What’s in a name? Could be millions.
If you were a movie producer and you wanted a “name” to help you reap millions – you would pay $10 to $20 million for Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey or Arnold (when he returns to Hollywood… he said he’d be back). You know the money has no relation to their “acting” ability. It is the name that is valuable – the name that sells.
Imagine if you had the power of these names promoting your business: Wayne Gretzky, Lance Armstrong, Venus Williams, William Shatner or Celine Dion. Some companies paid millions to associate their products with these names. Why? Because there is something special in a name. A name conveys credibility, acceptance and emotional hunger. I want to be like him or her.
I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.Bill Cosby
Business School Branding
Canadian universities figured this one out. They sold the marquee for their business schools to business names: Ivey at University of Western Ontario, Asper at University of Manitoba, Molson at Concordia University, DeGroote at McMaster University, Schulich at York University and Rotman at University of Toronto. The universities got two things from this association with successful business names. They got millions of dollars and they got the prestige of associating with the successful business name.
What the Rotman School is doing may be the most important thing happening in management education today.Peter F Drucker
Of course associating with any name could carry a risk. Take the time to understand the character of the individual and culture of the organization. Due diligence might save you some embarrassing harm. But national and international stars can be expensive. If you are paying for endorsement consider regional or local sports celebrities.
The safest names to associate with are dead people. The longer they have been dead – the better. Their history is written and it is not likely someone will dig up new dirt on them. Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Orville Wright, Christopher Columbus, Alexander the Great, Marie Curie, Picasso, Edison, Alexander Graham Bell.
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Mythical figures are another safe bet; Hercules, Popeye, Peter Pan, King Arthur, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, Captain America.
Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.Yoda
If you understand the power of a name – then take advantage of it. And don’t limit your options to paid endorsements. Consider these possibilities.
Make Your Name a Name
State your name proudly and clearly when talking to others. Don’t apologize for your name. Don’t say, “I work for a company called…” or “You probably never heard of us…” How would Bill Gates introduce his company name? Introduce yours the same way.
Make it Easy for Others to Hear and Remember Your Name
Pick a business name that is clear and unique. Don’t call your company some non-descript name like, “United International Enterprises” or worst, “HLMS Consulting and Associates Etc.”. Both of those are boring, vague and difficult to remember.
Try this mental check. What company names can you instantly list? Write them and examine them. What is it about them makes them memorable? Here are some good company names – IBM, Coke, Pizza Pizza, Canadian Tire, and Blockbuster Video. Your million-dollar tip is to use hard consonants (b, d, j, k, q, p, t). We hear these sounds clearer and tend to remember them better.
Repeat Your Name – Often
We need to hear things at least seven times before we remember it. Put your name on everything – your business card, website, sign, golf shirt, coffee mug… And when someone asks you to repeat your name – be honored – not angry. When you leave a voice message state your name twice – once at the beginning of the call and again at the end. You can reinforce your name by spelling it. “That’s T-O-R-O-K.”
Associate Your Name with Winners
Tell others about your big name clients. Tell others about the associations that you are a member of and mention big name members. Tell others about the charities you support. Run a joint promotion with another leading business. Talk about your heroes and names that you admire.
In my country we go to prison first and then become President.Nelson Mandela
Name Your Clients
Get testimonials from them. Get their permission and quote their names in your promotions. Post their names and logos on your website. That helps them and you. Avoid using the testimonial from “anonymous”. You know – the great testimonial signed “Bob”, or “M”. We question the veracity of such vagueness.
Brag About Your Clients
Learn and remember their names and stories. Write them notes of appreciation. Proudly tell their stories. Recommend your clients to others. Stay in touch with your clients so they remember and repeat your name. And when you talk with them be sure to mention the names that are important to them.
Clients of George Torok include, “CIBC, Alcan, Bombardier, Dupont, Playtex, Canadian Management Centre, City of Toronto, Ontario Ministry of Finance, Empire Insurance, Zurich Insurance, Coors Canada, 5th Avenue Collection, Union Energy…”
Get Your Name in the Media
Help the media to drop your name – by keeping them informed about what you do. Then repeat what they say.
Overall it’s hard not to pick up lots of useable advice from this book.Globe & Mail on ‘Secrets of Power Marketing’
Quote from Famous People
Use quotations from authors, business leaders and celebrities that convey your message. Can you use a quote from Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jack Welch, Sam Walton, Terry Fox or John Candy? When you do this it appears that those famous people agree with you.
If you are going through hell, keep going.Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
About the author
George Torok is coauthor of the national bestseller, Secrets of Power Marketing – Canada’s first guide to Personal Marketing for the non-marketer.