Tag Archives: Brand

Bare Naked Brand Names

Courtesy of Internet Business Law Journal  by Naseem Javed

Last century business names were colorfully dressed with uniquely stylized lettering, colorful logos, slogans and contextual support. This century, such ‘stylized dependency’ has been pushed over the cliff by neo-socio-mobile-media-lingo. They’re stripped and typed in black and white text as soundbite-sized ‘bare naked words’, blending into chat lines alongside abbreviations and numbing-mumbo-jumbo. The majority of big name brands are losing their luster. Powerful imagery from the old newspaper era of double sized full page ads are replaced by typed words on small portable devices.

Can you identify the high maintenance big brand names on the following social media chats?

…just checked the wind at the mall, grand service but tag too high…

…I have no option but united, they would know where my real goodies are…

… no matter what, for me prime is the way to go before I try orange or wave…

…and then she gave me a rolex…

Highly distinct brand names like ‘Rolex’ or Panasonic are identifiable in any typed conversation while diluted names like ‘United’ ‘Premier’ ‘Orange’, ‘Wave’ ‘Wind’ disappear in the bursts of text making no sense, causing confusion and least building any distinct name identity. Camouflaged brand names are only going to end up invisible.

Today, the socio-mobile-lingo-depository is the fastest growing and the largest communication pool in the world. Tweeting, Facebooking, MySpacing, YouSmiling, MeWatching, YouListening or Linkedining, alike have transformed name brands into ‘typed lingo’.

The largest majority of the last century names do not fit the next generation digital platforms. If global socio-mobile marketing is mandatory for high level results, names must pass a ‘nudity-test’: a name must be inserted into an everyday social media conversation and checked to see if it’s still identifiable or lost within the text. If it doesn’t, it provides instant proof why cash registers aren’t ringing and what’s killing all the potential sales.

Last century, when names with special styles of lettering appeared in full page ads, there was no need to clarify the meaning or connection of the name with the subject. ‘United Furniture’ with furniture arranged in shape of the letters, ‘United Logistics’ stylized with a large cargo ship or ‘United Bank’ with a monetary symbol and logo to create distinction. Everybody understood what was what.

Today, with some 250,000 different businesses around the world already using ‘United’ as a name brand, the typed word has to appear lost in the depths of the English dictionary. The name values and visibility for such style dependent names are dying on upstream and downstream social media.

In this socio-mobile-marketplace only the very small percentage of highly distinct names has a clear competitive advantage. Microsoft, Rolex and Panasonic are easily identifiable in any sentence, in any format without question.

Corporations are shy to face the nakedness of their own names. When the management of ‘United Logistics’ sees their name brand, they are so conditioned to first see the stylized logo, the slogan and the whole package, with a globe replacing the ‘o’ in the ‘logistics’, a tiny plane forming a circular line arching over the name and bold italic letters telling the fast dynamics of the logistic trade. Now try searching ‘united’ as an example on social media; it will demonstrate the instant erosion of a branded name identity.

Currently, studies show that the largest majority of business names are based on dictionary or geographic words followed by surnames and acronyms or initials. Less than 1% of business names are distinct and unique. While global ad expenditures are touching $700 Billion, why is this aspect of global naming complexity not on any syllabus at any of the MBA programs in the world? The question remains; what is the reason for this waste, and more importantly, who benefits from it?

After the massive success of social media, new domain name management platforms will further kindle huge fires up the major global branding and marketing services. A new stage is being set by ICANN the International Corporation of Assigned names & Numbers and their gTLD global top level domain name program, where name-centricity will drive the digital branding explosion. What should the brand owners do? Strip their business name clean of every support, attachment, and gimmick and assess the risk of them being lost in the crowd of common language. Without a professional name evaluation report the entire marketing and branding budget may be questionable.
A distinct name identity is what separates a name from a word; the stripped down identity test will prove this.

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is a globally recognized authority on corporate nomenclature and related issues of global naming complexities and especially market domination via name identity. He is a lecturer, syndicated columnist, and the author of Naming for Power.  www.abcnamebank.com

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10 Tips for Facebook and Twitter Success

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Courtesy of Julie Glassman and IMediaConnection.

There’s no denying the importance of social media. You get it. Your team gets it. The question is, do your customers care to get it, or are they tired of being asked to “like” everyone and everything they meet? The big problem nowadays, with endless tweets, friends, pages, profiles, and tags — is how to engage desired audiences in such a way that your brand is perceived as relevant.

In a world defined largely by social media — from business reviews to cultural revolutions — you cannot simply be where your customers are for the sake of being there. You must be there for a reason, and that reason must not be entirely, if at all, self-serving. Social interactions with customers must be authentic and transparent, and must also offer something real in exchange for eyeballs, consideration, and loyalty. Every “like” must be viewed as currency, and audiences must be rewarded for their willingness to accept you with something they deem valuable.

What steps must you take to be perceived as genuine? It’s simple really… You actually need to be genuine. Forgotten how? Here are 10 simple things to keep in mind.

The old, new truism: Know your audience. But for real this time.
Ever thought about your customers in a way that has nothing to do with your business? Ever wonder who they are when they are not buying your products or services? Do you know what matters to them intrinsically, from saving whales to raising children? If not, it’s high time you found out. Connecting is not simply about getting on Facebook or Twitter, but interacting with your customers, in authentic ways that resonate with them — deeply. How? In a move that may seem antithetical to traditional marketing wisdom, when it comes to social media, it’s better to be reactive than proactive. Instead of planning your next big social media stunt, spend some quiet time observing your customers’ social behavior online. Kick back, hang out, listen, learn — and then interact. The simple act of getting to know your audience means knowing what works for them… and, more importantly, what doesn’t. This will likely save you much time, money, and embarrassment in the future.

Choose your friends wisely
You’re only as good as the company you keep, so choose wisely. With all the groups and influencers available to you via social media, make sure to align yourself with those befitting of “who” you are and how you want to be perceived. Befriend appropriate influencers and communities, in real and meaningful ways, and their followers will ultimately extend their trust to your brand. In social media, not all press is good press. What matters most today is not just word-of-mouth, but the right words out of the right mouths.

Look at yourself through rose-colored glasses
So what if you sell shoes. You can also sell something far more important. Emotion. Ever wonder how Zappos created such a loyal following? By thinking about employees and customers with heart. In other words, Zappos deems itself not a retailer, but a customer service organization that, oh, by the way, sells stuff. How does this translate to social media? Zappos, a living, breathing, feeling organization, engages customers via prolific, company-wide Twitter use, providing a transparent, unedited glimpse, at the caring, fun, emotive employees (CEO included), behind the curtain. They also actively solicit customer feedback, via Facebook, so that users always feel heard — and, better yet, listened to and understood. The rewards for keeping it real. Bet you’ve bought something from Zappos in recent months, if not weeks or days?

What can we learn from this? No matter the offering, the important element is to identify one or two things that matter most to desired audiences. Whether it’s emotion, social conscience, giving back, or something as simple as savings, get it out there, to the right people in authentic, fun, simple, and social ways.

In the words of Sally Field, “You like me.” Well, no… actually they don’t.
According to a March 2011 Forrester Research report on the “digital behavior of young consumers,” people simply do not want to be friends with brands. So how do you earn the trust and endorsement of customers? Give them a reason to like you. Forget about what you are selling and focus your time and energy on your winning personality and character instead. You know how the hot girl always ends up with the smart, funny guy? Well, social media typically takes off when it entertains, endears, and ingratiates. More often than not, connecting legitimately comes down to exposing your weaknesses, taking yourself less seriously, making someone laugh, and just palling around.

Think about it: Would you want to be friends with your corporate persona?

Ask not what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers Social media is not just about acting sincere; it’s about being sincere. It’s not enough to simply say you care about something, but rather to demonstrate that you actually care. Identify what customers want or need from you and make it happen. Create opportunities for meaningful, two-way conversations. Solicit feedback, ask questions, get audiences involved in decision-making, or partner with someone or something that matters. Make sure, however, that your connections and queries are relevant and congruous to your existing brand, business, and practices and always, always follow through. If you ask what customers want or need, you must be prepared to change. Fake it and audiences will call BS on you faster than they can “unlike” you.

Conversely, just because customers say it’s so, doesn’t always mean they’re right. Use your head. You’re in charge for a reason. Consider audience feedback and needs in aggregate and through a seasoned marketing, sales and business lens. Just because one or two cyber bullies make a lot of noise doesn’t mean you can’t simply cover your ears. Case in point, Starbucks new logo is just fine people.

You care about me because I care
Brands need to stand up and take notice of things outside of themselves — with authenticity and humility. You can’t simply choose the cause of the day — “Hey look, we’re green” — but rather, pick something because it fits seamlessly with who you are and what you, and your audience, actually care about. Corporate social responsibility, awareness and action, must be congruent with the brand. Then, and only then, will it be perceived as real, engaging, inclusive, thoughtful, long-term and social.

When the going gets tough, go online
The web can be a dangerous place for brands these days. Ratings, reviews, rumors, pictures, video — consumers are more in control than ever before, and managing public opinion and perception can be next to impossible. That’s why being a legitimate, accepted participant in the online lives of key customers and influencers is mission critical. In other words, when things go wrong, you can turn to your “friends.” Social media puts you back in the driver’s seat, in real time, as you react (carefully) to the events, press, reviews, snafus, changes, and developments that affect consumer opinion and confidence. Haste, transparency, honesty, humility, and reverence can keep a potentially harmful story from going viral.

Change is good
Online, loyalty is not dependable. In fact, it means very little. What’s here today is most certainly gone tomorrow. Brands must keep their eyes on the ball, tracking trends, watching for audience fluctuations and never feeling too safe, too smug, or too comfortable. The truth is, you can never nail social media. One success can be followed by a major failure. The good news is that the web allows you to change anything and everything on the fly, and updates to your social media interactions and strategies needn’t be expensive nor ground breaking. Be careful not to be all over the map. Remember who you are and why audiences like you in the first place, and then focus on being relevant, fresh, inventive, and always one step ahead.

One cannot survive on social media alone
Don’t forget that real life matters. Social media does not exist in a vacuum and does not a successful company make. Everything you do online requires support; reinforcement and follow-through at other available customer touchpoints. Don’t expect users to know about, or understand, your social media initiatives without proper support elsewhere. The appropriate mix of promotional vehicles and campaigns is always a good idea. What’s more, even the best social networking cannot save you from a failed product, customer service interaction or business snafu. People will talk, so mind your Ps and Qs, socially and otherwise.

It’s social media, not brain surgery
In the end, perhaps we’re over-thinking things a bit. Do we plan this much before we go to a dinner party or a BBQ? Do we think about what we’re going to say when we meet a friend for coffee or a beer? Not really. So, what’s the most important lesson to be learned here? Get to know your audience, interact, engage, be real, and have fun doing so. It’s social media folks! Get the best version of yourself out there and simply be social.

Julie Glassman is the founder and partner of BRAND Consulting.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Brand, Tell Me a Story, Please

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Courtesy of MediaPost.

These are challenging times to work in marketing communications. The “big advertising idea” is no longer the be-all or end-all. Instead, designing stories around brands is crucial to “social selling” to customers who are media-savvy and increasingly suspicious of traditional marketing techniques.

Social media requires compelling storytelling to thrive. As businesses struggle to break through the marketing noise, brand stewards are finding it effective to craft stories that focus on achieving brand goals while giving customers a sense of what a brand stands for. Brand storytellers who embrace social media recognize that emotion is the currency their communities trade-in. For a brand to connect with its communities, it must tell captivating stories that allow fans to become emotionally invested.

A brand must define itself clearly, articulate its core values, and communicate consistently, but that can happen only when a brand defines its narrative. Content strategy doesn’t just apply to copy but to visual media as well. Storytelling is an important part of the user experience and, at the end of the day, if a brand’s stories are not tailored to audience needs and organizational goals, you are wasting time and money.

Commitment Comes First

To implement successful campaigns, senior management must commit to building storytelling into its overall communications strategy. This sounds obvious, but is too often the missing link. Storytelling can help organizations stand out by fostering emotional connections that provide the building blocks of long-lasting relationships. Hearing stories about your company’s work gives your audiences another reason to care about the brand, and why they should support its initiatives.

Once a storytelling plan is green-lighted, a strategic approach to content development tactics is required. Enter content strategy, which provides a framework to plan content, its delivery and management. So let’s get started:

Prioritize target audiences, concentrating messaging around groups with the most influence. Learn what those audiences want (research and analytics), then focus brand stories around the content that delivers the most hits. Deliver content in the form that your audiences want, whether it’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, etc. And, don’t forget to consider traditional media, which are always looking for the next great story. Plan your stories to supplement content on your Web site, then create an editorial calendar to manage the campaign over time.

Develop stories that emotionally convey your message, compel action, and have viral potential. Empower your audiences to support the relationship by giving them something to do! Provide the means to donate, volunteer, share stories, etc. Make it worth their while by showing how they will personally gain by leveraging incentives that benefit your organization and brand community.

Stories are formulaic, so try techniques that journalists use. The 5Ws: who, what, when, where and why/how remain the basic building blocks of any good story. Try to fit in as many as possible when building your marketing materials.

1. Meaning Why is this important? Why should customers care?

2. Importance What’s the big picture? How does your product/service fit in?

3. Human Interest What are the customer goals, achievements

4. Prominence Add credibility – name partners/experts

5. Timeliness Is this a product launch or an thought leadership campaign?

6. Proximity What does the campaign target?

Always keep in mind the key elements of what it means to be human. In every campaign, design the elements to elicit an emotional response, to share knowledge or address a customer need. Your brand community should feel they are getting something of value from the time they spend interacting with your marketing campaign.

Finally, be honest in everything your brand says. There are countless examples of fudged facts, outright lies and omissions that have damaged brand reputations from Enron to Walmart, J&J to BP, and require substantial expenditures of corporate capital and energy to repair.

Winning brands tell great stories that connect emotionally to key stakeholders. To develop your storytelling skills, study the classics, strive to understand their structure, form and the ingredients that make a great story.

Will the Dot Com Kingdom Collapse?

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Courtesy of Internet Business Law Services

Once ICANN approves the new super-powered gTLD domain names, what will happen to the some 200 million strong dotcom domain name kingdom? Will the new gTLDs and their massive sub-domain traffic of unlimited brand extensions create global cyber identity chaos? Will global trademark wars erupt on several legal fronts? Will cyber-squatting hit the fan? Relax no such things.

Surely, the sudden influx of 1000 new powerful gTLDs will create the biggest buzz, as overnight hyper-visibility and marketing coups of various old and new brands will steal the show. Currently, a regular dotcom costs USD $10, but this new gTLD about USD $500,000 each. However the markets will face some serious questions about this new style of hyper-cyber-branding poised for global market domination.

After all, the new gTLDs are never supposed to be for everyone, as they can only be custom fitted to very special type of business ventures with very specific features and combinations. On the other hand, the fanfare of massive influx gTLDs will further infuse renewed interest in global cyber branding expansion, enticing new ventures, putting higher demands for regular domain registrations. The dotcom kingdom will shine even more. The drama of gTLD approval will unfold making front page stories around famous and unknown name identities incubated to their overnight meteoric successes showcasing their smart strategies; equally some failures will also provide disastrous experiences and separate the winners and losers.

The other primal fear of dotcoms losing their power is based on the structural differences between the two types of domain names. Current $10 dollar domain like Sony.com is a suffix-based name, while a $500,000 GTLD, is a suffix-less, domain root like dotSony. No need to worry as the global markets will learn very quickly as they did in differentiating the @ symbol for email and the .com as
a suffix of a URL. A good educational campaign from ICANN is anticipated to educate the global audience. How and why the usability of this new type domain will bring revolutionary powers to a brand, huge savings of costs and image expansion time, while changing the future of the internet requires a very special knowledge.

Nevertheless, the gTLD game is sophisticated and requires a strong qualified team to play. Branding industry and trademark professionals, over and above their special craft should consider acquiring world-class nomenclature skills, to manage name usability, suitability and marketability issues with deeper understanding of global naming in order to have any authoritative say in this competitive arena.
The Trembling Trademark Owners

Why so much fear is being created against the gTLD in the name of protecting global trademark owners? Say, if ICANN, somehow, allowed a third party a gTLD called .panasonic, will the sky fall? No, not at all, as Panasonic, the true and rightful trademark holder will hit the unauthorized gTLD with a club and no judge would oppose issuing a cease-and-desist order. So are there enough empty
headed candidates to apply for such globally recognized and protected names? No, why would someone spend USD $500,000 and months to get such a name approved? The problem is not here, it is on the other side of the trademark spectrum where weak and deadbeat trademarks based on diluted names, but protected in narrow classification in search of a global presence are clashing with each other all over the world.

When ICANN issues a third party a gTLD ””””dot united””””, will all of the 113,647 existing large and small businesses worldwide using ””””united”””” name panic? No they cannot. Exclusive global ownership of the word ””””united”””” was never their cup of tea in the first place. It was always ””””disclaimed”””” in each and every one””””s trademark application for being a dictionary word.

They knew all along that there are over 100,000 identical names floating in the market place; United Airlines, United Bank, United Church, United Way, United Trust, United Bakeries, United Taxis, United Trucks, and United Logistics. Why will they hit the ceiling in rage now? They will not. Coy they will be, and embarrassed as they are, aware of the high dilution of their name they will stay mum. They will simply protect their own basic turf, under their specific classifications of trademark ””””wares””””, they simply cannot declare war and stop anyone using the name ””””united.”””

This is how the majority of the business names are. Open any trade directory in any city and the proof is right there. Somehow, the senior management always buries the name-weakness issues under the rug and keeps pushing the brand name even if it means losing its exclusive ownership in the long run. So long you can open a hotdog stand in the lobby of United Airlines, called United Doggies, as United Airlines has no exclusive ownership to the name ””””united”””” like ironclad
exclusive marks Rolex, Panasonic or Sony, diluted names are becoming a joke and a total waste of branding budgets.

So of the 100 thousand major businesses using United, who will end up owning dot-United gTLD and what will the other 99% do for their long term image expansion on the global front poses some very serious questions. The answer may not be forthcoming as the management of these organization were always convinced that they have been the true ””””united”””” name brand leaders, whether they exclusively own the name or not. Currently, 94% businesses around the world have such dysfunctional names and their branding agencies and law firms both have some serious responsibilities and challenges to find them the right strategies

Showrooms, not garages

If ICANN creates a gTLD garage, agencies should create cyber showrooms. ICANN, rightfully from its inception, is a very superior technical organization, surrounded by teams of highly intelligent people working on the long-term integrity of the Internet. Like a real high-tech garage full of engineers and mechanics designing high speed luxury cars, they are rolling out the great new gTLD program.

But what the image brokers and ad agencies now need are not garages but rather showrooms, where prospective customers could comfortably see the finished models, smell the interiors and take the cyber vehicles for the test drive.But there are two serious lingering questions, first, how to approach it with all the special prerequisite necessary to articulate such topics and what to recommend with solid and proven strategies to complete the full circle and close the deals.

It””””s all about this colossal shift of the old methods of branding and marketing communication to globally accessible, instantly scalable and almost free digital medium where the domination of globally workable world-class cyber name identities provide the spearhead and hyper-visibility. To play the modern games of massive new customer acquisition, it””””s about, eat-sleep-work-local & think-market-play-global. Unfortunately 99% businesses names are not capable to expand globally. This creates a major opportunity to educate the corporate leadership on this new global reality and bring in positive changes.

Therefore, as a starter the global corporate landscape urgently needs professional Name Evaluation Reports to professionally lay out senior level discussion contents and openly tackle the name identity issues. What better way for branding agencies to bring in a massive re-organization of the corporate nomenclature on a grand scale and start helping clients with new vigor and power, and assist them professionally with right world-class tools to win the next layers of global wars of image and
name identity domination?

END.

Naseem Javed, is recognized as a world authority on global naming complexities. He is currently helping corporations on ICANN””””s new gTLD cyber-platforms and lecturing on corporate nomenclature frontiers and global cyber-branding. Naseem is also conducting series of exclusive webinars on how to achieve iconic name status worldwide. http://www.abcnamebank.com .