They’re One of Many

“It’s not enough to be the best at what you do,
you must be perceived as the only one who does what you do.” – Jerry Garcia

The hotel had a problem. No one was coming to their happy hours.

Why? There were dozens of restaurant/bars in their area hosting happy hours.

No wonder they weren’t making any money; they were blending in. And blending in is for Cuisinarts, not for businesses.

If you want to lose money, do what everyone else is doing. If you want to make money, figure out how to lead your crowd, not follow it.

In my ten years helping individuals and organizations develop one-of-a-kind identities and approaches so they can break out, I’ve met a lot of business owners who have spent a lot of money developing brands, business names and slogans that didn’t work. In fact, bad brands can cost you customers, income, momentum and market-share.

I’ve kept track of the worst branding mistakes businesses make. I share them in these posts so you can do the opposite of these errors and develop a Purposeful, Original and Profitable brand that POP’s out and gets you noticed . . . for all the right reasons.

The enterprising manager of that hotel with the unsuccessful happy hours kept looking for a way to be one-of-a-kind instead of one-of-many.

One day, he noticed that one of their loyal patrons tied his dog up outside when he came in for a cold one after work.

Light-bulb moment. Why not offer a special happy hour for people who wanted to bring their poor pooches who had been cooped up all day while their owner was away? The staff could put out water bowls, hand out dog biscuits and offer a discount on beer so it was a win for everyone.

What to call this? Well, use a POP! technique called Alphabetizing in which you talk your key word through the alphabet, “Appy Hour, Bappy Hour, Cappy Hour, Dappy Hour” . . . and you eventually get to Yappy Hour!

You may be thinking, “Big deal, so it’s a clever name.”

You bet it’s a big deal. The Washington Post wrote about the throngs of people showing up for the restaurant’s wildly popular (and profitable) Yappy Hour. That article was picked up by a hundred newspapers across the U.S. Now, millions of people know about the Alexandria, VA Holiday Inn’s one-of-a-kind Yappy Hour . . . all because the manager wasn’t content to be common.

Craig Wilson of USA Today is my favorite columnist because he has his finger on the pulse of pop culture. In today’s issue, he quotes trend-spotting ad agency JWT as saying, “”Custom-made and one-of-a-kind will rise about the mass-produced din of ‘now.'”

He’s right. People are yearning for something they haven’t seen, heard or experienced before.

If your business is not making as much money as it could or should; chances are you’re offering the same services and products as everyone else. Keep your antennae up for what customers want and can’t find . . . and offer that. It’s a way to stand out from the crowd instead of get lost in the crowd.

Their Brand Name is Nonsensical

“The soul never thinks without a mental picture.” – Aristotle

Brand names that don’t make sense are off-putting. If your name consists of a string of letters that are meaningful only to you, it’ll be tough to grasp and ever tougher to relate to. And if people can’t relate to your company or product name, why would they want it?

My master mind buddy, Marilynn Mobley, Senior Vice President of Edelman, the #1 rated PR agency in the United States, told me about a startling study that was done with preschoolers that illustrates the power of making your brand name visual. Researchers asked these youngsters what sounds barn-yard animals make.

When asked, “What sound do sheep make?” they said, “Baa.”

When asked, “What sound do cows make?” they said, “Moo.”

When asked, “What sound do ducks make?” the kids said, “AFLAC!”

Wow. That’s branding.

AFLAC, the huge insurance giant, had a branding challenge. People were reluctant to entrust ALFAC with something as important as their life insurance because they didn’t know what the name “stood for.”

So, in an effort to make their name more “relatable,” they asked themselves, “What does AFLAC sound like, look like in the real world?” Well, with a little stretch, it looks and sounds like a duck who quacks. This was the genesis of their popular ads featuring a lovable duck quacking “AFLAC.”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) achieved a similar success by using a friendly gecko as their visual icon and “spokesperson” (spokes-lizard?)

It’s a mistake to keep a brand name consumers don’t understand, relate to or want. Follow AFLAC and GEICO’s example and create a visual identiy people associate with you so they “get the picture.”

Connect your company’s name to something in the concrete world people can touch, feel, see, smell or taste. As soon as you do, something obscure becomes clear. Instead of going “Huh?!” people will say, “Oh, I see now” or “I get it.” And when they get it, chances are you’ll get their business.