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What's in a name

What’s In A Name?

Our thirteenth President of the United States pondered that question as he carried Millard Fillmore as a moniker his entire life. Now there’s nothing wrong with Millard or Fillmore but back in the day, it might have sounded like a cough from shoveling snow in the bitter wind. However, according to historians President Fillmore’s name wasn’t as unusual as his inaction in office.

Psychologist Joyce Russell mentions, ”when someone remembers our name after meeting us we feel respected and more important.” Hoping consumers recall your business or product name is sometimes challenging and an eye-opener. 

I once worked with a client on their branding campaign and one of the first priority issues was the business name. This client had named the business after the location of the building, let’s call them Oakridge Path. Oakridge Path sounds inviting and business was doing okay but it could be doing much better by adding one word. The one word that would alert consumers to what the business sold! 

When you think of Oakridge Path you might think camping gear, apartments, or simply nothing at all. The one word suggested to solve this? “Jewelry”. By simply modifying the name to Oakridge Path Jewelry this business came to life for thousands of potential new customers who never had a reason to drive down Oakridge Path but now they do. 

I often speak of the original brand name of McDonald’s. Long before McDonald’s became what we know of them today, they spent the early years advertising what they stood for, “McDonald’s Famous Hamburgers, Buy Em’ By The Bag.” Simple, huh? 

Simplicity was the approach for Coca-Cola’s first slogan, “Drink Coca-Cola!” In the 1970s Coca-Cola shifted to demonstrating how you feel when you drink Coca-Cola. They didn’t use the words, “Hope and Love”, they explained it with the “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” campaign. The original tune was a pop song transformed into the musical jingle, “Buy The World A Coke”. 

What if I don’t have a large budget like Coca-Cola?

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking these gigantic brands also have a gigantic budget that doesn’t compare to yours. That’s true. But the same advertising formula the big brands use has also been applied to many local brands you know right here in the Madison market that have gained top-of-mind awareness in their particular category without breaking the bank. 

It took long-term thinking and branding for Chalmers Jewelers (named after the founder), Benjamin Plumbing (named after the founder), Genesis Painting (named after the book of Genesis, beginning), Pinnacle Health and Fitness (descriptive), Zimbrick Automotive Group (named after the founder) and more to achieve their position in the market. So, what’s this magical formula? Frequency, Consistency, and Anchoring. More on that when you have a chance to meet with the brilliant minds that form our team. All in all, engage the imagination of your potential new customer, give them a reason to buy, make them feel warm and welcomed……….and… of course…start with looking at your business name. 

Does your business name truly reflect what you do and stand for? 

A word or two in the right position might make all the difference. Our system and experience will guide you to a higher position on the top-of-mind awareness ladder no matter the size of your business or brand name. 

By the way, there is a Millard’s Furniture and Appliance store in Stanton, Michigan, and a Fillmore’s Tavern in Flushing, New York. If I had lived in the early 1800s, I would have been the kid on the playground defending the playmate with the unusual name, Millard Fillmore.

Author Bio:

Paul Blair
Paul Blair – Creative Services Director

Paul Blair serves as our Creative Services Director writing and producing many award-winning branding and public service campaigns for clients such as Zimbrick, Settlers Bank, Gunderson Funeral and Cremation Care, Carpets Plus, Chalmers Jewelers, Saint Vincent de Paul, The Healthy Place, Genesis Painting, Benjamin Plumbing and many, many more. His successful career at MidWest Family Madison spans over thirty years.

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