Naming Tips: Number 43 in a Series

Back in July 13, 2007, I blogged about several naming resources that might help you generate unusual, out-of-the-box brand names, company names and domain names. They’re at Naming Tips: Number 28.

Well, I’ve found several more web sites that generate name candidates. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I’ll list them all and you can determine for yourself which, if any, will be useful for your particular applications.

First is Nameboy. It was invented specifically for domain name generation but works for any name type. It mixes two words you specify and then generates combinations of those words and several of their synonyms. It also generates alternate spellings of one or more of your inserted words. Nameboy generates about 25 entries at a time, of which 15 will be pure waste. I put in “strong” and “signs” and got back some good synonyms for “strong” – brawny, hefty, bullnecked, muscular. They were teamed with “words” like cue, sine, mark, signz.

Next is Make Words. This site is also a domain name generator with wider application. It generates combined words. You can select from 41 categories and then add your own word to combine with the words from the selected category. Categories range from “action verbs” to “sports”. I selected “misc affixes” as a category and inserted “que” as my contribution. I got a lot of gobbledygook and several coined words that might be appropriate as brand names – Quebet, Queday, Quematic, Cityque, Logique. For some, you’ll want to delete an ajoining vowel to make the word pronounceable.

Name Spinner is the last for this blog. It, too, is primarily a domain name generator. It randomly provides an additional syllable to a word you enter to generate new candidates. When I typed in “ram”, I got back six or seven nice combos along with the scap. These words emerged – Redram, Ramair, Bayram, Ramhorn, Rambus, Ramert. 

Incidentally, these sites were conveyed to me from the folks at Authority Site Center. If you’re doing business on the web, or want to, I suggest checking them out.

Martin Jelsema

BrandingWire, the co-op blog, is changing

And you can become part of the brand networking community we’ve established.

It was just six months ago that Steve Woodruff of StickyFinger contacted about a dozen folks he knew were blogging about branding. He proposed we all take on a real-life branding problem once a month. Each of us, from our own perspectives and persuasions would post our reactions and response to the problem submitted. We named it BrandingWire.

We made some perceptive and helpful suggestions about the brands we critiqued. There was a coffee shop regional chain, the resort town of Estes Park, CO, the credibility problem of auto dealers, an IT consultancy.

But in retrospect, we were already becoming predictable and insular. So the idea is to now open the doors and make BrandingWire a branding community affair. The process is explained over at the site – I hope you’ll find it a resource of information and suggestions concerning your brand, or a brand of a client.

You’ll post a branding brief at BrandingWire and branding pros from all over the web will be able to post solutions and suggestions. And you, too, can comment on other people’s branding briefs.

This can be a rich, deep resource if people will use it seriously. We’ll eliminate spam. The comments will be monitored. We intend to make BrandingWire a center where branding authorities and those with branding needs can exchange ideas and build relationships.

Go to right now to view the details.

It’s what Web2 is all about.

Martin Jelsema

Why taglines go astray

Why do I find so many taglines not supporting the brands they’re attached to?

Why is there a disconnect, a discord?

I have a theory.

For many companies, the tagline, or slogan, is part of an ad campaign. When campaigns change, slogans change. That’s because ad agencies, even internal marcom departments, need to demonstrate their creativity. They believe the ad message is somehow different from the brand, that uniqueness in and of itself is more important than the brand.

Now the “creatives” will certainly not express such a statement. But for them, the campaign is separate from the brand, its heritage, its promise, and its associations. And the campaign includes the “concept”, the style, the headlines, copy and visuals, and…the tagline.

Then, management becomes enamored with the fresh ad idea and approves the entire campaign, including the slogan.

So these advertisers do not actively view a tagline as a branding element. A tagline is part of an ad campaign.

Now most companies do believe and demonstrate the power of a brand-oriented tagline. Quite often it is also referred to a “positioning statement”.

In this context the tag carries a visionary promise, a method of differentiating the company/product from competition, a positive and beneficial idea stakeholders can relate to.

By making the tagline part of the brand initially, and making sure that positioning statement is as sacrosanct as the name and the logo, with as much staying power as the other branding elements, continuity, association, awareness and comprehension will help to build a unified and powerful brand.

Martin Jelsema

TheBrandingBlog Celebrates its First Anniversary

This year’s just flown by. And just about any time during that period, whenever I think I’ve got a minute for free thought, I’m reminded that I have another blog to write.

For me, blogging is work. I associate it with deadlines and excellence. My old copywriting mentor, Bill Aul at Marstellar, N.Y. circa 1965, used to remind me that short, crisp and compelling copy worked best no matter what I was writing. But, he added, short, crisp writing took more work that meandering, fuzzy writing did.


I know that for a fact.

I try to be useful in each blog, either sharing my experience, my sources of knowledge or my “common sense”.

The later can get me in trouble, and does in about one of four instances, I estimate.

This past year I started three different series of subjects. One, Naming Tips, has been on-going. I’ll be writing my 43rd tip the end of this week.

I did a series on how to “brand smart from the start”, describing the various steps I lead new clients through in the sequence I believe needs to be followed.

Then I did a series on color, describing eight different colors, their meaning and the emotional responses they evoke. This series is not complete. In the next several months I’ll pick up that theme again, elaborating on color combinations and such “technical” aspects as contrast, hues and tone.

Also in the next couple of months I’ll be discussing trade dress and signage, more about taglines, how to work with professional designers and strategists, and a few other topics.

If you’ve found this past year’s blogs useful, or at least informative, I’ve been rewarded for the time spent. But either way, please let me know what you’d like to see in these messages. Just click the “comments” link below.

I have an opinion about almost everthing :0)

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 42 in a Series

If you’ve given up finding a name for your offering and plan to use the services of a naming consultant, copywriter or ad agency, here are a couple of thoughts.

First share with him/her/them all the pertinent info about the offering, including background, competition, market targets, your brand architecture, your corporate vision/mission/goals, any market research you’ve performed, and lastly, any prejudices you and other top execs might have concerning a name.

What I’m saying, as I’ve said time and again in this set of tips, is develop and share a naming brief.

Quite often the person or organization you’re contracting with will have their own format for a brief. (If not I’d be suspicious from the start- probably wouldn’t hire them.) If they do, be sure to use it, but also provide additional data from your own planning documents that is relevant.

This brings up the second point. Whoever you use should sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This is, of course, a legal document. There are templates available over the Internet, but I’d sure have an intellectual properties attorney review it before using it.

The NDA allows you to share proprietary info that could very well be important in the naming process.

The third item: Be sure you also have a letter of agreement that the name you decide upon will become your property. Unless you have a signed document turning ownership over to you, the writer/contractor will retain the legal right of ownership. Some contactors will want an extra fee for relinquishing title. Be sure to make arrangements within your contract for this turn-over prior to signing that document.

Lastly, be sure to have a contract you both agree to before beginning work. It should describe a scope of work, method of doing business, description of deliverables, a schedule, pricing, an arbitration agreement as well as the ownership clause. I’d also want to spell out the method of performing and pricing second and third name generating iterations if they are required.

Since I’m usually on the vendor’s side of the contract negotiations, I’ve see and written plenty of contracts. They needn’t be over a couple of pages in length, but they should be created, signed and adhered to for both parties protection and understanding.

Martin Jeslema

A Tale of Two Taglines

Seems like this is tagline month. Examples of both good and bad – in my opinion – slogans have raised my consciousness concerning taglines.

The two I’m featuring today appeared within an hour or so as part of TV commercials for their respective owners on the Food Channel. Both companies appeal to parents of pre-teens in behalf of their kid-friendly play products. Both are companies with long and unblemished reputations.

First, there’s Playskool. Never mind they teach kids to misspell “school”. Their newest tagline is: “Believe in Play”.

Second is Crayola. Their newest tagline is “The Art of Childhood”.

What a contrast!

The Playskool slogan, in my opinion, just lays there. It’s a platitude for sure.

Not only does this slogan not differentiate the company and its products, it voices an obvious and pompous expression that’s border-line offensive. It’s an admonition. It asks you, the consumer, to “mend your ways” and believe in play. Because if they didn’t remind you, you’d probably take on your old Grinch-like attitude about play.

Now let’s look at the Crayola effort. They’ve nailed it as far as I’m concerned.

With The Art of Childhood, they’ve staked out their product category and made it their own. They’ve taken a leadership position, and they’ve done it with emotion and relevance. Doesn’t every parent want their child to be creative, to learn to express themselves positively?

And Crayola also speaks to understanding children and how to delight them with “The Art of..” phrase.

I don’t know if I could have hunted the Internet all day to find two better examples of :how to” and “how not to”.

If you’ve a different opinion, or even if you agree with a little of mine, let me know. Just click on the comments link below.

Martin Jelsema

Another fine branding resource

I’ve read and recommended books by David Aakers (Building Strong Brands and Managing Brand Equity) and by Scott Davis (Brand Asset Management and with Michael Dunn, Building the Brand-Driven Business).

Aakers, Davis and Dunn are authorities, Aakers with an academic background, Davis and Dunn with in-the-trenches credibility.

All are associated with the branding consulting firm, Prophet.

And the Prophet website is home for literally hundreds of articles, new releases and white papers concerning branding and brand management. Not only do Aakers and Davis contribute prolifically, so do various executive staff members, many of whom are industry specialists.

Not only are there archives articles and other resources to be found at the site, you can be assured that they continue to churn out materials, ideas and techniques as they become current. They don’t sit on their hands.

And there’s also a Prophet blog you might want to check out. It’s a co-op for Prophet pundits as well as a newsfeed for branding in the news. I’m adding their blog, called Backpocket, to my blogroll and I’ve subscribed to their RSS feed.

Check’em out.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – Number 41 in a Series

The name needn’t be your sole means of identification.

No, it should – nay, must – work with the other elements of the brand. Not only that, the name does not have to carry the brand on its shoulders. Although the most important, it is but one element. Other elements can take some of the burden.

So when naming your business, your product or service, remember these two points:

1) The name can have help in defining the offering.
2) The name must “fit” with the other elements (and visa versa).

That takes a load off of your shoulders when in the process of naming your “thing”. But it also means you must think ahead to other elements, or work on them as you’re developing name candidates.

I want to expand a bit about the name not needing to carry the entire burden of identification and conveying benefit, context and mood.

Quite often the name can (and probably should while the product is new) be accompanied by a category to put it in context. For instance, Lotus or Avery can presently stand alone as product names that convey the category they operate in. But in the beginning they modified the names. It was Lotus software. It was Avery labels. So let the classification help with identity.

The appropriate use of positioning statements, aka taglines or slogans, can also carry some of the load. These short, pithy (we hope) phases can identify a market segment, a product difference or benefit, a problem-solution.

Before you begin the naming process, I’ll again emphasize the importance of a naming brief to give everyone involved a foundation from which to ideate. This addresses the second point above. As you’re writing the brief, keep in mind that a category or a tagline can help the identification of the offering. Include that info in the brief, and then use the brief for direction and for candidate evaluation based on the knowledge that the name leads but does not need to carry the entire load..

Martin Jelsema