Jul 062016
 

frisbee-brand-nameThe American Marketing Association has a great blog entry on brand names that became more than household words; they practically entered the dictionary.

In my naming consulting practice, I am constantly advising clients to stay away from descriptive names. Such names can never really be owned as brands. The classic example is Amazon’s once mighty competitor Books-a-Million. Would ebay have done as well if it went to market as online-auctions.com?

Descriptive names are not memorable and tend to be very limiting. The better approach is to consider brand names that have the potential to become iconic. Choose something unusual in which you can build meaning over time.

The “Genericide” of Brand Names

Yet in success, comes the danger of an iconic brand becoming so synonymous with a product that it becomes the generic. Frisbee spends millions protecting its name as a brand. The Dempster Brothers’ branded their wheeled trash haulers a portmanteau of “dump” with “Dempster.” Having lost control of the brand, today “dumpster” is a generic word. Aspirin, Zipper, Yo-Yo, Thermos, Vaseline and even Heroin are other examples of brands that suffered “genericide” through trademark erosion.

More naming resources for choosing a brand name:

Naming How-To:

Naming Mistakes
Six Factors for a Memorable and Motivating Name
History of Best Known Brands
Styles and Types of Brands
Choosing a Name
Try a Recycled Name
Web 2.0 Naming Considerations
What is Brand Architecture
Approaches to Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture and Business Strategy

Companies and Products:

MSNBC vs. msnbc.com and The Bigger Naming Problem
Macy’s Blunder with Marshall Field’s Name Change
Banks and the Name Game from Bank Marketing Magazine
AIG Name Change to AIU
Breaking Up the Motorola Brand
Google’s Speedbook Disaster
Renaming a Small Business
Proxios CEO Talks About Renaming Process
Naming a Green Sportswear Company
Unintentionally Funny Names-BARF
Unintentionally Funny Names-Putzmeister
Unintentionally Funny Names-Bimbo
Renaming a $2 Billion IPG Agency
Renaming Iraqi Freedom
Selected Naming Portfolio

 

Apr 142016
 

AMA-Web-Content-Marketing-SEO-ExpertiseCopy writers MUST be search-algorithm savvy for effective content marketing. It is no long enough to be a gifted writer; you must know how Google and other search engines evaluate and serve up your copy to potential readers. If your material is not seen, no matter how good it is, it is worthless. True SEO expertise is a career in itself, but you don’t need to be a search engine optimization genius to do a good enough job with content marketing. You do need to know some of the basics.

Content Marketing Basics

The American Marketing Association has published a helpful post that explains the basics in: Web Content Checklist: 21 Ways to Publish Better Content. Author Andy Crestodina this list of easy must-dos that will generate more page views and more engagement with just a little extra knowledge and just a little extra effort.

Jun 222015
 

urban-news-serviceI am very honored to announce the launch of my client Urban News Service in Detroit last week. Urban News Service is a non-profit producing the kind of journalism readers want and publishing businesses need. By providing quality content to urban papers, Urban News Service transforms the economics of news gathering and serves the needs of urban communities.

African American-owned media serve a unique, loyal and engaged readership, yet quality content is costlier to produce than ever before. Urban News Service was founded to help these publishers better compete in a digital world with declining in print advertising revenue. The dynamics of today’s publishing economy have hit many publishers especially hard, impacting their ability to hire writers, cover the stories that matter and support their communities.

The privately supported initiative provides quality content to African American publishers:

  • Stories by respected professional reporters with decades of experience working for major news outlets who are highly regarded experts in their fields.
  • Stories that are exhaustively researched, fully documented and fact-checked, and conform to AP style.
  • Stories that have high impact to driver readership, reputation and revenue.
  • Stories that uniquely serve and support urban communities and individuals.

Be sure to visit their site: www.UrbanNewsService.com

Mar 312015
 

marketing-sherpa-increase-web-trafficHow to increase Web traffic is the subject of MarketingSherpa’s latest case study of Knockout Pest Control‘s local search and digital marketing work. Marketing Sherpa is a research company that tracks and shares “what works in all aspects of marketing.” They selected our client Knockout Pest Control to profile on how to build business–and better serve customers–through optimizing local search and coordinating digital marketing outreach.

It has been my privilege to work with Knockout Pest Control’s Arthur Katz to redo his digital marketing efforts in partnership with Liquid Marketing Group. Mr. Katz initiated the change as part of the company’s commitment to the best of customer service. Better, relevant content that is easy to access benefits Knockout customers. At the same time, the change benefited his business with a dramatic increase in number of visitors, engagement and action.

The Marketing Sherpa article provides detail on how to drive Web traffic, but here are a few tips:

1) Get rid of your old html site. You can’t do adequate SEO with an html site. You can’t keep every page fresh and changing and you can’t easily optimize all the elements that impact the Google search algorithm without content management. WordPress, Jumla and Drupal are the way to go. Look at any page on your site and check out the URL. If it ends in.html, you’re missing out.

2) On page SEO that is absolutely current is a must. Know your keywords and how to use them. Old fashioned key-word stuffing techniques will hurt you. Make sure you are up to date on all Google releases. If your SEO provider doesn’t know what you are talking about when you talk about when you mention Panda, Penguin, Pigeon or Hummingbird, your provider is no SEO expert. Google is constantly changing its algorithm and doing “major” updates with code names such as those above. A technique that used to work might now really hurt you.

3) Have rich, varied content that readers really want to read. Knockout Pest Control went from one page on bed bugs to over a dozen, taking on this topic in depth. Don’t upload a pdf and hope for the best. Put all that great content on a page that Google can find–and that readers can easily access without downloading a file. If your copy writer doesn’t understand how to write with keywords and how to format content for SEO, get a new writer.

4) Keep it fresh. Your site needs new content all the time, not an annual or ever-five-years update. Topical, focused, newsy content is a requirement to compete online today.

5) Link! Incoming and outgoing links are the gift that keeps on giving. They bring in relevant, motivated visitors and the Google algorithm sees them as votes of confidence, boosting your search engine results rank.

“Many thanks to Steve Scott of the Tampa SEO Training Academy –if you want to be an SEO expert in a week, call Steve.”

Merriam Associates specializes in combining the brand voice with a deep understanding of SEO for content that engages and motivates customers–and that can increase web traffic.

May 212014
 

new-GM_Brand_Sinking_Recalls_SwitchgateYesterday, GM announced yet more recalls that brought the total number of vehicle call-backs to an all-time record. The damage to an already hurting brand–see “Switchgate”–is incalculable. The idea of a “new GM” is taking a beating.

Toyota suffered similar negative press several years ago, but the strength of its brand, built over decades, helped it through. GM does not have that asset so this latest disaster may well sink it.

More on Automotive Branding:

Volt vs. Edsel
Volt Green Brand Bomb
GM: General Motors Reorganized Brand Architecture
Toyota Brand During the Recalls
Toyota Recall Doublespeak
Toyota Brand Bounces Back after Recalls
Brand Experience: Land Rover Dealers Take Owners Off Road

Nov 192013
 

manufacturing-net-knowledge-managementWorking with Everbrand, we helped rebrand a revolutionary technology for corporate knowledge management: Auros.

Writing with Jeff Moffa, Vice President for Knowledge Systems at Auros, we wrote this article for Manufacturing.net: What happens when your company experts retire or move to another company, taking your corporate knowledge with them?

May 252013
 

brand-jacking-skitchingBrand-jacking is when an existing brand is co-opted and used to promote something else. That is exactly what opponents of genetically modified foods are doing with the Monsanto brand.They’ve grabbed the bumper of Monsanto and are skitching on  its reputation to bring attention and understanding  to their message.

Millions-Against-MonsantoAs a kid growing up in Chicago, we used to grab the fenders of passing cars for exhilarating fast slides on icy roads. “Skitching” is a portmanteau combining skate and hitch. Political causes that are brand-jacking grab onto the power of well-known brands to use their power to efficiently communicate their messages and the get attention in the media.

The nicely alliterative “March Against Monsanto” is just the latest example of this kind of skitching on a brand. Organizers of today’s marches claim over 2 million people participated in over 400 evens in 52 countries according to founder and organizer Tami Canal. “If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” she said in media interviews. Brand-jacking off the Monsanto brand brought Canal’s cause enormous attention that would have been hard to obtain without the connection to this chemical boogeyman. Monsanto has long been associated with reviled chemicals like DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange–it was the perfect vehicle for skitching.

May 122013
 

Association_Non-Profit_Consultants_LogoCongratulations to my client, the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits on their new Web site. It’s always a pleasure to work with Chicagoans, especially those who appreciate good web site writing, visitor experience and good SEO. Visit the site here.

Oct 182012
 

Al Qaeda is making headlines again. We had covered the death of the Al Qaeda brand for Forbes over a year ago.

al-qaeda-brand-architecture

As the presidential candidates argue about what happened in Libya, Stratfor, an intelligence analysis group, has written a great article on the Al Qaeda brand architecture problem. As Al Qaeda fades as a brand, other elements of Islamic jihadist movement will muscle into top shelf position.

Al Qaeda isn’t the only Islamic extremist group with marketing problems. The Taliban must now combat media bias in coverage of their attack on a Pakistani school girl. The Taliban brand is being tarnished by media reports that have “crossed all limits” to paint the Taliban as the “worst people on earth.” Their plan to turn things around? They have selected 12 suicide bombers who will attempt to blow themselves up in the offices of various Pakistani and foreign media news offices. Talk about confusion about goals and utter befuddlement over methods.

Jun 292012
 

The latest AIG rebranding is actually re-rebanding: Returning to its old name, finally correcting a an ill-considered and ineffective name change.

AIG Rebranding 2009

“AIG is trying to outrun its old reputation by adopting a new brand. Will it work? Most people aren’t buying it. The entity, formerly known as AIG, is firmly attached to its reputation of irresponsible financial stewardship and credit default swap schemes that played a major role in the global financial collapse of 2008. The payout of millions in bonuses, particularly to executives responsible for the collapse along with lavish executive spa trips using the millions of US taxpayer bailout money haven’t helped. With record losses mounting and a reputation in shambles, a name change isn’t fooling anyone.”

© 2014 Lisa Merriam