Tag Archives: Identity

Which came first the egg or the credit card?

I’m often surprised by how many times I’ve been asked by friends & clients to help them name a business or service, as they believe, once they have the name sorted, everything else will fall into place, but this isn’t the best way to do it (but it can work sometimes). What comes first the product or the name? (when I say product I’m referring to your company, services, products), hopefully you will say the product.

Depending on how you market yourself, ie your company name explaining what you do as a company may be vital, or it may be irrelevant. eg Kwik-Print informs you that they’re a printers and they’re quick, while the name MacDonalds has nothing to do with fast food. You should try avoiding negative connotations within the name, and if you’re using a descriptive name you need to get to the point, plus whatever you end up with it should be as memorable as possible or even unforgettable.  Of course you can break all the rules and end up with a name that’s descriptive, an oxymoron, has negative connotations yet still unforgettable. I own no paper™, it has the word “no” in the name (can’t get much more negative than that!), it’s descriptive yet an oxymoron, as it says exactly what we don’t do as a company, we don’t do anything that involves using paper, yet it’s unforgettable.

So if you agree that the product comes first, then surely the next step is, defining your goals, your service offerings, your branding etc well, not exactly, the most important aspect of your business, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s your customers, without them you don’t have a business, plain and simple, so what your customers get out of your product is key to everything. The more you can make your name about what they want & not what you do, the better. Here’s an example, if the benefits for you customers is to help them in their day to day lives and to help them achieve new goals etc, then you’re obviously having a positive affect on them. So, you should be focusing your naming efforts on the outcome for your clients and not on you & your services. You should be looking at the positive results of your service, not the service itself, your audience & customers will only be interested in the results, so that’s where you need to hook them.

Here’s a list of things you should consider before finalising your name and in this order as well.
Your Mission
Your Vision
Your Core Values
Your Unique Selling Point
Your Emotional Selling Point
Your Brand
Your Tagline / Strapline
Your Identity
Your name (Yeah sorry about that, but it’s way down here!)
Your Logo

Briefly, your mission sets the goal for your organisation, it’s purpose. Your vision is more personal and motivational, a driver to help you fulfill your mission. Your core values are the very essence of what you or your company stand for, strip away everything else and the core values remain, they will be your compass in good times and bad times. Before I move on it’s important to understand the importance of this. Your values become the very glue that holds your company together, your values are things you either know already or discover, you can’t invent them or fake them. Plus they must not be confused with your service offering (ie Disney’s core purpose is to make people happy, not build theme parks or make cartoons). Your unique selling point is what makes you different from the competition. The emotional selling point is how customers will feel about using you or your service. Your Brand is your promise, it reflects your Core Values, but note your brand is what your customers think & perceive about you, it’s what they walk away with, it’s important that you live up to your promises and deliver them. Your tagline, supports your brand, it says in words what you can’t necessarily express with a picture or icon. Your identity is the visual element that supports your brand & it’s message (note that, audio, smell, taste & touch are elements to some companies/products identity & brand). Then we get to the the name & eventually your logo.

Of course you can always ignore this entirely, and just come up with a name that has absolutely nothing to do with your product, then market the hell out of it. Egg did it with their credit card & bank services, it’s not unforgettable, but it’s certainly memorable, plus it’s been very successful. Of course marketing alone won’t make your business a success, it’s your customers that make your business a success, so focus your efforts on your customers, as they’re the best viral marketing campaign you can ever have, remember, make your business viral, not your marketing.

The AAA of Branding

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write anything about branding so I thought I’d dip my toe into it again and start with a short rule of three that successful brands follow.

Attractive: Your customers need a reason, a desire to engage with you. To be drawn in by your brand story and ethos

Authentic: You have to be genuine, you have to be true to what you say. Live your brand by practicing what you preach

Applicable: Your customers need a reason to use you or your service, to make a connection with you, you need to make a difference in their life

that’s all for today, more soon

There’s An Ad For That

You have to admire Verizon’s audacity in creating this advert to try and snag AT&T customers over to their network, by playing upon Apple’s “There’s an App for That” tagline used in their iPhone & App Store adverts (in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, you’ll find plenty of them here).

But it’s not just Verizon that’s brand jacking Apple’s App Store advert, Pepsi have created a chat up application named “AMP UP Before You Score“… No doubt this will offend some, but that’s the whole point, they’ll get plenty of free publicity that way… anyway it’s an amusing and nicely designed iPhone app, plus it’s coded well.

Download AMP UP Before you Score

Organic Fusion Engineer

I dislike job titles (especially inflated ones), I never use one myself, your actions define what you do for a living, not your business card.

If you excel at your work, you won’t require a job title, you probably won’t need business cards either, as everyone will already know what you do & who you are, as you’ll be the person they’re talking about & respect, the person they go to when they need things done really well.

There are times you can put an inflated job title to good use, when you want something to talk about or set yourself apart from the rest of your field, Organic Fusion Engineer is a fun job title I saw on a carpenters business card, I used him because he was recommended, and I’ll always remember the work he did, but I’ll never forget his job title!

The Dalai Lama on Twitter… Nope, just a case of Brand Jacking

Within 24hrs of announcing his Twitter account, the Dalai Lama has amassed 13,450 followers… Surely that must have set a new Twitter record!

Why choose Twitter: “His Holiness thought it was prudent to make his office open and assessable to a more youth and technologically advancing audience.” So now there really is no excuses for anyone saying they can’t be bothered or don’t get Twitter!

BUT AU CONTRAIRE: This is a fake profile that was pulled by Twitter yesterday, click here for more info. Reminds me of the Exxon Mobil Corp Branding Jacking case I wrote about in my You Don’t Know Jack post. All the more reason for the Dalia Lama to have an ID Gator account!

Your Identity Matters!

There are those that label a personal domain name as a vanity domain, but I disagree… having a personalised number plate is vanity, owning a personalised URL is foresight… what’s the difference? I’ll give you an example. In an interview, a young woman of 16 said, I want to more famous than Persil Automatic, that young woman was Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. There’s no doubting that she’s accomplished her goal… but what’s interesting is that she could have compared herself to “Madonna” or another well known musician, but she didn’t, she chose a washing detergent!?! I could go into this more, but I won’t as Jeremy Bullmore does such a brilliant job at explaining why here.

So coming back to my point, Victoria Beckham knew from a pretty young age how important her image, identity & brand were to her, and she set out to establish it. Now take a look at your own online fingerprint, are you really in control of it. You’re spread across the net on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Google, Blogger, Plaxo, YouTube, TypePad, Hi5, Yahoo, Bebo, Slideshare, Vimeo, EyeJot, WordPress… I could go on, but you get the picture. Isn’t it about time you consolidated all of your online identity, isn’t it time you made sure no one was pretending to be you!? Yeah it happens everyday, normally to someone famous, but it can happen to you just as easily,  a jilted ex, mates having a bit of a laugh etc

I registered my own name as a domain about 10 years ago, as things change, but my name won’t, my online identity is about me not the company(s) I work at or own, over the years I’ve owned 10 companies, merged & sold 5, each time my emails, contact numbers etc have changed, but my own personal website has always been a constant. But there’s more to it than that, I’ve been helping companies build & protect their digital brands for years, but it’s time individuals wake up to the fact that they need to protect & build their online Brand too. What does your Facebook profile say about you, photos of you with a permanent marker pen moustache drawn on you face as you lay drunk in a heap on New Years Eve? Or your boyfriend posts a video of you in your underwear while you work out on your “Wii Fit.” These may all appear as harmless bits of fun now, but they could be very embarrassing in the future when job interviews or promotions come up.

If you’re in the business of dealing with your clients Brand, Marketing, PR etc then what happens when they type your name into Google, if you can’t demonstrate that you can get yourself to the top of search engines, or more importantly, protect your own identity online, then how do you expect your client to trust you to do the same for them?

So coming back to personalised domains, for an individual Web 2.0 is all about making connections, creating relationships & building trust, and I see the next shift (call it web 2.5 / 3.0 if you want) will be centred around the “individual” aggregating their numerous networks, thus allowing them to leverage the trusted connections they’ve invested so much effort in building. So how better to do that, than to put your own name to it!

Think about it, Your Identity Matters!

Fakebook: Koobface Virus

If you use Facebook, then you should read this article from the BBC about the Koobface virus that has been playing havoc on Facebook. Below is a snippet of the article, but follow the link to read it all on the BBC site.

‘Koobface’ spreads by sending a message to people’s inboxes, pretending to be from a Facebook friend.

It says “you look funny in this new video” or “you look just awesome in this new video”.

By clicking on the link provided they’re then asked to watch a “secret video by Tom”.

When users try and play the video they’re asked to download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

If they do, that’s when the virus takes hold and attacks the computer.

Interestingly this dovetails nicely with a post I made called “You don’t know Jack” back in August

You Don’t Know Jack!

fakebook

The bigger they are, the harder they fall… plus they’re likely to move a lot slower too
Large name brands face a dilemma, the bigger they become the harder it is to protect their brands, gone is the time when they simply bought every URL iteration of their name to protect themselves online. With the advent of Web 2.0 & social networking, intrinsically built around two way communication, a whole new range of problems has opened up for the “brand police”, plus, with the speed of their development, they’re having a hard time keeping up… so how do they protect their brands?

ExxonMobil had a rude awaking recently when a new profile named Janet identified herself as ExxonMobilCorp on Twitter. Janet proceeded to discuss the corporate affairs of ExxonMobil and had a following of over 300 users. Often Brand-Jacking is carried out by someone with monetary gain in mind or with a grudge against the brand they’re jacking. Thankfully for ExxonMobil, Janet appeared to be a loyal employee, trying to represent them as best she could, or was she? Her identity & goal is still unknown at present, if she was an employee trying her best, then ExxonMobil were lucky, but if she were someone that was subtly giving misinformation about ExxonMobil and it’s policies then the Brand-Jacking may have had a far more damaging effect had it gone unnoticed.

Another case to hit the headlines recently was when artist Nadia Piesner created an image of a starving child holding a small dog in one hand with an Louis Vuitton bag hung over the other. This was her take on how the media glorifies the likes of Paris Hilton with massive coverage & air time, while the starving of Darfur hardly get a mention. LV were not best pleased, they immediately sent a Cease & Desist letter to the artist, to which she returned a letter stating, that this would be a violation of her right to free speech & her artwork was not a direct attack on LV or infringed their identity, to which LV returned a lawsuit claiming $20,000 a day damages. Whether LV’s course of action was correct or not is up for debate, but this case highlights the seriousness of brand-jacking and it’s impact on the business.

Another form of Brand-Jacking is linked with “phishing”, were the user is duped into thinking the message or communication is official. Spam is an obvious method, but more & more social networks are becoming targets. As explained in this Wired posting, Facebook users were duped into entering their details into a fake website. OK you think, so they can see my photos and my friends photos, no biggie, but as the post highlights, many users use the same log in & passwords for social networking sites as they do to access their bank accounts. Those that use different log in details shouldn’t be complacent though, as once the hackers compromise the facebook account, they can install Trojan Horses that track key strokes and thus bank & credit card details.

So Brand-Jacking doesn’t just steal the identity of the company & it’s brand, it can steal our identities too.

UPDATE: 9 Dec 2008
A new phishing virus named Koobface has been playing havoc on Facebook, more details here.

For further information:
Save Darfur Campaign

Brand Protection:
MarkMonitor
Net Enforcers

Brand Intelligence