Archive for the ‘brand name’ category

Mondelez? Gesundheit!!

March 24th, 2012

If you had “Mondelez” in the office pool for the new name of Kraft Foods’ global snacking company, you’re a winner!

As reported in an article in the New York Times, “the name is a combination of ‘monde,’ the Latin word for ‘world,’ and ‘delez,’ a made-up word meant to suggest ‘delicious.’ Hence, ‘delicious world.’”  Good to know!

According to Kraft’s chief marketing officer, “It’s quite a job for a single word to capture everything about what we want the new global snacks company to stand for.”  So…you went with a word that captures absolutely nothing about what your company stands for?  Actually, you didn’t go with a word; you went with “Mondelez,” which requires an instruction manual to explain how it’s pronounced and what it means.  She goes on,  “I’m thrilled with the name Mondelez International. It’s interesting, unique and captures a big idea.”  Well, you have to give her credit for hewing to the company line.

What I want to know is how much they paid for this name?  Some people have speculated it might have been in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.  If that’s true, then I’d say they overpaid by…oh… $50,000 to $100,000.

As any marketer worth her or his salt well knows, a brand name is one of a business’s most important assets. Most business managers inherit a brand name and have to make the best of it.  But when you have the luxury of starting from scratch and creating your own brand name, there’s no excuse for going with one that’s hard to pronounce and has to have its meaning explained. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the person selecting this name wasn’t a professional marketer.

Now that I think about it, I’d like to know the name of the agency that came up with “Mondelez.”  Whatever it is, I’m guessing it’s hard to pronounce and completely devoid of any obvious meaning.

On the other hand, I named my company “14th Floor Solutions,” so what the hell do I know?

The Big Ten Needs a Bigger Idea

December 14th, 2010

We’ve known for some time that the Big Ten Conference wasn’t great at either math or communications.  After all, for years this eleven-team conference has inexplicably continued to call itself “The Big Ten”, and they’re sticking with their name even though they’re about to add a twelfth team.  I can certainly understand wanting to maintain your brand name and brand equity, but when your brand name describes the composition of your product (like the number of teams composing the conference) and that composition changes, it seems to me that the name has to change as well.  Otherwise, you just look foolish, and while you’re maintaining your brand name, you’re diminishing your brand equity.

Well, the small minds at the Big Ten offices have done it again:  they’ve just launched a very uninspiring logo (above), and they’ve named the two divisions within the conference “Legends” and “Leaders”.  The logo will surely generate mostly yawns, while the division names are guaranteed to be met with hoots and hollers.  Most conferences use geographic terms–like “North” and “South” or “East” and “West”– to designate their divisions, but the Big Ten can’t because they chose not to organize their divisions on a geographic basis.

Admittedly, coming up with appropriate names that aren’t geographically-oriented is quite a challenge, but I’ll give it a whack.  Given that there are six teams in each division, how  about “Six of One” and “Half a Dozen of Another”?  No?  How about these division names:

  • “Abbott” and “Costello”
  • “Hall” and “Oates”
  • “Captain” and “Tennille”
  • “Yin” and “Yang”
  • “Mac” and “PC”
  • “PC” and “Non-PC”
  • “Rock” and “Roll”
  • “Run” and “Pass”
  • “Hut One” and “Hut Two”

While I’m at it, how about some new equity-preserving names for the conference itself that retain “Big” and “Ten” without being misleading:

  • “The Big Ten-Plus-Two”
  • “The Bigger-Than-Ten”
  • “The Big Greater-Than-or-Equal-to-Ten”
  • “The Big Tension”

Okay, maybe we’re not quite there yet. I’ll keep working on it, but in the meantime, I do have a tagline for them:

“The Big Ten:  12 on a 10-Scale”

How Do I Like Kia Now? Don’t Ask.

April 20th, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like Kia’s latest TV commercial when it debuted on the Super Bowl, and I don’t like it any more now.  After almost three months on the air, this spot still makes no sense to me.

First of all, the kid-oriented but rather bizarre characters are irrelevant at best and distracting at worst.  If their role is to reinforce the kid-friendliness of the car, showing them cruising the Las Vegas strip and partying in a bar, with monotonous rock music blaring throughout the commercial, pretty much defeats that purpose.

Second, other than demonstrating a push-button ignition, the spot does little to showcase the car or whatever pseudo-innovative features it presumably has.  Having seen the spot several (i.e., way too many) times, I still struggle to recall what the car even looks like.

Finally, the spot does a horrendous job of brand identification.  You never hear the names of the brand or the model, and you only see them a few times, and very briefly at that.

But none of this is surprising.  With the notable exception of Southwest Airlines, companies focused on selling products on the basis of low prices rarely deliver creative or strategically sound advertising.   And while customer surveys indicate that Kia’s vehicles are  actually  a pretty good value, their advertising is no bargain.

Hey, Kia–How do you like me now?

Liberty Mutual Files Irresponsible Claim

April 6th, 2010

Last night I  had a trivial but all-too familiar experience:  a TV commercial began, and immediately I realized that while it was one I had seen dozens of times, I had no idea who the advertiser was.  A whopping 51 seconds into the commercial, I learned that the advertiser was Liberty Mutual.

It’s bad enough that this spot does such a poor job of registering the name of the advertiser.  But what’s just as bad is this:  after nearly a minute of  watching people do good deeds while we listen to a background song with barely intelligible and rather irrelevant lyrics (HEM’s “Half an Acre”), we finally hear an announcer telling us something about the brand being advertised.  What’s even worse, here’s what the announcer says:  “When it’s people who do the right thing, they call it being responsible.  When it’s an insurance company, they call it Liberty Mutual.”

Oh, really?  Is that the way people talk about Liberty Mutual?   Have you ever heard anybody mention what a responsible company Liberty Mutual is?  Me neither; in fact, I’ve never heard anyone ever mention Liberty Mutual period. Don’t get me wrong; for all I know, Liberty Mutual is a wonderful company, but this commercial does absolutely nothing to persuade me of that.

If you’re trying to convince me that Liberty Mutual is truly a beacon of responsibility, give me some substance.  Build a commercial around a true story of how Liberty Mutual did the right thing when other insurance companies were shirking their responsibility.  Show me an actual client raving about how Liberty Mutual went above and beyond the call of duty for her.  Give me some statistics about how Liberty Mutual is ranked #1 by insurance clients for responsibility or integrity or customer service.

In other words, give me something I can believe instead of insulting my intelligence and wasting my time by simply making an empty, flat-footed and utterly unimpressive claim about how people talk about you.  Wouldn’t you think that an insurance company would be a little more adept when it comes to claims?

To paraphrase Liberty Mutual’s announcer, “When a company spends money on a bad campaign, they call it being irresponsible.  When it’s a really bad campaign, they call it Liberty Mutual.”

Massage Envy Not a Name to Be Envied

March 22nd, 2010

massage envy homepromogiftcard

I’ve recently been hearing a lot of radio ads for Massage Envy, which I believe is the first national chain of massage clinics. I know very little about the company other than two things: they have a clean, neatly designed website, and I don’t like their brand name.

I’m sorry, but since “massage” and “envy” are two words that don’t go together naturally, I can only assume that the brand name is a play on the phrase “penis envy.” If that’s the case, it’s a pretty tasteless play on words, and if it isn’t the case, it might as well be since that’s the association most people will probably come up with. (Unless, of course, I’m the only one, in which case I should probably be surfing for therapists rather than typing a blog post.)

I love brand names that are distinctive, and I have to admit that Massage Envy gets decent marks on that count. But that’s not enough. A brand name needs to evoke the kind of imagery you want people to associate with your brand. Based on the fairly professional look of Massage Envy’s website, I would have to guess that the imagery suggested by their brand name is not the way they want to position their company.

Selecting a brand name is like selecting a name for one of your children; you’re going to have to live with your decision for a long time, and life can be a lot easier–or harder–depending on what name you choose.

If you’re told that you’re about to interview a job candidate named “Jethro”, you’re likely to develop certain expectations and assumptions about him. Those expectations and assumptions my ultimately prove to be inaccurate, but they will nonetheless form an obstacle this candidate will need to–and might not be able to–overcome. In this age of increasing clutter and decreasing attention spans, new brands simply can’t afford to pose such obstacles to prospective new customers.

So…Is Massage Envy an ill-advised play on words–or is it just me?