brand names

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Not enough credit has been giving to the name of my business in this blog. What’s The Idea? is the name of the blog and the business. People think is a cool name even though the URL requires explanation: “Not what is the idea, what’s the idea dot com, sans apostrophe.”

What’s The Idea? perfectly describes my brand consultancy. The search for a fitting and motivating brand idea consumes me. A single idea that captures what consumers care about and what brands are good at. (Care-abouts and good-ats.)

Not every marketer thinks they need an “idea.”  It’s not top of mind. But a sound brand idea helps position, sell and defend against competitors. If you market and don’t brand, you’re apt to struggle.

The funny thing is, the “ideas” I come up with are almost never mine. Sure I put the words together. I may even add some poetry. But the ideas come from others: from buyers, and sellers, and influencers. I’m actually just the curator. The prioritizer. I decide which idea best motivates selling and buying of a particular brand. The I organize under that idea, three proof planks to guide the way.

So when I say “What’s The Idea?” to a marketer, I’m not just branding, I’m asking a fundamental marketing question.

What is your brand idea?

Peace.

  

 

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Rackspace has a great name.  It is endemic to the cloud-based hosting category, it’s easy to repeat and understand for the lay person.  It’s descriptive and mellifluous.  Rackspace hired Robert Scoble to help put them on the map and make the brand more relevant a few years ago and it has paid great dividends. Now the company is one of the top players, along with Amazon, Microsoft and Google.  But this rentable web platform space is about a couple of things: trust, cost and functionality. Trust that the platform and systems stay up. Cost because you are buying bandwidth and processing power by the pound. And functionality because technology is always about functionality.

The current Rackspace name does not do the brand justice. It smacks of raw, bare bones, generic computing power. His is where I might suggest – and you can bet the corporate officers are thinking the same way – that the company be renamed. Renamed to deliver more of a technically forward punch. But names are money. And I think the Rackspace name can be evolved.  If the brand plan begins to define space and as outer space, with endless possibilities they will be on to something.  The final frontier, indeed. As companies grow, so can their brands.

Love the name, but in 2013 and beyond, it needs a bit of a facial.  Peace.

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Brand Names

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!

 

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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.   

 

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I check out 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 you 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! 

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Microsoft Tiles

The more I see and hear about the Windows 8 Operating System by Microsoft, the more I realize Steven Sinofsky should have named it “Tiles.”   Language is a funny thing.  Market research is great, ideation is great but user ballast is greater.  We don’t really have the foresight sometimes to see the words the general population will adopt surrounding a product, so we try to force language on them.  But organic user language, the linguists will tell you, trumps marketing.

I believe in this name so completely, I predict it will be adopted by Microsoft and replace Windows as perhaps the most known brand names in technology. (And BTW, Stop Brand Diaspora!)

Short post. Big claim. Peace.

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