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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What’s in a brand name?

Does it matter to you whether the computer you are using right now is HP or Dell? What difference does it make whether the tablet bears the image of an ‘Apple’ or has ’Samsung’ inscribed on it?
Really, names are just names. They mean nothing until they are associated with something – a personality or a significantly distinct experience.
The only reason “Apple” means more than a crispy round fruit [green or wine] to you, is that you have used, seen, or heard of smartphones, tablets or laptops that go by that name, or maybe you heard of Steve Jobs [even if it was through the news during his funeral].
Nevertheless, the sound of a name, its length and the ease with which it is pronounced, also matter.
If a brand name is simple – one, two, or three syllables – it is easier to pronounced and memorised, and more importantly, it is easier to use it during formal discussions, gossips, social media chats, and in write ups [from academic to satirical].
Perhaps the highest achievement of a brand name occurs when it becomes recurring phrase in the informal chats of the people for whom the product or service was designed. This is when the brand name become a part of the language, and probably qualifies for a mention in the dictionary.
Another height occurs when a brand name colloquially becomes a generic term for a product or service. Typical example Band Aid, used to describe any brand of adhesive bandage and Maggi, which is used to describe any brand of seasoning cubes, especially in Nigeria.
While different brand names have different effects – from the acronyms like IBM or MTN, the descriptions like Tasty Fried Chicken or Sahara Reporters, to those coined out of the blues – the basic rule is: “Keep it simple and meaningful.”
‘Meaningful’ here is not in the sense of the dictionary meaning of words, but in the ability of the brand name to create relevant images in the people’s minds, even if it is grammatical incorrect.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your Business DNA

Just like humans, businesses possess unique DNAs – the core essence that differentiates a business from the business next door.
Just as no two human beings are the same, no two businesses should be the same, even in the same industry. Ability to recognise the unique selling proposition or what is now increasingly being called a niche makes the difference between and successful brands and struggling brands.

The word is ‘Differentiation’.
When I consult for businesses, start-ups especially, my points all usually funnel down to differentiation – finding uncharted causes and unclogged niches.
Most times new businesses, with low capital base and under pressure to make profit, usually wants to sell everything. And the reason is simple.
“I want my customers to get everything they need here. I don’t want them visiting my competitors. And if we make small profit from each of these products or services, we will end up with a good sum.”
Quite a strong argument; that was a successful model in the 20th century and may earlier in the 21st. Today, examples abound that brands that would succeed are those that are known for something, not necessary a particular product or service, but a unique culture – a way of doing things that is different.
The Apple example stands head and shoulder above all others. Steve Jobs and his team started experimenting with smart mobile devices, when the word ‘smart’ had nothing to do with technology. From iPods to iPhone to iPads, they progressed, while other makers of mobile devices took over the market worldwide with varieties of products, with Nokia leading the pack.
Today, as the world ushers in the smart communication era, Apple now leads the mobile devices market, while some courageous brands are playing catch-up.
Apple became known for their smartness, which includes the stylish designs and out-of-the-world technological innovations. That is how they won the market.
So try to build your business into a master at something.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Social Media is Social, respect that

It is no longer news that we are right in the middle of a global revolution, probably in the biggest in human history. Communication is increasing becoming fast-paced and irrepressible. And the hub of it all is the social media networks.

The events of the last few months in Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Arab world shows that a desire for freedom is growing alongside the social media, which is a collection free communication platforms. The Arab revolts, underscores the power of the social media, which is still growing.
The point is: ‘The social media is social’, if you try to change that, you will lose out and the rest of the world will move on.
The old ways of communicating are fading away, and will soon be completely gone. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter to a friend, and that is happening globally. Newspapers are gradually phasing out. More people now read news on the internet with their computers or mobile devices.
The main reason is that people are getting busier and prefer more convenient, on-the-go means of getting information. That way, they can also easily share the information with their friends. People like to be recognized as intelligent and well informed, so when they get a hold of a new fact, they are likely to share it quickly. ‘It is really cool to be the guy that breaks the news’.
For example within minutes after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, the news was all over the Internet. In fact some reputable media organizations got the hint from Facebook and Twitter. It is however not surprising that it appeared on these social media networks hours before some newspaper websites, because the processes of the newsroom are relatively slow and cannot match the speed of tweeting of a line or two from a smart phone.
In the social media, everybody is involved. We are both the senders and the receivers of myriads of information. One role seamlessly spirals into the other and the chain continues.
The first rule of the social media is “Let us communicate.”
If your business fails to allow a multi-directional communication, it will be indirectly encouraging your customers to revolt and walk away.
Go and ask former President Hosni Mubarak, what it means to lose age-long control, suddenly. It is never a sweet pie, I’m sure.