naming

    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.

     

    Starbucks Refreshers Poorly Named.

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    Refreshers is the brand name of a clear, cool new summer drink being offered up by Starbucks.  The two flavors are Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus.  Were I the type to leave the office mid-afternoon and drive for a cool drink I’d def try one. The drinks are colorful and contain real pieces of fruit. Since they come from Starbucks they’ are “refreshers” and not at all to be confused with tea.  Just like Dunkin Donut’s Coolatas (am I spelling that right?).

    What makes these tea or ade look-alikes uniquely Starbucks is they contain “natural energy from green coffee extract.”  Very interesting.  If you’d like to try one, free 12 oz. samples will be offered this Friday between the hours of noon and 3 P.M. at Starbucks stores. (In NY, but most likely nationwide.)

    The print ads look nice. And the energy thing makes a smart point, but the name is pretty goofy. If this product launch is an attempt to open up a new category – and I think it is – it really needs a product name that better reflects the “Is” not the “Does.”   Naming is an art. I’m betting this product will be a modest success, but the name will be a hindrance.  Some words in advertising and marketing are radioactive in their ability to turn off consumers. Radioactive in their ability to create consumer passivity. Unless you are Coca Cola, refresh is one such. 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.

     

     

    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.

     

     

    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!

     

    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.

     

    Naming is Important.

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    I check my blog analytics regularly and one of the search terms that gets me a lot of traffic is “naming.” So playing to the algorithm, I post today on naming. But what to say? Names, like brands, are empty vessels into which we pour meaning. The best names are organically tied to product, feature, function or target. A good name gets you credit for what you do without doing it. My friend’s company Gotham Seafood has a great name.  He sells seafood in NYC and his company has scale.  He sells lots of fish.

    I wanted to name a web start-up for which I was marketing director Mashpan.  It was a website creation tool based on drag and drop technology that let anyone design and build a site. It put a wrapper around objects on the web and let anything, yes anything, be dragged and dropped or copied onto a page.  Quite a mash-up. Of everything. A mash pan is also a place to start home brew, but that’s a story for another day.  The boss decides Zude sounded better. No context, not a great name.  Though it did ultimately work (as a name).  Our vessel-pouring was pretty good.   

    For those of you with kids, you know how difficult naming can be. It’s even more difficult for companies. Don’t make it easy. Embrace it. Find the perfect name. It’s important. 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.