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Product Names and Branding
Mobile phone manufacturers, automobile manufacturers, diamond producers or anybody who sells anything in capitalist countries love Christmas because it is time for profit, as we buy things for loved ones, and not so loved ones.
Advertising sells products and product names are important. There are so many brands in a supermarket aisle, the product you are selling should stand out.
The competition is so fierce now that manufacturers have stand-alone cardboard display in drugstore/chemist aisles making it difficult to walk around.
All that is futile if customers cannot remember your product name. Tic Tac mints are popular because of bad breath. That is why teens take them along when they have a date. Business executives also pop them before that presentation in the boardroom.
Rocher, which manufactures Tic Tacs first called the product Refreshing Mints. They soon realised that is was too heavy to stand up, so they gave it another name.
Manufacturers, advertising men and women should be around the table when deciding what to call your next new product.
A well-packaged marketing strategy will not result in shoppers whipping out their credit cards if the name of the product is sluggish or academic.
Scientists, computer engineers or doctors can be the brains behind the product’s name, but advertising agencies might not be able to sell it. They are not magicians. For example, they cannot push a product called Oesophagus.
O-G, call it O-G. That is what ad gurus would have suggested, based on the brevity of the word. Consumers are used to saying OMG (Oh my God!) thanks to Facebook and Twitter.
Kids have street names made from abbreviations, so do musicians. The shorter the sweeter the more ‘cool’.
Blue Chip Brands
This is easier said than done because companies want names that reflect what their products do or how they will make consumers feel.
What brands come to mind if I say cellphone, dandruff, facial tissues, bread, chocolate chip cookies, margarine, coffee, sneakers, pick-up trucks or grocery stores?
What makes them the number one choice for shoppers zipping in and out of supermarket aisles after a stressful day with a mean boss or client?
It’s the name. Men and women in corporations’ laboratories or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are concerned with how products will work. They don’t want any glitches.
It must be an expensive headache to recall more than a thousand cars because of a faulty seatbelt. Advertisers come in with marketing plans after that perfection is achieved.
What is advertising?
This is how Advertising Standards Canada defines it.
“Advertising” and “advertisements(s)” are defined as any message (the content of which is controlled directly or indirectly by the advertiser) expressed in any language and communicated in any medium (except those listed under Exclusions) to Canadians with the intent to influence their choice, opinion or behaviour.
This doesn’t work for me because there’s no mention of money. Advertising is: see me like me buy me. “How much?” You advertise so that I can buy your product (including a political party) and also recommend it to friends and family. That is advertising’s bottom line.
This does not happen if I don’t remember the product’s name. If advertising agencies are brought in earlier to troubleshoot names, they will remind manufacturers that some consumers use what we can call, inherited products.
University students and newly-married couples grab from the supermarket shelf products from their past, their parents' favourites because of easy-to-remember names.
Somewhere down the line, manufacturers decided to ‘educate’ consumers. Scientific terms left the laboratory and crept into product names. Did consumers remember the scientific and technical terms or still prefer products with names like Rub It In and Drink Me?
Enter calories and the bathroom scale. Most consumers decided to shed the big O (obesity) and live healthier. They punch the calculator before they eat.
How many calories, sodium, carbohydrates, saturated fat and so on? This healthier lifestyle sometimes affects how manufacturers name their food and beverage products.
No matter how good anti-oxidants are for the body, advertising agencies will not advise manufacturers to give a snack bar that name. Consumers will bite their tongues, leading to messy lawsuits. I kid you not.
Effective advertising is mama’s advertising i.e. “It’s good for you.”
A product’s name should reflect that and be easy on the mind. It’s all about memory. If shoppers don’t remember the name of your product, then it doesn’t exist.
Online ads have forced advertising agencies to go back to basics. If they are allowed in meetings to name new products, they will ask one question, will the name make great radio advertising copy?
Yes, television hijacked billions of dollars from radio stations, but radio is still the best for the car, waiting in line at the bank with headphones on or at work.
The shoe is on the other foot now because the internet has given television a taste of its own medicine i.e. stole advertising dollars, using crisp ads reminiscent of radio.
It will be practically impossible to write effective copy for a 15 second internet video with a product name like Oesophagus. It will take 8 seconds just to say it. Like radio, online junkies are impatient and don’t have time for a name that will waste airtime or YouTube airplay.
A short product name enables copywriters to write taut and tight or make ads that are ‘da bomb’ as kids would say.
Advertising has always been the ancient village square where six farmers sell potatoes or eggs. Which ones are the best?
Time Square in New York should be called Electronic Billboard Square. Those blinking ads compete for the attention of thousands of people who pound that pavement every day. Some see it from the seat of a yellow cab.
However, Time Square is old school. Mobile phones are the new kid of the block and they are going to be around the advertising block and back for a long time. You have a product to sell, give them a product name they can tweet in a second.
Consumers don’t have time. They were glued to their mobile phones at breakfast, inside the subway and now walking through Time Square.
They are part of the 9.35 million people that follow Amitabh Bachchan the Indian actor on Twitter or 12.2 million followers for the American music producer will.i.am.
What is the name of your product again? Oesophagus.
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