Category Archives: Branding

Branding for referrals – more about the N.U.D.E. Model

I wrote about Scott Degraffenreid and his research which discovered the N.U.D.E. Model for referral marketing.

But I forgot to give you the details about the book and his website. So before I go on, here’s his website, You can order his book and/or an e-course from there.

If you recall, the letters N.U.D.E. stand for Novelty, Utility, Dependability and Economy. These are the four attributes Scott’s research revealed to be the motivators for referring a company, product or service. This combination, usually with emphasis of novelty and utility, are those that will, at least as perceived by the referrer, make the referrer LOOK GOOD in the eyes of the person receiving the referral.

One significant thought here: quality is not one of the attributes. Scott explains that on his website.

Anyway, novelty and utility together make a pair that form a tension between themselves that needs to be addressed. The same tension exists between dependability and economy.

Now I’ve known Scott and his theories for several years, and from his teachings (particularly through the IBI Free Enterprise Forum where Scott is a faculty member) I’ve formed several opinions about the value of tension in branding. This is especially pertinent to high-tech new products, but also relevant to any branding project.

In order to get noticed, in order to get press, in order to get the attention of distribution channel members, you need tension between the known and the unknown. Another way of presenting that is tension between problem and a unique solution (AKA differentiator).

And of course when branding for referrals you want to create those two tensions (novelty-utility, dependability-economy) in a way people can easily understand and communicate.

Here’s an example: a chiropractor client is also a mountain climber: That’s one of the reasons he relocated in Colorado. We developed his story – he wants to climb all 53 Colorado mountains of 14,000 foot or more. So he’s keeping a score card in his office, checking off mountains after he’s been to their summits. He always talks to his patients about his latest climb. His summary story: “Climbing the 14ers one at a time – only xx more to go. If you’re as active as I, you just might need a treatment.” Though they account for less than 25-percent of his clientele, he’s attracted mountain climbers to his practice. And he finds his story gets circulated most often to people in pain who have declared in conversation with one of the doctor’s current patients that they were aching because of a hike or climb.

So we’ve capitalized on the novelty (mountain-climbing doctor) and utility (chiropractic treatment). The natural tension between the two brings the business to top-of-mind with patients when the time is right.

Now there’s a lot more to this tension thing and to the N.U.D.E. Model. I’ll address it, but you can get a lot more info and understanding much more quickly by visiting Scott’s site.

Martin Jeslema

Naming Tips – Number 29 in a Series

It seems every naming company or branding guru has set down their criteria for naming a product or naming a company.

I’m an advocate of establishing a set of criteria based upon the specifics of the naming project as defined within a Naming Brief document.

The brief contains the creative direction all involved in the naming process should have up front. The criteria (the last chapter of the brief) should be thoroughly studied along with product characteristics, competitive postures, stakeholder perceptions and other subjects included in the brief.

I think it is necessary prior to beginning the naming process, even though some will say I’m limiting the creative process by imposing criteria too soon.

My experience is that criteria and direction focuses people but doesn’t limit their ability to be creative. (I’ve blogged before that successful brainstorming is based on the participants being well-briefed prior to setting down for a session.)

So, over the next several blogs in this series I’ll discuss some sets of criteria other naming pros espouse. I suggest these as guidelines from which you can build your own set of criteria specifically for your next naming project.

I’m starting with the list published on the Strategic Name Development website. Specifically, this list is meant to evaluate how well a name sounds in an International context. Here are their words:

From phonemes to fricatives — what makes a great sounding name?

* easy to pronounce;
* short, preferably three or fewer syllables;
* well-balanced where vowels and consonants alternate evenly throughout;
* resonate and whether achieved through alliteration, haplology or poetics, when a great name sounds right, you just know it; and
* often imply speed and dominance; so when naming a business, keep in mind that some of the greatest brands (Barbie, Pepsi, Boeing, Procter & Gamble) begin with one of seven all-powerful consonants — B, C, D, G, K, P or T.

I certainly won’t quarrel with these criteria. The list certainly pinpoints several well-documented attributes of good naming practices. So I’d keep them in mind and used them as appropriate. But I’d also broaden my criteria. The sound is absolutely important but so are other criteria I’ll cover in subsequent blogs.

Martin Jelsema

Branding for referrals: two principles

Many, many businesses rely on a referral pipeline for growth and profit. You know if you’re one of them.

So can you develop a brand that helps you get referrals? Can your brand stimulate word-of-mouth “buzz” and generate referrals from qualified prospects?

I think so.

We’ve heard a lot about experiential marketing, permission marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and relationship marketing in the past ten years or so. Over that time, I’ve read and observed – always from the perspective of what it all means to branding and how branding can contribute to referrals.

There are a couple of ideas I’ve come to call the “principles of referral branding”. Though there are undoubtedly more, I think the following, if followed, will increase the number and quality of referral leads you can generate through branding.

First, I doff my hat to Scott Degraffenreid, a “social network analyst” and author of Embracing the N.U.D.E. Model – The Art and Science of Referral Marketing. That little book is based on his work in statistically analyzing major research on the behavior of referrals of prescription drugs by doctors and their patients. Through his analysis, he isolated four attributes of a product or service that helps generate referrals. Those attributes: Novelty, Utility, Dependability and Economy: the N.U.D.E. Model.

If you have a mixture of those four attributes people will refer your service or product to others.

Now why are those specific attributes important? Two reasons: Because unless they are present the product or service is not memorable, and because the referrer will only look good in the eyes of their associates if those characteristics are present.

Remember this: above all else, a referrer wants to look good in the eyes of those he or she refers a product to. That’s why people make referrals.

So the two principles I advance for branding for referrals are pretty simple:

One: Build your brand by incorporating and communicating the N.U.D.E. attributes.

Two: With every branding decision, ask yourself if it helps or hinders a person’s ability to look good while referring your product or service.

I’ll blog further about referral branding in the next couple of weeks, but for now, just remember the N.U.D.E. Model.

Martin Jelsema

BRANDING & COLOR – Number six in a series

Back to blogging after a week of just “getting away”. This time I’m continuing the series about color in branding.

This blog’s subject: purple.

Or is it lavender?

Or perhaps violet?

Like the other primary and secondary colors – the purple family belongs to the secondary class – there are various shades and mixtures and intensities that can be included in any particular class. So I’ll discuss all itsdesignations under the class called purple.

Four shades of purple for branding

As a secondary color, purple and it’s mates reside between red and blue on the color wheel. Therefore, it is a little “schitzo” with attributes both hot and cool. Often, especially on the web, it’s difficult to differentiate a deep purple from a dark blue, or a violet from a wine-red hue.

Purple is traditionally associated with nobility, spirituality and magic. There’s also a suggestion of prosperity.

In researching for this blog, I was surprised that fewer companies had adopted purple as a primary corporate color. There are few negative connotations. Just purple prose and purple haze show up. But there is an association with death in Latin America.

The only brand I’ve discovered that actually revels in purple is the “purple pill”, Nexium.

 Purple logos for Starter, Nexium, Diners Club, Hobie, Fiat and Sun Microsystems.

Another user of purple is FedEx and I’ll comment more about that. Initially the FedEx colors were purple and orange. Today that combination refers to its overnight air express service. For their corporate colors they’re substituted gray for orange. Then for their ground service, it’s lime green and purple, for “Trade Network” it’s gold and purple, and for the FedEx/Kinko stores, purple and sky blue. As you can see below, the “Fed” word is always purple and the logo retains its typeface in each variation. Well done, FedEx.

An array of FedEx logos

As already stated, purple imparts dignity or nobility in its darker tones. When more toward lavender, the color is feminine and fashion oriented.

Across the wheel from purple is the primary color, yellow. As it’s complement, they make a contrasting and complementary pair. The analogous colors are red and blue.

Those people who favor purple are likely to be creatives or eccentrics. They enjoy being unique from others and can be temperamental. They are also sensitive and observant, and enjoy fantasy. I’ve read that comic books with purple on their covers sell better than those with another color dominating.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a color for your brand that hasn’t been already used to adnauseam, you might explore purple and its associates, violet, mauve, lavender, lilac, orchid, plum, et al.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 28 in a Series

Brand naming resources abound on the internet.

Here are two I’ve used with some success even though they aren’t exclusively created for naming companies or products.

The first is an authority site concerned with the creative process. It’s called GoCreate.Com. It provides links to creative systems, software, techniques, and other resources promoting and aiding creative thought and action. Two resources you’ll find listed on the home page are specifically helpful directories of resources:

* Creativity Toolbox at
* Head Shed at

In the Creativity Toolbox you’ll find several relevant naming resources, including Brainline where you can ask others to help you  in an on-line branstorming session, Naming Prompts which stimulates lateral thinking through slightly off-beat questioning, and the Rhyme Zone where you enter a word and ask for rhyming words or synonyms or more sophisticated searches like matching consonants only.

Head Shed contains most of the same resources as Creativity Toolbox, but you may find some different nougats there of interest for your particular naming project, or for other creative explorations.

The second resource is word-oriented. It’s called Lexical FreeNet. It proclaims to be a “connected thesaurus”. You type in a couple of words and select whether you want the online program to generate relationships, connections, intersections, etc. The most meaningful I’ve found is asking for a “Substring” which “finds words that contain the first as a substring”—i.e., variations on the theme. There’s a lot of power in the programeven though most is not applicable to naming. However, if you’re fascinated by words and their relationships, you’ll find this site satisfying.

Estes Park: a Resort with an Inferiority Complex

As you probably know if you’ve been here before, I’m a member of the BrandingWire posse, one of twelve branding bloggers who monthly tackle a common branding subject.

This month that subject is branding a resort destination, specifically, Estes Park Colorado. You’ll find a branding brief we all worked from at

Estes Park has an inferiority complex.

Situated at the east entrances of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Estes Park appears to want to be known for that and nothing more. It’s image is subservient to RMNP and it accepts that role. On the official website, there are great photos of RMNP, but not one good photo of the town itself.

Estes Park logo

Residents of the area apologize for the town’s gift and souvenir shops and the congestion of its main street. And although everyone knows taxes are reasonable only because of the tourist traffic, most of the better educated, retired segment of the community would rather there be no expansion or the hurly burly of a summer tourist season.

Even the long-standing tagline is deflective: “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park”. (You go through a gateway, you don’t spend a week there.)

As stated in the branding brief, Estes Park requires a larger tax base and cash flow to maintain traditional town services and to promote Estes Park as a desirable place to vacation.

The Town of Estes Park itself is responsible for funding and managing promotional activities, and they certainly are doing a great job in distributing literature to anyone who asks. They also run several modest ad campaigns as well. The town just completed a new convention and visitors center, a concert venue and a new website – They are instigating shuttle buses to get visitors from the motel areas into downtown this summer.

In order to achieve their financial goals, I suggest FOCUS.

An unfocused Brand Is Confusing

And Confused Prospects Don’t Become Customers.

I believe the solution is market segmentation.

There are several market segments to choose from, and several that need minimum “maintenance”. The day-trippers and RV nomads will come through as they have ever since the automobile became common. The small group of summer residents with second homes in the Estes valley, and families who habitually rent cabins by the week, will continue to come.

Scenes of Estes Park and RMNP 

I suggest focusing on two specialized groups: conference and meeting organizers and tour organizers. Though both segments are very competitive, Estes Park can be differentiated to appeal to these organizers and their clientele. There are two advantages for Estes Park: 1) extending the season into the fall and spring, and 2) welcoming people predisposed to spending money – some expense account derived – over a three-five day period.

It Takes a Village 

I’d work with facilities – the YMCA of the Rockies, The Stanley Hotel, the more up-scale restaurants and motels – to provide the infrastructure for such groups. I’d make sure there was entertainment and activities available for non-meeting times, even during off-season. I’d encourage attendees to spend by offering coupons and discounts for attractions.

But most of all, I’d want the stakeholders of the town, residents and merchants alike, to buy in. In other words, do an internal branding program. Help make each stakeholder an ambassador and evangelist to visitors.

The Brand, Estes Park, starts with the scenery and wildlife, and continues through the activities and events people experience. But the thing that will encourage folks to return to Estes with their families, and to talk up their Estes Park experience to others back home, is the overall feeling that they were welcome and that the people of Estes Park wanted them to return. That emanates from gracious and hospitable people whose honest desire is to help visitors enjoy their experience.

Also, for all market segments, I’d attempt to change the way Estes is thought of as a place to stop for a night or two and then venture on. I’d want to implant the idea that Estes Park is the only place you need to go to enjoy a vacation of a lifetime. That Estes provides all the activities and events that any and all family members will find enjoyable and memorable.

Think of Estes Park as a Destination Instead of a Gateway

So instead of branding Estes Park as “The Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park”, I’d go with the idea of “Awesome in So Many Ways”, or “Estes Park: It’s a Happening”. Then I’d make sure the Estes Park website and promotional literature reflected the variety of an Estes Park experience.

As it now stands, the website is static. I’d place plenty of videos on it. Panorama sweeps, wildlife sequences, downtown walk-abouts, concert and horse show performances. I’d show people enjoying Indian crafts, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, snow-shoeing, golfing. I’d do views from the aerial tramway.

I’d video kids splashing in a pool, riding a train, playing miniature golf, etc., etc.. Also, I’d set aside a section of the website for travel agents and tour organizers, together with programs to get them to do tours TO Estes. I’d have another web section for meeting and conference planners.

Then I’d hire a staff to coordinate these activities.

These suggestions do mean synchronizing and focusing the town’s thinking. Instead of attempting to be everything for everyone, in means singling out certain lucrative market segments and concentrating efforts there. And those efforts mean not only promotional materials and tactics. It starts with the mindset of the town’s influentials, then spreading that evangelistic message to every resident, every merchant, every tour and meeting organizer, every travel agent. And finally, by demonstrating the message to visitors, you allow them to carry the message back home: “Estes Park is the only place you need to go to experience a vacation you’ll remember forever”.

Estes Park: Focus and follow through. Focus and fulfill your promise to visitors. Focus and thrive.

Now that you’ve read my blog, you can read what the other posse members have to say about branding Estes Park. Just go to, or look up individual blogs from the BrandingWire listing in the right column.

Martin Jelsema


Naming Tips – Number 27 in a Series

Let Google find you some brand name candidates.

It’s such a powerful search tool that there are several ways you can generate name candidates. Some produce lists and some point you to specific resources.

First, if you use the Google Toolbar on Internet Explorer, Google presents a  roll-down menu of “suggestions” once you’ve typed in a keyword. For instance, here’s the suggestion list it produced when I typed in “sun”:

Sunday Times
Sun Belt
Sun Java
sun up
Suntrust Bank

The beauty of this tip is it’s already a step you’d take anyway for the next tip.
Find glossaries on web sites by typing in a phrase or keyword and affix “+glossary” after the word in the Google search box. You can do this with product categories, industries, markets, professions, crafts, as well as descriptive keywords. Here’s what happened when searching “sun+glossary”

The Daily Sun Glossary of Solar Terms
Sun Expert Answers | You have Sun questions. We have answers
Basic Sun Glossary
SunGloss Help- Search and Export

Those are all from page 1, and there were over ten pages. Granted, all of them won’t be relevant, but five from ten first-page “hits” works for me.

Also, by using your keyword with “+synonyms” you can get entries like those below. There were 166 entries.

Sun – Synonyms for Sun from Bibliodata
Sun quotes & quotations
Definition of Shade
sun – Synonyms from

Perhaps you’ll learn some new terminology you can use in promotional copy as well.

Martin Jelsema


A group of Dutchmen are watching us

They’re called Springwise BV. Their main purpose is to “scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds from San Francisco to Singapore”.

Their insights can be particularly valuable in developing brand strategies and tactics.

They’ve recruited a global network of “spotters”, some 8,000 of them. All the data collected is classified, interpreted, analyzed, transmuted, funneled, pummeled, condensed and finally reported at two different websites.

The mother blog is, “your daily fix of entrepreneurial ideas”. Its sister (presumably an aunt) is with the purpose of reporting “global consumer trends, ideas and insights”.

Both offer free newsletters and I believe they live up to their own press. It’s a valuable resource for those connected with branding.

As an example, here’s the way Trend Watching classified several new and emerging lifestyles. The website provides detail at On Our Radar 2007.


“Attractive to consumers driven by experiences instead of the fixed, by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions.

“We dubbed these consumers TRANSUMERS in our November 2006 briefing, and there will be many more of them in 2007.”


Especially for younger consumers, participation is the new consumption. For these creatives, status comes from finding an appreciative audience (in much the same way as brands operate). No wonder that it’s becoming increasingly important to hone one’s creative skills. Status symbols, make way for STATUS SKILLS?”


In a post-material world, all that’s left to covet is…. other people? From networking sites to buddy lists to to a boom in members-only clubs, social status 2.0 is all about who you connect to and who wants to connect to you, tribal-style.”


“With the environment finally on the agenda of most powers that be, and millions of consumers now actively trying to greenify their lives, status from leading an eco-responsible lifestyle is both more readily available, and increasing in value.”


One thing you can’t go wrong with in 2007 is to ask yourself how your current and new products and experiences will satisfy a plethora of very diverse status seekers. In fact, once you get rid of the habit of only believing in traditional status symbols, there is no end to the number of STATUS LIFESTYLES you’ll be able to identify.”

It’s worth looking at the sites, subscribing to the newsletters, and for some, investing in their reports and profiles.

I’m adding Springwise to my blogroll.

Martin Jelsema