What’s In A Name

What’s In A Name Feb 09, 2012

Celebrities name their children after fruit, colors, numbers and even cities. (Or in the case of one psuedo-celebrity, Press. Yes, Press, for all the attention she allegedly did and will receive.) Us common-folk laugh at birth certificates filled with words more commonly used on spelling flash cards for first graders. But the stand-out-in-the-crowd naming mentality does not start or stop with preschoolers hounded by the paparazzi.

These superlative skills also flood companies and products. Want something in HD, you get your pick of makeup, movies or sunglasses. Then there’s extreme (or EXTREME or even X-TREME) for games, pop or memory cards. And the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show introduced ultra – ultrabooks, ultracomputers and ultratelevisions.

Add to all of this, 3-D and ultimate, and you get the Ultra Ultimate Extreme HD 3-D phone, television, computer, apple, car or pajama jeans (ok, that may be a little extreme).

But it begs the question – Does an avalanche of adjectives actually help sell a product by moving it into the sphere of talked-about-ness, or does it end up disappointing? Does a name in itself create credibility, or cause chaos in an already overwhelmed marketplace?

Maybe in the end it’s not what’s in a name, but what’s in the product itself. If we sell people on exaggerated expectations, we often end up with disappointed consumers. So if a name brings with it the showmanship of an Elton John costume, but also delivers, it does the consumer some good by delivering what it promises. But when we brand an object outside of its personality and label it for headlines and not accuracy, well, it ends up like a 72-day Kardashian wedding, a lot of talk and even more gifts that should be returned.

And then there’s the guy who named his sons Winner and Loser. Names hold power, but the product (or the person) holds even more. As for naming children, she may not be a celebrity outside of her own yard, but we named our pug Mayhem Awesome. Unfortunately, as our furniture proves, she did not over-hype her name.

– Jolene

“Adjective” Photo by Procsilas Moscas, “Mayhem” photo by Jolene Loetscher

Is Your Marketing Genuine?

TrueWe live in a world where it’s hard to cover up the truth. The digital era has led to instant, unfiltered product reviews. Products or services are praised—and more often berated—via Facebook updates or tweets. Blog posts offer the “inside scoop” on a business’s actions, good or bad.

Which ultimately means, in this day and age, that you can’t afford to have dishonest marketing.

    • If you position your business as having “Unrivaled Customer Service” on all of your marketing materials, but your only “customer service” is an automated “Press 1 for account information” response, you are misleading your customers.
    • If you say your restaurant “uses only the freshest ingredients” and has “the friendliest staff in town,” but your salads are full of brown, withered lettuce and your waiters are simply “waiting” for their next smoke break, your customers will notice…and they’ll tell their friends.
    • If your commercials offer the “fastest delivery in town” and people are waiting 45 minutes for their sandwiches, it won’t be long before your myth of a selling point is publicly debunked, Mythbusters-style.

Bottom line? Misleading your customers will catch up to you, whether it’s in the form of an online review or an angry, negative tweet. The digital world has made transparency not just a preference, but a full-fledged expectation. And if you aren’t marketing yourself genuinely, it won’t be long before the world finds out (and shares the news with its entire social network).

As a final example, think about Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film, “The Shining.” Many people consider it the scariest movie they’ve ever seen. So imagine how outraged moviegoers would have been if they’d gone into the movie expecting this:

Most of us know the real movie is not quite as…cheery…as this mock-trailer would have you believe. Keep that in mind when you think about your upcoming marketing efforts. Because if you’re trying to pull the wool over your customers’ eyes, the only person who will end up fooled is you.

Keep it genuine. It’ll pay off in the long run.

-Mike B.

What’s your experience with disingenuous marketing? Do you tell your network when you feel like a company or business has mislead you? Which companies do you think truly stick to their brand promise? Let us know with a comment!

Photo by Keng Susumpow. Thanks Keng!

The Building Doesn’t Make the Business

How important are your building and location to your business’s success? I ask because, on my recent visit to a few CarHop stores, I learned something important about this subject. Specifically, branding and sticking to your brand promise.

Aurora Store v2To give you some background, when it comes to opening new locations, CarHop tends to move into previously used spaces rather than building new stores from scratch. It has been a successful facet of their business model, but it leads to an interesting aspect of their stores – no two CarHop stores are the same. At least, physically.

Some are larger and more open (such as the former restaurant space in Burnsville, MN), while some are small and more confined (such as the former gas station space in Omaha, NE or the old Sonic Drive-In in Kansas City, MO). Although many businesses rely on each space they occupy to look and feel the same—Sonic, Target, etc.—as part of their branding efforts, CarHop doesn’t have that luxury. So they have to deliver on a different level.

They have to offer a distinct brand promise that doesn’t come from a building’s shape, size or signage.

Colorado Springs v2See, it’s not the building that matters when it comes to a CarHop experience. It’s the people inside the building that really make the difference. CarHop promises customers they will be “Helping People Drive®  with honesty, fairness and respect,” and each and every CarHop employee strives to fulfill that promise.

And because employees are so dedicated to keeping that promise, you quickly learn that the space is not the most important part of the CarHop brand. No matter the shape, size or location, CarHop’s strongest brand aspect is its commitment to customers and its fulfillment of that promise. The way customers are treated and the way they react to that treatment is a stronger affirmation of CarHop’s brand promise than any building layout or location.

Can your business say the same? If you had to move into a building with an entirely different image than your current location, would customers still feel as strongly about stopping by your place of business or working with your company? If you’re not quite sure of the answer, you may want to take a page out of CarHop’s book on customer commitment and brand promise to see what effect it has on your business.

It’s not the building that makes your business. It’s what goes on inside the building that makes the business.

-Mike B.

Is Your Business Ready For The Future (according to Google)?

Back To The FutureGoogle recently gave a keynote address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference in New York where they discussed a topic many innovative companies focus on – the future. Specifically, how the world of display advertising will look in the year 2015.

Although the full blog post is worth a read, here are some of the key elements we took from their keynote address:

• “With smartphone growth skyrocketing, mobile is going be the number one screen through which users engage with advertisers’ digital brands.”

Think about that. Four years from now, Google predicts the most used screen for digital brands won’t be desktop computers or even laptops, but mobile connections like smartphones. Have you considered how to advertise your brand through mobile phones rather than just traditional digital advertising methods?

• “Just like most news articles on the web today can be commented on, shared, discussed, subscribed to and recommended, in 2015, 75 percentof ads on the web will be “social” in nature—across dozens of formats, sites and social communities.”

Within the next five years, 75% of ads will be “social.” Interactive ads and digital engagement practices won’t be the rarity, they’ll be the majority. And Google isn’t talking about “click this banner ad for more info” type of engagement. They mean full-fledged, multi-platform, interactive campaigns that will leave traditional digital advertising (in its present day form) seem archaic at best.

Of course, Google wouldn’t present this info (and more) if they didn’t have a vision for their own role in the evolving display advertising landscape. Amongst the many technologies they play to employ, one of the most fascinating is the vision they have for their “Google Goggles” project.

• “You might be familiar with Google Goggles, a way to search the web on mobile devices just by taking a picture. We gave a preview of some experimental uses of Google Goggles that could one day enable advertisers to deliver great display ads to users. Imagine pointing your phone’s camera at an ad for a car in a magazine, and having the car appear in 3D in your mobile device. Or pointing at a movie poster and having the movie trailer play in the device, right in your hand. No QR codes, no downloads!”

Needless to say, Google presents some compelling reasons to start investing in your online marketing and advertising strategy. While Google isn’t the be-all / end-all in the marketing world, their vision for the future of advertising certainly isn’t unrealistic.

Whether or not you choose to embrace the potential and use it to your advantage is up to you. And if you want help using it to your advantage, drop us a line.

Photo by popculturegeek.com. Thanks!

Driving brand management (in the real world)

Imagine a perfect Saturday afternoon. You’re driving down the street when you look in your rearview mirror and discover that, seemingly out of nowhere, a large pickup truck is riding your tail and isn’t letting up.

Your blood boils. You’re already going the speed limit. In fact, you might even be going a few miles per hour over the speed limit. You think, “Why is this idiot so desperate to get past me?” Then you get over to let them pass and, as they speed by, you notice an “Anderson Construction” or “Jackson Bros. Plumbing” logo along the side of the truck. And you think to yourself, “Well I’m never using THOSE jerks in the future.”

Unfortunately, that’s what happened to me last weekend. Odds are you’ve experienced the same at least once or twice in your life.

As a business owner or manager, can you really afford to have drivers leaving such a negative impression of your business on potential customers? Of course not. But, for some reason, it happens more than it ever should as far as I’m concerned.

In an era where business owners are increasingly concerned about the next “viral campaign” or “engaging” on their Facebook page, maybe they should remember to train their employees on reputation management in other important markets like, you know, real life.

I know everybody can have a bad day and people are people, but if you’re going to slap your logo on the side of a truck and let employees drive it around town, remind them that they are no longer Johnny Anonymous. They represent your business now, and, unless your business doesn’t care for new customers, they should probably drive like it.

Think of it this way: A little bit of brand management from the start will do a lot to keep your employees from driving me crazy – and driving me away from your business.

-Mike B.

How about you: have you dealt with similarly frustrating experiences? As a business owner, have you trained your employees to represent your brand with class and professionalism? Let us know your thoughts on either question in the comments below.

Photo c/o nick@. Thanks Nick!