What fun it was being interviewed today (from Geneva) on CBC’s Margin of Error by respected pollster and radio host Bruce Cameron.

The subject of the interview was how focus groups can assist companies in selecting words that help their products and services break out (vs. blend in . . . because blending in is for Cuisinarts, not for companies.)

Bruce’s first question was, “What’s an example of a name that helped a business break out?”

I told him, “One of my favorite examples is the name Sergey Brin and Larry Page selected for their new-fangled invention – an online search engine.

We take their creation for granted now and use it daily without even thinking about it.

But in the beginning, their carefully coined name was all-important because people had no frame of reference for their just-developed internet directory. If they gave it a technical, difficult-to-pronounce name . . . people might conclude it would be difficult to use and avoid it.

So, instead of giving it an intimidating, scientific-sounding name, they gave it an easy-and-fun-to-say name . . . Google.

This was a genius move. Google is a strategic ROI on multiple levels. It is:

* taken from the math term googol, which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros which represents the trillions of usages they envisioned for their search service.

* a simple, yet playful word which gives the impression their process will be simple, yet playful to use.

* easy to repeat. When people can easily repeat your business name, they’re more likely to remember it and repeat it to others, thereby becoming your word-of-mouth advertisers. Brilliant.”

Bruce asked, “So what should we ask a focus group when coining a name for a new business, product or service name?”

“Well, first, I’ve got good news for you.

You don’t really have to spend thousands of dollars on convening expensive, time-consuming focus groups. You can find out in 5 seconds . . for free . . . whether you have a strategically ROI name that will POP!”

Bruce asked, “How’s that?”

“First, tell a target customer your proposed name and ask them to repeat it.

If they struggle to pronounce your name and can’t repeat it; it’s back to the drawing board.

(Or, as comedian George Carlin was fond of saying, ‘Before there were drawing boards; what did we go back to?) It’s almost impossible to build a business around an unpronouncable name.

Next, watch their eyebrows. If their eyebrows knit or furrow; it means they didn’t get it.

And if your target customers don’t get your name – you won’t get their business. You won’t get their account, support, loyalty or funding. Because confused people don’t ask for clarification – they just move on. Names that cause consternation cost you potential sales and customers.

What you want is for people’s eyebrows to go UP. That means they’re intrigued. Curious. They want to know more. That means you’ve got your idea, invention or organization in their mental door.”
Bruce asked, “What do you call this?”

“The Eybrow Test . . . and it’s the most effective, least expensive focus group you can form.”

Thanks again to Bruce Cameron (who also hosts ROI – Return on Insight – on CBC). http://www.return-on-insight.ca/bio-bruce-cameron I’m already looking forward to our next interview.