Thursday, May 29, 2008

Staking a claim in the mind
of the consumer.

The most effective, efficient way to get inside the consumer’s mind is to be first in the category. The first brand. Jello®, brand defines the gelatin category. Which is how Rollerblade® became “inline skating.” Q-tips® claimed “cotton swab.” And why Coke® owns “real.”

Any challenging brand must stake a claim with a different—but legitimate descriptor. So, because Kleenex® owns “tissue”, Puffs® chose to be “soft.”
Once Volvo® staked out the “safety” position among expensive cars, for instance, the others had to secure different positions. BMW® grabbed “fun to drive.” Mercedes® took “engineered”. Lexus®, “luxury.”

Note, there are times when, rather than compete, it is wisest to create a new category all your own.

You can’t own “quality.” No one believes this. But no brand can claim “quality” as a position. Consumers won’t buy it. Even quality tests don’t work. After years of Pepsi Challenges “proving” people prefer the taste of Pepsi, Coke is still #1. What a brand can do, is to imply quality. And let the consumer decide for him or herself.

How many sports cars can you name?
Try this with your friends.
Ask them to name sports cars. Or family restaurants. Or pain relievers. Any category you like. Few people can go beyond seven brands.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A great name will bear fruit.

The first step towaard a strong brand: Find a great name. A name unique enough to stand out. Simple enough to be remembered. Easy enough to pronounce (so the word will spread). And given that 100,000 names are filed every year in the U.S., a name you can trademark.

Successful brand names generally fall into six categories:

Many brands begin with the name of company founder, product inventor, or the place of manufacture.


Names that borrow menaing from another context with shared or similar attributes.

Midas Muffler®
Artic Cat®

Defining the product, company or service with
accepted common vernacular.

Foot Locker®
Travelors Insurance Group®
Precision Tune Auto Care®
Toy ‘R’ Us®

Using perts of words, suffixes and prefixes to build a unique name.


Names created by altering existing words
or by combining letters imaginatively to make totally new words.


Generic or descriptive names, memorably shortnened.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

If it can be sold, it can be branded.

Brands were once applied only to products like a specific flour, toothpaste or automobile. It was an efficient way to build familiarity and trust with new customers in new markets. Soon services like banks, railroads and telephone companies decided to brand themselves, too.

Today a brand can be a person, event or place. A basketball star. A sexy pop singer—or her final, farewell, good-bye concert tour. A south sea island, national park, gambling casino or a great city (I H New York).

A brand can be an experience, such as white water rafting. Climbing Mount Everest. Or an idea: a new teaching method, investment formula or sales technique.

Today’s biggest brands go way beyond simple products and services: Michael Jordan. Madonna. Oprah. The Olympics. The United States of America.

I am one with my brand.
Most of us rely on—and relate to brands the way we used to relate to our neighbors and family. (McDonald’s®,
I’m lovin’ it). We don’t just buy a brand. We consume it. We become one with our Apple® iPod®, our BMW® Mini Cooper®, Nascar® sweatshirt and Starbucks® latte.

“Simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome to Hermelink Think

It's what's inside that counts.

Consumers like us have too many choices today. Dozens of different SUV models. Countless insurance companies and policies. Hundreds of brands of toothpaste. But no time to decide.

Luckily, the antidote to indecision is a powerful brand. When it’s an honest reflection of the company, product or service it represents, a brand can make consumers feel as though they’ve met a trusted friend.

An authentic brand, however, cannot be applied like a coat of paint. Or pulled on like a diving suit. There is no shortcut. The first step in building a lasting, effective brand is to dig in and start with what is real.