In Names, Tag Lines, and Company Personas – Why Bold Branding Wins

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Branding 

Yesterday I read an article about initiatives on the part of some airlines to facilitate passengers sitting next to someone they’d find interesting, while other airlines are making it easier to increase the odds of having a quiet flight by having no one sit in the next seat.

Most people probably have a preference on this. Either they would like to talk to someone interesting on a long flight or would prefer to zone out in solitude. The feelings of those who don’t care one way or the other undoubtedly have a lower intensity than the feelings of those who like or hate one of these options.

Indifference isn’t motivating. Attraction and repulsion are.

And that’s why blandness and similarity to competitors have such little power when it comes to publicity, word of mouth and customer loyalty. By not standing out, by trying to appeal to everyone and their uncle, companies have little or no energy charge. They earn little notice and fade into the background.

Bolder branding works, however, because it doesn’t try to please everyone. It aims to please those it has defined as ideal customers. When it’s intelligently implemented, those who like the bolder branding really, really like it. Those who dislike it don’t count. They aren’t a loss because the likers are more likely to stick around, tell their like-minded friends and colleagues about the company and promote the company and what it sells through articles, tweets, blog posts and media coverage.

You can certainly take bold branding too far – for example, by making it offensive in ways that cast shame on the company and its fans. Short of that, however, bold branding aligned with the desired customer base is very smart.

Branding elements include the company name, its tag line and the personality a company takes on, as well as dozens of other items.

Get started on bold branding by becoming clear about who the name or other branding element needs to appeal to, along with whose opinions don’t matter at all. Warm up creatively by identifying other companies and advertising campaigns that you see being aimed at the same target population. Also identify their polar opposites – companies and campaigns that would make your target market shudder or turn away.

Then throughout your brainstorming for new ideas, post those desirable and undesirable images on the wall to remind you that you’re not trying to please the world at large or yourselves in coming up with ideas. You’re trying to reach a certain set of people who have particular knowledge, attitudes, values and preferences. Above all, do not take a vote among the general public on branding elements or let the opinions of random people count in any way. Instead, create a set of criteria you can use to distinguish ideas that match the right profile from those that do not.

If you can keep your eye on the goal, you’ll reject boring, me-too branding elements and select bold names, tag lines, personas and more with exactly the right kind of magnetic charge.

Marcia Yudkin is Head Stork of Named At Last, a company that brainstorms creative business names, product names and tag lines for clients. For a systematic process of coming up with an appealing and effective name or tag line, download a free copy of “19 Steps to the Perfect Company Name, Product Name or Tag Line” at http://www.namedatlast.com/19steps.htm.

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