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Monthly Archives: November 2009

If a brand logo is a visual mark of ownership of a company, product, service or person and symbolizes the differentiating promise of value that brand boasts, then a brand name stands for the verbal and written ownership of that promise of value and symbolizes it phonically each time the name is uttered. Overtime, if your brand delivers on this promise without fail, then your brand name will come to symbolize that value concept in the minds of your market. In many instances, a name can become the verb that stands for the value concept. FedEx it. Google it. Xerox it. (Clearly, the inventor of the facsimile machine didn’t hire a branding agency. Fax it. Oops!)


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Brand naming drives brand launch success.

Is Home Depot Selling The Farm?.

You know business is tough when you have to sell off parts of your parking lot to make your revenue numbers.  However, news out of Atlanta this week suggests that’s exactly what home improvement giant, The Home Depot intends to do. Saddled with too much asphalt and too few customers, the one-time retail juggernaut is seeking buyers in retail and food service to set up shop on its tarmac – of which it owns approximately 89 percent.

According to Home Depot’s Vice President of Real Estate Mike LeFerle, the company has identified unused portions of parking lots at hundreds of its stores in the U.S. and Canada. They will be looking to sell to complementary businesses that target a similar customer base. Parcels are said to be approximately half an acre or more.

Interbrand Blog | Social Media and Brand Names: protect your names.

We learned the hard way, when the world wide web opened up for mass use, what it means to have cyber-squatters. Brands late to the game found themselves in the midst of fighting for usage rights of their own URL handles, and squatters rubbing their palms – and coins – together in profitable glee.

And yet, it seems our memory is short. Some did not learn from these costly mistakes.

As the likes of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have gained mass adoption, those brands treading cautiously around them forgot one simple rule: always protect your brand name. Always. Regardless of approach – whether you want to take your time deciding on the right strategy for social media, or even if you never intend on using these platforms – it always pays to protect your name.

A recent AdvertisingAge article found that many marketers that have not registered brand names or handles are concerned over their brand reputation. According to the article:

“A quick survey of accounts for the top 100 national advertisers, as ranked by Advertising Age’s DataCenter, shows that surprisingly few have ownership of the Twitter handles that correspond to the names of their companies or their brands.”

Companies being squatted on include General Motors, Nestle, and MasterCard – all using variations of their brand names (e.g., MasterCardNews). A surprise on the list? Burger King. Even Walmart is grappling with the issue. Twitter, in the meantime:

“…has hinted heavily that a “Twitter Pro” service is coming, figuring this issue for marketers and trademarked brands will be an increasing headache.”

While many squatters don’t actively use the accounts, there’s always the risk one could use it negatively. And while, on Twitter, inactive handles tend not to rank high in search results, it can still be a source of frustration for brands when trying to wrest their names back from anonymous squatters.

Registering Names and Handles

Like URLs, it’s important to reserve or register brand names on major social media platforms – and consider also reserving both good and bad variations of the name.

Jerome McDonnell, Interbrand’s Trademark Consultant advises:

“From a trademark perspective, a user name or domain name that’s already taken, by itself is not an automatic trademark conflict.  If the person who registered it did so legitimately, they are entitled to it. Of course, if bad faith or intent to confuse/deceive the public is evident, there is recourse – but better to avoid this by first reserving them yourself.”

Social Media Strategy

Protecting your name doesn’t just mean registering it – it means knowing what people are saying, and responding when appropriate.

Nora Geiss, Senior Consultant and social media expert at Interbrand says:

“Hire social-savvy people passionate about your brand to get in the conversation. Fact is, “bad press” isn’t always so bad – it might give you presence to an audience that you might not normally reach. Having people who “get” this environment will help you focus your attention on the areas that actually make an impact with people you want to engage. Protection isn’t just about being reactive, but proactive.”

While plans for using social media platforms may vary today, brands can’t always anticipate where their strategy, or their customers needs, will lead them. It’s then you’ll want to have those names secured, protected and ready for use.

People often ask, ‘‘What is brand equity?’’ There are many ways to
answer this. Some say it’s everything associated with the brand that adds to
or subtracts from the value it provides to a product or service. Others emphasize
the financial value of the brand asset. Still others stress the consumer
loyalty or price premium generated by brand equity. Some even talk about
the permission and flexibility a brand gives an organization to extend into
new product and service categories. While all of these are very important
parts of brand equity, I think the following story best illustrates what brand
equity is.

Imagine you are having lunch with a long-time and very good friend.
Several times throughout the lunch, she makes disparaging and sarcastic remarks
that make you feel bad. You think to yourself, ‘‘This just isn’t like her.
She must be having a bad day.’’ You meet with her again a week or two later,
and again she acts ornery and negative. You think to yourself, ‘‘Something
must be going on in her life that she’s really struggling with. Maybe she is
having difficulties with her job or her health or her marriage or her children.’’
You may even ask her if everything is all right. She snaps back, ‘‘Of course
it is.’’
Your interaction with her continues in this vein over the next couple of
months. You continue to try to be supportive, but she’s definitely getting on
your nerves. After many meetings and much interaction, you finally decide
that she’s a changed person and someone with whom you prefer to spend
less and less time. You may get to this point after a few months, or perhaps
even after a year or more. She doesn’t change, and eventually the relationship
peters out.
Now consider for a moment that the person you first had lunch with is the
same person as before, with one exception: She is a total stranger to you.
You haven’t met her previously and she is not your dear friend. I would guess
that after enduring many caustic comments and being insulted a few times at
that lunch, your first impression wouldn’t be very positive. In fact, you’d probably
be inclined not to get together with that person again. You’d probably
walk away from that lunch thinking, ‘‘What a miserable person. I hope I don’t
run into her again.’’
In both of these scenarios it is the same person behaving the same way in
the same situation. Yet in the first scenario, you are very quick to forgive the
behavior. In fact, you feel a lot of concern toward her. In the second scenario,
you can’t wait for the lunch to be over and you hope never to see the person
again.
In the first scenario, the person was a long-time good friend. She had a
lot of equity with you. In the second scenario, she had no equity at all. You
see, if people or brands have a lot of equity—that is, if you know, like, and
trust them —you will ‘‘cut them a lot of slack’’ even if they repeatedly fail to
meet your expectations. If a person, product, service, or organization has no
equity with you, no emotional connection, and no trust, then you are much
less inclined to forgive unmet expectations.

Brand equity creates a relationship and a strong bond that grows over
time. It is often so strong that it compensates for performance flaws, such as
an out-of-stock situation, poor customer service, a product that falls apart,
inconvenient store hours, or a higher-than-average-price. In the end, you
want to deliver good quality and good value, innovation, relevant differentiation,
convenience, and accessibility with your brand. However, we must
never forget that building brand equity is like building a close friendship. It
requires a consistent relationship over time, trust, and an emotional connection.

Credit goes to Derrick Daye, Managing Partner of The Blake Project


Derrick has spent the past 18 years helping organizations release the full potential of their brands. His experience is as deep as it is diverse encompassing the disciplines of advertising, branding, sales promotion and public relations. Most notably he has worked with the White House Press Corps, Johnson & Johnson and the National Basketball Association.