Make it simple to refer a brand

I’ve quoted Scott Degraffenreids’s book, Embracing the N.U.D.E. Model: The New Art and Science of Referral Marketing, as it pertains to branding.

One of his basic assumptions is that people refer products and services to their friends and acquaintances in order to look good in the eyes of the referee. Referrers like to be thought of as experts and purveyors of inside information.

So if I were to set as a goal for my brand that it enable people to refer others to it, I’d make it as simple as possible to do so.

I’d first look to the name of the product or service. First, it must be memorable. People won’t refer a product without naming it.

Second, and the real subject of this blog entry, people must be able to pronounce the name.

Both of these tenets seem obvious, but look what a recently introduced prescription drug did.

They named their product AcipHex. Their commercial voice-over pronounces the word as if spelled “acifex”, using the “ph” as a voiced aspirate (according to my old copy of the American Heritage Dictionary). In other words, “ph” sounds like “f”. But look at the way they present the pH. They’ve done that to be “creative” since the pharmaceutical addresses acid indigestion. So it starts with “acid”, adopts the measurement for acidity (pH) and ends in the ever-popular “ex”.

But I have a difficult time pronouncing the word while looking at how it’s spelled. I want to pronounce it “acip-Hex” not “aci-phex”.

I think they’ve given up a lot of referral opportunities because of the name. People unsure of the product’s pronunciation are more likely to remain silent than to risk looking like they don’t know what they’re talking about.

The answer, beginning with the name, is to use brand elements that are simple, memorable and clear.

Combine that piece of advice with Scott’s N.U.D.E. Model (standing for a product or service that is Novel, Utilitarian, Dependable and Economic) and your chances for referrals will increase considerably.

Martin Jelsema


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