The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You Think A Name Or Strapline Can Do All The Work For You, Then It Must Be Lovely On Your Planet …
July 15, 2010, 6:02 am
Filed under: Comment

So for reasons I don’t even want to think about, my parents were going to call me Howard.

I know … I know … I should have been immediately removed from their care, however a nurse – who I owe everything to – said I didn’t “look a Howard” [whatever that means] and my parents decided on something way more appropriate.

But here’s the thing …

Whilst I appreciate a name can paint an impression in someone’s mind – even if its from circumstances and experiences that are abstract or ambigious to the extreme – ultimately those views and opinions can be altered by the actions and behaviour of that person/brand and that is why I get rather annoyed when I hear companies choose ideas/endlines/executions that are uber-bland because they either [1] don’t want to put in the time & effort to actually make it mean something important, meaningful and valuable or [2] are too frightened/lazy/focused on their 2 year job function to actually do something that is important, meaningful and valuable.

Brands should stand for something … actually forget that, they need to stand for something … and whilst I appreciate a name can influence initial opinion, what you actually do will shape public perception to a much greater degree than a strapline – so whilst it is important to get it right, don’t think it’s an excuse for not doing anything – not unless you’re happy to be wallpaper or hope-to-god you have distribution wrapped up.

31 Comments so far
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fuck me a short post. a short planning bollocks type of post. will wonders never fucking cease. i almost agree with it too. what the fuck is going on.

admit it campbell this isnt short because youve decided to listen to us for the fucking time, its because wieden are working you and you dont have time to write you rambling boring shit. god fucking bless the advertising beardies.

Comment by andy@cynic

I will treasure your comment forever. I know it’s not a compliment [God forbid you ever do that] but it’s nicer than the usual [never justified in a month of Sundays. OK, kinda quite often is] shit you give me on a daily basis.

Comment by Rob

This should be obvious to everyone but you just have to look at what many companies are doing to know there’s many that just don’t get they have a part to play in making their brand really start to get traction. I like a good end line as much as the next man and think it can contribute something to the overall brands performance, but there’s not even many of those around either. Well there’s lots of end lines, just very few good ones.

Nice, short post Robert.

Comment by Pete

Oh I hope it didn’t come across as anti-endline. I know they’re not the fashion in some circles, but I am a huge fan of them – as long as [1] they actually mean something rather than some bland statement of corporate nothingness and [2] they are not being used as an excuse by the client/agency to do nothing of real engagement/interaction/value in the real World.

Comment by Rob

And, of course, it’s worse than that because the whole things got recursive. Companies think about product extensions aka flavours, then try to tie those to some over-arching theme and then get a naming agency to come up with the monikers that are meant bring that to life.

Then if that all lines up, and only then, they think about making the stuff and creating those flavours in as bland a way as possible. We’ve all seen it happen. I did, last week. SKU’d thinking at its worst.

Comment by John

fuck me dodds youre pulling a peggy and trying to raise the tone. its a fruitless task because when northern groper comes on well just talk about plastic tits again. and your comment is almost as long as campbells fucking post. has the world reversed and no fucker decided to tell me?

Comment by andy@cynic

You should know me better by now.

Comment by John

not as much as the vice squad.

Comment by andy@cynic

are you two trying to offend me? whatever LOL

Comment by peggy

Why does the “why do you ask 2 dogs fucking?” joke come to mind?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Because you’re a weirdo?

Comment by Rob

On the other hand Howard Hughes didn’t wear shoes, Howard Jones had bad taste in music and Howard the Duck was associated with huge film-making losses.

Comment by John

so youre saying the ghost of howard lives? and i thought the reality of campbell was scary enough.

Comment by andy@cynic

I agree with what you say on this post Robert but the reasons for its occurrence could be down to some companies viewing their marketing departments as an expensive maid to the sales department rather than an important contributor the overall companies performance.

A handy reminder and very to the point. Impressive.

Comment by Lee Hill

Reminds me of two things:

1) Naming firm A Hundred Monkeys trying to sell the name “Jamcracker.” They eventually did sell it to a client, but to me it still sounds like the nickname of a prison rapist.

2) A post on my own blog (shamelessly linked below) about considering “brand loyalty” as a bias, not a rule. Great names and lines may bias customers toward your product or company, but it’s not like your work is over once they love your brand name.

Comment by Rob Meyerson

I absolutely appreciate their is some method to ‘naming’, but some of the bollocks that gets paid for by clients is unbelievable.

I remember hearing Landor talk about how their process ensures a number of very important cultural, industrial and brand filters are put into place to allow tailored suggestions to come out and then show a list of A THOUSAND NAMES for consideration.

Either their filtering process needs a bit of work or they should stop talking such fucking shit. I’ll leave you to decide which I think they should choose.

Comment by Rob

That’s actually you as a kid isn’t it.

Comment by DH

I thought it was Sorrell. [That’s a joke WPP lawyers. J.O.K.E.]

Comment by Rob

Don’t get me bloody started on brand consultancies and ‘brand agencies’. A name, a logo, a strap or some packaging do not constitute a bloody brand.
The amount of pretentious tits who sit in their ivory towers and then don’t have to worry abou actually executing anything takes my breath away – even more than the crassness of TBWA’s Black Visa campaign.
The most painful, yet laughable job I ever had was a brief from a client to translate an Interbrand tone of voice document (or book as they’re more commonly known) into a guideline usable for creatives. That’s right, the client thought a tone of voice that cost hundreds of thousands, yet needed to be translated into something creatively usable (i.e start from scratch) was perfectly fine.
That’s one thing I’ll say for Wiedens, apart from hiring Mr Campbell, the other thing they get right is sorting the brand voice first – and not reducing down into a meaningless phrase either – or at least making sure they give that phrase meaning.

Comment by northern

I’ll see your Interbrand total bollocks and raise you another Landor example of wank.

I was at a meeting with them and our mutual client where I was listening to them basically justify their 5 months of work and huge cost. After listening to their carefully articulated brand map & dna structure that was based seemingly with no appreciation of the market or the needs/wants/fears of the audience – I asked, as I had to turn this shit into an ad, what sort of brand voice they felt was inherent to the company given they’d not actually articulated it.

After a pause, they had the audacity to explain to all present that their brand development actually doesn’t include brand voice [or tone] and that would need more time and money.

I asked how the hell it was possible to develop something without it and they said it was easy as they just had done it.

Amazing …

But then these are also the people who said they had a ‘tool’ for telling a client where best to place an outdoor sign for their newly built office and then got quite pissy when I said, “What about the top?”

And yet they get more cash than us so who are the real fools?

You’re pissy these days NG, but in a really great way – and for the record, your posts are on fire too, and I’ll check out your golf one later today.

Comment by Rob

‘At the top’ excellent work. You win.

Comment by northern

Haha, at the top… brilliant. I bet even Andy would be proud of that one.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

As you say, its about what you DO. The best names and particularly straplines are those that are created around businesses that DO things in a particular way.

Vorsprung Durch Tecnic is only a good strapline because Audi actually make the effort with technology and engineering; instead of paying a fortune to a consultancy to tell them it sounds nice.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Absolutely Mr M …

As I said, I think straplines do have an important role to play, it’s just so sad so few actually mean something that helps paint the brand voice and philosophy in people’s minds rather than some bland “We Care” message that no one believes anyway.

Comment by Rob

Exactly, I often describe the planning dilemma to work experience kids by saying how EVERY client wants to say quality, and our job is to find out what they actually can say.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

well, just to be a pain in the ass… i guess tesla could claim they got vorsprung durch technik. or even the prius had.

the problem with claims is that you need one that says something, otherwise, dont bother to confuse people. but then, if you have one, try to stay true to it.

little chaplin in that picture? hes angry! argh!!!

Comment by peggy

i know it’s not technically a strap line, but if i hear/see ‘i’m on a horse’ one more fucking time, i’m going to walk up to that person and vomit on them.

Comment by lauren

Can I invite you to Portland … I think it would make quite a good first impression for both of us, ha!

Comment by Rob

am i being a troublemaker?

Comment by lauren

Stop flirting with us and give it to us full throttle.

Comment by Rob

Haha…I’ve worked at Interbrand and other brand consultancies. They’re saying exactly the same things you guys are but blaming the ad agencies for it (i.e., “all they do is make ads and ignore the bigger picture—things like brand voice and true understanding of customer desires). I won’t say the “blame” belongs clearly in one camp or the other but I do wonder whether the success of brand consultancies says something about a failure (or at least an exploitable perceived weakness) on the part of ad firms.

Comment by Rob M

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