02:11 What To Look Out For When Trademarking Your Brand
06:14 What To Do When You Find Yourself in a ‘Brand Crisis’
11:10 Made up Brand names & Invented Business Names
12:42 The Impact of Domain Name and SEO
14:42 Choosing a name for your business
20:27 Google Algorithm Changes
22:25 SEO Keyword in domain name
24:43 Jaguar – An Evocative Brand Name
26:02 JLT AFL Pre-season – Branding success or failure?
32:42 Choosing a Brand name. How to come up with a brand name:
- Functional Names
- Invented Names
- Experiential Names
- Evocative Names
42:00 SEO VS UX
45:16 A Brand Name You Can’t Trademark
46:50 Someone Stole My Business Name
49:24 Kiss FM VS KIIS FM – Brand Protection
52:32 Can You Tell The Difference Between Twisties & Cheese Twists?
Welcome Sam! Hello Dean.
Dean: Here we are for the first episode of the Brandwidth podcast.
Sam: How very exciting.
Dean: It is very exciting, and we’ve got something interesting to talk about today to kick things off, which is how you go about protecting your brand. That’s the first thing I want to talk about. And interestingly enough the backstory behind that for everyone out there is well, we just said that was the first episode of the brandwidth podcast. This may or may not have had another name a month ago. We may or may not have recorded a few episodes, and we may or may not have dilly dallied let’s say in getting our editing done and getting it together in between our busy schedules and realised that we, we found another podcast late in the game that had the same name.
Sam: Yeah, it was, it was a bit of a nasty episode. We put a lot of hard work and effort into it as you do with something like this. And you know, took our time to get everything right and created a nice beautiful website and put our show notes up and literally got to that last exciting point where we were one button click away, and I saw there was a notification that just said: ‘Make sure your podcast name is unique’, I thought I’d better have checked this, but I’d better go and check it one more time, and to my horror, four weeks prior, after months and months of planning on our end, there’s another show completely sort of unrelated to the world of marketing and brand, with the identical name that we chose.
Copyright Infringement In Marketing
Dean: So it made me think about another example I had, and it’s probably a really good place to start talking when you think about it, so perhaps it was a little bit serendipitous because if you’re gonna do anything in business and you’re going to spend some time building a brand, building a business through marketing, spending your time and money and all that on it, you want to make sure that you’re protected or that you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark or copyright. So in that instance, what we were talking about there, we would potentially be okay because we’re not in the same area, and that’s one of the kind of the rules that you can’t just have a name, and then all of a sudden no one else can use it for anything. It is all to do with what you’re doing. However you want to get it right early on.
I had an interesting scenario probably about three years ago now when I decided I was going to write a blog on branding and it was the name I’d come up with was ‘Branding Matters’, and I had done some preliminary searches on the IP Australia website, there’s a tool you can google IP Australia and it’s quite helpful that there’s a tool that you can go on and check whether a trademark exists and you can look at one word or two words or putting words together and a few things. So I did all that and nothing came up. So I went ahead and then registered the business name. So I didn’t, because I wanted a .com.au and you have to have a business name. It was a blog, not a business, perhaps that wasn’t something I should have done, but I wanted the .com.au. So I went ahead and did that and as the blog got kind of successful, about a year later I got a nasty letter from a lawyer in Sydney accusing me of all these nasty things, which I think is there M.O. They go in hard initially, and there’s an agency in Sydney called ‘Brand Matters’ who had the trademark ‘Brand Matters’. They were accusing me of trying to pass off as them, even though it was clear this was a blog, it wasn’t a business that looked nothing like them.
So at that point I had a choice to make, I could either fight them on it or I could give them everything and start again. So because it was really a hobby. I wasn’t putting heaps of my hard earned into it. I just found another domain name, which is branding and strategy blog, just shifted it over quickly and gave them everything, but it highlighted for me, I went back and had a look at the process I went through and it highlighted to me how the online tools aren’t 100% and that so what the problem was there is that ‘Brand Matters’, ‘Branding Matters’, the computer isn’t clever enough at the moment (perhaps it should be) to kind of say well let’s put some suffixes on the end of words. Because the thing is, you can’t just change a letter, like I can’t go and register coke with a K, it doesn’t work that way. So if it sounds kind of similar to something, then you potentially have a problem. So it highlighted to me that if you’re going to do something seriously for me it was okay, it was just a blog. It was just something I did as a hobby. But if that was a business and I’d spent a year investing time and money and whatever into it, then it would have been, would have, it would have been really disastrous because I would have really had to start again. So my advice to anyone is when you get to that point, get a lawyer to check it off, I think, I don’t know, they would probably vary an IP lawyer probably around something like that between a grand or two grand, but it is essentially insurance, that it doesn’t happen to you.
Crisis Management Marketing
Sam: So it’s definitely an important story I think for anyone to consider. The other side of it for me is what is the sort of crisis management angle.
So, inevitably things like this happen every day and if you’re in business for any length of time, chances are something along these lines is going to happen. And what what you can do when you find yourself in this situation – certainly with the podcast we went through a little bit of, I don’t know, a few different sort of ways of, of thinking that we might deal with this, and I know our first sort of reaction was let’s publish it anyway and we’ll deal with it after the fact. A podcast can change their name. That’s fine. We’ve got this great episode that we’ve worked hard on and, and I think we came pretty close to doing that and to some degree, I’m not sure that it would have been a bad idea. I can’t remember the topic of the category of this other podcast, but I think it was comedy or something, in another country, we probably could have coexisted with that same name quite easily and in some respects I think, this other brand had took no length to see if anything was out there. I mean we probably didn’t go as far as checking on IP Australia with that particular name, but we certainly checked other websites. We got ourselves a website, these guys didn’t have a website that just went a bit quicker to market. So that that would have probably been a really fine appropriate way to do it, in the end we decided that we haven’t launched anything yet, it’s disappointing that we don’t get to launch a month or two ago when we could have, and we put that hard work in, but we sort of have no brand, it doesn’t cost us a lot to go back and create it again from scratch.
Dean: I think that the key to that crisis management is to ensure there isn’t a crisis to start with. So you can do it through the planning. I mean at work at the moment we’ve probably the last couple of months been working on more brand names than we have for a little while. And for organisations with a lot of work for Apple and Pear Australia and they have this new varieties of apples and pears that are being branded, branded apples and pears are becoming even more popular around the world so it’s interesting with those because we have to look for a name that is registered in Australia but potentially registered overseas as well because they grow them in Europe and in America and that’s when it gets from a legal point of view. Pretty a lot more in depth than its way out of my realm.
However you can put in the work initially to get at least maybe we always try to come up with three or four names that we can then take the lawyers that we’re happy with. Obviously we’ve got maybe one that you really like the most and it really fits the brand strategy the best. However you can’t be too, you’re going to try not to be too wedded to that. And so the way you can really go about it is like I said start in IP Australia it will give you a list of all the categories, so there’s lots, I can’t remember off the top of my head, there’s services or products, they have different codes, you can read through there and work out what category you’re in or what categories you might want to be in. And then you can do your search that way and it’ll tell you if there’s something there or something similar so often you might find a name that is fine and in your category but not another. That’s absolutely okay if you’re not completely different businesses or products. And then you develop a short list around about that. Some will get knocked out immediately, and then the other part as well as thinking about a domain strategy.
So the name is one thing but that name might be, you know that other person that has the brand in the other unrelated field or category might already have the domain. So what does that mean now? And I think it’s an interesting discussion we could probably have around that. I like to get your point of view might come back to it and after kind of talking about how this works but once you’ve gone through all that and you’re kind of happy with it, you’ve got three or four names, then speak to an I. P. Lawyer and get them to run through it. What they’ll end up doing is coming back to you with some advice on all of those names or on whether you’ve got complete clear air or potentially there are some names that have, they might they may cause a problem but they may not, so they’re up front with you at that point and and then get them to give you the final advice and and help you register it that way.
Made Up Brand Names & Invented Business Names
But the domain name and the domain strategy is an interesting one because we found that maybe five years ago, we’ll be working on names, we’d be trying to find names for brands, which would fall into what we call the invented categories, so they’re not real words they’re…
Sam: I want to ask you about this actually
Dean: They’re a couple of words smashed together, or like a latin word or a word in another language, for all intents and purposes, we call an invented name a name that’s in another language, if it’s not English. It was like changing a letter, remember there was all those web addresses out there they’d like a word with the letter taken out, or you take the big one out.
Sam: The big one was you put ‘ly’ on the end of it, right.
Dean: Or you take a vowel out, and that happened because and I think a lot of that was because people were trying to get the domain name.
Sam: It’s got to be getting hard, right. And this is the question I wanted to ask you is, it’s not gonna get easier, every year this has got to get a lot harder. This is something you do every day, but on the few occasions that I’ve had to sort of look at this kind of thing. I found it really challenging. And certainly the process that I’ve gone on is we find the perfect name and then get heartbroken when you realize that you’re the 100th person to think of that same name and have that same idea and you go through that process four or five times before you end up reinventing something else.
The Impact of Domain Name and SEO
Obviously I’ve come from the SEO world, right? And we’re the worst at this. So were the ones that go ok you are a plumber? Let’s go with plumbermelbourne.com. And this is interesting too, from a, from a legal angle, right, you can’t trademark that, so what you end up having and I think, you know, say plumbers… Dentists, I think the SEO world got their hands in the dentistry industry really early
Sam: Yeah. I think every dentist has like three or four websites, veneersmelbourne.com, dentalimplantsinmelbourne.com etc. and some with hyphens in it. So there’s like there’s probably about five dentistmelbourne.com.au today, you know with dentist-melbourne dentist_melbourne and there’s nothing to do with IP or trademarking. It’s everything to do with which domain name you can buy and sort of leads into that domain.
Dean: I’ve got a different opinion on that now a little bit and I’ve given this pitch to a few clients and not not everyone agrees with me and I might not be right either, but I wonder now like me, I googled the name. So if I want to find Biz Wisdom’s web address, I’ll just google Biz Wisdom. I assume it’s bizwisdom.com.au, but I just googled it. And so if I’m looking for a business, I’ll just Google their name first.
So the domain name is less important for me these days, like you might, you might put ‘yourbizwisdom’ in front of it or, or ‘thebizwisdom’ or something like that or, or even a slogan as long as it’s not, it’s got to be connected a little bit, but I find it less, I’m more, I’m more keen to get the name right, make sure it’s aligned with the brand because the name from a positioning point of view for me is so important. If you’re a name that says what you do in an interesting way or, then you’re halfway there, you don’t have to spend a heap of money explaining it to everybody.
Choosing a Name For Your Business
Sam: And that’s the challenge, and if you’re thinking of it from a new business perspective, there’s a lot of different angles here and one is, I think absolutely if you can create a name that says what you do in that name, then certainly from launching a business, particularly if you’re bootstrapping and you’ve got no capital to go big with a massive brand activation, then that can be really advantageous.
But the same thing talking about your process of googling a name, we’ve got a client who recently that launched the business, they had a very practical brand name where the brand name really was the product category. And they couldn’t rank for their own brand name and they were investing in a little bit of above the line marketing to get some brand exposure out there. But if anyone Googles their name all their competitors come up, because they’ve been around for longer, it is the description of the category and they can’t, and that to me is you should be able to guarantee that you can rank for your own brand name, and certainly from a digital perspective, that is I like invented category, I hadn’t heard that I call them nonsense names, I think it was, but that sort of made up name is certainly stronger from that perspective, you know, if it doesn’t exist out there it’s a word that doesn’t exist in any language, you’ll be able to rank for your own brand name. And really from astarting the business angle, that should be a given, you should be able to rank for your brand name.
But on the flip side of course is at the strength in that category name, is that anyone searching for that category, if that’s your category name, then maybe there’s some advantages there as well. And you don’t have to grow your brand to potentially get a lot of organic search traffic.
Dean: It’s an interesting one so you use your name again Biz Wisdom, it says, it says what you do without being the category. I mean it’s a bit broad in what you do and often with brands though, you’ll lock up underneath that slogan or a promise which says everything.
So I have a bus test, I call it. So if if you’re brand mark and I mean your logo business descriptor slogan goes past on a bus or on a cab or on a billboard, someone should be to get what you do and enough of your story to be interested in 10 seconds and you’ll often find people come up with a great sounding name that means nothing and they’ve got to do a heap of work to get what they do across, and that’s fine. But the harder you can work to try and find a name that does that for you, it’s not always possible.
Sam: I actually think if you’ve got an invented name that means nothing, if you’re able to reach whatever that brand tipping point is where you are a widely recognised brand name, then that’s an advantage, right? Like you’re in a much stronger place. But it does take a lot of work there and you have to kind of ask yourself well do we have enough? Yeah. Do we have the capital behind us to grow this brand name because you’re going to have to put a lot of work into it. And if the answer’s no, well you having that nonsense name will become a hindrance because google if people don’t know how to spell it, you’ve got to put that work into that as well. You know, there’s all sorts of other, other challenges that you end up having to go down. So there’s pros and cons either way.
Dean: When coming up with names, using your example of SEO point of view, the more generic it is, the harder it is for you to kind of work. It’s something I hadn’t considered too much to be honest, so many things to consider.
Sam: And it can be an advantage. I mean there was a time, so going back seven or eight years, there was a time, obviously google’s algorithms are changing all the time. So there was a time where the number one ranking factor or pretty close to the number one ranking factor from google was domain name, If your key word was in the domain name. That was definitely a sort of a dark period I think for SEO where the best strategy for most businesses was to go out, buy lots of domain names and throw up a little websites everywhere.
Dean: So just interesting on that, if I can cut in for a second because that’s something I want to kind of understand. We bought, at Di Marca, we own brandstrategy.melbourne and branddesign.melbourne, another one I think, and we haven’t done anything with it. We never did anything with them in the end. And we almost have our new website completed in the next step once that’s there, is to maybe think about what we’re going to do with them. But I had assumed when we got them that because we had brandstrategy.melbourne that once it’s up there, if someone Google’s brand strategy in Melbourne, then we should rank pretty highly for that. But I don’t believe that’s what happened.
Sam: It’s a funny one. Certainly seven or eight years ago it was almost enough just to have that and you would for that particular brand strategy, you would be number one. Almost guaranteed.
Sam (continued): And then of course what happened was SEO people being a SEO that that was the strategy. Marketers ruined everything for everyone, but that’s exactly what happened. And then of course what Google do is they go, oh wow, what’s the quality of our search results now? Like now it’s really poor, since we ratcheted up the the value of keyword rich domain name, search results got better for a period and then they get a lot worse and then they sort of bring it back down and it comes back. It’s interesting that we’re sort of going through a bit of a renaissance of that. I think once they ratcheted it back down again and everyone sort of migrate those websites back in and we got rid of all these satellite sites that we’ve built, over time Google has sort of gone, what happens if we ratchet it back up, oh the quality is still pretty good.
Google Algorithm Changes and Machine Learning
Dean: Are they changing it regularly?
Sam: They do, I mean there’s still the big manual algorithm changes, they used to throw the whole world into chaos “ohh Google’s changing the algorithm.” These days it’s not quite like that, they do still have the big ones, but they have switched to machine learning. So this stuff is happening at a micro level all the time and it’s different by industry.
One thing that going into machine learning has enabled Google to do, is to really sort of test and learn at a very small scale industry by industry, vertical by vertical in that sense. So for us from an SEO perspective, what we’re doing is if we get a new client in an industry that we’re not familiar with, the first thing you’re looking at is how does the search results page look for that industry compared to everyone else, and what do we think the ranking factors for that particular category are going to be. There are still your key rules of certain things that are going to apply to everyone. But yeah, you’re really starting to kind of look – okay for this brand what are the ranking factors that we’re seeing? And, that’s only happened in a small way now, but that’s going to get better, more and more significant as it goes on.
But yeah, these do change all the time. And you sort of just start to see little trends and one of the trends I’m seeing now is a sort of return is the keyword rich domain name.
Dean: That’ll be good for us, I think he bought it five years ago just in time to finally reach them.
Sam: Yeah. And that is certainly true for, you know, as I say for some categories more than others, there’s certainly categories that exist now that I would say that keyword rich domain name is almost the best ranking factor and there’s others where it doesn’t matter.
Dean: So what you’re saying Sam is it’s just really difficult regardless
Sam: It is, it is.
Dean: Well, what makes me, makes me think of all the factors that go into success and it’s so multifaceted isn’t it?
Dean: There’s no hard and fast rule.
SEO Keyword in Domain Name
Sam: But one thing, one thing I would say, and particularly from that angle, I mean even as someone who operates in the SEO world, I typically do not advise anyone to go down that keyword rich domain name unless it just does happen to be the right name for their brand because, and this is this is something I think it’s really important for this issue is – what happens 5 or 10 years from now when whatever that keyword rich domain name is no longer a key word that people use anymore or the world changes and, I’ve had a couple of, you know, I mean SEO is an interesting one for that.
There’s a lot of companies that were, “click something”, or, you know, and this kind of stuff, what happens when it changes and you’ve got this name and, you and I obviously, came together through through different, different world, which was the world of music and nightclubs and way back in the day, techno was a good and our name for, for our events was ‘Melbourne Techno Collective’. We went through a period where techno were the worst, it was the dirtiest word in the world, right. And that gave me an experience of saying, you know what, I will never again have a name for anything that I’m involved in that is the category, because that’s how the world changes. And SEO once upon a time was the big thing that all small businesses were like, we need SEO, we need SEO. Now it’s social media and its Facebook. So if you’re left with whatever it is, you know, “click something”, I shouldn’t name anything there’s probably somebody out there, you’re left with that name, then you’re stuck with the baggage associated with an old out of date…
Dean: And it often happens with businesses for their place, Melbourne, this or that or something.
Sam: Yeah and then you want to move into Sydney or New York.
Dean: Named after the street they were in and then they moved and I was like, what are you gonna do? And they just kept the name I think, which was always odd, but that’s right, you’ve kind of got to be thinking ahead, I hadn’t thought of it from that what have you specifically.
Sam: And then what do you do with an invented category, an invented name, at least in that scenario you can rebrand very easily, you can be very nimble with the way that you re brand.
Evocative Brand Names
Dean: And that’s why I like the name sometimes can be invented or, there’s another category called evocative. So if you think of Jaguar car’s got nothing evocative names, got nothing to do with the actual product or service, but they evoke a feeling so hat’s slick and fast and that’s where Jaguar comes from. So you can have a name that still doesn’t say what you do and still have a direct kind of connection to what you do is more evocative than that. But, it’s then how you, how you, whatever you wrap up with that so that you’re gonna have to work a little bit harder. Jaguar has been around for, over tens of fifties, probably 100 years now. But if you’re starting out, you call your, you know, whatever it is Jaguar, then it’s got nothing to do with what you do, then you’re gonna have to work hard initially, which is, which is fine. But, that’s where like having a business descriptor that kind of locks in underneath it and my background is originally as a graphic designer and then I moved along off to the strategy side throughout my career, but remember hating – I designed a logo, I just want to be the logo, not extra bloody words. But I think they’re really important and because if you’ve got a name that doesn’t say anything and people aren’t sure.
JLT AFL Pre Season Naming Rights Sponsorship – Success or Failure
The big example for me for anyone that is a footy fan out there was the JLT Series last year. So NAB ‘National Australia Bank’ had been sponsors of the preseason competition for a long time. And then they were either gave up or out-bid, I don’t know what happened. A new sponsor last year was JLT In the JLT’s Community Cup I think it’s called or something.
I was sitting in a pub with a mate of mine and he goes, do you know what JLT means? No, never really thought about it. And we’re watching the footy and they’d spent heaps with JLT, JLT their logo was around the whole ground and JLT that’s all it said. Nothing, That’s it. And I just thought what a waste of money, so I googled it later and they’re in finance or something. But their logo looks like a cruise liner. It could be anything. And so I ended up emailing the CEO and he never emailed me back funny enough but you know, they wasted that.
Sam: It’s funny because I had the exact same thought – now you tweeted about this. Yeah when it happened and I when I saw your tweet because I had the exact same thought and I did the exact same thing – I googled them. I wonder how many other people are googling them and of course these kind of things do you know we know JLT now. Again I don’t know what I’d do with that information.
Dean: I still don’t think that’s the thing, that’s fine and so you go okay people google it if they don’t get a lot of people might not either they you know they just they might not do it. So why make it too hard for them? And then I thought I was sure that this year they would decide to change that but I don’t think they have.
But I guess the moral of that story for me is it’s okay to have a few other things that lock up with your logo to help with your positioning, because at the end of the day especially if you’re spending god knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars to maybe more than hundreds of thousands to just sponsor that, why not just make it easy with some guy and his mates seeing the pub in Sorrento looking at the TV to see JLT, oh! They do this.
Sam: Do you think it’s sort of also maybe a more important thing is what you do next. You know for me it’s funny that you mentioned that. I mean I still can’t get out of the habit of calling that the ANSETT cup, I’m pretty sure ANSETT haven’t been around now for a decade or more. So there is some equity that you build on that, and if they follow that up with another big campaign to sort of explain who JLT is there, maybe it’s probably not too late for them now. If they want to return your email.
Dean: I might send it again, and mention it in the podcast!
Sam: But yeah, you can follow this up. So there is some equity that you get from that anyway, the name is now recognised, and you can follow that.
Dean: This is the thing with having an integrated strategy, isn’t it? Like if you’ve got all that if you’ve got the budget to spend on, you know, a sponsorship like that, make sure you have enough to do something else with it or not spend, you know, all your money in one spot and hope that..
Sam: And that’s right. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, if you put it all into that one spot, then you’re only going to get that, whatever is that.
Dean: And that same discussion went on with Etihad, so they’ve been the naming rights sponsor at Docklands Stadium, Etihad stadium, maybe for the last, I mean it would be… Di Marca did all the work on that brand and also did all the signage and stuff and I think it’s just when I started there, so it’s almost 10 years.
Sam: And that’s an example to, I had actually never heard of Etihad.
Dean: So that was perfect for them. Yeah, they’ve had it for nine years. It’s now going to change at the end of this year. It might even be next month too Marvel Stadium because it’s been, sponsored now by Disney and there, but there’s a, I remember reading about at the time, there’s a kind of rule of thumb that you get to about 9, 10 years. And is it worth, you know, is it worth it anymore for a brand? You know, you know, everyone knows that as Etihad stadium and they’ll, and the same thing before Etihad Stadium It was Telstra Dome, Colonial Stadium before that. So we still remember those and I do distinctly remember, you know, for maybe a year, maybe a couple of years in my head, it was still Telstra Dome, you know, for a point so they get that residual benefit from that.
Sam: And that’s certainly, Etihad is a good example of I had never heard of them before. They came along and got the stadium rights and it was what they did to follow up. That’s something Etihad is now just a household… Yeah. Brand in this country.
Dean: So, so now that I’m noticing, you know, I think of when I first heard that I was like Marvel Stadium and it really doesn’t, I don’t know, it doesn’t engage with me too much and I do have a little boy, but he’s too little for Marvel, but maybe that won’t be too long, but it does sound like there’s a real push in in AFL to, to start connecting again with Children. Yeah. Must have some research, somewhere that is going to be really important.
Sam: Well, I think it’s got to a certain size without digressing too far. It’s got to a certain size.
Dean: Isn’t that the point sam? We start, we are digressing. This is what the podcast is about, how do you protect yourselves in the story of our brand name? We’ve ended up talking about the naming rights.
Sam: Yeah, it isn’t interesting It could be quite exciting. I definitely think it is connecting with the kids. And one thing I think about that is it’s got so big, and it’s very formal and it has to be, you have to be safe at a big stadium and there’s 100,000 people go into a football game. It’s, you know, it’s different, it’s a different world and you’ve got your seat that you sit in and there’s people at every aisle, making sure that you’re sitting in the correct seat and you know, it’s a lot of that has made a very cold experience for mine, you know and certainly the AFL pushed back into some, you know some more of the suburban games, particularly talking about the JLT cup and those and, and you know it’s amazing going out to, you know, as a bulldogs fan going out to the Whitten oval, and you know, and yeah, even my little three year old can kick the ball around and you know, it’s, it’s got that sort of thing and that’s what I remember from the footy you go and you know, when you’re too young to watch a full game football, you can kick the ball around and you can do a little bit of this.
And so, you know, I think it’s probably really important that they push back into creating that fun family environment that isn’t just, you know, most kids, even a lot older, have trouble sitting in one of those bucket seats for two hours.
Dean: Yeah, they do. But, I guess it’s always been the way a little bit, but there was a, a bit more relaxed wasn’t it.
Choosing a Brand Name. How to Come up With a Brand Name.
Sam: Yeah. Anyway, I did as much as we’ve digressed there was, I did want to sort of bring it back to that, that idea of the invented name and just out of pure curiosity, is there some sort of template or technique that you go in creating these names.
Dean: Yeah, so we use a bit of a framework, that where there’s, there’s four types of names. So, when you talk about how we met Sam which was through music and nightclubs I remember trying to come up with names for my club night and it was, you know, I would just be walking around looking at things going, what about tree, something… what about this? What about that? You know, it was just really random and eventually you come up with something and you kind of have a look around and it resonates and you go with it, but to make it easier, we break it down into four categories.
- Functional Names. So there’s, functional or descriptive names, so they’re normally names that are like the name of a person. so, or an acronym, like ‘Qantas’ or ‘Kelloggs’ or, you know, ‘Sam McEwin Marketing’ and so, so they’re very, very, you know, just functional of that name.
- Invented Names. Then there’s invented. So, you look for words, you know, invented ones really much. So as I was saying before, you can make up words, you can take a word that’s similar and take some letters out, you can jam a few words together, you can make nonsense names out of them.
- Experiential Names. Then there’s experiential, so their names that talk about, talk to the direct experience of the product or the service. So one I always thought was interesting with that I’d never thought of before was like Netscape Navigator or Apple’s Safari, like they’re all doing the same thing there, the idea if you get the experience of you know, going on a journey through the internet, you know, we’re gonna navigate, you hear, or Safari you’re going to go on an interesting journey. So their experiential names or Palm Pilot, there’s always a cool name, you know, it’s a pilot in your palm.
- Evocative Names. And then there’s evocative names, which I was talking about before, so that’s like, like Jaguar was my favourite one of those, and they talked to the experience of it, like red bull, it’s got nothing to do with the product, but it’s like, you know, I don’t know, it’s big and aggressive.
Yeah, so we look through just look through those categories and try and break it down and work through it systematically that way, so that it just makes it easier than walking around going ‘ahh tree, that’ll do’. Like, you know, you can think about it strategically and then at that point we’ll look at, so we’ll take those names before we do this, we’ve worked we have a brand strategy there, so we’ve got something to, you know, we’ve got a value proposition or a character of a brand or a brand essence or a slogan that we can, you know, we can help us identify what that name might be. And that’s the number one part of the the game, getting getting that right first And whenever we’ve got a business that comes to us you know wanting to come up with a name, we’ll actually just wait we’ll do the strategy, as if you know and we’ll call it we’ll make up a name so that we’re not talking about business name brackets will make up something just for them. And then after we’ve done that it often becomes clear in the area that you know where the name should be.
Sam: Is that the story, was it Omo that was nonsense. Yeah I’m sure I’ve heard this before that the omo laundry detergent was the fake name and they ended up loving it so much that it became the name.
Dean: That’s a good one. We have had one fake name which almost became a reality. But yeah we once we saw with the strategy we worked through each of the the categories of name and then get it down to about you know five or six in each category if we can, and and at that point we’re also then we’re going and testing them – actually throughout the whole process we’re testing and I’m always chucking them in IP Australia or in the U. K. one to just check that were that were potentially in line and also always also looking for domain names or kind of thinking around domain strategies at the same time. And then we try and get it to about five or six per category to then talk with the client about. It gets to ideally taking say five, it’s normally about three if I’m honest to a lawyer. But going through those, you know, potential steps throughout it to the point that when you give it to the lawyer it’s, you know, pretty good. However we had, was working with someone at the moment, we had what we thought was such a great name and the initial advice from the lawyer was, it looks great.
And then I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and then kind of got a phone call and I thought it was about to be, you know, pop the champagne, we’ve got it… and there was potential problems not here, but overseas. And even though it wasn’t part of the brief at the moment, they decided that you know, if they were going to do this because it was just, it was changing a brand name, which is a big job in itself. They were going to do that.
Sam: That’s probably an important message I think as well, you know, talking about creating a name that 10 years go by and it’s no longer relevant with those more functional names. I think the same thing is you create a name, you know, that’s all right I’m just gonna be, we’re never going to go international will just be an Australian business. You know, I don’t have those grand ambitions.
And then if things take off, you can find that these can change really well, I think that’s certainly a lesson that I’ve seen a few times and that I’d advise people to think about is don’t limit, you know, like sort of set yourself up for the absolute best case. If the absolute best case is that your idea takes off your business grows, you become a massive international brand, even if that isn’t part of your dream or, you know, it seems unlikely in the state that you’re in now, who knows where you’ll be. And it’s probably worth at that early on stage to do that plan. Well, you know, let’s look at internationally anyway, and let’s take that.
Dean: There’s a thing called the Madrid Protocol, and I’m gonna Preface this conversation by saying I don’t understand it 100%, but it’s to do with the world wide application of trademarks in that if your country is signed up to the Madrid Protocol, if we sign up have a trademark in Australia, it somehow helps you potentially get it registered quickly overseas. They can demonstrate that you’ve got it there.
Now, that doesn’t stop people on the other side of the world having the same idea at the same time, or having similar names and I don’t 100% understand what happens at that point, but, you should be thinking ahead, but there’s also, you know, it, you know, it’s also very hard to think of every option, isn’t it? You kind of want to think ahead as much as you can and, but then these days everything is moving so quickly and we, you know experienced that with the name of this podcast. It took four weeks and someone had come up with the same the same name and so you’ve got to, you also don’t want to get yourself bogged down in too much red tape.
Sam: That’s right, That’s right. And that’s and that’s a good point, particularly talking to domain names as well. A lot of them are taken, even if even if the name hasn’t been registered, you know, and then the other question comes up is do you buy the .com and the .co and, you know, .audio and the, you know what, whatever Melbourne and then where do you stop? You know, so there is a balance where you’ve just got to go, you know what, it’s, this is really important. But well, there’s other important things when you’re starting a business which is just to launch your business.
Dean: That’s right. That’s right yeah. And you can get a bit bogged down in that on the domains, I mean, I’d probably get a couple and yeah.
Sam: And you check back in in every couple of years.
Dean: What’s your opinion on that with the domain names and Googling brand names and things like that in terms of I mean I think they have to connect but do you think that you have to have the domain that’s exactly the same?
Sam: I think it’s neither, and I may not be your typical SEO type because I tend to operate from a brand sense. I actually think that brand is more important than keywords, and that’s the approach that you should take and I just think it’s neater. I think if you can it’s not 100% important but I do think…
Dean: You have it in there but adding like a my, this I mean we were talking about it with a client if you can add something that sounds like… it’s almost like a statement, like you think about even now with passwords used to be about having a word that had an upper case and a lot of cases and a number and a character. But now the tightest passwords are like you know the chorus of your favourite song when it’s something you can do something you can easily remember. So yeah it might be that the web address can be a bit longer, you’ll remember to type that in.
SEO VS UX
Sam: Look I think that there are, I would go even if you’ve got a name that is non descriptive and yes, great, there might be all this sort of SEO value from a descriptive name. I would go with the domain name that is your brand name. And then know that there’s other things, there’s meta titles, there’s headlines on your page and there’s all sorts of areas that have very good SEO value that you can put those keywords into, you know, and find that balance that way.
Dean: I Always find that balance is a good one. And maybe it’s a we have digressed an awful lot, probably the point where we should wrap this conversation up, but maybe to finish off on that I remember having butting heads with SEO guy years ago, five years ago talking about you know, website we’re working on and and really having to fight for what I what I ended up saying, talking to him about was, you know, branding for humans, which is the human experience and branding for computers, which is you know, so you have a website you’ve got a there’s a human experiencing this and that is very important and I understand equally or maybe not as equally in some ways there’s a there’s a bot crawling that website, but you’ve got to marry him up.
Sam: There’s a balance and, you know, we probably make it hard for ourselves sometimes, but our advice to clients is always to focus on that human first. Long term, you’ll never go wrong if you focus on that human and then out we see our job when we work with with you know brand agencies and creative agencies is to introduce the right amount of conflict. So hey, you know what? There’s some guidelines here that we’re going to have to do if you’re creating a beautiful visual website, you know what? There’s a certain amount of text that we’re gonna have to go on there, go and find a creative way for a beautiful user experience that can that can allow us that amount of text or that headline that that is keyword rich somewhere within that without taking away from that brand value. And it’s a compromise. But you know the one thing that we say and we get a lot of clients come to us go, oh we’re building this new website, can you do in a site architecture for us? And we we tend to say no we shouldn’t do that. Don’t take advice on your beautiful new website from your SEO agency. Go and design that website from a user experience point of view and then bring us back what you’ve done and we’ll find the ways to get our SEO in in that… well we’re gonna need some extra pages but how can we introduce them without ruining your beautiful user experience?
Dean: I reckon that’s a good conversation for us to have another episode. I’ve had some from a brand side of things, had a bad experiences with that and some really good ones as well. And I think I think that’s probably listeners out there that would be I would like to hear some stories.
Sam: Yeah, we’ll do that and you see it, you see it all the time, you see the small business that just says, oh you’re the you’re the expert, trust you and the SEO Guys just go to town on their website and you know you end up in a big mess, you know, and then you see the opposite too. You see these beautiful websites that just have big brands and they’ve invested all this into their brand, but you can’t find them online.
Dean: Yeah. Yeah.
Trademarking Your Brand
Sam: Now we do need to wrap it up, before we wrap it up. I think there is another important part sort of bringing us back to the core of brand protection, we spent a lot of time talking about IP and trademarks.
The other side of it, which I think is really important, is there’s a lot of businesses out there with names they can’t trademark – your name just, you can’t trademark it because, you know, it could be a way that any business needs to be allowed to describe that. So for those brands, it’s fine in some ways you’re protected. No one else can trademark it either.
Dean: You can trademark a look there. So yeah, able to trademark what they look like. So no one can pass off as you. Having this conversation last week with a client that, you know, potentially they were talking about how much they need to protect their names because their product is only sold through certain distribution channels, so the end user, can only really get the real thing through this distribution channel and so they were like, well, do we really need to protect ourselves that much?
And they had a point – they have in the end, they’ve kind of gone through it. But as long as I was, sorry, just to kind of clarify that – so then I was thinking, well, it’s interesting point actually, in the end of the day, you know, consumers are pretty savvy and they can tell when a fake’s a fake and potentially sometimes they’ll be looking for a fake, but maybe that’s the problem for the brands then but you can protect yourself into what you look like.
Someone Stole My Business Name
Sam: Yeah and that’s important. The other thing, that one that I came across was a relatively small brand, been around for a long time. You know, pretty content, you know they had their growth ambitions like everyone but pretty content to operate in the world that they were in and tick along as business as usual, then along came a potentially bigger brand.
It emerged into the market, well funded with much grander ambitions. Big PR strategy behind it came along in the scene with an almost identical name. I remember dealing with them at the time, they were terrified. You know there’s a lot of emotion because it was like, we were happy just in our little world and then, and now we could end up, this new player could end up being a recognised brand, you know, we could end up looking like the phony you know, and, what do you do in that situation?
Dean: Yeah I’m not sure. So, a lawyer would probably say you should have protected yourself and there might be, you can protect what you look like. There’ll be other things you can protect, you might have other, you know, products or part, you might, you might have product tied your business or there might be a, I’m not, you know, you’ve got to look to protect your way yourself in some ways but it’s a good example, I guess, to kind of use when people are thinking, I just want to kind of motor along.
That was the thing with my, my blog coming back to that. Like, I wasn’t, I wasn’t competing with anyone, I was just going about my way that I wanted to have this as a platform to just share my thoughts and and get them out there for myself or for anyone that was interested and then it was someone else that came into the scene and kind of took that off me in the end, whereas I was just happy to kind of motor along. So in that sort of instances, it’s a business like I think you’ve got you’ve got to be you’ve got to be serious then don’t you.
Sam: I mean, the interesting one is I think, is there a case to to sort of… I mean in this example they ended up probably, and this is I think it’s an important lesson. They panicked early on. And then it turned out to be no big thing right? And we took some precautions and we did some things from an SEO perspective and domain name protection and stuff like that, but ended up sort of, you know a year down the track. They were like, oh yeah, well you know, we’re still doing our thing and we’ve got a different angle and we’re known for what we’re known for.
Dean: The smaller business?
Sam: Yeah. Yeah.
Kiss FM VS KIIS FM – Brand Protection
Sam: And you know, the other example going back to the music industry is Kiss FM.
Sam: Right, so, you know, this history for me is, you know, I used to be a DJ at Kiss FM.
Dean: And played on Kiss quite a few times.
Sam: Yeah. And I had a podcast there as well, and then along come KIIS you know, which was a re-brand of what was the, I can’t remember who that was.
Dean: No, it wasn’t Nova
Sam: No I think… It was 101.1 it’s probably still there. I didn’t know it was one of those sort of soft rock stations or something. But now that was an example of a big mega brand, just not even taking any notice of this little tiny local community radio station that’s been around forever.
Dean: Were they protected? I can’t remember.
Sam: Well, I’m not sure what happened. I mean they both still exist.
Dean: We might follow up with that in the notes to see if we can find the articles from the the court case and stuff like that. But I do remember thinking that was a no brainer. There’s a radio station here in Melbourne that’s been broadcasting since 1995 on and off. And it was, you know, they were Kiss FM, you know went really hard to try and get their full time licensed. Didn’t quite get it, but they got the community license. When I heard that this KIIS with two I’s or whatever you call that, that was coming in.
I just thought that’s a no brainer. They can’t do that or they’re going to have to pay them something, I don’t know. But my recollection from that, it was it was like, sorry, you’re just gonna have to coexist and I think that’s a funny way to wrap it up perhaps this is where the last 20 minutes, but, in the end of the day, it’s just, it’s often just about the lawyers isn’t it?
Dean: Like, with my one, you know, I felt like fighting it, I could have, and you can often fight and, you know, spend the money to fight, and in the end of the day, the lawyers win there. Or you can choose not to fight, and, yeah, and let it let it go over in that instance, they’re kind of both coexisted and probably because, you know, that it was just, that was the best it was going to happen. It was gonna happen that way.
Sam: Maybe again you know, there’s two different markets, no one listens to kiss FM like, yeah, like, but even then your audience for the traditional Kiss FM, will always be the audience for that. They will never listen to the other station in some respect it might unify them together to be a little bit militant in the good sense of the word, you know, and really get behind their little community station and that could be a great thing, you know. The big behemoth brand, well, it doesn’t matter what they call themselves you know, everyone will know about them they have the billboards everywhere and, yeah, you know, and probably at the end of the day, you know, it’s not great.
Dean: It probably hasn’t been detrimental has it, I mean maybe that’s that I read an article in the paper a few weeks ago about ALDI and about how they they’ve been, you know the way they launched brands and they really end up having a fine line between passing off of a brand and and copying and if you go through ALDI, you can see so many situations and I know they’ve been sued a number of times. I know the law, especially in the examples that was given in these, the judges were keen to kind of not treat consumers as idiots and that they can, you know, they, well I think Twisties took ALDI to court for their cheese twists and something and he’s like people know they’re not buying Twisties, they’re buying other products here, but you know, having said that they are trading a little bit off that idea and while while consumers aren’t stupid, there’s a little bit of a brand trigger that goes off in your mind when you think of cheese twists as Twisties, isn’t there. But it’s, yeah, it’s kind of like I said, it all comes down to lawyers in the end, it’s like most things in life.
Brand Protection – Conclusion
To kind of I guess to wrap up the key points, I think we’ve kind of covered today was make sure you, you know, treat it seriously and and protect yourself.
The online tools at least in Australia are good, but they’re not foolproof and I can absolutely vouch for that. So if you’re running a business and you’re planning to invest in it in your time and money and developing a brand, make sure you do get that insurance from an IP lawyer to check that off or give you advice or you know, stop you in your tracks before you go and and infringe on someone else’s trademark and other than that, the world of naming is quite complex and with plenty of layers and different ways to approach it, which I guess makes it interesting, doesn’t it.
Sam: Yeah, definitely, so yeah, I agree, I mean, I think preparation is the key do that, do that planning, don’t panic if things go wrong, there’s always a solution and much of the time it doesn’t end up half as bad as it seems early on and yeah, I think just just keep on carrying on, you do you.
And yeah, I think that’s there’s some interesting lessons there, so put some thought into it. Yeah, good, we’ve I think from this we’ve got a few things to talk about in the next podcast so we might wrap up episode one of the brandwidth podcast and we did definitely cover the brandwidth. We’ve started off well.
Sam: Great, thanks Dean.
Dean: Thanks Sam!