Naming Contests: Why It's Foolish to Put
Your Branding to a Vote
by Marcia Yudkin, Head Stork, Named At Last
Don't turn your search for the
perfect company name, product name or tag line into a
popularity contest! It's tempting to assume that whichever
branding element gets the most votes in a public contest
will be a winner in the real world. This belief couldn't be
I often see people creating and publicizing polls on what to
call their next book. "Which title do you like the best?"
asks the poll. That's unwise, because what people say they
like in a book title:
In addition, if all the options
in the poll are weak and lackluster, the winner of the voting
proves absolutely nothing. You can see this point borne
out in a vote held by the state of New Jersey regarding its
prospective new tourism slogan. The winning entry, "New Jersey:
Come See for Yourself" received just a few more votes than "New
Jersey: The Best Kept Secret."
Both the winning and the runner-up New Jersey slogans flunk an
elementary test for the effectiveness of a tag line or slogan:
It should distinguish the company, or in this case the state,
from most or all others. Try this out yourself by plugging in
names of other states besides New Jersey - most of the time, the
slogan becomes no more and no less applicable. This means the
slogan does not make a case for the Garden State. To be blunt,
it's mainly hot air.
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The New Jersey contest had another serious flaw. To be eligible
to vote on the best slogan, you had to be a New Jersey resident.
While residents do have the greatest stake in improving the
reputation of their state, they by definition don't belong to
the target market of the tourism slogan. To understand what
would appeal most to non-New Jerseyians, don't look to New
Jerseyians! Many will be clueless about this and get it
upside-down. Outsiders are the ones who need to understand the
slogan and respond.
I'll never forget an ad for a Great Plains software company that
obviously assumed that a photo of a flat-to-the-horizon
landscape without trees was an appealing image. For me, a
die-hard New Englander accustomed to heavily wooded hills, this
picture had the opposite effect - it filled me with horror.
Of course, someone who lives in New Jersey or North Dakota may
be perfectly capable of portraying their region appealingly to
outsiders. Instead of asking any group to vote on a winning name
or tag line, however, set up your contest so that people can
merely submit suggestions. Then have either one person or a
committee cull the entries according to a list of criteria drawn
up beforehand - and come up with their own ideas as well in case
entrants submit nothing but duds.
By selecting and judging rather than mass voting, you're most
likely to end up with a name or slogan that wins over your
Copyright 2014 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
Stuck on thinking up or
choosing your new company or product name? Get help
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Identity Goes Far Deeper Than a Logo
Benefits of Branding
Your Brand to the Fullest
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