Analysis, Branding, In the news, Uncategorized


It’s good to be back!!

Yesterday I had a very informative conversation with a client of mine with a deep marketing background. The topic centered around “Web 2.0” companies and could small to midsized, non “Web 2.0” companies, borrow some of the same concepts to grow market share and brand awareness, social networking, and focused marketing strategies leveraging social networks. What immediately came to mind was “Web 2.0” companies have attitude, and tons of it.

These companies have bold refreshing websites, take a strong position, will call out the big dogs or have an enemy in mind, and have attitude for days. They usually make it incredibly easy to connect with customers, other companies, and recruits. These companies tend to make extremely good limited feature products that are incredibly easy to use. Personally when these characteristics are exhibited, I am attracted like a moth to a flame. In these recessionary times, I actually want to patronize these people.

Here are some examples taken from some of my favorite companies right now…

Web applications today are too limited. They’re hard to use and don’t play well together. They’re also incredibly difficult to build. We want to change that. — 280North

Balsamiq Studios LLC is a fresh little software company, focused on adding flavor to your Web Office suite.
Life’s too short for bad software. Most applications have too many buttons, are ugly and boring. We focus on small problems, so that we can solve them really well.

The entire About us page at MailChimp.

Here are three examples of attitude presented in a tasteful manner that instantly separates these companies from the umpteen millions of large and small companies and firms that all seem to want to provide value, and are focused on customer service. When is the last time you heard AT&T talk about how they were focused on providing a kickass telecom network and customer service to support their myriad of consulting services. Can you even find out what consulting and data center hosting services they offer in less than 1 minute?  Thus it is no surprise that large companies and mid-sized companies that want to be large corporate titans are having a difficult time using social networks to spread the word about their brand. It’s kinda hard to get twitter followers if your boring and monolithic. Luckily there is help, but I wonder how dynamic can you really be when your’re so large and can’t shake the irresistible urge to be conservative.

Here is an example of a marketing services agency that got it right.

Social Media isn’t a gimmick. It isn’t a fad. It’s not going away.
Social Media presents new and exciting opportunities for brands to
better understand and connect with their customers online. At Spring
Creek Group, we help our clients monitor and analyze their brand equity
online, develop their social media marketing strategy, and build their
social media brand presence and customer engagement programs. — Spring Creek Group

Talk about a tightly focused, strong position, introductory statement that really draws you in. It really isn’t that hard to do.+10 points for this description of their team:

Our team at Spring Creek Group consists of a growing group of Project Leads, Analytics & Measurement Leads, and Engagement Leads. Our titles don’t map to traditional marketing and advertising agencies, because our services and business model are quite a bit different than typical agencies. We are organized from the ground up to focus on our clients’ needs and driving brand insights and awareness in the social media channel.

You know who else is showing tons of attitude in a very engaging ad campaign…. Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, a subsidiary of FEMSA (NYSEFMX) and better known right now for Dos Equis. “The Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign is another great example of a larger organization showing some attitude using the social networks to their advantage, and getting results for their brand. At this point who isn’t a fan of Dos Equis on Facebook? Who (unless you’ve been living under a rock) hasn’t seen those commercials on TV or YouTube.

However, to be fair, there are some large entities showing plenty of attitude in the midst of a downright brawl. Apple and Microsoft have been slugging back and forth for awhile now and their ads are indeed entertaining. In fact Microsoft has been showing a bit too much attitude because apparently Apple wanted the Laptop hunter ads to be removed. I’ll save my comments for later about what I think of Apple’s course of action on this, but it is worth noting that these two companies are definitely taking a stand and their attitude and fight are showing in their ads. I literally joked with Mikal that the “I’m a Mac” ads were a sucker punch to the head by Apple, and I was curious to see what the retaliation would be. It took a while, but eventually Microsoft came back swinging. That’s attitude, that’s where the web and popular culture is going, and people need to get on board.

What other “traditional” aka non Web 2.0 companies are showing some attitude either on their websites, or as a part of their marketing strategy?

— Justin

The Brand Mason’s Peer Review: 7 Common Cents Naming Insights

Branding, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by The Brand Mason (Steven Mason), a marketing, communications and naming artisan. Follow on twitter: @thebrandmason
Over the past 22 years, Steven has been a marketing executive at—and consultant to—public and private Internet security/networking, enterprise software, B2B platform, e-Business firms, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms, as well as a teacher of subjects as diverse as compiler (computer language translator) design and English grammar, mechanics and usage.
Here, he revisits the
7 Common Cents Insights for Brand Naming by adding clarity, context, and an alternative viewpoint. Contact The Brand mason at steven [at]

In his previous post, Mikal offered 7 Common Cents Insights for Naming Your Product/Company:

  1. The product is what matters
  2. There is no best way
  3. A name is just one component of a brand
  4. Do a competitive analysis
  5. Don’t commit any fatal errors
  6. Consider tying to something already understood
  7. A great name will help you, everything else is incremental

This post will function as an open peer review of the concepts presented.

1. The product is what matters

I would express this idea a bit differently. First, a great name can launch a bad product, but the product is unlikely to engender loyalty. If it depends on repeat buys, it will fail. If it’s a one-time, one-trick-pony, on the other hand, this may work. (I’m not endorsing this, because I think the modus operandi is a fundamentally dishonest one: I am simply making an observation.) Second, I advise looking carefully at the authenticity of the attributes/qualities suggested by the name. There must be a direct connection between what the name suggests/evokes and the ability of the product/company to deliver on same. Listerine used this very effectively: the name intentionally sounds medicinal; everyone “knows” medicines taste bad; therefore, they used a negative attribute which “proved” bactericidal effectiveness. My view is that the lack of a clear, strong nexus between a name (and tagline) and the benefits of the product/company is one of the biggest problems in naming.

Where I would disagree with you is that I view a name as an overarching concept that integrates all salient aspects/attributes of the brand, rather than as a component of the brand. The name is the “word that stands in” for the brand—i.e., an invented concept that must be reified to be made useful. Metonymy in action.

(continue to read The Brand Masons take on the six other naming insights)

7 Common Cents Insights for Naming Your Product / Company

Branding, Uncategorized

Naming a better mousetrap

Part 1 in what is likely to be an ongoing series across multiple blogs on naming a company.

Naming your company or a project is serious business. If you’re anything like me naming the beast is on the critical path to designing the website or lay out. I’ve gone through this experience recently with Jon Pincus and the process is on going.

I’ve gone through the naming process more than a few times, with everything from BlueLounging (Brandon, and my first project together a textbook exchange hub) to this blog to StickyTAG. Its always an interesting experience. I’ll speak to some of my lessons.

  1. The product is what matters. I want to put this upfront to make it clear, that a great name and a bad product is about as useful as sunblock in a snowstorm. So yes while naming the beast matters – you always need to put things in context and understand that its one component of the overall brand.
    (continue to read six more Common Cents Naming Insights for your product or company)