How to Create Brand Names That Stick

Hello I Am Awesome Tag. Illustration Design

A Great Name is a Must

Whether you are launching a new company, a new product, or refreshing a brand, you need to have a great name.  Some companies have a name that just fits while others see massive marketing campaigns fail because of a poor name.  Still others have names that are limiting future growth.  For instance, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com says that Zappos.com started out as ShoeSite.com.

Alexandra Watkins is a nationally recognized naming expert and founder of Eat My Words. She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. and Entreprenuer.  Her clients range from Disney to Fujitsu.  She recently wrote the small, but powerful book Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick.

 

“Your brand name makes a critical first impression. Even more than your shoes.” Alexandra Watkins

 

 

For those not in the field of marketing and branding, why is picking the right brand name so critically important? 

Your name will last longer than any investment you make in your business.  Think about that for a minute…will you have the same tablet, mobile phone, printer, and office furniture twenty years from now?  Not likely.  But you will have the same brand name.  That’s why it’s important for you spend the time to get it right.

 

Qualities of a Perfect Brand Name

What are the qualities of a perfect name? How do you know you’ve landed on the right choice?

A helpful and purely objective checklist for the qualities of a perfect name is my SMILE & SCRATCH Test, a 12-step name evaluation method based on my philosophy, “A name should make you smile, instead of scratch your head.” If your name passes the test (and clears trademarking and international linguistic checks), you can be assured you have a winner.

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SMILE: The 5 Qualities of a Super Sticky Name – the perfect name has all of these characteristics:

Suggestive – evokes something about your brand

Meaningful – resonates with your audience

Imagery – is visually evocative to aid in memory

Legs – lends itself to a theme for extended mileage

Emotional – moves people

Becoming A Heart-Centered Leader

Red Heart On Wooden Background

Matters of the Heart

Students of leadership will often look at the intellectual attributes of a great leader. We point to great strategy, distinction, winning against the competition.  Leadership is also about matters of the heart.  Susan Steinbrecher and Joel Bennett’s book Heart-Centered Leadership reminds leaders to be mindful, authentic, and caring.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Susan Steinbrecher about her work. Susan is a consultant, mediator, speaker and leads Steinbrecher & Associates, Inc., a management consulting firm.

 

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” -Jesse Jackson

 

Leading From the Heart

What is your definition of “Heart-Centered Leadership”?

Heart-Centered Leadership means having the wisdom, courage and compassion to lead others with authenticity, transparency, humility and service.

 

“You lead by encouragement and inspiration, not by fear and control.” -Susan Steinbrecher

 

Anyone can be a heart-centered leader if he or she has the determination and daily commitment to practice certain core principles.  The root or basis of these principles is what we call “the power of the human element.”  Two things are required to tap into and unleash the human element.  The first is your ability to listen or, even better, your ability to learn how to listen.  The second is your own willingness to clear personal obstacles, in other words, your own story and organizational obstacles that get in the way of this deeper listening.

 

“If you stand straight, do not fear a crooked shadow.” -Chinese Proverb

 

3 Differences of a Heart-Centered Leader

Off the top of your head, what 3 things are different about a heart-centered leader?

  1. The focus is to serve the people that you are leading, not the other way around.
  2. A heart-centered leader tells the truth.  If you are not able to provide information when asked, you must be willing to explain why you aren’t at liberty to share that information.
  3. A heart-centered leader does not judge or assume, but comes to understand, asking the right questions instead rushing to judgment and assumption.

Our book outlines some key guidelines for heart-centered behavior. But in order for this behavior to be authentic, it has to come from a place of emotional resonance and coherence. You have to believe in what you are doing. It has to resonate with you. Ultimately, a heart-centered leader leads from principles, values, and virtues.

 

“Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.” -Rumi

 

Encouraging Leaders to Have an Open Mind

How do you encourage leaders to be open-minded?

I ask them to reflect on a time in their career when being open-minded paid big dividends and why.  I also ask them to tell me of a time when they were not open-minded and what happened.  I find that if people can reflect on their own experiences, they can piece together the benefits of being open-minded much faster than me pointing out the rewards of being open-minded.

0615891195Another approach is to ask leaders to imagine how differently they would communicate with an associate if grounded in this key principle: people have positive intentions.  It requires revising certain ways of thinking, such as taking sides in a conflict, and replacing them with healthier habits of mind — observing the perspective of both sides.  It involves identifying and taking responsibility for your own mental tendencies, including an inclination to stereotypes and making snap judgments about what people “should” do.  It also means flexing your empathetic muscle.  As a result, you gain a greater understanding of the causes of atypical behavior and problems that result from that behavior, as well as insight into the best solution.

 

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” -David Starr Jordan

 

Leaders Need to Let Go

Often leaders feel like they need to seize the reigns, and yet you talk about the importance of letting go.  Tell us more about that.

Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success

young businessman adds promote word

The New Rules

You’ve heard the advice, but maybe you are uncomfortable:

Why standing out is more important than ever

The importance of personal branding

How to get noticed in a crowded world

More than ever, your career opportunities are dependent on your reputation.  The good news is that there are more tools than ever to help you get started.

Dan Schawbel is a columnist at Time and Forbes.  He is the managing partner of Millennial Branding.  If you haven’t read his many articles and blog posts, you may have heard or seen him in the media.  As I was reading his latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, I happened to catch an interview with him on National Public Radio.  He is an expert on personal branding and understanding and reaching the Millennial generation.

 

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, what you earn depends on what you learn.” –Bill Clinton

 

Why Personal Branding Is Important

What are the top 5 reasons that personal branding so important?

  1. You will be found in search engines when either a recruiter is looking to hire for a specific position or a prospect is looking to hire a consultant.
  2. You will gain confidence in yourself because you’ll know who you are and how your expertise fits into the business world.
  3. You will be able to communicate who you are and what you do at networking events without being stressed out.
  4. Your personal brand will give your company more credibility and make it easier to promote your company in the media.
  5. Your brand will help you both attract the right opportunities and repel the ones that aren’t a good fit, saving both you and others time in the research process.

 

“Think of your career as a series of experiences.” -Lenny Mendonca

 

“If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it is the box that needs fixing. Malcolm Gladwell

 

What do you say to critics who say that personal branding is self-centered and egotistical?

I really don’t think it’s possible to build a strong brand without the support of those around you.  I also don’t think that being selfish is necessarily a bad thing, especially in a tough economy like this.  Being selfish, in some regard, is a way of saying “I’m investing in myself so I can become more valuable and in doing so help others.”  As long as your intention is to help others today or in a year, everyone benefits from you being selfish.  Those that have built strong brands have empowered others to build their own and promoted their work.

 

“Become the expert your company can’t live without” is powerful advice. What steps do you recommend to make this a reality?

Promote Yourself CoverIn Promote Yourself I talk about how you need to become an expert in your field.  65% of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists. You need to align your strengths to areas in your company that need improvement.  Back when I worked at a Fortune 200 company, I was the only social media resource.  If a department wanted to learn social media or use the tools for their own purposes, they almost had to contact me.  This truly makes you valuable to your group and to your company, while at the same time giving you visibility which creates opportunities.

 

65 percent of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists.

 

Use Social Media as a Career Tool

You talk about the importance of social media. Why is it critical for leaders to understand and leverage social media?

Social media is the fabric of our society at this time.  I started using it in 2006 because I realized that it puts everyone on the same plane, regardless of job title.  Through social media you can easily connect with people in your company, profession or industry, which creates opportunities.  Another aspect of social media is that the customer now has a voice, and people, in general, are moved by experts and influencers.  Leaders need to understand social media because it’s a channel that people will use to follow them if they have something interesting or important to say.

 

“Social media is the fabric of our society at this time.” -Dan Schawbel

 

 

How did you use social media to propel your career?

Greatness and the Great Pumpkin

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Creating Greatness

Every year there are giant pumpkin contests where a fierce competition ensues to show who has grown the biggest fruit.  Only a few months ago, the new world record was set at 2,032 pounds.  My wife enjoys baking pumpkin bread, and I cannot imagine how many loaves that monster pumpkin would help create.

In reading about the creation of these giant pumpkins, I noticed that the growers credit good seed, good soil, and good luck.

You cannot grow a champion pumpkin without the right seed.  The little seeds are specifically developed to yield amazingly large pumpkins.

 

“Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.” -Skip Prichard

 

In addition to the seeds, you must have the right soil.  Scientists study the soil of the winners, developing hypotheses about everything from the correct pH balance to how much potassium and other minerals are needed.

The luck part is less predictable, but the weather is important.  Lots of sun is important, moderate rain and protection from extensive wind or too much heat.

Reading about these gargantuan pumpkins, I thought about achieving results.  It’s the special mixture of seed, soil, and weather (luck) that makes it possible to create great things.

 

THE RIGHT SEED

Like the pumpkins, we need to start with the right seed.  If you want to create great results, it starts here.  Your ideas, your talents, and your abilities are where it all starts.  The right seed is a mixture of discipline and innate talent.  Much of our lives is spent investing in our education and skill in order to develop the best seed.

If you feel like you didn’t spend enough time creating the right seed, here is the good news:  you can start today.  No matter your age or present circumstances, you can begin the journey of personal development today.

Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.

 

“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” -Harry Golden

 

THE RIGHT SOIL

Take Command: Leadership Lessons from A First Responder

Rescue Helicopter At Sea

Not many of us will face hostile enemy fire in foreign lands.  We won’t lead a team to intervene in humanitarian situations, nor will we need to manage a crisis with lives literally on the line.  Still, the leadership principles from these experiences are adaptable and applicable to all of us.

Jake Wood served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, earning numerous awards for his distinguished service.  He has been named a 2012 CNN Hero.  In 2010, he co-founded Team Rubicon, a non-profit organization focused on disaster response. The organization gives military veterans a purpose as they intervene in various humanitarian situations.  His new book Take Command: Lessons in Leadership offers a unique perspective on how to lead a team through any situation. 

 

Build a High-Impact Team

How do you build a high-impact team?

I think first you have to understand the critical value of having the right team.  Oftentimes people think that process trumps people; or willpower triumphs over interpersonal dynamics.  That’s just not the case, so understanding the need to build a high-impact team is the first step.

 

“Passion trumps talent, but culture is king.” –Jake Wood

 

I write about five components of building a high-impact team in the book, but I’ll just highlight two.  First, we have a saying at Team Rubicon: Passion trumps talent, but culture is king.  When we’re looking to add team members, we aren’t looking for resumes laden with accolades.  We’re looking for things that demonstrate passion.  We try to start that weeding-out process from the get-go by having really quirky job postings.  We demand that only the most awesome candidates apply and generally warn about how underpaid and overworked any candidate who is accepted will be.  If someone reads that and applies with a resume and cover letter that screams, “Bring it on,” then we’re on the right path.  The second part of that saying though is critical: Culture is king.  Passionate and talented people abound, but are they right for your team?  We’ve had high-output, high-passion people in our organization before who were total cultural misfits.  They proved cancerous to the morale of the organization, and we had to eliminate them despite their talent.  Nothing derails morale faster than a poor culture fit.

 

“Nothing derails morale faster than a poor culture fit.” –Jake Wood

 

The second thing I’ll highlight in building high-impact teams is roles.  My football coach at the University of Wisconsin, Barry Alvarez, always talked about roles.  “Know your role!” he’d scream time and again.  What he meant was that starter or backup, star quarterback or water boy, we each had a role.  Furthermore, each role was critical to the success of the whole–the team.  Some were more high profile, others received more praise, but damn it, if we didn’t have new cleats on our shoes when we went to play in the rain, then nobody was going to succeed.  Effective leaders communicate the importance of roles throughout all levels of the organization.  When people understand and embrace their own role, they tend to take more pride in its execution and are more likely to hold others around them accountable for the execution of theirs.  That’s a win-win.

 

“Effective leaders communicate the importance of roles throughout all levels of the organization.” –Jake Wood

 

Cultivate Trust and Transparency

Trust is crucial on the battle field, as a first responder, or in business.  How do you cultivate trust?

When I talk about developing trust, whether from my time in the military or in Team Rubicon and the corporate world, I talk about three things: training, transparency and trials.  When everyone is trained to a common standard, then people feel like they can operate liberally, knowing that everyone around them is competent in the execution of the functions necessary for mutual success.  My time in the sniper teams was a great example of this.  When our team needed to call in close air or artillery support from a unit we’d never met, never worked with and often didn’t speak the same language as us, we needed to know that that unit was trained in the same protocols and to the same standard as we were.  If that wasn’t the case, we might hesitate to call in a life-saving artillery mission, or worse, we might call it in and have an artillery shell land in our foxhole.

cover.takecommandTransparency is critical because it levels the playing field.  When people feel that they have access to the same information as their leadership, they feel like they are empowered to come to the same conclusion.  Secrets naturally breed mistrust.  Naturally, some information within a corporation needs to be held in confidence, but to the extent that information can be shared, why not?

Finally, I often talk about the need for a galvanizing trial or tribulation.  The best teams come together in times of duress.  Those periods reveal what’s necessary from each member and displays each member’s respective worth.  Getting all the chips on the table allows a true assessment of one another, and that’s critical for truly coming together.  The Marine Corps attempts this in boot camp with the “Crucible” exercise, but nothing compares to the first time a unit gets in a firefight.  Doubts about who is capable of what disappear, and suddenly the team is flooded with unwavering trust for one another.