Your brand: Some advice for common sense brand name and design

Let me preface this article with some truths. I have never had my own company, owned or even created my own brand.

That said, I hereby offer some simple tips to follow when creating and naming your new business or brand. So without further ado:

1. Your name doesn't have to mean anything. But make sure it rolls off the tongue

It helps if your brand is nice to say. There are some brands that we like because we like to say them. Because it sounds cool to say them. These include:

  • Google
  • Radiohead
  • 37 Signals
  • Wagamama
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Flickr

In case you were wondering, they don't include:

  • Gillette Mach 3
  • Commodore 64
  • Phil Collins
  • Deloitte Touce Tohmatsu

Be catchy.

2. Killing acronyms and saving syllables

If you've got a long name you could shorten it to an acronym. It worked for a strong brand like Kentucky Fried Chicken afterall.

But unless you've got a really strong brand, don't bother. If your customers don't know what your acronym stands for, they're not likely to call you, are they?

Also, you shouldn't reduce your name to acronyms if you're not saving syllables. KFC cuts it down from 6 syllables to 3. Hewellet Packard halves 4 into 2 to get hp. But there was no benefit for Pan Am to change their name to PA. You'll never hear me calling myself BR either.

(This idea orginated in the book Positioning. Quite ann old book now, but the idea remains relevent)

3. Long or short? Long … or short.

There are exceptions, but your brand name should be either long or short. Not in-between.

Long names like "I can't believe it's not butter" or "Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs" stand out. Short names like "Squidoo" or "Flock" or "Skype or "Apple" do too.

Don't put yourself in the middle though. Brands like "General Motors", "New Balance" or "The Herald Sun" seem rather dull.

4. Invite your brand to a party!

I got this tip from my FMCG days and I still think that it's a good one.

Something that you should think of when you are creating a brand is it's personaility. What would your brand be like if he/she were a person?

And how would your brand behave if you invited them to a party? Would they be outgoing? Interesting? Would they ask questions, or would they just talk about themselves all night? Would they eat all the food? Steal beer from your fridge?

If you are too embarrased to invite your brand along, you might not want to launch it either.

5. Is your brand readable?

If you're reading this blog, I'm sure that you're aware that we live in an over-communicated society. If you actually get the chance to show someone your brand, at least make it readable and as memorable as possible.

You simply need good design these days – it should be central to your strategy. So no hard-to-read fonts. No logos that don't jump off the page. A brand that is difficult to read is not that different to a rude receptionist – it can destroy the first impression of your business.

6. Don't follow the crowd – not even the coolest crowd

I'm always inspired by new graphic design. But designers tend to copy each other from time to time.

It can be easy to get caught up in the latest design trends. At the moment everyone's making their brand shiny. A few years ago it was drop shadows. Before that it was purple or orange logos everywhere.

Keep your eye on good new design. There will always be loads of new design that you'll be tempted to adapt. But don't forget to stand out from the crowd. Even if it's a cool one.

8. And finally … watch the spelling

If you spend any time online, you have probably noticed that everyone is mispelling brand names right now. , , and even Google are all misspelt.

My advice to you – just because the bloggers and web 2.0 community are doing it doesn't mean you have to. You have to make yourself as findable as possible both online and off. So unless you have a very good reason to use zany misspellings, don't.

This has been my longest post to date. I think I might go and have a little lie down now.

A little better, never perfect …

“A little better, never perfect” is the tagline that Camper shoes use to promote their environmentally aware wabi range.

The shoes are great, and so is the brand positioning. It is the best example I know of a brand that recognises that we are only human, and that we are allowed to admit our shortcomings.wabi.jpg

Consumers don’t expect your brand or business to be perfect. So don’t try to be.

Wow – Technorati has cracked 30 million

OK, so perhaps the center gravity is shifting. Maybe Blogs are no longer the be all and end all as we see explosions other social and web 2.0 media zones like podcasts, mash-ups and YouTube – not to mention your del.icio.uses and your flickrs. Of course the list goes on.

But as I log into Technorati today, there are now 31 million blogs listed. This compares to 20.7 million just over 4 months ago when I started this blog.

Let’s not forget how truly incredible it is that blogging is still growing at such an amazing rate.

The carbon negative club

Right now there is a lot activity in the “carbon offsetting” game. It’s great to hear so many stories about people, brands, businesses and even rock concerts that are going carbon neutral to do their bit for the planet.

I am optimistic that we are all beginning to get this – That’s why I like what the Carbon Trust are doing. And I can’t wait for the launch of Shea Gunther’s OffsetMyLife. Carbon neutralness is definately here to stay.

But who’s prepared to take it to the next level? To not only become carbon neutral, but Carbon Negative?

Carbon neutralness is good. Carbon negativeness is the icing on the cake. Its the difference between being great and being remarkeable. Taking it that extra step is a way for your business to stand out from the crowd. You’ll sleep well at night too.

At the moment the following joined the “carbon negative” club:

  1. Innocent Drinks have joined – They offset all of their carbon emissions by 120%
  2. Milliken Floor Covering have joined – They remove an additional 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year
  3. Bill Dunster, an arcitect has joined – His team have designed high density building that will be carbon negative

I wasn’t able to find any other examples just yet. Feel free to comment if you know of anyone else who should be added to this list.

The world has gone mad

I’m not quite sure if this is for real ot not, but if so – The World Has Gone Mad.dogbag1.jpg

And I’m also quite sure who is the more stupid – The marketer or the customer.

Go Green Go

Going Green has been this week’s theme for Timeout in London. It covers 60 different ways to go green in a city that produces enough rubbish to fill the Canary Wharf Tower every 10 days. Here are my favourtites:

Why did business become so big?

Ok, so I may not the first person to tell you this. But big is out.
Mass Marketing, Mass Production, Economies of Scale, Multi-Million Dollar Advertising Campaigns – These are all ideas associated with Big. And they are out of fashion.

Small is in. Some even say that small is the new big. For me, I’ve been choosing jobs at smaller and smaller companies as my career goes on. And I’d like to work for myself soon, so I’m going to continue down this path.

Here’s an example from my experience why big doesn’t cut it anymore, and why small is best:

Several years ago I worked for a big FMCG (packaged foods) company. One of the biggest in fact. For a while I worked alongside many different people on a brand of instant coffee. The brand was headed up in our region by a guy called Jon. Very smart guy – I learnt a lot from him. But Jon was the Asia Pacific Coffee and Beverages Marketing Director (or something like that). So he was busy. It took at least 3 weeks to book a meeting with Jon.

At one point we were re-launching the brand, which included new packaging. It was such a big brand globally, that what we needed to do (in Australia) was make sure that our new packaging matched the new packaging of the brand across the world. So we booked a meeting with Jon (3 weeks in advance) to make sure that we had dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s.

Because our team was so big, we also had to find a time in everyone’s calendar that was free. We produced mock-ups of the new packaging ready for Jon to approve them. We spent 3 weeks waiting for our meeting with Jon, which he then had postpone for an extra week.

When we were finally able to hold the meeting, it was nothing short of ridiculous. Jon was essentially happy with the new packaging design, the new shape of jar, new logo and the new photography. But he had an issue with the lid.

The size of the lid was fine – It fitted the jar and was easy to open. But the colour wasn’t right.

It wasn’t because we’d chosen an innapropriate teal. Or beige. Or hit pink. It was because it was the wrong shade of maroon! Out Maroon apparently wasn’t the same shade of maroon that our Canadian counterpoints had recently launched.

Need I say more? Big business get caught up with the most ridiculous things. Small business don’t need to. Small beats big! Bye bye big!