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Whats In A Name? Everything, Thats What

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Coke, Google, Xerox, Kleenex, Rollerblades. What do these companies/products have in common? Their branding was so powerful they infected the English language and became generic terms for non-branded items. Once in the vernacular, things tend to stick.

The first name in soft drinks: “You wanna Coke or something?” The “something” is Pepsi.

The search engine turned verb: “Google it, you moron.” As in, Yahoo!’s a backup choice.

Making photocopies: “Xerox these reports for me.” Nobody ever says “HP this for me.”

Got the sniffles: “Hand me a Kleenex.” Yeah, those are Puffs, but I still call them Kleenex.

She likes to skate: “Let’s go Rollerblading.” What the hell’s an inline skate?

What does this mean for the e-business professional? It means that if you haven’t developed a way to stick into the customer’s mind, then the best your business can achieve is a synonym for second place, rather than the first name in your field.

We call these “teachable moments” when life presents itself as a natural anecdote. If you’re a fan of NBC’s The Apprentice, you may have noticed more Toral hanging herself with her own words instead of the marketing cardinal sins committed in the boardroom, which I found less forgivable than Toral’s general lack of decorum.

Toral’s team created Zip, a character aimed at the wrong target market and worse, devoid of any identifiable association with Dairy Queen, the company both teams were pitching to. No DQ, no nothing, anywhere on their misdirected mascot. And they lost to a stupid genie who had the two essentials of marketing Zip was lacking. If Toral had shut up for long enough, Mr. Trump may have fired the project manager who completely nixed the suggestion there be some sort of brand identification.

In the new world that incorporates television, radio, print, outdoor, and the ever-important Web-presence, the type of branding that penetrates languages is becoming increasingly harder to achieve. So as another teachable moment, we can emulate the big boys, the ones who do it right, as we look for guidelines.

Geoff Ramsey, CEO and co-founder of eMarketer says one of the essential elements of an Internet campaign is called “contextual marketing,” or directly targeting an ad to niche groups-parents, teenagers, kids, et cetera. Ramsey uses Angel Soft toilet paper as good example of this at a Wisconsin e-business seminar. Engaging the consumer is a must.

Angel Soft has produced a series of fun (emailable) online commercials that prove to be so entertaining that Ramsey’s children asked to watch one of them several times. There are twelve “bathroom moments” on video clips at the company’s website, all pushing brand identification with every click.

The website’s aesthetics aren’t exactly mind blowing, but the desired effect is there. Get a customer here and keep him here, watching our commercials up to twelve times in one visit.

Take Nike’s no doubt expensive and complicated website that allows potential customers to design their own shoes. Kentucky blue. Tar Heel blue too (as if). That type of option is very, very cool, and keeps the customer at the site with the potential to fall in love with their own consumer-generated Nike product.

One last example, as Ramsey also points out, is Doritos busy as could be website. Too much for old farts, but just right for the teen market they shoot for, the site offers wallpaper, games, and video clips to keep teens hanging out as long as possible.

So the concept is simple, even if difficult to achieve-time spent with your brand creates a timestamp on the psyche, and creating engaging content for the consumer is one way of creating that first name in business.

Whats In A Name? Everything, Thats What
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