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Roberta Guise advises small business owners and professionals who want to build a profitable stable of customers, save money on ineffective promotions, and through precision marketing, branding, or placements in the media be visible and get known.

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Entries in Branding (4)

Friday
Nov212014

What’s in a brand name: a tale of three Imagos

Most business owners spend a lot of quality time thinking about what to name their company.

The name can emerge from something that's near and dear to the owner's heart, such as my client's dog daycare business, Dog Dynasty. They use a crown on a dog to reinforce the tag line, Where dogs rule!

For others, the name evolves from a philosophy the founder wants to convey — here's another client, The Monk Dude. He's a yoga monk who also plays a mean guitar (I'm biased, of course), and uses music in his meditation offerings and practice.

Given how important a company's name and brand identity are, I want to share with you this head-scratcher. Two San Francisco Bay Area companies have given themselves the same name: Imago. Both firms even chose similar butterfly logos, the icon being a nod to the final stage of insect development during its metamorphosis.

One may reasonably wonder what kind of name search these two biopharmaceuticals firms conducted before locking in their brand identities. One is Imago Biosciences 

and the other is Imago Pharmaceuticals

San Francisco Business Times biotech reporter Ron Leuty, in writing about the Imago duo, asks, What’s in a name? Look back to the opening of this post for a couple of ideas.

As of this writing neither of the Imago companies appear in the first 4 pages of Google search results. I did, however, find a recent news release about yet another company named Imago, though it’s a video technology firm based in Europe. No surprise, this Imago also uses a butterfly in its logo:

As Leuty asks in his report on the first two firms, is this a case of brand confusion? Absolutely it is. Imago Biosciences and Imago Pharmaceuticals are in a similar industry. And none of the three firms called Imago owns www.Imago.com — the URL belongs to an unrelated company.

Could one of them use www.Imago.net? No, because that URL is also taken. And think about it — when did you last have the urge to type “.net”? Don't add to the confusion by using an alternate domain extension (example, .net instead of .com). If you find yourself attached to a name and another entity owns either the name or the URL, let it go and come up with something else.

What if you’re an investor in one of the Imagos? You may want to have the company rebrand. Otherwise you risk a potential intellectual property kerfuffle that could negatively impact the company and the product.

The takeaway lesson for small business owners: be original when naming your company and branding your products or ideas. If you're not using your own name as the company name and brand, look to something personal or special in your life that you can present with words and visualize with a logo. Don’t use a name that’s taken, even if you're not in the same industry as the firm with the name you want to use. It’s not worth risking customer confusion and potential legal problems.

Do you think two companies in a similar industry can both have the same name? What would you do if you were naming your company, product or service, and discovered the name you thought had no equal and was the best in the world, was owned by someone as a website URL but didn't appear to be trademarked?

Roberta Guise, founder and principal of Guise Marketing & PR and Thought Leading Women Initiative, advises small business owners, nonprofit leaders and experts on how to create an enduring brand and be ridiculously visible. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, ask for a complimentary 1/2 hour consultation. You'll be glad you did! 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Thursday
Dec302010

Top Ten Branding Stories and Videos of 2010

Lists give a convenient way to organize a topic, where you can scan and get a bucket-full of ideas in a flash. And it’s helpful to remember that lists are subjective. Within this context of opinion, I offer my top branding stories of 2010.

1. Conan O’Brien announced his new show name with much fanfare. Lesson: as Conan says in this video, keep the brand simple and pure.

2. Sticking to the simplicity theme, I foot tap and hum every time I see the iPad TV ad. Like the original iPhone ad, the music is raw and simple; the product, as we know, is Apple’s deliciously elegant design. In fact, any Apple ad is worth studying for excellence in branding.

3. Dos Equis vs Old Spice ads: videos that go viral don’t always translate into increased sales. Lesson: the story must feature a concept that’s enduring and makes the viewer want to be the person or associate with the type of person in the ad (and by extension own the product associated with the person in the ad). The Old Spice videos did not increase sales. The Dos Equis ads did.

4. The Gap flap: the venerable Gap clothing and retail icon rebranded itself this year with a new logo. It was easy to miss, because the new brand icon created such an uproar it was pulled after a couple of days. Side note about the type face, or font, in Gap’s abandoned logo: Helvetica type face can look strong and inviting, versus AT&T’s usage, which to me seems wimpy.

5, Part I. BP did such a lousy job presenting its public face after the Deep Horizon oil well disaster that the company’s value plummeted more than $32 million a day.

5, Part II. Tony Hayward, BP’s CEO at the time of the disaster, told the world what he wanted most, adding fuel to one of the biggest public relations fires in history.

If you had been BP’s CEO, what would you have done differently? If you or your small business were to make a mistake that put your name at the top of the news reports, how would you handle it? Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

6. Toyota occupied our minds earlier in the year with its massive automobile recall. Here’s one authoritative view on how Toyota is fairing today, along with a video of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commenting on his Toyota experience and problems with his Prius.

A branding list would be boring without videos, some gone viral. Here are my favorites.


7. Digital Nativity

8. Blendtec/Old Spice new Will it Blend?

Be sure to listen to the background music. Why do you think the producers chose that style of music?

9. And for instant translation from English to Spanish, and Spanish to English on the iPhone, there’s the Word Lens app.

10. Your choice here: what’s your favorite branding story of 2010?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Monday
Dec062010

When “new and improved” can ruin your reputation

Do you have a favorite coffee shop you eat at because everything there works perfectly, where the food, atmosphere and service make it like an old comfy couch you love to curl up on?

I used to. And when new owners took over, it changed.

My chosen spot was in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach, that tourist hot-spot where the aromas of garlic and coffee drift deliciously through the air at all hours. For years the café was a little hole-in-the-wall, so small that even early on a weekday there would be a line to eat breakfast at the counter. I had been eating there for more than 25 years.
After the owner-chef passed away, the family moved the coffee shop to another, larger space close-by. And his wife, who was now running the business, kept up the same personal, first-name relationship with her customers. My husband and I would beeline there for a hearty breakfast after a swim in the bay and chat with the owner about how business was doing, goings on in the neighborhood, and other niceties.

After a swim one day we went there for breakfast, grabbing our usual spot at the counter. But something felt wrong. The walls and paint were different. The old pictures and photos were missing. The familiar faces behind the counter were gone. And it took five minutes just to get menus.

When we were ready to order the server said a word I hear too often these days in retail establishments: No. No, you can’t substitute. No, you can’t mix items. No, we don’t have brown rice.

Our wonderful little coffee shop had been sold. Not only had it lost its soul, the new owners had no interest in pleasing their regular customers. We quickly ate our food and left, vowing never to return or recommend the place again as we had done countless times over the years.


This problem isn’t exclusive to new owners. It can happen to you if you start taking your long-term clients or customers for granted.

What are you intentionally doing to keep long-term customers coming back again and again? What would you have done differently had you taken over this enduring and popular breakfast hangout?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Tuesday
Nov022010

Build your reputation around your name

A recent article in BusinessWeek on naming companies lamented how hard it’s become to create a novel, catchy name.

This is hard news to swallow if you’re a startup with a new product to sell.

But if you're a small business owner who sells  ideas and services to people in business — even if you sell products such as books, videos, CDs, software, and business systems — there’s no need to go through mental contortions to divine the perfectly witty name for your company. The perfect moniker for your company is your own name. Why?

Your reputation is built around your personal name. People remember you, not necessarily your company. When a client refers you they think of the value you personally provided. It’s you, the person, who comes to mind, not your company name.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create a corporate name for your business, especially if you set up your business as a C or S corp. Just don’t spend too much time trying to come up with something catchy.

Pile your efforts into fortifying your brand around your own name. Mine is “Guise,” plus what I do, “Marketing & PR.” A strong tag line will support your name. My tag line is, “Be Visible!”

By using your own name you’ll save money and time on extensive name searching. You still need to do a search, but if you can add what you do to the name like I’ve done, even if it’s your last name plus “Consulting” or “Accounting,” for example, you’ll have your company named in next to no time.

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com