The Brand Brothers #09 – All About Names: The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Brand

Lorenzo: Welcome to the Brand Brothers.

Bill: Welcome to the Brand Brothers. I’m Bill Schley.

Lorenzo: I’m Lorenzo Gomez.

Bill: Brother Lorenzo.

Lorenzo: Brother Bill.

Bill: And we are here on a mission from God.

Lorenzo: From God.

Bill: That’s right, to make branding great again, or as they say…

Lorenzo: Fight the forces of fake branding.

Bill: Yes, the evil forces. Here we are today with another episode of the Brand Brothers. Okay, Lorenzo, what are we talking about today?

Lorenzo: We’re talking about the sweetest sound of them all.

Bill: We’re going to talk about the role of naming.

Lorenzo: It’s a huge deal.

Bill: When you talk about branding, you talk about the first element, the most important element of any element you could possibly have. And it’s not your logo, it’s not your color palette. It is your name.

Lorenzo: And like everything else that we’re going to talk about, on this show, it is littered with… There’s a minefield. It’s littered with booby traps, pitfalls, quicksand, waiting to destroy you.

Bill: It is, it is, but it’s so easy to take the name and make it the gift that gives on giving, because if you think about it, you can’t even think about a brand without thinking the brand’s name. You can’t think about it in your head. Literally, try to think about a brand without thinking about its name. So the name is the first thing that can install an idea of a difference in the mind, and the great names are the ones you say the name and you say their elevator pitch at the same time, and that’s the ultimate right there.

Lorenzo: So the sweetest sound of all, that’s the Dale Carnegie quote.

Bill: Yeah, Dale Carnegie, who wasn’t too shabby.

Lorenzo: He knew a thing or two.

Bill: He was the greatest communicator. He said that there’s no sweeter sound to a person in this world than the sound of his own name. My friend Mark Walsh was once… Bert Lance was in the cabinet of Jimmy Carter. Now, it’s a long time ago, but he was a famous guy end up going to prison. But boy, what a politician he was, and my friend Mark Walsh, who came up with the legendary line of what an election is. He said, “You think election’s about selling? You bet it is.” He said, “An election is a one-day sale for a 100% market share.”

Lorenzo: That’s a microscript right there.

Bill: That’s a whole other show too. We’re going to talk about politics and selling and why it’s all about persuasion. But Mark was a young reporter in those days, and he saw Bert Lance do kind of a talk. At the end of the talk, Bert Lance walked up to… It’s like every person in the auditorium and addressed them by name, like relatives. Walsh couldn’t believe it. He said, “Mr. Lance, I just can’t… It’s amazing. I can’t believe… How do you remember all those names?” He said, “Mark, the sweetest sound is a man’s name. Never forget a man’s name.” And so, that was burned into my consciousness as well.

Bill: But it’s also the sweetest sound that your brand could ever have, which is that great name. Again, it’s where the thought starts about your brand.

Lorenzo: So let’s about, you know, what are some of the mistakes right on the front and that we’re afraid that people are going to make, when they’re trying to come up with their name? Let start with some of the pitfalls.

Bill: Well okay. I think the first pitfall is just that people don’t realize how important it is. I mean, imagine if Clint Eastwood… Think about these great actors beautifully. Imagine if Clint Eastwood’s name was Dick Trickle. I mean, you say, “Wow, it’s another Western wit. There’s Dick Trickle facing down the bad guy.” No. I mean, the name-

Lorenzo: Yeah, he wouldn’t have said, “Go ahead and make my day.” He would’ve said, “I’m fired.”

Bill: And Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would be a rose,” but I’m not so sure-

Lorenzo: That’s wrong.

Bill: … because in branding, a rose by any other name would be a schnitzel weed. That was a schnitzel. I mean, you wouldn’t give your love a schnitzel weed.

Lorenzo: No. Valentine’s Day would be carnations instead.

Bill: Right. And what about the sea bass? That beautiful sea… You ever go and hunt a sea bass, beautiful sea bass?

Lorenzo: I have.

Bill: What if it was called a Patagonian toothfish?

Lorenzo: That’s what it used to be called.

Bill: Well that’s a nice segue. How do we find these segues? I don’t know, because we don’t practice. We don’t believe in practice. We wing everything that we do here, but well, this, it’s a real story, but at the power of name.

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: This is the power-

Lorenzo: Power of the name.

Bill: … of name, because what a name does, we talk about branding that the most important thing are our… or frame it, which means set up the story, name it and claim it.

Lorenzo: There it is.

Bill: Actually, I want everybody… We’re going to say that again to all you listeners… all you listener out there.

Lorenzo: Our family, our branding family.

Bill: We only have one listener still.

Lorenzo: Yeah, mom, so here’s a… This is the principle, mom.

Bill: Yeah, it’s one listener, but it’s a big one. God. Okay. Big, big listener. But no. I mean, so here is the thing. So what is it about that? It used to be that that once upon a time there was… There’s this fish, and I think it was in Chile. In Chile, it was where they farmed these fish. The fish was an amazing fish because it was plentiful. It was easy to farm. It grew and developed very, very quickly, and it didn’t wasn’t prone to problems or disease, as you’re farming the thing. And the flesh-

Lorenzo: Flavor, good flavor.

Bill: It was beautiful. And the flesh, if you’re a chef, picked up the flavor of other things you were cooking with very quickly, and it was just the right texture. It was just a beautiful fish for eating and restaurants.

Lorenzo: But there was a problem.

Bill: But there was a problem. Thank you, as I was going poetic there. It had an unfortunate name. It was called a Patagonian toothfish.

Lorenzo: Womp-womp.

Bill: Yeah, womp-womp. My wife, she wouldn’t even be in the same room with a Patagonian toothfish.

Lorenzo: Yeah, a Patagonian toothfish is a pervert, just so you know, okay?

Bill: Think about what it looks like.

Lorenzo: With a name like that, you’re a creep.

Bill: Well think about what it looks like.

Lorenzo: Yeah, gross.

Bill: Oh no. I mean, Patagonian toothfish is the one that you go down in the river and the thing is so tough. It’s still alive, but it’s standing over on the side smoking cigarettes. I mean, this is a bad fish.

Lorenzo: Yeah, a delinquent.

Bill: Yeah. It’s awful. But some genius… Now, this is some Colombian farmer or something… decided to, “Let’s reframe it a little bit with a new name.” He gave it an Ivy-League name, like it went to Princeton. Seriously, a beautiful… It’s like it came to Princeton was… He called it a Chilean sea bass.

Lorenzo: Oh my gosh. I mean, come on. Who hasn’t had that?

Bill: But look at how brilliant that was. Now, in one name, it reframed the whole fish.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: Now, it’s a fish that went to an Ivy League college, like I said.

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: Now, everybody wants it, and it became one of the most incredible success stories in all of fishdom.

Lorenzo: That guy was an honorary brand brother. We tip our hat to him.

Bill: It just goes to show you, that guy didn’t go to, you know, have a New York agency. He just was smart and realized he had to rename this thing. So that’s what the power, so then, how important the names are, right? Right? We go on there. We’re looking for-

Lorenzo: Yes.

Bill: … to keep on giving.

Lorenzo: So, pitfall one, right? You don’t know it’s important until you realize you’re not selling your Patagonian toothfish, right?

Bill: Right.

Lorenzo: So that’s the first pitfall.

Bill: Well, okay, so now, you’re naming your brand. Now, let’s hear in the tech industry or something. You look around, you see all these tech companies and say, “Oh look at these wonderful companies. All these… ” And they seem to be successful, like Agilent and Altria and Levitros and Flatulent, Blue Rocket Electricity or something. That means nothing, right? If you look at what goes into a great name… Let’s talk about what goes into a great name. What goes into a great name is it has to be easy to say. It has to support or launch your big idea of a difference.

Bill: Remember? We talked about a big idea of a difference. So if you’re the brick oven pizza place, you might call yourself Brick Oven Pizza. But you want it to launch the idea of that difference right when you say it. And again, this is for free, so you can do this or not do this. But when you do it-

Lorenzo: So, principle one, it needs to be easy to say. It needs to-

Bill: Well I’m going to go back. I was going to say, first of all, it needs to support and launch your idea. And to do that-

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: … It has to be descriptive. It should be easy to say and easy to repeat, so people have to like it.

Lorenzo: Yeah, so, let’s talk about two of them.

Bill: Which also usually means an English word-

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: If you’re in English language. So just a couple of examples.

Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bill: Like names you’ve heard of, DieHard batteries.

Lorenzo: Love it. Selling you right there.

Bill: Well yeah. What do you know about DieHard batteries? They don’t conk out and you’re not going to be stuck on a road somewhere in the winter. Never get stuck again. DieHard batteries. How about Invisible Fence?

Lorenzo: That’s a great one.

Bill: My favorite. Do people know what an Invisible Fence is? Do you know what Invisible Fence is?

Lorenzo: That’s for your dog, right? So your dog is getting… Yeah.

Bill: Yeah, but listen, look at how evocative that is. It’s like a whole poetry, just two words, an invisible fence.

Lorenzo: I’m imagining the invisible thing right now.

Bill: I know.

Lorenzo: I can see it, even though it’s see-through.

Bill: It’s like the invisible man. That’s a whole other joke we can’t tell on a family show, but someday, the invisible… There’ll be the Invisible Fence. It says what it is. It says defense. It’s provocative. It’s unforgettable, easy to say. What a great name. What did they do is, yeah, they put a fence in your yard, and then you ever see a dog run into the Invisible Fence?

Lorenzo: No.

Bill: That’s fun.

Lorenzo: I bet there’s a YouTube video though.

Bill: People use to just sit there on the other side holding a big pork chop.

Lorenzo: Oh I can’t.

Bill: And then get the meanest pit bull dog, comes screaming right at them and bam, it hits the Invisible Fence.

Lorenzo: That’s so cruel.

Bill: Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t do that. But it really works.

Lorenzo: Yeah, it really works.

Bill: How about Head & Shoulders shampoo? It says what it does. Dandruff.

Lorenzo: I’m a proud customer.

Bill: Hey, it was the number-one-selling brand for years and years.

Lorenzo: I use it on my beard.

Bill: Really? How about Huggies diapers?

Lorenzo: Huggies is a great brand.

Bill: Huggies, look at what it does. Hugs their little legs-

Lorenzo: Their soft little feet.

Bill: That’s right, so that doesn’t leak out, and it hugs them with love. I mean, it’s a great name. How about another one? People think, “Well tech companies, they don’t care.” How about, well here’s a company that you might know- Facebook. They’ve done well. Have they done well?

Lorenzo: You know, different.

Bill: They’re still in business, right?

Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re the number one producers of news, apparently.

Bill: I know someone who used them. Yeah, but look at what it is. It’s an English word. It actually means, like this guy, Zucker… What’s his name?

Lorenzo: Zuckerberg.

Bill: Zucker, Zucker.

Lorenzo: The guy, the guy.

Bill: Yeah, Zucker. He was a Harvard kid. And Harvard, it turns out that they… And maybe other schools too, but when you got to the other freshmen Facebook, which is what you got it and had everyone’s picture and the guys are sitting there trying to look for cute girls and vice versa.

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: It was Facebook. How about LinkedIn?

Lorenzo: Yeah.

Bill: Tech company.

Lorenzo: That’s a good one.

Bill: Good one. Works for me, right?

Lorenzo: It does.

Bill: LinkedIn. So now, okay, Cheesecake Factory. Ever been there?

Lorenzo: Yep.

Bill: Okay. So now, what are people going to say when you talk about… They’re going to say, “Yeah, but what about… “

Lorenzo: Yeah, what about Amazon, right?

Bill: There you go.

Lorenzo: It doesn’t really mean anything. And actually, I think this is a good place for our caveat, because what we’re trying to do on our mission from God is to help the entrepreneur that’s out there. A lot of times, we’re going to talk about a bunch of brands today that have overcome the “think of a crazy name and then make it famous.”

Bill: Well right, right, that have tried to do that kind of thing, and they put themselves in a hole. But let me just say this about Amazon. So here’s what we’d say about Amazon. Amazon, okay, at least it was an easy to say word, and it was an English word. Now, it didn’t mean what it does. But certain companies, not only are there exceptions sometimes. But what happened was Amazon started a whole new category that hadn’t really existed.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: And this is in the earliest days of the internet. It was an online bookstore. It became so successful all by itself that that name became a word itself. It became a word and everybody in the world knows what it means. It’s universally known. We’re just saying though, “You could try that method and have a 2% chance,” or try the method of naming that has a 98% chance. DieHard batteries and Facebook.

Lorenzo: So we’re not saying that you can’t do it. You can, but the odds-

Bill: You can.

Lorenzo: are stacked against you.

Bill: It’s hard. It’s hard and you don’t want to start there. Now then, but at least Amazon, but then, because there’s names that are even way, way worse than Amazon. So can I tell you about the stupid hall of fame?

Lorenzo: Oh please, tell us.

Bill: Yeah, because naming… The main reason why we did this show is not because we want to… I mean, we want to help people.

Lorenzo: We want to identify missteps.

Bill: Yeah, we want to keep the secrets of the great branding, men and women. We want to keep the secrets alive for this generation, where they’re being lost by all these fake branding companies and things and people that are out there saying, “You don’t need to have a product. Just have an emotion and get a lot of page views.” But one of the real reasons is because we want to rant about dumb stuff that we’ve seen, that we just… It’s just wrong because people-

Lorenzo: It is.

Bill: … can spend millions and millions of dollars, and I think they get robbed. I really do, of bad branding.

Lorenzo: Well this next story, I’m sure they hired some crazy firm.

Bill: Well, we said, so the stupid hall of fame, I was actually in Athol, Massachusetts.

Lorenzo: No, that’s its name.

Bill: Well Athol is the actual… You can look it up. It’s a real name of a town, and this is a stupid hall of fame for names, by the way. It’s about naming. This is the stupidest corporate naming decision of all times. We’ve been trying to top this thing and come up with other examples, but we just can’t because it’s so amazing. But it is a statue of this behind the Miracle Cleaners and the gas station at Athol, Massachusetts. It’s a badly-named town, but what are you going to do, you know?

Lorenzo: Yeah.

Bill: Where are you from? I’m from Athol, and by the way so are you. So it happened a few years ago. Back when people started renting through fractional jets, there was another company that had this thing. They called them… It wasn’t fractional, but it was aggregated jet charter. It was something you did, so you could… It was a very, very easy way for you to charter a… There was a problem with jet charter in those days, but what they had done is through the power of the internet and stuff, been able to find jets everywhere.They could make it a lot cheaper because not only could they fly you there, but then they could find someone to fly the jet back and they could charge you less. And, you did it online in the early days. They call it eBizJet. So it was small e, BizJet. It was a great name. It was e for the internet, Biz for business and jet. So, it was a good name, and they were growing and growing and doing very, very well in the jet business. Then there was a problem because someone came up and declared that someone else owned the trademark for eBizJet, and they actually had to desist, change the name.We believe rumor. The legend is that they hired one of the biggest branding advertising agencies in all of New York to come up with this name. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars probably and months of research and they finally came up with the name to replace eBizJets, which was a very descriptive name.

Lorenzo: Drum roll.

Bill: The name they came up with was Sentient. Sentient.

Lorenzo: What does that even mean?

Bill: S-E-N-T-I-E-N-T. Sentient.

Lorenzo: Shall we consult to Google?

Bill: Well you could. You could look it up.

Lorenzo: Google defines it as, “Able to perceive or feel things.” Able to perceive or feel things. What does that even mean?

Bill: But it didn’t matter because no one even knew what it meant. But the thing is they didn’t even call Sentient Airways or Sentient Jet, Rent-A-Jet. It was just Sentient. Now it’s a single name like the New Orleans Jazz. Just one name. What’s the other one? The Colorado Avalanche. It was just Sentient. The question was… and some agency guys came in and they actually talked the chairman of this company into naming his company that. So the question was, why would you go… Why would you voluntarily choose a name that meant absolutely zero to everybody in the world that ever heard it? And then we realized it actually was less than zero. So you could make it less than zero because you start in a whole. You start where people see your name and you have to start whole and say to explain what it is, to explain what category it is, and try to convince people that it’s not a burglar alarm company or a freaking bank. Sentient.

Lorenzo: It literally answers none of the three Ws.

Bill: It does nothing.

Lorenzo: Right. What is it? Why do I need it? And why should I buy it from you? I mean, it does not… It actually steers me further away from those three questions.

Bill: We just want to know… I mean, this is why they got a statue in Athol, Massachusetts, because they did this. But again, why would you do it if you could have a name that meant something, a name that started, that kicked off, kick-started the idea of your brand? Why would you… it’s free. That’s what we’re telling everybody out there. It’s free to get one of those great names.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: Just remember that don’t fall into that trap that says, “Well look, all these internet companies in Silicon Valley have these idiot names.” Some of them do, but you can have a great name.

Lorenzo: Well in the same example of the airline world, Southwest Airlines, to me, is as close as you can get to… How they started was defining their region.

Bill: They did. They said, “We specialize… ” And they were just Texas.

Lorenzo: They were just Texas, right? Boom, boom, boom.

Bill: Right, right.

Lorenzo: By the way, a little trivia for you. Apparently, the napkin that Herb Kelleher wrote that triangle on was in downtown San Antonio, at The St. Anthony Hotel.

Bill: Really? You know, because that’s the hotel I’ve been there. I found that napkin on the floor last week. They didn’t even swept the place up. It’s unbelievable how dirty that place…

Lorenzo: He knew we were the branding capital of the world.

Bill: No, it is. St. Anthony’s beautiful. It’s been renovated. They should put that… Is that napkin… It must be in their headquarters somewhere.

Lorenzo: I don’t know. There needs to be…

Bill: But they named themselves Southwest Airlines, and they said, “We’re the low-cost airline.” It’s the whole thing. You don’t need an elevator pitch. You don’t need a vision statement or a mission statement.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: But hey, that’s another show. Another show is, what are vision and mission statements? And do they really matter?

Lorenzo: Great. Return on vision.

Bill: Exactly. Well right, exactly. So now, here’s the next… in the bad hall of fame, after Sentient. All the companies had decided to name themselves a set of initials. And again, they do that, because, “Oh it must sound like a big corporation. Big corporations do it, so we’re going to name ourselves CVX or TYC or CYA or GAGT. Isn’t that great?”

Lorenzo: But someone’s going to say, Bill, “But Bill, what about IBM?”

Bill: They are, yeah. Once again though, no one cares about your initials, right? It doesn’t mean anything. But what about… So you’re right. People say, “Well there’s IBM and GE.” Okay.

Lorenzo: Take that, Brand Brothers.

Bill: Okay. Well here’s the thing, folks. Yeah, but IBM, which used to be called International Business Machines. When they started for the first century, they were called International Business Machines and they became the biggest… And they made cash registers and they made the first kinds of computing machines. They became a giant international company. It took them decades and decades before they allowed themselves to shorten their name to the initials, but they already were a worldwide brand.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: Same thing with GE. They were General Electric for a century before. Electricity in those days was man’s greatest accomplishment. Electric was a miracle. It meant human progress to people, so, General Electric. They became GE. But that was, again, after decades and millions literally dollars of marketing. You don’t have that. You don’t have the time or the money. You need to start with DieHard batteries.

Lorenzo: That’s right, that’s right.

Bill: Right, folks?

Lorenzo: Or Best Buy.

Bill: Yes, Best Buy. Names we love, right?

Lorenzo: Names we love. Best Buy, Circuit City, right? Same category. They tell you their value proposition.

Bill: I know, I know. Now, here’s another thing though. Sometimes… So can we just go? I got a little list here of just the great ones.

Lorenzo: No, please.

Bill: I listed them, I listed them.

Lorenzo: Well we’ve already gone through… We’ve already shamed the hall of… the disasters. Let’s give our friends some-

Bill: Well here’s the thing. Just a few examples, because you’ll see how great these things are.

Lorenzo: Well when it’s done, we should celebrate it.

Bill: We should celebrate it.

Lorenzo: We should like hand the branding candle, the prayer candles-

Bill: So you go in the supermarket, you want to buy freezer bag. But you see ACME freezer bag and Flatulent… whatever the hell they are… AGT. Then there’s one says, “Ziploc.”

Lorenzo: Boom.

Bill: Ziploc.

Lorenzo: There it is.

Bill: Ooh I like that. How about EZ Pass? You know the thing you have in your car? How about egg beaters. Ever get egg beaters, the thing that substitute for eggs?

Lorenzo: Oh yeah.

Bill: How about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus? That thing is a symphony for your mouth right there. That’s a long one, but still, it’s got a lot of microscipt-y things in there. How about honey-baked ham? How about butterball turkey? How about the Super Bowl? Right there. What’s the Super Bowl. They didn’t name it Tostitos Bowl. They call it the Super Bowl.

Lorenzo: Right, right.

Bill: TGI Fridays, roller blades, chain link fence. How about the Zip code? Has a neat little name. The Zip code, right? How about the restaurant in Boston called the No Fat Low Fat restaurant?

Lorenzo: Come on.

Bill: I know. I knew what it was. Hefty bags, instant breakfast. These are kinds of things that you can do if you decide to go for-

Lorenzo: A good tech one is Netflix, right? Boom. Want to watch my flicks on the net? Come on.

Bill: There it was.

Lorenzo: They repackaged it.

Bill: Well there it was. It had flicks, and the difference was, you went on the internet to find your movies. Absolutely, great name. They’ve done well. Now here’s one thing. Sometimes, but you can’t always… It’s not… This isn’t possible every time in every instance. And so, sometimes, what other companies do sometimes is they will create a name that’s meaningful, but they’ll take two words, put them together, and that can work too. One of my favorites was Compaq computers. Remember?

Lorenzo: Yeah. So COM, PAQ. They made a name sound like compact, which was their selling idea, because they were the first portable desktop computer you could actually carry it. Had a handle the size of a suitcase. So names like that are also… They can work when you coin or make up a name. Look at the drug companies.

Bill: Right. They’re the masters.

Lorenzo: Well they do it all the time.

Bill: Viagra.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: What does it have in it? Just tell me. What do you think, Lorenzo? Viagra.

Lorenzo: Well there’s virile.

Bill: Virile?

Lorenzo: Yeah, virile. They’ve put it in there, and you think, “Oh that’s… ” It launches the story in your head. It’s not for all of our audience.

Bill: What? The story? What do you mean? Who are our audiences? You know what I mean? Oh come on. Yeah, some of them are like-

Lorenzo: So, Bill, here’s a question I have.

Bill: Yeah?

Lorenzo: There’s a whole category of names after people. So you’ve got Disney, you’ve got Dell. Actually, you’ve seen that with a lot of small businesses, a lot of law firms, a lot of accounting. I mean, even in Mad Men, Sterling Draper, right? Cooper Pryce. I think that what is it that you need to be aware of? Because now, you’re selling yourself. You’re the value proposition.

Bill: Right. When you’re doing… Say, when we’re doing which now?

Lorenzo: When you’re putting your name, your personal name-

Bill: Oh you’re putting your name on a building.

Lorenzo: … as the name of your company.

Bill: Or as a name of the company. Okay. That’s a great question and it’s been done since time in Memorial and it still works, because again, remember we talked about it? There’s nothing sweeter than a man’s name.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: I mean, a name, you can be a celebrity brand with your name. Names are, by definition, they’re kind of individualistic. They attach to a person. A person stand for something. So, celebrity bands become… I mean, who are some of the… Any celebrity is really a brand.

Lorenzo: That’s right, yeah.

Bill: So, you can do that, but you want to make sure that your name stands for something. But see, this is where the descriptor then becomes important. So let’s say Johnson and Johnson.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: That was started by the Johnson family, but they had products so that one product was called Johnson Baby Shampoo. There is the name. You see, they’ve got an obvious name. They put a descriptor in with their family name and they did it that way. But, no, names are great because they… Well I’ll tell you an example that I-

Lorenzo: They’re unique.

Bill: There’s two that I like in the same category, which was Gateway computers and Dell. I worked for Gateway computers way back in the day, and everybody who remembered the cow spotted box. But Dell actually end up… They ended up just outperforming us, just over and over. I think that it’s because Michael Dell was the brand, and he was the one that was personally involved. Nobody remembers who the founders of Gateway were. They had a catchy-

Lorenzo: Gateway. Yeah, yeah.

Bill: Okay. Wait. I got to tell you this. No, but they were also inventing categories then.

Lorenzo: Exactly.

Bill: Michael Dell was… His company became legendary and had a great name to say easy to say, easy to say, and he became a celebrity people saw him. And so, it became… One more thing. When we’re talking about attaching that seamless, if you’re going to name yourself or your brand after your last name, let’s say, which can be very distinctive, the other example I was just looking was Oreck. Remember the Oreck vacuum cleaners?

Bill: Oh yeah. I mean, Oreck, the guy’s last name was Oreck who’d invented it. O-R-E-C-K, Oreck. But it wasn’t just called an Oreck. He called it the Oreck eight-pound hotel vac That is actually the name and the elevator pitch.

Lorenzo: Wow.

Bill: The Oreck, eight-pound, tells you it’s light. It says specifics, so they’re not kidding around. A eight-pound hotel means, “Hey, they use this in hotels,” and you know that. Isn’t that incredible? It’s a long name, but it’s beautiful.

Lorenzo: Same category, Dyson. I mean, that guy’s created a new… Again, branding his name, but he’s now the hi-tech vacuum cleaner, the cutting-edge vacuum cleaner.

Bill: Right, right. If he could become good enough and most famous enough and for long enough, sure, your name does start to-

Lorenzo: But just in these two examples, again, to our audience, you’re going to want to go with Oreck if you’re first starting, because it’s the one that’s easier to sell.

Bill: But you were just saying what? Lorenzo, Chick-fil-A.

Lorenzo: Yeah, Chick-fil-A. I mean, I think that you’re in the name. You know we do chicken and that’s what we do, right?

Bill: Yeah, it’s kind of a dorky name, and it says fillet.

Lorenzo: It has fillet.

Bill: What’s a fillet? A fillet is a beautiful, like a fish… a meat fillet, a fish fillet. Fillet is always the most succulent. It’s in the name.

Lorenzo: It’s in the name. It’s like we’re not doing burgers.

Bill: So it’s like fil-a.

Lorenzo: We’re not doing… Look, chicken’s our gig, baby. They’re specialists.

Bill: Well chickens, right. No chickens. They are, they are. Chickens are specialists. So you look at other things, and just to practice these things, you look at who comes up with these great names again — more and more people. I always love… Movies and TV shows are amazing at this. They’re good to look at because look at what they’re doing. See this? See? You learn to do this by looking and seeing them all around you. You start to become aware of all the great names and it makes it easier so that when you decide to name something, you’re inspired by all of these great examples, and you’ll come up with something.

Bill: So remember we said that an election was… What is it? A one-day sale for a 100% market share. And so, you can’t fool around.

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: Well same thing. TV shows, they’re going to be on for like one or two times. They’re going to… They have two or three months of budget to promote them on one channel because the other ones won’t do it, and then they’re gone. And so, then, you can’t fool around. You’ve got to come up with a great provocative name, like what was it? I can’t remember any. My Cat from Hell. Said it, right?

Lorenzo: Yeah, the Great Michael said that.

Bill: The real Woman of the OSI. Lost in Space.

Lorenzo: Although never forget our Hamlet joke.

Bill: Which one was Hamlet?

Lorenzo: Well if Shakespeare had pitched Hamlet to the NBC-

Bill: Oh yeah, well that’s right.

Lorenzo: … they would’ve renamed it.

Bill: They would’ve, but they’ve been right. They would call it Murray and the Ghost.

Lorenzo: That’s my…

Bill: They did. They said, “Come on, who’s named Hamlet? You going to identify with the people out there. Murray, there’s a good name. Let’s bring up the ghost. We need little bit sex and violence. Bring it up.” Murray and the Ghost.

Lorenzo: Murray and the Ghost.

Bill: There you go. And Shakespeare will have to walk out. But I mean, look at some of these, right? Great names. Rambo. Fatal attraction.

Lorenzo: Predator.

Bill: Predator. Oh yeah. You know something else? They have the greatest taglines too. Getting into this, into taglines, Alien. In space, no one can hear you scream.

Lorenzo: No one can hear you scream. So great.

Bill: I know.

Lorenzo: And then the, of the alien too, just plural, boom. Aliens.

Bill: Aliens too. In space, they still can’t hear you scream, and there’s more of them now. And now, you’re, yeah. “Don’t worry. No one’s going to hear you. It’s not like they figured out a way.” Right?

Lorenzo: No.

Bill: It was too good. How about the Twilight Zone?

Lorenzo: Oh so good.

Bill: How about Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? I mean, really, look at these.

Lorenzo: That looks great.

Bill: What are you going to do?

Lorenzo: They’re great.

Bill: Yeah, they did name The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Lorenzo: Yeah. Actually, if you ever take a second and examine Star Wars. Star Wars. I mean, come on.

Bill: Sure.

Lorenzo: It literally has a whole genre.

Bill: But remember, we talked about microscripts before. We’re going to talk about them again. All these names are microscripted names, which means they’re instant. They evoke a visual, a just brilliant visual image that turns on a movie in your head, right?

Lorenzo: Right. That’s right.

Bill: They just do, and that’s the power of microscripts, but they’re doing that with these names. Planet of the Apes. The Gladiator. By the way, what do you call a Roman guy who eats his mother-in-law?

Lorenzo: I don’t know.

Bill: Gladiator.

Lorenzo: We’re here all week.

Bill: How about this? Moonstruck. Bachelor Party. Scarface.

Lorenzo: Sleepless in Seattle.

Bill: Debbie Does Dallas.

Lorenzo: That’s a whole category. That’s a different category.

Bill: Yeah, Field of Dreams, Star Wars. You’re right, but they just go on and on. They got these great, amazing taglines too. So they’re really, really good at this. Now, just an example, but also, because no one knows any one thing really in Hollywood. There’s also a lot of really bad movie names, okay?

Lorenzo: Oh yeah, yeah.

Bill: Like, that you can’t… You don’t know what they’re about. Maybe they have a star in them, you might go, right?

Lorenzo: Right.

Bill: So here’s a couple of those. Ready? She’s All That. I mean, really. It could be about your pet hamster, couldn’t it?

Lorenzo: Yeah, who cares about it?

Bill: All right. She could be-

Lorenzo: It’s garbage.

Bill: How about Moment by Moment? I mean, you could see… Okay. Well honey, we could go out and see the Gladiator or Moment by Moment. I don’t know. How about, It’s My Turn.

Lorenzo: Really? Who?

Bill: Yeah, you know what that was? In fifth grade, you raise your hand and you had to hold up one finger or two. You know what that was? It’s My Turn. I got to go. So these are just ridiculous. So what do we take away from… Oh wait. I flipped a page over, one or two. Here are some good names. The Texas Cheerleader Murders. We know who our star is and we know who’s not going to make it out alive.

Lorenzo: Oh wait, wait. I can’t remember these. They’re messy. Beverly Hills Grandma: Profile of a Hooker. No that’s not real. That is not real.

Bill: It’s real. It’s real. This stuff is real. Oh my God. Desperate Housewives. So you can see. That’s a little extreme, but look at how-

Lorenzo: No, yeah, it’s the story.

Bill: But look at what a name can do, right?

Lorenzo: Yes, well, in our previous episode about brands that do it well, companies do it well, the OnTime plumber?

Bill: The OnTime plumber, yeah.

Lorenzo: I mean, this is, you know, if you have a small business out there, using a good name that is your sales pitch is where you want to be.

Bill: It is.

Lorenzo: Because it’s selling for you when you’re not there.

Bill: That’s right. But again, it gets back to selling. So, the beauty of a name like that is that… That name is selling while you sleep.

Lorenzo: Exactly.

Bill: They can’t think of… And it is really an amazing thing. So the thing is we can talk about…

Lorenzo: Also, also, I think that… So let’s just say some of our branding family out there. They’ve committed to an engagement with a big firm that’s helping them.

Bill: Sure.

Lorenzo: I think that the guidance we would give you is, if they’re just showing you fancy, crazy, splashy names, but you can’t sell it, you have to push back on them.

Bill: Okay.

Lorenzo: You have to tell them, “We need to sell.”

Bill: Right, right, exactly. Maybe this is one of the biggest rules folks or the biggest… From the Brand Brothers, okay? We always say one of your great… and in The Cilantro Diaries. No really, the great rules. One was, if it feels, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not. What was that? What was the word?

Lorenzo: If in doubt, there’s no doubt.

Bill: If in doubt, there’s no doubt. By the way, as a skydiver, that’s the same thing we use in skydiving. You look up, you think it’s a malfunction, pull.

Lorenzo: Yikes.

Bill: Don’t think twice, okay? Seriously. But you have to do.

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: Because otherwise, you hesitate, hesitate. So here’s the thing about branding. Ladies and gentlemen, nobody really knows anything. Follow your common sense. You’ve got a brand that could be named DieHard batteries, and some agency or brand guru tells you to name it Flatulent or Scarulent or whatever or something, or says, “No,” because that’s the trendy thing in Silicon Valley, don’t listen to them. Don’t listen to them because they’re trying to sell you fake branding, folks. Used branding is common sense. There’s four or five rules to this whole thing.

Lorenzo: That’s right. Is there an idea behind this name?

Bill: Always.

Lorenzo: Is that idea conveying a story and a benefit to me? If it’s not, it’s gibberish.

Bill: Does somebody need this?

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: I have a problem that I can solve in somebody’s life. I just got to make them know it, right?

Lorenzo: Yes, yes, yes.

Bill: But don’t fall for that poor shit.

Lorenzo: No, because I feel like some of the times the firms, they already start with an idea in mind before they even know what your product is. They just want to draw something really cool and submit it to whatever ridiculous place.

Bill: It’s true. It’s true. So don’t fall for that stuff. Also, you’ll see a lot of companies out there now don’t have a tagline. Let me tell you something. And they think that’s cool? Fine. You have a tagline. You do it the right way. There’s a reason why every great brand in history… There’s also, by the way, on big shows, they’ll say, “Brought to you by.” Even today, they’ll say the name of a company. They’ll always say something such and such and a tagline. So anyhow, I’d say there’s one more. It’s a little, little trap, all right?

Lorenzo: Yeah.

Bill: Little traps. If you’re going to name something, people are invariably going to probably try to reduce it down to shorthand or a abbreviation or even initials. They do. People shorten stuff. So make sure you don’t name yourself. I call it the Richard Dick trap. Don’t name yourself something that the nickname is something you’re not going to like. So if you don’t want to be called Dick, or you don’t want your kid to be called Dick in high school, so name them Richard.

Lorenzo: Yeah. If you’re the ethics attorney named Dick, right?

Bill: Yeah.

Lorenzo: If you’re the ethics attorney named Richard, you’re going to be called Dick.

Bill: Right, right. So just don’t… I mean, so, Minnesota mining and manufacturing, one of the greatest companies of all time. So they didn’t mind being called 3M or Johnson and Johnson’s, J&J. But, I mean, you don’t want to name, like what do we call? A professional insurance group because people are going to short it to PIG, P-I-G, and one of my favorites, the First Unitarian Church of Kennebunkport, Maine.

Lorenzo: Spell it out.

Bill: Well it’s a First Unitarian Church of Kennebunkport, Maine, and its initials are FUCKME. Just don’t want to do that, folks.

Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah. Live and learn.

Bill: Sure, sure. So do we have a takeaway for today, Lorenzo?

Lorenzo: What is our takeaway today?

Bill: There’s got to be one in there somewhere.

Lorenzo: Well I think the takeaway is, you need to put more thought into that name.

Bill: Yeah, yeah. I think there’s nothing sweeter than a man’s name or a person’s name.

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: And there’s nothing sweeter to your brand than your brand’s name.

Lorenzo: This, straight from God’s lips to your ears.

Bill: And so, if you can, have a name that launches your idea. It’s easy to say, and people like to repeat. So we call it the Invisible Fence School of Naming,

Lorenzo: If someone’s trying to tell you something else, you need to report them to our Horrible Name Hotline, which we’ve just made up right now.

Bill: We do. Brand Brothers, we have a gang of thugs. They’re traveling around the country.

Lorenzo: We’re breaking fake brand kneecaps.

Bill: If you write us about somebody and by name, make sure you name them. You can insert their address and their phone number, their bank accounts and their Social Security number. And, you’d like to have us go in and have our guys-

Lorenzo: That’s right.

Bill: … visit them at home, fine. That’s what we do.

Lorenzo: Then they’ll be suffering this very day, as the Godfather said.

Bill: All right, Lorenzo, I guess we’re signing off for another one. We hope that we’ve done our little bit to fight the evil forces of fake branding today.

Lorenzo: That’s right. Until the next episode, farewell.

Bill: Farewell, brother Lorenzo.

Lorenzo: Brother Bill, cheers.

Bill: Cheers.