Unintended Consequences

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Unintended Consequences.

In my neighborhood — and probably yours too — there are new signs springing up everywhere. They feature a man bending over behind a dog under these words: “Pet waste transmits disease. Bag waste and clean up after your dog.” Apparently there’s an epidemic of dogs pooping on people’s yards lately because these signs are showing up wherever I look. And so are the legions of obedient dog owners who walk around with plastic bags — both empty and full — hanging out of their pockets.

At first glance the signs seem to make sense. After all, who wants dog poop in their yards? Poop smells, it’s unsightly, and it smushes sickenly between your toes if you’re unlucky enough to step in it with bare feet when you run out to get the newspaper in the morning.

Unintended ConsequencesBut wait just a damn second! Isn’t poop also used as fertilizer? And don’t many of the same people who go to The Home Depot to buy these anti-poop signs for their yards also leave the store with 20 lb. bags of cow manure to feed their lawns? Maybe they should be thanking the pet owners for helping keep their yards green and beautiful instead of lecturing them.

Instead, these same home owners demand the dog lovers scoop up the offending materials and isolate them in securely knotted baggies. This effectively destroys any value the dog droppings offer because after a short stay in the oxygen-free environment of the plastic bag the healthy organisms in the poop die and the fertilizer factor is finished. At that point the bagful truly isn’t worth a shit.

Unintended consequences, indeed.

I’m at a marketing workshop at a fancy hotel and I’m in line to grab a cup of coffee and a croissant before the boredom begins. Placed alongside the gleaming silver coffee urns are stacks of cups – both ceramic mugs and paper cups with plastic lids.

I don’t know about you, but I think coffee tastes better in porcelain than paper. In my mind (and on my tongue) the coffee stays hotter and doesn’t pick up any bitter taste from the cardboard. Plus, the mug is easier to hold, sits better on a table, and is easier to balance when I’m also holding a briefcase and trying to shake hands.

So why do people take the paper cups? Is it because they’re used to them from their daily Starbucks habit? Do they think the paper cups hold more? Do they simply not think of the difference and just grab whatever’s there? Or is there some other reason they prefer paper?

While I question why people would choose paper over porcelain, there’s no question why the hotels prefer paper. Despite their obvious ecological unfriendliness, paper cups are easier to handle and dispose of than ceramic mugs. They’re lighter, less expensive, can be stored in much smaller spaces, and don’t require washing, drying or restocking. Plus, paper cups don’t break. Based on this, it behooves hoteliers to save money by providing paper cups for coffee drinkers who either prefer them or don’t know the difference.

Again, an unintended consequence. But unlike the wasted fertilizer, this time the unintended consequence pays dividends to the savvy hotelier.

The importance of these two examples is to illustrate the phenomenon that while things happen that no one expects or plans for — Brexit, Uber, Zika, Donald Trump, skinny jeans – and while their consequences may in fact be unintended, they can present great opportunities to people who pay attention.

WTF and unintended consequencesAll you need to do is observe your own reaction to what’s going on. When you see something you don’t understand and you exclaim, “WTF??!!” understand that those initials do not stand for “What The F@#k??!!” but instead mean “Where’s The Future??!!” Because each time your intuition tells you that something odd is going on, it’s also telling you there could be unintended consequences in the making. That could mean that there’s a potential opportunity brewing too. It’s up to you to find it.

The 18th century British Nobleman Baron Rothschild said, “Buy when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” Rothschild, who made a fortune buying everything in sight in the panic that followed Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, understood exactly where the future was going to be. Maybe after reading this blog, you will too.

Unintended consequences, indeed.




The Value of Branding

One response.

Value of branding.

While I try to maintain this discussion on the powerful value of branding, some days I simply don’t have anything to write about. It doesn’t happen often, mind you. But now that I’ve religiously posted at least one blog post every week since 2007 (778 posts, btw) I must admit there are times when there’s not much to say.

There are a number of things I do to keep this from happening. I voraciously consume media – three daily newspapers, lots of magazines, and a number of websites and blogs – to keep up-to-date on our industry and the world around us. I think about what I want to talk about when I run my miles in the morning and when I’m out and about. And I constantly look for illustrations of good and bad branding examples to share with you. I also review a number of search engine protocols to see where people’s interests lie. It all creates a simple online focus group of sorts.

The value of branding. Marcel Breuer Cresa Chair.I’m also lucky that I’m so interested and involved in the subject that I always have a thought or opinion about what’s going on. Because of this, stories on diverse subjects such as increased travel to Cuba or the design of Marcel Breuer’s 1928 Cresca chair can be compelling inspiration for a post. Truth be told, my fingers often take over the writing when my brain can’t. That is, sometimes I just put my fingers on the keyboard and start typing and the thoughts flow out in an oddly coordinated way that results in a cogent post about the value of branding.

But perhaps the best inspiration for new ideas to write about the value of branding is the intersection of the business sector’s need for proven, hands-on branding advice and the vast selection of real world examples swirling around us.

For example, economist Paul Krugman wrote an editorial in The New York Times titled A Tale Of Two Parties. Krugman opined on the strengths and weaknesses of the Democratic and Republican establishments. Granted Krugman wrote a political column and you may or may not agree with his opinions, but what is interesting to me is that his op-ed on presidential positioning is really an insightful article on branding.

Krugman writes about Donald Trump’s primary success this way: “Donald Trump’s taunts about “low-energy” Jeb Bush and “little Marco” Rubio worked because they contained a large element of truth. When Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio dutifully repeated the usual conservative clichés, you could see that there was no sense of conviction behind their recitations. All it took was (Trump’s) huffing and puffing …to blow their houses down.”

Politics? Surely. But what Krugman is really writing about is how Trump’s attacks defined the brands for both Bush and Rubio. Why? Because as we’ve said so many times before, the number one rule of both politics AND branding is to define yourself before your competition does. As Krugman noted, both candidates failed to create their own authentic brands and therefore paid the politician’s ultimate price.

These types of real world, real time brand stories are all around us. Whether you like or dislike the circumstances, the branding lessons you can find in these situations are always valuable. All it takes is an open and interested eye to see them. More importantly, it takes a bit of discipline and initiative to use what you observe to improve your business and your life.

At the end of the day, that is where the real value of branding lies – its proven ability to improve your business and make you money. Because when there’s a clear alignment between your company’s authentic truth and your customers’ aspirations, and when your brand can truly make your customers feel good about themselves, the value of branding becomes invaluable.

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Order All About Them for brand motivationIf you’re looking for more proven ways to brand yourself and your business, you must be one of the first to get my new book, All About Them. It’s available now for pre-order in hardcover, Kindle, or audio on AmazonAppleBarnes & Noble800-CEO-Read, and IndieBound.

“For sheer charm, there is nothing like a new book from Bruce Turkel. All About Them made me laugh out loud in the first chapter, but the magic is that you are learning from the get-go.”

—Chris Crowley, author of Younger Next Year




Brand Motivation – Do You Know Yours?

3 responses.

Brand Motivation – Do You Know Yours?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about brands and how to build them. What I’m finding is that in order to create a good brand for our clients, we find it important to understand their brand motivation. In other words, why do so many people spend so much time, money, and effort building their brands, and how will we know when they’re satisfied with what we’ve created?

Quite simply I believe brand motivation comes down to five basic drivers:

  1. Skill.
  2. Will.
  3. Thrill.
  4. Bill.
  5. Top of the Hill.

Skill.    Is your motivation based on the ability to practice something you do well? Many professionals – from accountants to zoologists, acupuncturists to zoning engineers – build their brands solely on their professional functions.

Will.    Perhaps your motivation is based on your strong desire to make something happen. Whether it’s an altruistic calling to make the world a better place, a need to design your environment, or a longing to build a better mousetrap, many business and personal brands are guided by the will to accomplish something better or bigger.

Thrill.    If your personal brand is built around the adrenaline shot you get from doing something exciting, then this might very well be your motivation. You don’t have to don a flying squirrel suit and go jumping off a mountain to find business thrilling, by the way. Often the pure entrepreneurial charge of starting a business and making payroll can be more than enough.

Bill.       Perhaps it’s almost too obvious to bear repeating but lots of people build businesses and brands simply to make a profit. If revenue is your primary motivation, and how much money you accumulate and keep is the way you keep score, then this is most likely your brand motivation.

Top of the Hill. Maybe your brand motivation is all about being on top, winning the game, proving to yourself and the world that you’re the best out there. If this is the case, then Top of the Hill is probably the reason you’re in the game in the first place.

Yes, there are as many motivations for doing things as there are people who do them. But if you step back from your marketing efforts for a moment and truly look at the why of what you do you’ll probably find some insight into building a better brand.

Good brand motivation

The ironic and counter intuitive thing is that the best brands are not actually about the person or company that creates them at all. Instead these brands are all about what that company’s customers want and how the company’s brand makes those customers feel about themselves. As I’ve said many times before: “A good brand makes people feel good. A great brand makes people feel good about themselves.”

Great Brand Motivation

Knowing your brand motivation, whether it’s Skill, Will, Thrill, Bill or Top of the Hill is a great place to start.  And it’s a great way to establish the most compelling intersection between your brand and your customers’ best selves.

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Order All About Them for brand motivationIf you’re looking for more proven ways to brand yourself and your business, you must be one of the first to get my new book, All About Them. It’s available now for pre-order in hardcover, Kindle, or audio on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, 800-CEO-Read, and IndieBound.

Here’s what New York Times best selling author Randy Gage says about All About Them: “Buckle up. Bruce’s book is a rollercoaster of riotous righteousness on branding, positioning, marketing, and the mighty madness of messaging.”

 




My Brand Can Help Your Brand

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How My Brand Can Help Your Brand

I’ve got some great news for both of us. My fifth book, All About Them, is on press and will officially release on August 16 from Da Capo Press. YOU are a big part of this book which is why I’m sharing the news with you on my blog.

All About Them is based on everything I’ve learned about building my brand and everything I’ve learned over the last decade of writing about how to build your brand.

Order All About Them and help my brandI’m hoping All About Them becomes the instruction manual for getting ahead in a world that’s spinning faster and faster and where function is becoming mere cost-of-entry for success. Here’s a hint: Being successful will require creating your brand and marketing it in brand new ways for brand new times.

Over the next few months I’m going to tell you all about what’s going on with All About Them. I’ll introduce you to the concepts discussed in the book and show you lots of ways to get involved; Special programs, social media opportunities, exclusive events, and many other ways to build your brand and help me make a big splash for All About Them.

What I’d love you to do right now to help my brand  is simple – just click HERE and preorder All About Them.

If we can generate significant upfront interest it will further convince my publisher that my book is going to be a big success and that they should produce more and make sure that it’s available from coast-to-coast.

I’ve sent pre-release copies to business authors who matter and will share their comments with you too. Here’s are some very nice words from Tim Sanders, author of Dealstorming and Love Is the Killer App.

“A must read for modern marketers who want to cut through the noise, forge deep connections, and create memorable experiences.”

And this from Jeffrey Meshel, author of One Phone Call Away and The Opportunity Magnet.

“A brilliant guide to becoming an icon. Bruce Turkel is the branding expert of branding experts.”

I am justifiably proud of my new book. And I’ll feel even better when I know people are reading All About Them and using it to build their own brands and build their businesses.  Thank you for helping with my brand and thank you — as always — for your warm and gracious support.




The Donald Trump brand v. The Hillary Clinton brand

15 responses.

Unless Bernie Sanders can appeal to the Democratic Super Delegates’ sense of fairness and get them to reconsider their commitments based on the outcome of the most recent state primaries and caucuses, our November presidential contest will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As I see it, this election is an incredible opportunity for all of us to get a front row seat to history and watch some of the best branding minds in the country put their heads together to build their candidates’ images.

If you can remove your partisan hat for a moment and take a strategic look at both sides, let me share what my buddy, marketing genius John Demarchi thinks is the way Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should build their brands.

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

Photo: CNN

Hillary Clinton

  1. Hillary needs to build the case that Donald Trump is dangerous, inexperienced, and unpredictable. She needs to ask this question: “Are you comfortable giving nuclear codes to a completely inexperienced rookie with no legislative or diplomatic experience who incites crowds to violence?”
  2. Hillary needs to say: “Trump is show business. And he’s entertaining, like watching cat videos on the Internet.  But giving him the power of the presidency?  That’s not funny – that’s dangerous.  And these are already dangerous times.  When the seas are rough, you don’t find a captain who has never sailed before to take you to safe harbor…”
  3. At the same time, Hillary needs to talk less. Instead she needs to speak in sound bites that people can remember.  “We can build bridges… or we can build walls.”  “We can tell everyone ‘you’re fired’… or we can create jobs.”
  4. Hillary is not a natural candidate on the campaign trail but she’s a powerful symbol for the sisterhood.  She needs to stop trying to out-shout Trump and Sanders and speak gently. Instead Hillary should surround herself with people such as Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker who can make the sale for her.
  5. The woman card Hillary needs to play is simply as everyone’s Mom and Grandmother. Mom is about love, not hate. Grandmother has the warm wisdom of experience.
  6. I don’t know if Hillary is likeable enough to get elected but that’s the only question she needs to get right.  If she gets every policy point correct but people still don’t like her, she cannot win. If people think Donald Trump is attacking “Mom/Grandmother” Hillary, he will no longer appear strong. Instead he’ll be read as sexist, misogynistic, and a bully.
  7. This kind of language would slay at the convention: “For 240 years American women have watched men lead this country into wars… watched men increase income inequality… watched the advantaged and privileged deny basic social justice for the disadvantaged and the voiceless.  Well, I hear your voice.  And I’m pretty sure that somewhere up there in the 57th floor of his multimillion-dollar penthouse a certain foul-mouthed New York billionaire… well, he can’t hear your voices all the way up there in his ivory tower. But I’m right here with you and I hear you. I am for solving income inequality – not for electing billionaires to the presidency.”

At the same time, here’s what the Donald needs to say and do:

Donald Trump

  1. At every campaign event Trump should be surrounded with a diverse group of women.  For all intents and (photo opp) purposes, his daughter Ivanka should become his (virtual) running mate.
  2. Donald Trump should say precisely why he’s the candidate for women. He’ll protect them; he’ll let them protect themselves (NRA shtick); he’ll give them jobs; he’ll give their kids opportunities, etc.
  3. In that speech Trump should list the countries that oppress women and have given massive speaking fees to Bill and Hillary Clinton and their foundation. He should demand that she give the money back, or be seen as funding a truly global war on women.  Trump should suggest that women suffering in Iraq happened on Hillary’s watch.  He should position the refugee crisis as having happened because of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy.
  4. Trump should not hammer Hillary on the legality of her actions (emails, etc.) but by waving the flag in her face. Say she risked the national security of the United States and its operatives in the field for her own convenience. Trump needs to remember that people don’t care about the fact that lawyers say she violated the law.  They care that anyone would dare endanger American lives – especially operatives and troops.  That will make Hillary have to defend with, “I never put the lives of troops or CIA operatives at risk.” THAT video clip will live forever just like “I did not have sex with that woman” did. You can’t defend against a negative.
  5. The magic words Trump cannot say often enough, and always in front of a flag, are “USA, women, military, vets, the wall, great, and America.”
  6. Trump needs to talk directly to black voters and ask one question: “Democrats have controlled every major urban market in the USA for nearly 50 years… how is that working out for African-Americans?” He needs to point out that schools are a mess, crime is rampant, racial relations are at an all-time low, and opportunity for economic advancement barely exists.  Of course Trump won’t win the African-American vote, but if he gets even 15%, he can win the presidency.
  7. No matter how many people hate Trump, there’s something they hate even more – politicians.  And nobody embodies politician more than Hillary. Trump will brand her with two words – “Crooked” and “Politician.” In fact, the more Hillary tries to run on Bill’s magical ‘90s, the more Trump will remind people she is a career politician and that they hate politicians.

Regardless of whether you support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anyone else, I hope you were able to read these suggestions without screaming at the points you don’t agree with. Like you I have a clear favorite and think the other side is an abomination. But what matters to marketers is what our consumers think – and in this case, our consumers are the people who are going to vote. Watching how those voters are enticed and seduced presents great lessons that you can use to build you own brand.

“May you live in interesting times,” indeed.




One Word Brands. The Key to Donald Trump’s Success.

7 responses.

One Word Brands. The Key to Donald Trump’s Success.

Of the estimated $2 billion dollars in free media Donald Trump has received during the 2016 presidential campaign, lots of it has been dedicated to explaining his surprisingly successful rise as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Some pundits acknowledge Trump’s mastery of today’s most influential media. As the argument goes, FDR mastered radio, JFK mastered TV, Obama mastered the Internet, and Trump is demonstrating his timely mastery of social media and reality television.

Some analysts talk about Trump’s appeal to an angry, mostly male, mostly middle class white voter who feels betrayed by both the current administration and the traditional Republican power structure. But even beyond that group, a majority of voters in both parties believe the country has been ineffectual in its response to the danger of terrorism and may be open to Trump’s message.

Finally, some authorities attribute Trump’s success to a unique time in American history where temperament and experience have been undermined by the desire for a show of strength unburdened by the complexity of facts or habit.

Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump the candidate, all of these points make logical sense. But I think there’s one more simple fact that doesn’t get any press – Trump’s mastery of one word brands.

One of the most important rules of political marketing is to always define yourself before others define you. After all, in the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, politics do too. Candidate Barack Obama demonstrated this when he successfully defined himself with two simple words – “hope” and “change.” But shortly after being elected, the visionary became a functionary and Obama failed to clearly define his plan for health care. And as we’ve since learned, while Obamacare is the law of the land, its passing required significant compromise and the program is still being attacked and argued by a party that defined the platform with catchy phrases including “Pulling the plug on grandma,” and “Death panels.”

Understanding that, it’s easy to look back and see how Donald Trump ID’d each of his Republican candidates with compellingly negative one word brands. Despite the exclamation point in his logo, Jeb Bush was tagged “Low energy Jeb.” Diminutive Marco Rubio was nicknamed with the patronizing moniker “Little Marco.” Ted Cruz became “Lyin’ Ted.” And regardless of whether you want to admit it or not, you knew each one of these labels long before I listed them.

Winning the presumptive nominee slot hasn’t changed Trump’s strategy one bit. Instead he’s been working hard to establish his one word brand name for his most-likely rival – the woman he calls “Crooked Hillary.”

But don’t rush to give Trump credit for coming up with this approach of one word brands, this tactic has been used many times before. Throughout history most American presidents have had one or two word brand descriptors: Dwight Eisenhower – war hero. John Kennedy – Camelot. Lyndon Johnson – Southern Democrat. Richard Nixon – Tricky Dicky. Gerald Ford – Klutz. Jimmy Carter – Peanut Farmer. Ronald Reagan – Cowboy. And so on.

one word brandsWhether or not the one word brands were accurate portrayals didn’t seem to matter, by the way. “Klutzy” Gerald Ford was actually an accomplished athlete who was voted most valuable player by his University of Michigan football team. Ford lettered three years in a row and played in the college all-star game. He even turned down offers to play in the NFL for both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. But SNL comedian Chevy Chase consistently depicted Ford tripping over himself and the nickname stuck. Similarly, Al Gore never actually said he invented the Internet just like Sarah Palin never said she could “see Russia from my house.”

Keep your eye on the election proceedings to see how Trump uses his time-proven technique to attack his Democratic opponent. And also watch to see if the Clinton campaign not only defines their candidate’s brand before Trump’s name can stick but also uses the same tactic against Trump himself. After all, what’s good for the gander should be good for the goose, too.

And maybe you should take another second or two and figure out what your one word brand is before someone else slaps you with a definition that you’re not so happy with.




Brand Positioning. Positioning Brands.

8 responses.

Brand Positioning. Positioning Brands.

Have you seen someone wearing a down jacket made by The North Face lately? Perhaps you noticed – and wondered –why their logo was not embroidered in the usual spot over the left front breast pocket. Instead The North Face logo is emblazoned on the back of the jacket, directly over the wearer’s right rear scapula.

Why do they do that?

Brand positioningOne of the things we’ve talked about here is the importance of brands expressing their authentic truth. Usually that’s done through design and positioning, with those disciplines being used to communicate what the brand is about and why it matters to its audiences. Great examples of authentic brand truths we’ve discussed include Bill O’Reilly, Volvo, Prince, and more. All of these brands position themselves to initiate and develop an interactive relationship with their consumers.

But just like Freud apocryphally said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” sometimes brand positioning is just positioning the brand.

Apple is probably one of the best practitioners of effective brand positioning and they do a lot of things to make you know their products are designed specifically with you in mind. For example, the sleep indicator light on Apple’s MacBook laptops blink between 12-20 times per minute, the same rate as the average adult’s respiratory rate. Having your laptop breathe right along with you is so important to Apple that they patented the idea in 2002.

Brand Positioning Macbook LogoBecause Apple’s brand positioning is so intimately personal, the company even positioned their logos upside down on their early laptops. That is, when the laptop was closed the logo on the cover was positioned to appear upright to the user but when the laptop was opened, the logo would appear upside down to anyone facing the user.

According to former Apple employee Joe Moreno, “Steve (Jobs) wanted to make sure that when a user sat down in front of their Mac the Apple logo was facing towards them, he didn’t care how an onlooker saw it.”

This caused a lot of problems for Hollywood and movie producers who would regularly affix logo stickers to Apple laptops so the logo would read correctly. But eventually the marketers at Apple were able to convince the powers that be that it was more important to the user that people walking into a Starbucks knew they were using an Apple than it was for the logo to be oriented to the user and the logo was flipped over.

After all, brands tell the world who their users are. Just like the gold crosses or silver Stars of David dangling from chains around our necks, the company logos on our shirts, shoes, and shiny objects become the badges of identification that signal the world how we want to be perceived.

As recently as 5/17/16 Forbes Magazine estimated Ralph Lauren’s wealth at $5.5 Billion. My guess is he’s worth more than most everyone who reads this blog. Yet somewhere in your closet there’s probably a shirt or belt or tie with Lauren’s logo on it. And you paid for it. That means you paid your own hard-earned money to advertise billionaire Ralph Lauren’s company for him. If billboard companies followed your lead and paid the companies they promoted they’d be out of business pretty quickly. And please spare me the argument that you don’t wear anything with Ralph Lauren’s logo on it. Because even if that’s actually true, Forbes says Phil Knight is worth $24.7 billion and I’ll bet you’ve got some Nike sneakers or athletic wear in your closet somewhere.

When brand positioning aligns with you (or what you aspire to be) then identification with that brand’s positioning becomes a big part of what you buy.

So why does The North Face embroider their logos on the backs of their jackets? Because even though the majority of The North Face’s products are probably worn in cities, the company positions itself as the brand of real skiers and hikers, both of whom spend a lot of time in lines (waiting for ski lifts or walking single file on trails) looking at the backs of the person in front of them. Not only are the backs of their jackets a good place for The North Face to have their logos seen but also an excellent way for The North Face to position themselves as authentic. Because while brand positioning is important, the positioning of the brand can be important, too.

After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

 




How To Create A Name For Your Business

2 responses.

How To Create A Name.

Create a name CreamscicleWhen I was a kid I worked in one of my parents’ restaurants. We sold pizza and hotdogs and sodas and soft serve ice cream. On the weekends at the busier stores we were go go go from open to close, handing food across the counter and grabbing bills and change to toss in the cash register.

One of our big sellers was a frozen dessert concoction made with orange juice and sugar and water. Besides looking and tasting great it had a great name: O-Joy. The name told you not only what was in the product (OJ) but just how much fun you’d have eating it. People even enjoyed ordering an O-Joy because of the great name.

One day we were playing around with the O-Joy and mixed one with vanilla ice cream. By sheer serendipity we created a delicious frosty treat that tasted just like an orange Creamsicle. It tasted so good, in fact, that we started selling them to our customers before we’d even made the orange and white blend an official menu item. Everyone loved them.

Create a nameA few weeks later, our genius marketing guy (not me thank you, remember I was a high school kid at the time) asked to create a name for our new dessert. A few weeks later he delivered the marketing materials for the new frozen orange juice and vanilla ice cream product with its new name: Son of O-Joy. His menu boards were designed to look like classic old horror movie posters complete with lurid typefaces, cheesy dramatic images, and lurid colors. The placards were clever and looked great. We hung them up with as much joy and excitement as we had eating the new dessert.

But nobody ordered our new treat.

Every so often, a regular customer would come in and ask for something like, “that vanilla ice cream with the frozen orange thing.” Or they’d just point at the poster and grunt. Even though we had hired a great talent to create a name, nobody would order a Son of O-Joy.

Eventually we gave up on the marketing campaign and renamed our delicious dessert Sno-Joy. After we put up the new poster – a simple line drawing with the product’s name and the price – Sno-Joys sold like proverbial hotcakes.

Today we have a client who’s creating a new national retail concept. He’s got a great idea, a fantastic location, and a highly-efficient vertical manufacturing and distribution system. Thanks to our work he’s also got gorgeous packaging and stunning promotional materials. The only problem is his company can’t create a name.

The first name he brought us was untrademarkable. We couldn’t buy the URL for the second. And each name he’s suggested since is either hard to spell, hard to pronounce, or just plain old embarrassing to pronounce. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to pay us to create a name.

Great products demand great names. Some of the ones we’ve created recently include an app for the private aviation industry (the Uber for private jets) called Personifly, a 1,000-foot landmark observation tower called Skyrise Miami, a restaurant chain that specializes in salads and vegetarian fare called Saladarity, a faith-based medical advocacy program called Advinity, and an outdoor park and concert facility called SoundScape.

Like Google and Airbnb, our new names all sound a bit odd to the ear the first time you encounter them but quickly tell you what the product offers and why it matters to you – either through the actual meaning of the words themselves or thanks to repeated usage of both the product and the name.

But perhaps more importantly, none of the names produce a roadblock to purchase like Son of O-Joy did. Powerful, evocative, and simple naming solutions is a lesson I learned long ago that is even more relevant in today’s world of Internet connections and short attention span consumers.

How do you create a name? Very carefully.




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