I was invited to a networking meeting recently, and nearly every time that happens, someone asks where the name “Twisted Puppy” originated. It is precisely that reason that makes our brand special. People tilt their head and wonder what it means. It resonates. And it reflects the importance of branding in capturing interest.
Does it capture interest because many people have an affinity for dogs? Sometimes. Is it because, like Smashing Pumpkins or Marilyn Manson, it’s two words that sound intriguing side-by-side? Perhaps. The reality is that it was originally designed to and continually works as something to draw interest from the audience.
Contrast “Twisted Puppy” with “California Marketing Agency”. Which company name will you remember next week if it comes up in conversation?
No, this is not a vain exercise in branding pride. I just want to share the importance of branding in getting someone interested. Name matters. So do a few other factors, and that’s what we’re going to tackle.
We have 31 flavors – and I sure hope you like vanilla…
When a product or service becomes a commodity, everything looks and sounds the same. Many internet service providers compete on price, and it seems all of them are focused on buzzword bingo (perhaps a side effect of SEO, but most likely it’s copycat marketing). CRMs seem to try to out-feature each other. IT support vendors missed Marketing class because they were so busy learning technology. The result: company names are boring, “value propositions” are rife with buzzwords and (usually stock) images are snoozeworthy.
I’ll use three examples of searches we have recently done for clients to show the importance of brand.
Bad Branding Example Industry: Website Hosting.
Although the gator is colorful, the brand fails many of the basics of smart branding. Hosting is a commodity, and these guys are clearly playing that card (price, sale, affordable).
Maybe being Goliath means you don’t have to offer any frills, but Amazon could do so much better visually and with their messaging.
#Fail: competing on price, stock photo (that says NOTHING – is that laptop swimming?), buzzword bingo…
Bad Branding Example Industry: Customer Relationship Managers (CRM).
Although I’m sure they have a great conversion optimization team, this landing page sucks. Being the biggest in your industry doesn’t mean you get the day off of promoting your brand. What are you about? In this case, a BIG FORM.
I’m not even sure what the company name is here. Buzzwords anyone?
Nothing says CRM like two guys staring at a desk. Do we need a company in the cloud? I prefer one on earth.
Bad Branding Example Industry: IT Support.
Wake me up before you go-go… I can’t wait to call this fun, smart bunch over to work on the network. For the record, I never trust an IT guy who wears a tie. Put. The. Stock. Photos. Down.
With all the emphasis on calls to action, I think we lost why we’d, well, call. Guaranteed what?
I’m confident that securing that domain was a boon at the time, but now that domain isn’t the only ranking factor in search criteria, it may be time to spruce things up.
8 Ways to Make Your Branding Stand Out
- Create interesting names, not just Something Hosting, Reliable Home Insurance or Dave’s Home Repair Service
- Make your value propositions, well, *value* propositions
- Don’t overdo it with industry jargon and buzzwords
- Never copy what all the other guys are doing
- Develop a relatable brand *story*, tell it and stick with it over time (be consistent)
- Can you say what you are clearly in 3 words (Ogilvy for SMBs, Uber for food)?
- Be colorful in your language and style
- Challenge the normal normal
Good Examples of Branding
Email marketing, unsurprisingly, is a competitive market with many great optimizers. With stakes high, branding and value propositions are evident. It is challenging to differentiate when everyone is good, though!
If you ask us, the 800 pound gorilla for inexpensive email and social media marketing is MailChimp. They have a memorable name, image and message. Their product is playful, which reinforces their brand story. They cater to small businesses, and they feel like a small business by being approachable and humorous. And the value propositions: perfect.