Branding the Ball – The Name

The average American consumer is exposed to about 245 pieces of promotional media on any single day. (1) I believe this has resulted in gradually shorter attention spans and an increasing low tolerance for uninteresting advertisements.  For this reason, advertising media that once only touted a product’s features now focuses more on entertaining the viewer.  Beyond traditional advertising, branding has become a popular technique in marketing a product.

What is “branding”?  Branding is more than a catchy name, an easily recognized logo and a cool tag line.  Branding is the entire persona of a product.  Color, sound, smell, other product association, user demographic, market placement, event sponsorship, etc. etc.  It’s the whole package.  It’s the clothes you wear, the accent in your voice, your cologne, the church you attend, the friends you keep, the places you eat, the car you drive and what brand of facial tissue you blow your nose with.  So, if I were interested in marketing my booger ball product, how would I go about “branding the ball”?

The first thing to consider when developing a product into a brand is its name.  Names have always been important for me.  One of my customers had me working on a new machine that was to be their flagship product of the future.  It was going to include all of the key features of the successful products of their past at half the cost.  It was going to trump the competition.  The name they chose was “Model TBD”.  Now, I understand that the design phase is still early in the product development process, but a product this big deserved a name.  I couldn’t stand working on the project.  Nobody wanted to take responsibility for naming it, so I did.  We called the project the Lancer.  It wasn’t the greatest name, but it did inspire some of the true vision of what the product was to become.  It was much better than TBD (to be determined).  Eventually the marketing department named the product something different, but at least it had a “code” name to help inspire us.

Every project/product I work on needs to have a name so I am always coming up with names for products.  A good product name should describe the product.  It should be easy to say and spell (most important today in the internet age where address is everything).  The name also needs to fit the overall theme of your product (e.g. a sophisticated product needs to have a sophisticated sounding name).  When working on a name, I usually search available domain names (website names) that I might use to market the product.  I also search the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to see if the name has been registered as a trademark.  I do an internet search to see what else is out there in cyberspace.  I share the name with some of my friends and family to see what they think of it (in business, this is called a “focus group”).  I also say a prayer because I realize that my creativity comes from God who made me and He inspires me to come up with clever names.  All of these activities put together usually results in a suitable name for my project/product.

As it turns out, my story about how to make a booger ball, naturally leads to its own name.  The term “booger ball” is self descriptive.  A search on the USPTO site reveals only 2 registered trade marks including the words booger and ball and they are both expired.  A domain name search reveals boogerball.com is available.  The last thing that makes sense for this name is to combine the words booger and ball together into one word.  The website name does that naturally, but having a unique word (even if it is a combination of two common words) makes it easier to protect the name.  So from now on, I will call my product the BoogerBall.  Everywhere I need to talk about a ball of boogers, I will use the new word BoogerBall.  This is swell because the two words alone are nouns but together they can be used as an adjective.  A BoogerBall box is a box used to hold a ball fabricated  from rubber cement.  Capitalizing the two B’s hearkens back to my computer programming experience where I designed numerous database solutions for small companies and all of the field names were descriptive but mashed together with caps to make sense of them.

As I said before, branding is much more than just a name.  Now that we have established the name, we can focus on the many remaining facets of branding.  More to come…  -Amos

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 Product Development