’t particularly make the mouth water.  No wonder they called them Refreshers.

    Here are a couple ideas and words that may have been overlooked in the naming meeting. Words that don’t deliver the benefit, but work to explain the new product.  The  Is of the Is-Does, as it were.

    -Pre-roasted

    – Natural state beans

    – Pure caffeine

    – Arabica beans

    -Young, you get the idea.

    Naming is hard.  Think Apple.  Brand are empty vessels into which marketers pour meaning. But consumers extract meaning from brands and the first experience in the name. Make it a good one. Peace.