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Guest Blog: “Bootylicious and BlackBerry Jam”

Though Rapport is a full service marketing firm with great expertise inside, we often call on outside experts to help us with specialized work. If a client calls us looking for a comprehensive naming exercise, we call Andris Pone, co-author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo* (*It’s what people think of you). Below is the first of three excerpts – enjoy!

From Chapter 15:  Great Names Mean Business

by Andris Pone, president of Coin, the naming company.

Notice that with Hotel Gelato and LikeWise, the positioning statements capitalize on the opportunity to continue the story told by the name. Stay for dessert uses layers of meaning to enhance both the “hotel” and “gelato” aspects of Hotel GelatoJust what you need reinforces the “like” but not identical features of the national Brand.

Then consider the name BlackBerry. It opens up all kinds of opportunities, which BlackBerry has mostly squandered, for telling stories that perpetuate the Brand. However, to their credit, BlackBerry created a support program, called BlackBerry Jam, for people who develop applications for BlackBerrys. Then they came up with Jam Sessions, an initiative for developer collaboration. Beautiful. So why can’t they come up with an enduring positioning statement – one more integrated than past attempts like Love what you do, A bold enhancement or Act on inspiration?

Job 4:  Be Distinct

Your Brand is unique. Your name should be too.  So please don’t add to the infinite number of names that copycat Apple’s system of names starting with i. Same goes for anything ending in -ia, -opia, –licious or –city, which were inspired by the likes of Expedia, Fruitopia, Bootylicious and Travelocity, but have now been done. To death. They’re just not differentiating anymore. If you have any names like these on your shortlist, cross them out or risk sounding stale and contrived.

Fact is, distinctiveness is a seriously high bar when you consider that the name you want, even if it’s a word you (think you) made up, is probably already in use by someone else. This could present legal issues if you operate in the same industry or jurisdiction as your twin, but the challenge is even greater than that.

For example, now that we have the Internet and Google, people will find out that your ad agency in Ohio has the same name as an ad agency in Alberta (one that might even rank higher than you in search returns). Ad agencies are supposed to be creative, and a name that isn’t unique knocks your brilliance down a notch. Even if you’re not in a creative industry, your thoroughly thrashed-out Brand Foundation is supposed to have a strong difference, which implies a different name.

Job 5:  Be Memorable

It should go without saying that if people can remember your Brand’s name, it will serve you much more effectively. The qualities that make a name memorable overlap with several of the other jobs – it needs to be remark-able, distinct and communicate the Brand Foundation, for example.

In addition, memorable names are almost always:

  • Short (they have one, two, or three syllables)
  • Meaningful (by conveying multiple layers of meaning)
  • Easy to spell and pronounce
  • Pleasing to the ear

And finally, memorable names definitely DO NOT have initials.

Next installment: How many billion have you spent?

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