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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

Focus: A Brand Strategy Assignment

Focus IS Brand Strategy!

Hello, class! I’m Professor Dave. For anyone who wants to do any brown-nosing, I enjoy Hershey’s bars, Dragon’s Milk, and the occasional Granny Smith Apple – the non-poisonous variety, of course. And when you’re done giving me any of those, leave. I abhor ass-kissers.

Today, I’ll be teaching you all about focus, which is one of the key aspects of brand strategy. And at the end, I’ll even give you some homework! If this were real school, you’d be ticked – but, since this assignment will make you a whole lotta cash, you’ll dig it.

Now, on to Focus

Mayniax Branding - Focus on those googly eyes!

I write a lot about focus. The reason being I believe it’s the billion-dollar idea that almost no corporation, let alone entrepreneur, wants to deal with.

Consider, however, the fact Apple – the second most valuable company in the world – nearly went bankrupt in the mid-’90s. So how did it survive? For one thing, Steve Jobs asked Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, for $150,000,000 to help keep Apple afloat. Gates obliged. The second thing Jobs did was eliminate a whole lotta product lines. In short, he focused.

Consider the fact Chipotle, a company that’s kept its product focused, started life on the stock market at $42.20 per share in 2006, and as of this writing, is at $621.69 per share.

And finally, consider the fact LEGO, a company that nearly went belly-up in 2004, is now the number one toy company in the world. And all they do is make building blocks.

So Who Doesn’t Focus?

mayniax branding - It makes me incredibly sad when entrepreneurs don't focus

For one, Google. Google puts its name on everything! In the old days, Google pretty much meant “search.” Now, it’s put its name on so many different products, people aren’t sure what it means. And, while I’m sure most still think of it as search, the fact is Google’s losing market share. A lot of people who are paid a lot of money are, I’m sure, running reports trying to figure out what’s up. Brand strategists, however, know the answer: its name’s on too much stuff! Google’s not focused.

Now, since they came up with a parent company called Alphabet, we’re actually excited about Google. They have the opportunity to right the ship, and go back to making Google mean search, while their other brand names can stand for everything else they’re doing. Now, let’s see if they do it.

Another one’s McDonald’s. Poor, poor McDonald’s. I actually feel bad for McDonald’s. I, however, wrote about McDonald’s in the same post I linked to in the Google paragraph, so you can read my thought’s there. That typed, Al Ries – who’s pretty much the father of brand strategy / positioning – agreed with me in a piece he wrote for Ad Age.

And Now for the Brand Focus Assignment

One of our rules is: One Brand. One Product. One Target Market.

Mayniax Branding Rule - One Brand. One Product. One Target Market.

I’m sure, even after all my explaining above, that still seems insane to you. Don’t worry, though – I’m going to set it up so you can see the results for yourself. And then, you too can join the gutsy ones.

Step One: Identify all the different products / services you offer.
Step Two: Identify the one that makes the most money.
Step Three: Create a new brand that only sells the product / service that makes the most money.

What you’ll end up with are two brands. The first brand is the one that sells everything – including the product / service identified in Step Two. That’s what you’ve been doing, so I know that’s the comfort zone. The second brand is focused solely on that one product / service that makes you the most money.

Once you’ve created both brands, advertise the hell out of them. Remember that branding takes a while, but what you’ll eventually see is that the second brand will make more money than the same product in the first brand.

Or, you could stop wasting your time, and create separate brands for all the products / services you offer. It’s unconventional. It’s a lot more front-end work. It even takes longer to see results. But if you want a better life that eventually leads to a lot less struggle, it’s the smart, and gutsy, thing to do.

If you’re not sure how to brand, and you’re in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, feel free to fire an email to contact@mayniaxbranding.com. If you’re not in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, then read past and future articles from this very blog. You should get a pretty good understanding of how branding and brand strategy works.

And with that, I’m out!

Now, where the crap did I put that Dragon’s Milk?

Stay gutsy, gang!

Dave Murray

The Dangers of Bad Brand Strategy

Readers of my other blog posts might know the mission of Mayniax Branding. They may even be able to recite it, themselves. Come on, say it with me: “Our job is to give gutsy business owners and entrepreneurs a shot at better lives by branding the hell out of their businesses.” Ahh, that felt good to type. But, what happens when an entrepreneur or business owner doesn’t know much about branding or brand strategy? Or worse, what if they think they don’t need to know anything about it?

I recently had my first meeting as a member of a marketing committee, where there was talk of adding two brands to three existing, and struggling, brands. It quickly became apparent these people were ignorant to the ways of the branding arts. They were focused on the wrong things, and worse, could only suggest things to the real powers-that-be, rather than make any changes themselves. I felt bad for them, because I’ve seen this movie before. They’re screwed, and I can’t save them.

When the top people don’t understand brand strategy, bad things happen. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of brand extension causing employees to work harder on more brands with the same resources. This puts unneeded stress on employees, and results in one or more of them quitting for greener pastures.

Sometimes, however, it’s a whole lot worse.

Ya Hate a Bad Apple

Gil Amelio, the man Steve Jobs replaced shortly after going back to Apple, knew a little bit about strategy. Brought in as a turn-around expert, Amelio realized one of Apple’s problems was that the company had lost its focus. And, in an effort to re-focus, thousands of people were fired. The sad reality is, for the sake of Apple, that was the right move.

I have to think the previous regime didn’t set out to fire thousands of people, but their ignorance of brand strategy caused it to happen. They tried getting into too many markets with products that Steve Jobs once remarked as having “…no sex in them…” When Jobs came back, in order to really focus Apple, even more product lines were cut. And again, the sad reality is, for the sake of Apple, that was the right move.

Microsoft and Nokia

On April 25, 2014, Microsoft bought Nokia. In July of 2014, Microsoft laid off 13,000 people. In September of 2014, Microsoft laid off another 2,100. And the majority of those 15,100 employees were Nokia workers. So, what the crap happened?

Satya Nadella, the current C.E.O. of Microsoft, happened. Specifically, his “…vision of a leaner, meaner Microsoft” – which, if true, is a good brand strategy move – happened. Just as Amelio and Jobs had to re-focus Apple by cutting thousands of employees, so too did Nadella with Microsoft. It obviously sucks for those thousands of people who got pink slips, simply because the former C.E.O.s – one of whom was Bill Gates – didn’t know about brand strategy.

A Ringless Saturn

Since 1959, General Motors has had problems with brand strategy. They seem to have that “but we’ve always done it this way” culture that impedes innovation. And because of that, 2,000 workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee were laid off.

Saturn had become a powerful brand all its own, with a “…unique power train, its polymer body panels that didn’t dent or rust, its sand-cast aluminum engine block and its no hassle, no dickering retail sales experience…” General Motors and the U.A.W. disapproved of Saturn people not thinking of “…themselves as G.M. Subordinates or as U.A.W. card carriers,” and proceeded to destroy everything that differentiated Saturn from other G.M. brands, until all their vehicles were just like all General Motors vehicles: the same vehicles with different nameplates.

In Conclusion, Class…

Apple and Microsoft ended up having to fire thousands of people because of brand expansion – putting their names on too many products in too many markets, which made it so neither brand stayed in the minds of potential customers. Thousands were fired from Saturn because G.M. didn’t understand just how important differentiation is in the marketplace. And in all three cases, ignorance led to tragedy.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and C.E.O.s can destroy careers, lives, and even towns, simply because they’re ignorant to brand strategy. Or, they can talk to branding experts, and be heroes.

Which one are you?

Stay gutsy, gang!

Sources
Low End Mac: Gil Amelio fires thousands, Steve Jobs Returns.
Tech Times: Satya Nadella wants “…a leaner, meaner Microsoft.”
Forbes: General Motors halts Saturn’s differentiation
Slate: 2,000 people fired from Saturn.