Nice wrap by Steve Rifkin, brand adviser and naming expert. In my mind, with the market in a moribund state and accusations traditional marketing is dead, naming becomes even more central to the stand out proposition:
Big Ass Fans is a new national advertiser. They sell the world’s most efficient ceiling fans, in diameters from 5 to 24 feet. The company started life as the High Volume Low Speed Fan Company, before adopting an irreverent new moniker. (The company claims it changed names after repeatedly hearing customers say, “Man, that’s a big-ass fan.”)
Christian Dior went against the grain of romantic, flowery perfume names with its Poison brand.
A Louisiana pharmacist concocted a soothing diaper rash balm that worked so well, local athletes started using it. He called it Butt Paste. Now you can buy it at Wal-Mart.
Redneck Bank, based in Mustang, Oklahoma, is the online banking division of Bank of the Wichitas. (As the first line of their website says, “Yep, we’re a real bank.”)
When you pick an irreverent, outlandish name for your brand, is it a desperate way to call attention to yourself? A clever way to differentiate yourself? A tactic only for a fringe brand? Or something else?
We went to our panel of experts for their points of view, and they cautioned that this approach is by no means for everyone.
- JACK TROUT, renowned marketing strategist, best-selling author and founder of a consulting firm with partner offices in 25 countries:
“We are indeed in an era of crazy names that people are using as a way to attract attention. The reason is that in category after category, more and more names are born as categories divide. (It’s the Immutable Law of Division.) Successful brands such as Google, Smucker’s and Roach Motel have encouraged others to get a little crazy as a way to be more memorable. But beware, your product has to have a good story behind it, not just an attention-getting name. (With Roach Motel, the roaches check in but they don’t check out.)”
- ERIN McKEAN, lexicographer, founder and CEO of the online dictionary Wordnik, formerly the principal editor of The New Oxford American Dictionary:
“Irreverent names only work if they are authentic, and have a real origin story. Otherwise they can seem out-of-touch and desperate (like Poochie, the cartoon dog ‘with an attitude,’ from the episode of The Simpsons where the producers of ‘Itchy and Scratchy”’ decide the show needs an ‘update’). I think it’s harder for a big multinational to come up with an irreverent name — they work best for mom & pop or small operators who can show a direct involvement with the story of the name.”
- DEAN CRUTCHFIELD, independent branding guru, former executive for global brand consultancies within WPP and Omnicom, and Forbes.com columnist:
“In our era of reality TV, there’s plenty of bandwidth for evocative brand name strategies, especially if it literally speaks to a company’s central premise. The best names communicate who, what, why or an attitude. They’re a cornerstone of a brand — so any which way, but stand out! As long as it’s sustainable.”
Shareability is being talked up as the new ROI, its relevance due to the 4-Screen world billions of us are interfacing with in our daily toils. From the TV to the Laptop, to the smart phone and the tablet, the interface is critical in capturing attention and enticing shareability.
Word of mouth is the number one influencer of purchases and consequently interface plays a key role in our ‘social sharing’ way of life. Therefore, is interface design becoming more important than a brand’s core identity? And should interface take the lead in the approach to branding? It does throw open a good debate on the role of brand and the sum of its parts.
I’m off to the cinema (the 5th screen:).