Dave Murray

5 Tips for Naming Your Gutsy Brand!

5 Tips for Naming Your Gutsy Brand!

I’ve been wanting to write a blog on naming your own gutsy brand for months. In fact, I did write one! And as I was putting the finishing touches on it, I decided – in a fit of brilliance – to delete it from the official Mayniax Branding iPad, thinking I could recover it from the iCloud. And I couldn’t.

And my business partner, Vanessa, rolled her eyes.

When Vanessa's eyes roll, Ann Arbor shakes...

And now that you’re all laughing at me, it’s time to present:

5 Tips for Naming Your Gutsy Brand!

Tip 1: Don’t Worry About Putting What You Do in Your Brand Name

“But Dave, you guys have ‘Branding’ in your name?” I know, but the name everyone remembers is “Mayniax.” And we’re building it so that, in the future, we can remove “Branding” from the name – like Apple did when they removed “Computer” from theirs. Don’t worry, there’s always a plan.

For examples of not putting what you do in your brand name, think of all the brand names you can. Hell, I’ll even list a few: Target, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Budweiser, Exxon, Apple, Macy’s, Sears, Walmart, Hewlett Packard, Google, Microsoft, Toyota, Disney, Amazon, McDonald’s, etc. In fact, you can click on over to Interbrand’s list of the best global brands, here. We all know what most of them are because they’re brands we’ve all heard of, but not a single one has its product or service in its name – unless you count the “Cola” part of Coca-Cola.

And besides, saying what you do is what your tagline’s for.

Tip 2: Don’t Use Generic Words

Al Ries, who co-authored several influential marketing books – including Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding – talks about never using generic names for your brand(s). In fact, he flat out tells us to keep “nature” out of brand names.

When we say “generic,” we mean to stay away from words that can have a lot of different meanings. Words like: systems, solutions, services, business, group, tech, good, stuff, studios, etc. All of those words can mean different things to different people.

Long-time readers of this blog know the name of Vanessa’s and my first brand: Good Stuff Studios. Seriously, I don’t think it gets much more generic than that. And that’s why we decided to change it.

Because, like Al Ries says, “If ya got a bad name, change it.”

Tip 3: Do Use a Made-up Word

We have three reasons for this one!
1. It’s easy to trademark a word that’s never been used before
2. You can define that word, so it’s possible to make it stand for the category, like Kleenex is to tissue
3. Google loves a branded search!

So how do ya make up a name?

Telescoping

Telescoping is one way to give a shot. That’s when you mash some generic words together to see what sticks. Here are some quick examples: Microchip + Software = Microsoft, Federal + Express = FedEx, or Cocaine + Kola = Coca-Cola. Yeah, Coca-Cola used to be made with cocaine.

Because nutrition.

Anagrams

Coming up with anagrams is another way to name your gutsy brand. Unfortunately, using online anagram finders give you words already in use. So try coming up with your own using nouns, verbs, and adjectives you think of when you think of yourself and / or your target market.

Spell a real word differently

You may have heard of a little internet search company called Google. Well, that’s actually a re-spelling of the word “googol,” which is a mathematical term. And you don’t want me discussing mathematical terms. Another example we hope springs to your mind is Mayniax, which is obviously a re-spelling of “maniacs.”

The trick to this one is making sure people can’t possibly mispronounce the new spelling. When we were coming up with Mayniax, we played with several ways to spell it. One of which was “Maniax,” which would’ve been pronounced all kinds of ways.

Mayniax Branding toying with "Maniax" Branding

Tip 4: Keep it Short

Naming your gutsy brand, like everything else branding-wise, falls under the heading of simplicity.

If we look back at Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2016 rankings, We’ll see the longest name, character-wise, is Hewlett Packard Enterprise, with 26. But, since everyone says “HP,” – even though it’s technically not that “HP” – we’ll give this to Johnson & Johnson, with 17 characters – and we don’t recommend using ampersands because they can’t go in your URL. The longest one syllabically is Tiffany & Company, but since everyone calls them Tiffany’s, we’re giving this one to Johnson & Johnson, as well.

Something to keep in mind is the aforementioned brands were created a long time ago, when there was less competition, and when the average human’s attention span was longer than that of a goldfish. So keep it as short as possible, with as few syllables as possible. That will help keep it memorable.

Tip 5: Don’t Use Acronyms

As mentioned before, our first brand was Good Stuff Studios – and if you haven’t done so, yet, read our full story here.

What I didn’t mention before, is that some friends of mine and myself started Good Stuff Studios before Vanessa and I even met! And it was up to yours truly to design the logo.

And the logo I designed was a huge GSS, with a tiny Good Stuff Studios underneath it.

Mayniax Branding - The really old and acronym-y Good Stuff Studios logo

The problem with GSS is it’s also the acronym for the “Good Samaritan Society.” While I’m not exactly the devil, I doubt anyone would confuse me with being a member of said society. The point is, all the acronyms are taken. And the ones that aren’t, violate Tip 4.

Besides, it’s much easier to remember a real word than a combination of letters.

Here’s a re-cap of our five tips for naming your gutsy brand!

Tip 1: Don’t put what you do in your brand name
Tip 2: Don’t use generic words
Tip 3: Do use a made-up word
Tip 4: Do keep it short
Tip 5: Don’t use acronyms

And as a reminder, don’t play with technologies you don’t understand. Because if your business partners are like mine, you can actually hear their eyes rolling at you.

Stay gutsy, gang!

The world is broken, and we believe only entrepreneurs can fix it. But they’ll never get that chance if no one cares about their brands. So, with a little bit o’ nuttiness, a little bit o’ research, and a lotta bit o’ guts, it’s our job to make people care.

Wanna set up a happy fun time chat with Ann Arbor’s favorite branding team? Then click here, fill out the form, and we’ll get back to ya!

Dave Murray

Working with Ann Arbor’s Branding Team, Pt. 2

Working with Ann Arbor’s Branding Team, Pt. 2

In Working with Ann Arbor’s Branding Team, Pt. 1, I walked you, our latest gutsy entrepreneur, through the first three parts of our zany branding process. We helped you figure out your “why.” We taught you the importance of focusing on one product per brand. And finally, we did the research so we could come up with all kinds of little tricks and strategies to keep you top-of-mind when it comes to current and prospective clients.

And that was just the beginning!

Our Gutsy Branding Process

Naming Your Gutsy Brand!

It’s time, gutsy entrepreneur. It’s time to come up with one of the most important parts of your brand – and yet, a part that is far too often governed by ignorance. But fret not! Because naming your own gutsy brand is one of the reasons we get paid the big bucks!

Not the huge $80,000 that some firms charge for brand naming, of course. Maybe we should just get into the naming business. Kidding!

The topic of naming your gutsy brand could take a few blog posts on its own – hmmm, that might not be a bad idea – so here are the highlights:

Use a Made-up Word!

We start out trying to come up with made-up words for three reasons:

1. Google loves a branded search
2. You likely won’t run into trademark problems
3. Your made-up word may end up standing for the category, like “Kleenex” for tissues

Those are gigantic upsides to coming up with a made-up word, which is obviously why we do it. But if you, our gutsy friend, are allergic to having a killer brand – ah, my legendary bluntness – then we’ll use regular words. But there’s a catch.

We won’t use generic words!

When we say “generic words,” we mean words that are far too common, or have multiple meanings, because if they’re already defined, they can’t define a category.

When Vanessa and I went out on our own, our first brand was called “Good Stuff Studios.” And, my gutsy entrepreneurial friend, it doesn’t get much more generic than that. “Good” is subjective, so it doesn’t really mean anything. “Stuff” is about as generic as it gets. And as for “Studios,” that could be any kind of studio – design, music, dance, video, movie, etc.

Mayniax Branding - Name the Branding Mistakes in the Good Stuff Studios Logo!

What I’m saying is we chose an awful brand name early on. But when it comes to you, we know better! We wouldn’t dream of using words like “group,” “technology,” “business,” “solutions,” “systems,” “company,” “good,” “stuff,” “studios,” etc.

Name the Branding Mistakes!

Especially since the goal in the first place is to use a made-up word.

Sidenote: I should’ve been way more into Dr. Seuss.

The “Word”

This is one of the easiest parts of branding for us, because you likely won’t fight us on it!

At this point in the game, we’ve chatted quite a bit. We’ve gotten to know ya, and have probably all drank 10 times our combined body weights in caffeine. We have a good idea of who you are, and you have a good idea of who we are.

And so we start throwing words out there that remind us of you. The ultimate goal being that the word we all come up with will remind people of your brand, which will ultimately remind people of the category your brand’s in. It’s another top-of-mind thing.

We come up with the right word, we all celebrate over some red eyes, and now it’s time to start bringing this whole thing together!

And notice we haven’t even gotten to your logo yet! That’s because that’s part of the strategy, and we’re still nailing down your culture. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it.

It’ll just require a little more caffeine.

In Closing

Stay tuned for Pt 3 of our Working With Ann Arbor’s Branding Team series, and we’ll catch ya next time.

Stay gutsy!

If you’re looking for branding help in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, feel free to get a hold of us at contact@mayniaxbranding.com. And don’t forget to visit our About page, just to see if you’d wanna work with us, anyway.

Oh, and you should probably fill your coffee cup. It’s getting low.

Dave Murray

Personal Branding in Ann Arbor

Personal Branding in Ann Arbor

I love Ann Arbor

I mean sure, it has its problems – For instance, Ann Arbor was voted the most educated city in the United States in 2015. Wait, how’s that a problem? Well, ya see, what that study really said is that people in A2 stayed in school for a really long time. And, when your job is to build brands around entrepreneurs, when many of the most successful ones in history didn’t graduate from college or even high school, that doesn’t impress one all that much.

Then there’s Plymouth Road, where there are blinking yellow lights that are supposed to mean “stop.” And while we all know yellow lights – even the blinking kind – are supposed to mean “caution” or “slow down,” in reality, we all know they really mean, “Hurry so we don’t have to stop!” Hooray for staying in school a really long time, A2 denizens!

And finally, there’s the reputation Ann Arbor has outside her fair limits – a reputation of snobbery. I have to say, I’ve lived here for over nine years, and have yet to come across that. Of course, I’m classically unobservant, so a lot of people have said I probably just don’t notice when people are being snobs. I certainly make room for that scenario – but the fact remains, I haven’t noticed untold snobification.

“Wait, I thought this guy said he loves Ann Arbor?”

Before I go on, I’d be remiss not to mention this blog post was suggested by our social media queen, Stefanie Mitchell – Twitter: @stefcherelle – who sent me an email that read, “Write something like this about Ann Arbor.” “This” is a Forbes article entitled “9 Personal Branding Reasons to Love New York.”

stefanie-mitchell-mayniax-branding-social-media-queen

And so I was gonna write something similar, talking about A2’s young professionals and tech scenes. I was gonna write about networking and my firm belief that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere – thus borrowing from the aforementioned article and proving NYC’s just a proving ground for Ann Arbor. Heh heh.

But I’m not gonna do that. Instead, I’m gonna tell you why I love Ann Arbor – with a personal branding twist, of course. Because it’s actually very personal to me.

Mayniax Branding - Red Glasses and The Cube - a match made in A2!

Growing up in Jackson, Michigan

Yours truly, along with my sister, parents, Hortence and Sniffy – our two cats – moved to Jackson when I was nine. And I was mad! You see, mom and dad had done a lot of research on area schools, and decided to enroll me in Catholic school. I, of course, had no idea what that meant, but I do know that – to this day – I hate navy blue pants. I was mad because I had no idea what Catholic school was, I just knew I’d always gone to regular schools in California and Nevada, prior to moving to Jackson.

I attended Catholic schools in Jackson from the middle of fourth grade through senior year. And I gotta tell ya, while it was never explicitly stated, there was an underlying message: love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

Now before I go on, I wanna say that I got along with everyone. I was – and obviously still am – insanely short, but that wasn’t enough to raise the ire of my classmates. I was, after all, a straight white kid.

In fifth grade, I had to stop a fight because a heavy kid was about to get beat up – in front of a throng of parents.

In high school, more kids sold drugs than we had kids who weren’t white.

Also in high school, a girl committed suicide because she was mercilessly teased for the “sin” of being gay.

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

I was lucky to get out of there still being the man my parents taught me to be, but I still fight those with that “love thy neighbor unless they’re different” mentality.

Who Wants a Throwdown?

I argue with people whose asinine beliefs say simply being gay is a sin. How exactly? They’re just out there doing their thing like everyone else. Besides, I’m pretty sure whichever deity’s actually in charge is shaking his head saying, “How the crap could you think I meant that’s a sin!?!” And then he goes to get drunk on whiskey before realizing he created a place where even he can’t get drunk. D’oh!

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

And I’m absolutely speechless whenever I encounter racists. Seriously, they make me so mad I can’t even speak. Not to mention I’m in awe of the sheer stupidity required to be a racist. To be a racist, you have to hate just to hate. And have the I.Q. of a dead earthworm, of course. I saw too much of it growing up, and encounter it nearly every time I’m in a rural area. And I simply don’t get it. I never have. And I never will.

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

My friend, Chris – Twitter: @radiohostchris – who will be helping us launch a podcast in the next couple months, used to work in Farmington. He told me whenever he’d go for a walk and say hi to a little old lady, she’d just look away and hurry passed him. “But whenever I’m walking around Ann Arbor, if I ask a little old lady how she’s doing, she’ll say, ‘I’m fine, young man. How are you?’”

Mayniax Branding - Chris Lee Potcaster Extraordinaire and Lover of Our Logo

I’m not one who likes the words “tolerance” and “acceptance” – I think they denote having to put up with something. But Ann Arbor, in spite of the problems I mentioned at the beginning of this post, doesn’t seem like it’s accepting or tolerating anything. Instead, it seems to be welcoming, even embracing, everyone.

And Ann Arbor’s not just about embracing people for things they can’t – nor should they want to – control. Nope, Ann Arbor’s gonna welcome the weirdest, craziest people they can find. Hell, Ann Arbor welcomed me! And no one bats an eye when I walk around downtown with a red t-shirt and red Chucks. Because Ann Arbor doesn’t care. Ann Arbor’s cool with ya just being you. And that’s the greatest thing ever for a personal brand – told ya I’d get there.

Mayniax Branding - The Michigan and State Theatres

Your personal brand is simply who you are. And when you’re in an environment that won’t judge you for being that, you actually get to BE who you are. I never felt like I could truly be me in Jackson. There was too much I didn’t like about my experiences there. Too much “love thy neighbor unless they’re different.” Ann Arbor’s not perfect, and I’m not ignorant enough to think racism, homophobia – not to mention a whole lot of other judgment – doesn’t exist here, but I don’t know anyone who would use those words to describe it.

So why do I love Ann Arbor? Easy: I get to be me. And there’s nothing cooler for a person, or a personal brand.

So sayeth King Dave of Ann Arbor!

Dave Murray Mayniax Branding King Dave of Ann Arbor 2

Stay gutsy!

If you’re looking for branding help in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, feel free to get a hold of us at contact@mayniaxbranding.com. And don’t forget to visit our About page, just to see if you’d wanna work with us, anyway.

Oh, and you should probably fill your coffee cup. It’s getting low.