Monthly Archives: December 2006

Naming Tips: Number 2 in a Series

Here’s the second in the series of Naming Tips that will appear sporadically on this blog.
This may sound like an 11th-grade grammar lesson, but I’ll try to make it simple. (I had to look up the subject to make sure I was using the correct terminology. It’s been a good number of years since high school for me.)

Tip 1: Utilizing a participle (an adjective that is verb-like in form, usually ending in “ing”, “ed”, “en” or “t”) can generate vital, active name candidates. Verbs provide action, and participles do the same. So I like the sound and feel of them. Plus, this form is not used often for names. Here are two structures using participles to impart action names: participle-preposition-noun (examples include Hooked on Phonics and Cooking for Health), and the reversed structure of noun-participle (Skills Abounding and Promise Keepers are examples). Also, you might substitute a participle for a noun to impart more vigor. Turning Point Consulting is more action-oriented than Turning Point Consultants.

Tip 2: Possessive names (Victoria’s Secret, Bob’s Vital Signs) are more personal and somehow connote a more responsive organization. If your business deals in personal services, this is a fruitful field to plow. Another variation: just use a one-word possessive (Weldon’s, Olander’s) without tacking on a business category, i.e., Weldon’s Windows.

Look for a couple of more tips next week.

Martin Jelsema

Branding in a Vacuum

Do you think companies have egos? Do you believe they intentionally ignore reality and ask their employees to behave as if competitors don’t exist, and that prospects are blissfully ignorant?

I believe companies actually reflect the egos of top management and their advisors. And that top management ego is the cause of many branding decisions that cause the brand to lose credibility.

Every so often that collective ego can override good business practices, basic marketing tenets and good, old common sense. This is particularly true of branding activities because they can be so subjective. Quite often these leaders will advance, or at least approve, communications at which the general public can only scoff. I’m sure you have seen this in action, and your reaction, just as mine has been, is: “What were they thinking?”.

That brings me to the subject of this blog entry.

In Audi’s latest commercial, they have introduced a superb tagline: “Never Follow”.

Those two words actively position Audi as an innovator, an engineering and style leader. I’m sure Audi management enthusiastically embraced this stance.

But then they had to show the Audi Avant. Holy, cow: it looksa lot like a Chrysler 300. The big grill. The high door panels. The smaller-than-average windows. Let the photos below speak for themselves.

Chrysler-Audi look-alikes

In this particular instance, Audi is a style follower, and we all know style is the major purchase consideration for most of the population. No matter how innovative under the hood the Audi may be, the visual evidence in this 30-second commercial contradicts its claim.

I can hear the folks at Audi approve the tagline without ever considering its plausibility. They know they’re innovative. They don’t perceive themselves to be followers. It probably never occurred to them that prospects would not see the world according to Audi.

So now a perfectly fine automobile is blemished by what prospects (at least this one) see as a disconnect between what Audi wants them to believe and the reality of the contradiction.

Top manager egos are hard to control and many capable people lose their jobs trying. But in today’s competitive environment where a company better be up-front, honest and credible, those in charge need to listen to advisors who will stand up and say, “REALLY?”

Credibility must be present in all branding activities if a company wishes to establish and maintain lasting customer relationships.

Martin Jelsema


More Fine Branding and Marketing Blogs

Here’s a real testiment to the virility of viral marketing. Last week The Viral Garden launched a campaign to publisize “smaller” blogs about branding, marketing, commerce and finance.

We were asked to pass on their original list of blogs with additions of our own. At the time I added my candidate, there were some 20-25 blogs listed. And even with the Christmas holiday interrupting the process, here’s how the list has grown:

Branding Strategy Insider
Creative Think
Movie Marketing Madness
Blog Till You Drop!
Get Shouty!
One Reader at a Time
Critical Fluff
The New PR
Own Your Brand!
Work, in Plain English
Buzz Canuck
New Millenium PR
Pardon My French
Troy Worman’s Blog
The Instigator Blog
Diva Marketing
Marketing Hipster
The Marketing Minute
Funny Business
The Frager Factor
Open The Dialogue
Word Sell
Note to CMO:
That’s Great Marketing!
Shotgun Marketing Blog
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim
Pow! Right Between The Eyes! Andy Nulman’s Blog About Surprise
Billions With Zero Knowledge
Working at Home on the Internet
MapleLeaf 2.0
Two Hat Marketing

The Engaging Brand
The Branding Blog
Drew’s Marketing Minute
Golden Practices
Tell Ten Friends
Flooring the Consumer
Kinetic Ideas
Unconventional Thinking
Conversation Agent
The Copywriting Maven
Hee-Haw Marketing
Scott Burkett’s Pothole on the Infobahn
Multi-Cult Classics
Logic + Emotion
Branding & Marketing
Popcorn n Roses
On Influence & Automation
Servant of Chaos
Presentation Zen
Dmitry Linkov
John Wagner
Nick Rice
CKs Blog
Design Sojourn
Frozen Puck
The Sartorialist
Small Surfaces
Africa Unchained
Marketing Nirvana
Bob Sutton
¡Hola! Oi! Hi!
Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid!
Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together
Community Guy
Social Media on the fly
Jeremy Latham’s Blog
SMogger Social Media Blog

Please enjoy, and if you have a blog, why not add this list to your next post, along with your own “Zlist” additions, and pay it forward?

Martin Jelsema

Can the Brand Short-Circuit Direct Response Sales?

I know several folks in the direct response business who believe branding gets in the way of the sales message and distracts the customer.

They don’t bother with a logo, or even a company name. Instead, they rely on compelling, detailed and benefit-packed copy; together with testimonials, references and endorsements; coupled with powerful offers, discounts, bonuses and coupons. They are all about the sale. Their only goal is to persuade and entice buyers to TAKE ACTION NOW.
And many of them seem to be successful with this tactic.
But I believe it to be short-sighted.
All direct marketers know that acquiring new customers is vital to their business, but that their real success comes from repeat business.
Most have figured out how much business an average customer will do with the firm over a number of years. It’s probably an order of magnitude larger than the initial sale because these marketers continually ask their customers to buy more stuff. They send catalogs, sales letters, bargain flyers, e-mails. Continually. Religiously. Obsessively.
All of these impressions develop in the minds of customers who may or may not respond to a particular offer. If the company behind the offer does not present a focused, differentiated image of itself, people will not generate any passion for the company. They’ll regard the company as just another provider that will be selected only if “the price is right”.
My contention is that paying attention to your brand is important to direct marketing long-term success. Perhaps not as important as a powerful offer backed by a no-holds-barred guarantee in the short-run, but every bit as important over time. I cite Land’s End, Kiplinger, Bose and Omaha Steaks as four who pay as much attention to brand as to product and offer, and have flurished.
Think of the direct marketing companies in which you have established a relationship. I’ll bet nine out of ten will have established and promoted their brand along with their offers. I’ll bet they are more successful in acquiring and especially maintaining loyal customers. I’ll also bet their life-time value per customer is higher than their competitors who have disregarded branding.
That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Martin Jelsema


Naming Tips: Number 1 of a Series

Anyone who’s had the experience of naming a business or a product, service or event, know it can be frustrating and time-consuming. Often we’ve had to settle for a second-best effort because our first choices just weren’t available.

I know that frustration. Our brand is on hold until the right name is developed. We are left to compromise, even abandon our brand name criteria upon occasion.

But I’ve devised (or borrowed) a bundle of tricks and techniques that help me find unique and appropriate “first choice” names. So over the next month or so I’ll intersperse some of this wisdom into my blog entries. Here are two of them:

Reverse the words in some of your favorite choices. So instead of naming a company Strategic Innovations, reverse the words. Call it Innovations Strategic. Medical Insights becomes Insights Medical. Proactive Solutions – Solutions Proactive. Legal Perspectives – Perspectives Legal. Not only is the idea retained, it’s presented in a unique way that makes it more memorable.


Use alliteration (Signature Strategies, Peak Paths) or rhyming (Compliance Alliance, Rare Care). Both techniques help make a names more memorable, and the “lilting” cadence of speaking them is actually pleasurable. Thus, if your business relies on referrals, you have a particularly compelling reason to alliterate or rhyme your company name.

Hope you’ll find this series helpful.

Martin Jelsema

How do you Manage Customer Loyalty?

I received an email notice of an American Marketing Association (AMA) training series to be held in three cities in early 2007.

The advertised training is called “Managing Customer Loyalty”. The copy begins:

“Customer loyalty is one of the most powerful weapons an organization has in its strategic arsenal.”

Well, I question “where they’re coming from”.

It just hit me wrong that people were attempting to manage loyalty. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed the AMA was out of step with current trends in branding and in what we know about how and why customer loyalty really develops.

The AMA announcement then went on to explain what we’ll learn in this 2-day, intensive workshop. Content had to do with defining and measuring customer loyalty, and applying analytical tools to our database (data mining). This is really valuable – information about your customers and their buying habits and motivations can only help establish customer-related programs to strengthen relationships.
But the crux of the content is the promise that you’ll be able to classify your customer base by the intensity of their loyalties, and then perform certain actions that will benefit the company.

And the “benefit the company” orientation is what bothers me about their approach to customer loyalty.
The entire orientation is wrong in my opinion. Perhaps the series title should have been “Taking Advantage of Your Customer’s Loyalty”. It seems so one-sided.

I’ve been reading about – and experiencing – how passionate consumers are taking over the “ownership” of brands. There’s certainly a pride of ownership surrounding many brands that’s a lot stronger than just the “repeat buy” habit.

The companies sponsoring those customer-revered brands would not be studying ways to exploit their customers. Instead, they would devote their energies to finding new ways, or intensifying old ways, to deliver a higher state of satisfaction.

See the difference? This training, except for the purely analytical data capture and analysis, “…will provide you with the information and tools to fully utilize customer loyalty and increase bottom-line results.” Their words. The orientation is one-sided and sales-driven.

Now most savvy businesses these days will use a customer-view approach to loyalty programs and marketing activities. They will be saying, “what would my customers want” rather than “how can I get them to spend more money with me?”

Now I suppose the AMA had this copy fashioned in this way because a large proportion of their membership thinks with a company-out perspective.

But wouldn’t it have been better to sponsor a training series called: “Managing the Company to Delight Customers”?

Martin Jelsema

Some Remarkable Branding & Marketing Blogs

Mack Collier on his marketing blog, The Viral Garden, proposes the following”

“Here’s the deal: In an effort to bring more link-love to those blogs that I feel aren’t getting their due, I’ve created a small list of blogs below that I’ve linked to. The idea is to create a meme built around giving link-love to the blogs that deserve it, and hopefully turn Technorati’s system of using a blog’s # of links to determine its ‘authority’, on its ear.

“What YOU can do is simply create a new post on your blog, but CUT AND PASTE the list I have below, and then ADD any blogs you feel aren’t getting their due either. It can be 1 blog, or a hundred(or none if you simply want to repost the same list), but the idea is, find those great blogs that, for whatever reason, you feel aren’t getting their due, link-wise.

“Then after you leave your post, the next blogger will do the same thing, cut and paste YOUR list, and add THEIR blogs to the list, then repost it. Add the same instructions in your post that the next blogger should cut and paste YOUR list, and add any blogs they feel should be on it to THEIR list. The list will get increasingly long, and all the blogs will get a sort of reverse ‘pyramid-affect’ of link-love.”

So here’s the list as I found it. Remember, it will grow. Now, The Branding Blog is listed thanks to Chris Brown of Marketing Resources & Results

Chris Brown

Shotgun Marketing Blog




Customers Rock!

Being Peter Kim

Two Hat Marketing

The Branding Blog

The Emerging Brand



Drew’s Marketing Minute

Golden Practices


Tell Ten Friends

Flooring the Consumer

Kinetic Ideas




My contribution is the very focused and authoritative

Branding Strategy Insider.

If you’ve a blog to add to the list, please do.

Martin Jelsema

Branding for Venture Capital

Let’s say you’ve invented a new product that will require tons of capital to bring to market. It’s probably more capital than your local bank is willing to advance you, more than the SBA will loan you, more than all your friends and relatives could dredge up even if they were willing to back you.

You’ll need to seek out and convince professional venture investors that your venture has a good chance of succeeding..

So you write a plan and get all the legal compliance docs you need to raise money. You’ve even developed a presentation and printed business cards.

But an important part of the package is missing unless you’ve already created you brand.

Even at this early stage, you have more than a product idea. You have a vision, a dream, a mission, a passion. And those core business drivers can best be communicated to investors through the branding process.

Even though the business may be an intangible at this point, it just makes sense to build a brand that reflects and reinforces your passion, and helps convey that passion to potential investors.

First you’ll need to establish a brand platform. This document is usually a synthesis of your mission statement and strategic business model, crystallized into a six-point, one page document addressing: business model, product category, competition, markets to be served, uniqueness of your product, and how you’ll position your product. It should be a prominent page of the strategic description of your business plan

Then, you’ll want to demonstrate how you’ll differentiate your product and activate the platform by creating a name, logo, tagline and color palette at a minimum. These elements should be part of the graphic design of the solicitation materials and the presentation. They may also be featured in the business plan itself.

Building a brand that emanates from your vision in a professional, convincing manner will help demonstrate much better than mere words why an investor should feel your venture could be a sound investment. It will help build confidence in the venture, demonstrating that you are business-savvy and have a market-orientation many entrepreneurs lack.

This is the ultimate example of adhering to my admonition to all entrepreneurs, “Brand smart from the start”.

Oh, and a powerful brand can’t hurt when you go to your local bank, either.

Martin Jelsema