The tip of the iceberg

So this is my first post and the thing that I stewed over so much about when starting this blog was what I’d call it.

Do I make it all about me and simply name it after me? But how then does it telegraphically convey what I’m trying to do and say? Do I create some quirky link to my surname, which very nearly spells ‘branding’ without the extra ‘n’? Or should I call it something generic about tales from a brand manager, but will that feel too cold to be engaging and lack my voice, my personality?

All these things tormented me and I realized they were beyond the name itself, just like a brand is more than just a logo. They were essential to clarify to set the course of what I go on to write, what I include as content. The name is the tip of the brand ‘iceberg’.

I’ve seen how important a name can be in the past…

As a young brand manager I rushed into naming a Degree for Women deodorant variant using language that didn’t align to the active, bold, dynamic personality of the brand. Channeling only the fragrance as my inspiration, the resulting name was too soft, with no reference to the broader brand identity. On shelf the variant didn’t fit alongside others and didn’t help contribute to communicating the differentiating identity of the brand, and could have been a factor in its disappointing sales.

Yet when I worked on the launch of the aerosol antiperspirant in North America in 2015, it became clear that the silver bullet that led to some of the success was the name – Dry Spray. This name was packed with meaning, setting expectation of the efficacy benefit, tackling the barrier that people had relating to the preconception that aerosols were wet and creating the right level of intrigue to try a format some thought was dated.

Major household name brands are aware of the importance of a strong name and have wrestled with it. Did you know Google used to be called Backrub – imagine that being part of our everyday vernacular now… “have you back-rubbed it?”

Even Nike, the iconic sports brand has been on quite the naming journey. Starting off life as ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’ it evolved to a name that is much catchier, simpler and has a deeper meaning behind it, the Greek winged goddess of victory. That meaning helped them unpack a remarkable emotional essence for the brand – representing what lies beneath the name, guiding all the things beneath the surface.

Whether you hit the jackpot with a name or not, I’m learning that at the very least it pays to think it through, even just a little bit. A good name is memorable, and a good name has a meaning that carries the broader brand message. Getting it right can pay dividends in helping guide powerful brand decisions.

So here goes… I called this blog ‘branding in the wild’. Probably not perfect but it captures what I want to say and how I want to say it. I love brands, I love crafting them. Ever since I interned at L’Oréal, wrote my dissertation on European branding for my degree, throughout my tenure at the Unilever-versity, and now at Avon. I’ve been out there and still am, building brands in the real, wild world today. I want to share my learnings, share the realities, share the challenges, and share useful thoughts from me and my friends on what it’s like to build a brand ‘in the wild’.

One thought on “The tip of the iceberg

  1. Shall look forward to reading more Neil,like you I think titles are important as it maybe captures what is to come. I have been trying to write a book for some years now about my experience as a woman police officer with some very funny stories and the title is proving difficult….Anyway Good luck with the blog,should be interesting .
    Regards Anna

    Liked by 1 person

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