I was thinking back to all of the naming projects we’ve done here at Boardwalk and the reasons our clients had for engaging us. Very few were asking us to name a new brand, right from the start. When people think of a new business or a new product, the very next thing they do is think of a name for it. Usually, they’re already in love with the name by the time they get to us. They can’t think of their business or product existing with any other name. And even if we see they’re making a huge naming mistake, it’s almost impossible to talk them out of it. Not then. But, if they have made a naming mistake, it will come back to haunt them eventually. Almost all of our naming engagements have been with clients who wanted to – or were forced to – change their existing brand’s name. What sorts of things compel management to take the huge step of renaming their brand?
In the ancient, old pre-internet days, only a few brands were able to use sound as part of their brand-building efforts. They all had to be either on TV or up on the silver screen. I’m thinking of sound signatures like the roar of the MGM lion, the Avon-calling doorbell or NBC’s three-note chime. Advertisers made frequent use of jingles. “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” just popped into mind. It has to be about 40 years since I last heard it but I remember it well. (Kinda scary.) In today’s world every business is on a screen somewhere. So there’s really no excuse to overlook sound as an important part of any brand identity system. Sound signatures, music, even background noises can all be used to augment a visual identity system and boost memorability. It’s a fun and mostly inexpensive way to build and maintain brand awareness, keeping the brand at the top of its market’s collective mind. Moreover, these sonic tools are not even on the radar of most businesses. So they can serve as very effective differentiators. That is, until everybody starts doing it. But by that time, your signature sound will be as memorable to your market as those old jingles are to me. Let me share one example of how it can work.
You’ve heard all the horror stories. Company A merges with Company B and, right off the bat, there’s trouble. The corporate culture at the two companies just don’t mesh. Company A tends towards formality. The men all wear ties. Things are done according to well-documented procedures. There’s a precise organizational chart with very specific titles. […]
Entrepreneurs are creative people. They can’t help themselves, they just are. The first thing an entrepreneur creates is a business idea. Whether it’s a product or a service or just some new, improved way of delivering everyday benefits, the idea pops into his or her head and they just run with it. Very often, the second thing entrepreneurs create is a name for their new enterprise. This means that the business idea is only a day or so old and, already they’re making a branding error. I say that with some assurance because most entrepreneurs have no instinct, training or experience in naming things. But they’re creative, right? So they barge ahead without ever thinking of seeking help with what can turn out to be a life or death decision for the brand. 99% of them are going to name their brand the wrong way, make a mistake, and then spend the next five years paying for it. The wrong name can shackle a brand and force it to swim upstream. Try marketing anything when the target market is unenthused or, worse, turned off by its name. Even if the startup brand does get off the ground, it may be too late to rescue the situation by the time the entrepreneur finally owns the naming mistake and seeks professional help. There are so many rookie mistakes that business people make, we can’t address them all. But I’d like to share three all-too-common clunkers that can make a brand a loser before it even gets out of the gate.
Customers and clients are smarter than even they think they are. They pick up on semiological signs without even knowing what semiology is. The human brain is hard wired to search for patterns, themes and common threads. More often than not, that is a visual search. The eye recognizes similarities and the mind remembers them, […]
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