Taking the Pulse on the Brand Dr.’s Operation

May 2014. The Ogilvy Graduate Programme calls on a hero, one who dares to build a brand that stands out – one who has what it takes to fulfill their destiny in a top advertising career.  A daring marketing student casts aside his campus hoody, taking up his lab coat and almighty stethoscope.  A medical doctor? Nay. One man. One mission. Saving brands one blog post at a time. He is – the Brand Dr.

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What an exciting adventure indeed! The OGP is an amazing career recruitment opportunity for final year marketing students to join the ranks of the renowned, award-winning advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather South Africa – part of a world leading Marketing Communications Network.


Earlier this year, Lauren Woolf (Ogilvy’s Chief Marketing & Talent Officer) briefed my Marketing Honours class here at UCT on just what they had in store for us. Create a blog based on a unique, passionate idea and you could find yourself a permanent job placement in Ogilvy come 2015. But getting into one of the world’s leading ad agencies would be no walk in the park. With stiff competition from some of SA’s most promising marketing students (hailing from not just UCT, but even UWC,  UJ, Wits and the Red & Yellow ad school) I knew I’d have a lot of blood, sweat and tears ahead of me (not necessarily in that order, mind you). But with my sights set on getting into Ogilvy since my early days at varsity, now was not the time to flat-line on my advertising career dream!

A brand that aint bland   

Over the years of growing up in my family’s printing press and design house, and from my keen observations as a marketer through my studies, I realised that many people have the wrong idea of marketing, which was reflected in lots of poor branding efforts. Using my experience gained at UCT Radio as student brand manager and designer (and with everything I’d learnt from UCT and through my self-study of brand management) I hijacked my med school brother’s stethoscope and set out to help people remedy their unhealthy branding habits.

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And so the Brand Dr. idea came into public practice – bringing together my passion for advertising, brands and connecting with people. My favourite quote from the legendary ad man David Ogilvy is what inspires all my creative work – “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” This blog was no different. Created as a light-hearted approach to brand consulting, the blog would be able to inform readers in an entertaining manner, thus making a serious business topic of branding more easily digestible. Playing on the drawn-out metaphor of branding being very much like one’s long-term health, the doctor persona allowed me to put a warm, friendly face to the brand – a crucial component for a blog that’s going to be dispensing advice on how to do things better. Advice is often hard to swallow, but it’s easier coming from a trusted source with the appropriate credentials. I guess the lab coat didn’t hurt then …

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In dispensing my knowledge treatment for building long-term, healthy brands, I split the content into 2 core features.

My Professional Opinions reflected the core blog posts with my thoughts and relevant lessons on special brand topics.

Brands That Make Me Dance allowed me to use yet another terrible pun, but also to showcase examples of great branding that really excited me, giving readers more tangible insights.

Meeting some very interesting patients

Ogilvy deserves a huge thanks because their Ogilvy Graduate Programme has certainly been a brilliant platform to network with some like-minded marketing individuals, open up new doors for an entrepreneurial venture of mine and even connect with and learn from some industry professionals.

Towards the end of 2013, I began working towards my long-term entrepreneurial dream venture called Kaviar Advertising Connoisseurs – taking my burning passion for advertising and eventually starting my own ad agency and design house.

Kaviar artwork

Online portfolio available at kaviaradvertising.wordpress.com

During my time blogging about how to build solid brands this year, a friend of mine at the University of Pretoria was working with her latest project as part of the ENACTUS society – an international organisation for entrepreneurial community projects.

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Working in association with the Siyanqoba Feeding Foundation (an NPO providing shelter, food and skills to underprivileged kids, many of whom are either rape or abuse victims) my friend was appointed project leader on the Baking for Tomorrow initiative.

Graphic2The Foundation needed to radically raise funds to better support the influx of kids and so this project involved establishing the Siyanqoba Bakery with the aim of serving the community more strongly. Their longer term vision was to eventually offer catering services to corporates, allowing them to collect greater support for the children. At the latest ENACTUS meeting in Pretoria, it was agreed that they would need to build a strong brand around the bakery so that it could inspire trust in the market and attract sufficient attention to raise further support for the Foundation. With the social media promotion of my blog establishing me as someone who knew a bit about branding (and with my personal promoting of my part-time design venture, Kaviar) my friend said she knew just the person for this job!

I was called in on the project to develop the brand identity according to the Siyanqoba Foundation’s brief regarding logo design and slogan development. Using my presentation skills, I compiled a detailed proposal exhibiting my ideas for the brand positioning and identity.

cupcake logo

I even threw in some mock ads for their website and Social Media channels for them to visualise how the logo will actually be used in their marketing materials.

Graphic22This was pitched at the next ENACTUS Pretoria meeting where my work impressed, beating the 2 other designers and securing Kaviar’s first real contract! Weeks later, I received feedback that the project was taken to the ENACTUS South Africa Nationals Competition, where I was acknowledged in the official speech – “The University of Pretoria’s ENACTUS Society outsourced Cape Town designer, Kavesan Pillay of Kaviar Advertising, to conduct the branding of the Siyanqoba Bakery”. Through my work on the Brand Dr. blog, I have also been recognised by a few student societies on campus who have asked me to aid in their advertising efforts and I expect this venture to grow even more in the future. Onward and upward for the Kaviar dream!

The Brand Dr. has also been an amazing opportunity to connect with talented design professionals and brand identity experts such as Ian Paget of the Logo Geek company.Banner_v31


Sally Hogshead


Laura Ries


I was even more stoked when I finally managed to get in touch with and learn from big names in the marketing world such as Laura Ries (world renowned branding expert and co-author with Al Ries, a pioneering marketing legend) as well as Sally Hogshead

(bestselling author and legendary former advertising executive)!

Hanging up my coat and scope?


No way! After a few months on this project, this blog has opened up new possibilities for me, helped me network with some invaluable connections and most of all, it’s allowed me to learn so much more about the magical world of brands and advertising. Here’s to the Ogilvy Graduate Programme talent team, to Ogilvy SA for bringing us this opportunity, to all those I’ve had the privilege of learning from and meeting along the way and of course to the patients – the readers who made their regular appointments to check out and support the blog. To all of you (and I mean this in the coolest way possible), you are some pretty SICK patients! Thumbs up to all of you, heck! Take TWO! You deserve it!


I certainly aim to keep my practice open because as long as there are people with brands out there that still need saving, there’s still much for me to learn and a long way to continue growing as a branding professional. The Brand Dr.’s job is never done … cos even brands need a regular check-up.

My Big. Branded. … Bookshelf


BookshelfLike any doctor worth his saline solution, knowledge is my greatest asset. That’s why in my time off (in between studies and saving lives), I make a point of reading lots of great content from lots of the great minds in my field of business. Life Fun Fact #1: Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.

Over the past couple years, I’ve been discovering some powerful titles and some absolute must-reads in the marketing arena. As I move into the home stretch of the Ogilvy Graduate Program this week, I thought I’d take a break from the regular posts of branding advice and point you in the direction of those whose advice inspires my OWN. I’ve thus decided to give you a sneak-peek into my personal library of marketing titles which you can start digging into voraciously today if you want to fast-track your business success via marketing. This list includes some hardcover books while others are e-books (hey, knowledge is knowledge – we take whatever we can get!)

But what makes a best title THE BEST?

I know. You hate suspense and not getting the juicy details right away, but before we dive into the titles I thought I’d give you some advice on selecting marketing books. I can’t recommend EVERY title on brands, but in case you’re strolling through Exclusive Books or (strolling?) through Amazon for some brilliant reads to boost your brand, here are my quick tips on what to really look for in a book to know if it’s worth your time. And money. Of course.

  • It must be relevant and accessible to small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • It should have some pretty solid case studies. Monkey-see, monkey-do you know? (PS: Sorry for calling you a monkey. Completely unintentional.)
  • Make sure it’s an easy read – not necessarily short, but easy to understand and absorb and, more so, apply.
  • It must be perfect for ongoing reference. We can’t learn everything in one sitting so make sure it’s an enjoyable read so that you can always refer back and continuously improve your branding

Time to get stuck in! Here’s my suggested list of the best brand and marketing books every marketer should have! In no specific order of course, this is what’s on my shelf right now or at the top of my still-to-get list.

  1. Visual Hammer


Beyond any shadow of doubt, there’s simply no better read you will find out there on visual marketing and why it is so important for brands, especially today. Straight from the genius mind of world renowned branding consultant Laura Ries, the book focuses on the importance of linking your brand’s core message (the ‘verbal nail’) with a striking visual (the ‘visual hammer’). For years, the world of marketing revolved around words – marketing plans, slogans, marketing messages. Visuals were merely decorative. Ries hammers home the point (bad pun intended) that to leave a lasting impression on your customers’ minds, brands cannot rely on words alone. There is superiority in the visual approach to marketing. Relying on a distinct image that communicates the brand message will help you achieve that elusive impression marketers seek because imagery packs a direct, emotional punch that words often lack. Like all good things in life though, the search for a visual hammer is a paradox as that search begins with words— you need a ‘visual nail’ as Ries draws out the metaphor. Deriving this verbal nail from a company’s brand strategy demands focus. “Companies try to be all things to everybody. If that’s what your strategy is, you’re never going to have a powerful or effective message and you’re never going to be able to think of a good visual hammer to go along with it.” Really successful branding is about “owning a word in the consumer’s mind”. But in today’s world of marketing clutter, one needs to cut through the noise to stand out and a simple ‘word approach’ isn’t enough, especially with words flying left, right and centre in customers’ faces these days! Here’s where the visual hammer comes into your marketing toolkit – a powerful visual that “says something” and drives that idea into the mind by working jointly with the word you have chosen. The objective is that verbal nail, but you need a visual hammer to reach that objective. It’s the two working together, a verbal nail and a visual hammer, that creates a powerful brand.

“The best way into the mind is not with words. It’s with visuals. They can play a more important role in marketing than words because visuals hold emotional power that words alone do not. Emotion is the glue that sticks memories and brands into the mind.”

A quick read that’s logical, enlightening and worth every page.

  1. Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind


By all means, this has to be THE first book anyone reads when they walk into Marketing 101! Admittedly, it was only about the … 6th book I came across, but it is definitely a classic which is as true today as when first published over 20 years ago. Marketing pioneers Al Ries and Jack Trout hit you with the basics of identifying where exactly your product fits into what other people want and what the competition is doing. Though the examples are a tad on the ancient side of life, this book remains an essential text for the serious marketer. With loads of case studies on how to brand products or services and how to place them both in the market AND in the mind of the consumer, it’s little wonder that Laura Ries’s work on the Visual Hammer was inspired by daddy dearest’s seminal work with Uncle Jack.

“Positioning is not what you do to a product.  Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.”

  1. The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding


Damn tired of seeing the name Ries popping up everywhere? Get used to it if you want your marketing to really start going places!
This marketing classic has been expanded to include new commentary, new illustrations, and even a bonus book to help you not just stay afloat in these digital times, but to do swimmingly with your brand. That title is The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding. The Rieses go into some rather unconventional strategies for branding on the web which have served both small and large companies in establishing their online brands. The 22 Laws is a definitive branding text with step-by-step guides to brand building, punctuated with anecdotes from some of the world’s BEST brands (think Rolex and Heineken).

In this piece of work, Al Ries demonstrates that marketers essentially need two skills: building a brand and keeping it alive. With amazing company profiles and keen insights, this book will reveal all, whether you’re the dreamy-eyed entrepreneur just starting out, or a seasoned veteran in your field.

“A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity. It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product.” 
(Page 7)


  1. Seth Godin


Okay fine, you caught me with the red hands. I cheated here by listing an author instead of a title. Sue me. But marketing guru and speaker Seth Godin is just so damn brilliant that I found it near impossible to pin down ONE best title. Maybe I’ll just give you a little teaser on some, starting with the first of his works I ever read, Permission Marketing. Basically, marketing was always thought of as you, the company, shoving your marketing message down the customer’s throat, selling THEM the product. Seth Godin flips this notion around by saying that nowadays, people have waaay too many choices and so they’re going to choose what THEY want to hear. After reading that (and really swallowing the idea that consumers don’t actually care what YOU want) the big question is then how do we get attention to ask for permission in the first place? That’s where Unleashing the Idea Virus comes to the rescue, and even the Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable for that matter. But why stop there? Pick up Linchpin, The Icarus Deception and a personal favourite All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories. Fairly simple reads, yet potent stuff. Book reviews in short: you should just read everything the man publishes!

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”



  1. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly


Okay. I lied. Again. I actually listened to this as an audio book. Guess Seth Godin was right about all marketers hey …

But that’s beside the point (he said, craftily changing the subject). What I took away from The New Rules was a how-to guide on leveraging online communication channels and what doing so can do for your business. Having been updated several times over Scott, this book is perfect for catching you up on everything the modern marketer needs to know about promoting products in the new digital age. With creative ad copy changing drastically these past few years, The New Rules provides a forward-thinking guide on getting the right message out there to the right market, without the terror of a massive budget advertising campaign.

“You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”

  1. Ogilvy on Advertising


And what would a marketer’s recommended book list be without a toast to the King of Madison Avenue and the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business himself? If you’ve ever dreamed of working at an ad agency (like myself) or if you’ve ever had a great affinity for certain ad campaigns and wanted to learn how to craft similar brilliance and reception for your product or service, this is a candid and indispensible GEM of a resource! Ogilvy’s passion for advertising was inspiring to say the least. To him, advertising was a noble business pursuit to be taken very seriously, it wasn’t just about being creative with words and visuals – every advert was a contribution to the brand image. Sure, from a pragmatic perspective, this book was written in the 80s and loads have changed in advertising these past 30 odd years. So while it may lack in solid guidance on applications in the innovative internet age, the core of advertising remains the same because basic human motives remain the same.

In that sense, don’t ever discard this title as much of its principles remain sound and relevant, especially Ogilvy’s small quips and anecdotal nuggets of wisdom which are simple yet remain timeless. I don’t think you’ll find an author with as much practical insight into the worlds of advertising and marketing than this. It’s a brilliant introduction to and handbook on copywriting, advertising and communications in general, all the while focusing on customer-focused management which is all the rave with big brands today. Without any previous insight into marketing and advertising, Ogilvy will not only provide a general introduction, but will also bestow upon thee, commandments on approaching the industry. For anyone hoping to promote and sell their organisation and its brand effectively, this is not a book that you simply shelve after one read through. Nay, sir. This is your bible and well of inspiration when projects escalate and ideas run scarce.

“The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.”


Still-to-get Titles

These are some big books in marketing which I’ve heard big things about, but which I’ve yet to get my hands on. Definite gems in building my skill set as a marketer and aspiring advertising maverick though.


Apparently this is a business book which will have you in stitches in no time at all. When last did a business book do THAT for you?! Yes, this book is that funny, but it’s also one of the best books out there on what makes an ad great, and how to challenge yourself to create a great one. Being written by a copywriter, this book demonstrates the power of words and the power of spending the time to find the right words. Doing so doesn’t just work for getting the girl. Customers need love too.






As far as economic transformations go, the biggest must have come from manufacturing economies shifting to service-oriented ones. A major shift from products to services lies in the intangibility characteristic, so how do you deal with that? Beckwith’s bestseller explains how top brands are able to make that seamless transition – it’s all in the hidden ability to build and maintain strong relationships.






I’ve always maintained that if I were to go into market research, it would definitely involve the field of neuro-marketing. I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with consumer behaviour and understanding what drives people to make the decisions they do. I mean let’s face it – people (and especially customers) are cray! And I’d like to think there’s more to it than just being dropped on their head a few times as a kid.

Martin Lindstrom fuses neuroscience with marketing in this bestseller title to explain how everything we think and do is influenced by mental forces of which we are only vaguely aware (if at all). More importantly, Lindstrom shows how these impulses might be scientifically measured and then used to hone marketing campaigns.



Having heard about the term ‘guerrilla marketing’ very early in my studies at varsity I began searching for more and more on the topic and it’s been a massive tool (wait, that came out wrong) big help in developing unconventional, unexpected ideas for brand awareness campaigns during my time as Brand Manager at UCT Radio. Alas, I’ve yet to get my hands on this seminal work on the topic by the legend who coined the term himself.

Jay Conrad Levinson’s book takes marketing out of the world of huge corporations and places it into the hands of entrepreneurs and small businesses through the use of unconventional, low-cost and yet memorable marketing efforts. The book explains why it’s no longer necessary to spend a great deal of money to gain visibility, as long as you’re willing to get creative.

Any titles I missed that you rate should definitely be on the list? Drop me a comment below. 

How does design fit into brand building?

My very first, ever interview guest on the blog hails all the way from Reading in the UK. That’s right – I had to travel far and wide to source this guy, so you’d better learn something! We’ve spoken a lot on the blog about how branding is not just simply about designing cool graphics and logos. Logo design and brand identity, however, IS a major component of brand building and so this week we delve into the question of how does design ACTUALLY factor into the process of building your brand? What are the pitfalls to look out for in your branding endeavours? What constitutes really good ‘design’? What makes a logo timeless and memorable? Well our special guest today, Ian Paget (a brand identity and logo design expert) is here to draw you a pretty picture explaining just that.


the Brand Dr.: Hi, Ian. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you, what do you do, where do you come from and where are you going?

Ian: My name’s Ian Paget, and I’m a graphic designer based in Reading, UK. I work full time as a design director for an e-commerce agency where I have been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s top global brands. In my personal time I run my own design business called Logo Geek, where I work on logo designs. To support this I run a popular twitter profile too, sharing logo design related resources and news for the design community. My long-term goal is to become the go-to expert for branding, and I plan to do this by continually doing good work, sharing good content, writing books, appearing at design events and inspiring other designers to make the world a better place. I’ve only just started my journey, but I really think I can do it.

TBD: How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?

Ian: From a young age I knew I wanted to work in art or design. I was the kid that always won the art competitions and had my work on TV. In school and college it was my main focus too.

I didn’t go to university, so once I finished college I was on the lookout for a creative job. I became an assistant to a print finisher, where I was responsible for turning printed exhibition panels into full scale stands. It was a lot of laminating and cutting, and being honest… I didn’t like it very much. I felt clumsy and never quite got the hang of putting the paper in the machine perfectly straight, and never liked using the surgical scalpels on a daily basis. I wanted to be designing these things, not finishing them off. It was in this role that I had the opportunity to watch the IT guys touch up the work in Photoshop, and prepare the artwork for print. I had no knowledge at that time, but I was fascinated. After badly cutting my finger, I left that job and jumped into the next first one I could get.

I got a job in a warehouse for a medical company. Really not my thing, but I explained to the manager that I wanted to be a designer, and that I wanted this job so I could gain experience working within a team. (I just wanted a job, but she was impressed by my confidence). I was in this role for about 6 months before being called to the manager’s office … they understood I was good at art, and offered me a role working in the office side of the business. They gave me a 3 month opportunity to work in the job that got me where I am now.

TBD: How did Logo Geek come about – what made you interested in branding for companies?

Ian: I’ve always liked to work on side projects as you can push your skills and experiment on the type of things you’d like to get involved with. At the time of creating the business I was working on an iPhone game project called GooHoo with friends of mine which took around 4 years to finish. As much as I loved the project, it was exhausting, so I wanted future side projects to be less time consuming.

In my full time job I worked on the occasional logo design, and enjoyed it. Logo design made use of my illustration skills, yet always posed the challenge of representing the company and fulfilling goals. I’ve always been more of a technical designer than an artist, so it always fascinated me. As logo design is a relatively small project to work on, I started Logo Geek, offering my design services to anyone needing a logo design.

TBD: Something I’m sure my readers interested in e-commerce will appreciate : You offer your services virtually, with several clients not in the same country, let alone the same time zone! How do you build relationships with these clients?

Ian: I focus my marketing online. At the moment, since I work full time I don’t do any offline marketing at all. I’m fortunate to work for a company that has a team dedicated to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), so I have picked up quite a lot of the techniques. It’s through my website (people find me on Google) and social media that I have attracted customers so far, and it’s almost always started with an email.

I’ve worked with companies globally, most recently New York and Africa, and to date I haven’t found it to be a problem. Email and Skype makes it very easy to communicate online. Yes, okay, it’s not possible to have one-to-one meetings, but providing you communicate clearly through email I believe it’s possible to build business relationships online.

TBD: Now for the big question. Why is branding so important for a company?

Ian: A company is made up of people of all shapes and sizes. Good branding allows these people to consistently communicate with their audience no matter who’s doing the communicating.

I believe branding is a long-term investment that makes a business more profitable, and should be considered as one of the most valuable assets a company owns.

TBD: What inspires you about branding and design?

Design allows you to be anything you want to be. You can target anyone you want, and control how people behave and interact. Most of the world we live in is fabricated by designers like us. It’s fascinating.

I’ve been a designer for just over 10 years now, and I still have so much to learn. I don’t think a designer ever stops learning, and improving. I love that.

TBD: Branding and design are very much inseparable although it’s been said time and time again that a brand is not your logo. How then would you say they are integrated?

Ian: A brand is not your logo. A brand is not even the touch points we apply branding to. A brand is in the mind of the public – it’s their thoughts and opinions, and is something you have no control over. You can only influence, and that’s where the designer comes in. We are influencers.

TBD: Design is seen as an intently creative process such that many people mistake it to be about playing with logos, colours and fancy typefaces. Yet in order to build strong brands, design needs to be quite strategic. How do you think one could make one’s design more involved at this strategic level?

Ian: Good design is very strategic, and the sooner a designer understands this, the better the designer they will be. Logo design is not an art, its functional design. Design decisions need to have solid reasoning, and “because it looks nice” is never a good reason. So many design galleries out there focus only on the visuals, encouraging votes by how it looks and less on the strategy side of things which does give off mixed messages to designers.

Non-designers can also make the mistake of seeing graphic design as art, so a designer also needs to educate the decision maker too. By asking the right questions and doing solid research to back up design decisions, you will immediately put yourself at the same strategic level as the decision maker – if you’re seen to understand it, you automatically become part of it.

It’s strategic design that makes a designers work more attractive to business owners, and is the reason that some designers charge £1000s for logo design work.

TBD: What does a company itself need to know clearly or have before they start on their branding?

Ian: They need to know why they exist and what makes them different from the competition. Sadly not many business owners know this, in particular start-ups. At a bare minimum, they should have a clearly defined target audience. A design will be more successful when targeted at a specific audience.

TBD: To the untrained non-designer, logo design may look like a piece of cake and your portfolio of work certainly doesn’t help stem that misconception – your designs seem wonderfully effortless.

But creating a successful logo design and identity for a brand is a huge challenge for most. What design advice do you have for small businesses and start-ups that are looking to brand (or re-brand) themselves with a timeless, creative logo?

Ian: I think the key to good design is firstly accepting that logo design is strategic. I like to form a list of objectives before designing a logo, as it creates a tick-list for both myself as the designer and the client too when making a decision. Logo design is too easy to be seen as a piece of art, so it’s easy to let personal opinions slip in. With a list of objectives you have tangible goals to meet, which helps you step back and make a solid strategic decision.

I also think it’s important to test your designs in real life situations. There’s a great plugin for illustrator which I would recommend called LiveSurface which allows you to easily put your design in real life locations such as a billboard, box or t-shirt. I’ve had a number of designs which was my least favourite quickly become some of my best work once tested in a real life scenario. Simple design in particular is difficult to have confidence in until you see how well it works in a real life scenario.

TBD: What (in your view) does the new era of branding look like?

Ian: Our technology is changing, and the way we interact with brands has certainly changed too.

I think it’s becoming more transparent. Social media hides nothing, so if a business slips up, everyone knows about it quickly. Businesses need to be confident in their decisions, otherwise the public will quickly treat them like a puppet. Take for example Air B&B – their recent logo had a horrific backlash online, however they have stuck with it, which will probably make the identity more memorable in the eyes of the public long-term.

It does mean that brands need to evolve and adapt quickly, becoming much more human than they have ever been before – making mistakes and recognising it – being ‘real’. Nobody likes a corporate lifeless machine.

From a design perspective I don’t think branding has changed much from the days of Paul Rand. Good logo design is timeless. Trends come and go. Real quality shines, and will do for years to come.

TBD: If you could change one thing about your career to date, what would it be?

Ian: I wish I started using social media sooner, and started showing off my design work. If you’re a designer, seriously – show your work off to the world. Even if you think it’s bad, someone out there will love it. The more work you get out there, the more opportunities can come your way. And if your works not so great, you can also get some real honest feedback which you can learn from. It’s a win-win.

From a freelance business point of view when I first started out with Logo Geek I was promoting myself as something I’m not. I was acting like a business, using ‘We’ a lot in my text (this was based on bad advice from someone I met at a networking event), and I created a ‘fun’ identity. I thought it would be cool to have my process broken down into ‘the boring bit’, ‘the creative bit’ and ‘the exciting bit’. After about a year I realised it’s just not me – everything looked cheap, but I wanted to offer a high end, professional service. I revaluated everything, went back to the drawing board and started again to create an identity that fits me better.

TBD: On that note, what pearls of wisdom would you give to marketing students looking to dive into a career in branding?

Ian: I think you just need to get out there. We’re in a world where you can reach out to anyone though social media, so it’s really easy to network and get to know some very experienced and important people. Get a website, write a blog and interact with the world – grab every opportunity. You can learn as much as you want from school and books, but it’s knowing the right people that will get you to the places you want to be.

These are some images from the creative mind of Ian Paget himself. The first two of these are from GooHoo (the iPhone game whose design he worked on), and the other two are examples of the type work he was creating in his first design position (lots of Photoshop illustration). Ian gives one final nugget of wisdom below relating to his work and for anyone looking to promote their creative work.

Screenshot_3 Screenshot_4printdesign_Boussignacprintdesign_Bionector

Ian: You may find a lot of this work surprising based on my Logo Geek portfolio. The reasoning is simple, you show only the type of work you want to do. I’ve learned that people don’t have a lot of imagination – if you show web, they think you are a web designer, and if you show illustration they don’t see you as anything else but an illustrator. By showing only logo design people assume I’m a logo design expert, and I get more of that type of work (even friends and family who have known me for years!). It can be frustrating for designers as something they worked on might be amazing, but if its not something they want to do, they need to forget about it, put it to one side and show only the work that’s relevant to their ambitions and dreams.

For a look at LogoGeek’s FULL portfolio, click the image link below


Behind the Scenes of Cadbury’s Triplets Ad – 3x More Delectable

Ever wondered how the big brands of South Africa go about making their ads? You know, the ones you see on TV and can’t help but smile at because they just melt your heart – the kind of ad that you remember for years down the line? Well the latest Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate ad is just that. Recently on eNCA’s Maggs on Media, I witnessed them go behind the scenes of this delectable brand’s campaign.

The latest ad entitled ‘Triplets’ is part of Cadbury’s new Free The Joy campaign – which I can only imagine was intended to engage Cadbury’s female target market. Put together by the creative geniuses at Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg, the team was apparently given just a one page brief and told that the brand needed to capture “irresistible joy” – the same joy that countless South Africans know all too well from nomming on their little slab of indulgence. You’ve probably seen the ad by now (like a gazillion times, plus-minus). Ogilvy built the story around three unborn bundles of joy, bobbing around in the womb to the melodic sounds of Joy (We Are Family) by South African acapella group, The Soil. And it’s the kind of tune you just can’t help but lose yourself in for the next 31 seconds as the mother sits on the bus and indulges in her Cadbury slab (is that even healthy for those kids? just saying …).

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The ad aims to tap into a rather simple yet strong insight that South Africans are inherently a joyful people with much love and happiness within every fellow stranger you meet.

Adrian De Sa Garces of Velocity Films who directed the advert said, “When The Soil performs the song, you can feel their passion and a rich sense of joy – we wanted this to come through in our TV ad. South Africans have not seen animation of this quality and much attention was given so that the most realistic and beautiful expression of ‘joy’ and real life through animation could be created through the triplets.”

In fact, the group’s body movements and facial expressions were captured through motion-capture-suits and transposed onto the animated babies. South Africans truly haven’t seen ad animation of this level before. Even I had to look twice to realise that although very life-like, there’s no way you can boogie like that before being potty trained!
You can check out the live performance below by The Soil. They really are a joyful delight. This is certainly a brand that makes me dance. Literally.

If you haven’t already seen the integrated marketing communications at work all over SA’s shops, you soon will. The campaign is supported by in-store displays nationwide, outdoor billboards as well as digital and a public relations campaign.




Uncapped Potential with ‘2ndLives’ Campaign – Ogilvy & Mather (China)

Now here’s a brand that doesn’t just make me dance … this is so amazing, it makes me frikin BREAKDANCE!


How does one of the world’s top and most loved brands retain its competitive advantage? Well Coke have innovated a new way for people to ‘open happiness’ while opening the potential for greater sustainability through recycling.

Coke’s latest CSR (marketing?) stint comes courtesy of the creative minds at Ogilvy & Mather China in the form of their ‘2ndlives’ campaign. It was launched as part of Coke’s global sustainability program which involves releasing a range of 16 innovative bottle caps which can be screwed onto bottles after consumption, transforming them into a multitude of useful objects.

The campaign is named ‘2ndLives’ simply because it instead of throwing away the plastic bottles after you’ve downed a cold one, it encourages customers to make them a part of their lives by using these caps – essentially recycling plastic bottles which otherwise form a large amount of everyday pollution.

Coke-2nd-Lives-6-610x397 Bubble maker cap adapter


Sharpener cap

This was a local campaign for the brand, targeting the Vietnamese consumer audience as these communities needed to literally ‘clean their act up’. Coke’s aim is to give away about 40 000 of these designer caps to start off the campaign which revolves around the central idea, ‘What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?’

Coke-2nd-Lives-10-610x392 Painter capCoke-2nd-Lives-8-610x397 Squirt Dispenser Cap

It’s all about consumer behaviour

Reducing environmental impact is not just a challenge for Coke, but for all manufacturers. What this campaign demonstrates so well is that curbing pollution is largely an appeal to people to change their behaviour – consumer action is what has to change in order for plastics to stay out of the landfills. By selling IDEAS to consumers through targeted solutions, is how you best move them to action. And it’s that behaviour of consumers that drives your sales. So it’s time you start learning how to drive their behaviour in turn.

Coke-2nd-Lives-2-610x397 Coke bottles dispensing condiments? Say whaaat?!

What it means for you and your branding

Coke realised very early on that when you’re marketing a green initiative emphasising it from the sustainability angle doesn’t really interest anyone. Instead, successful marketing is about developing customer solutions, not using the best rhetoric to simply raise awareness. These Coke caps don’t preach to people that “you MUST save the planet! Sustainability this, pollution that. Recycle, ra ra ra.” No. Instead they emphasise to people that “hey, why are you throwing away your bottles? Don’t you know there’s so many useful things it can do for you? Here all you need is this.” There’s no direct environmental sustainability agenda being pushed onto people, but they are selling the idea that you SHOULD recycle or reuse and in fact, you can have fun doing it and still keep things practical for your life. And people buy into the recycle concept invariably anyway! Why? Because they’re not buying the caps just for the caps. People don’t buy products – they buy ideas and brands.

Your role as a marketer and custodian of your own brand is to thus be able to understand the deeper human needs of your markets and build a solution around that to satisfy those needs.  Coke isn’t suggesting that these amazing bottle adapters will solve all the environmental issues (which their industry ironically contributes so much to). They are rather urging us to think differently, and urgently, about how we use, re-use and recycle our everyday waste. Marketing isn’t just about promoting and distributing products like the textbooks say. It’s part-and-parcel of management today. Companies sell products. But GREAT companies do brand building.

Keep the intrinsic understanding of your customer at the heart of your brand efforts and soon your bottom line will ‘open up some happiness’ of its own.


“Ideas have the power to attract, persuade and move us. The power to change our attitudes, to change our thinking. And once you can change the way people think … you can change the world.”
_ Kavesan Pillay (aspiring advertiser)

Brand Storytelling : How your brand can live happily ever after


Once upon a time, marketers everywhere brandished the biggest buzzwords of the industry like they were going out of fashion – marketing analytics, big data and the like. But with so many characters to keep up with (just like in Game of Thrones) we very easily forget what it’s really all about – amongst all the buzzwords, marketers forget that marketing is, at its core, all about telling stories. But how is it that brand storytelling is seen as more than just a buzzword and rather the future of brand building? And which business has time to deal with trivial things like stories anyway? Well, as the world of brands and consumers has become more digitally and socially connected, brand story telling is no longer a trivial fairytale for businesses and your brand. The plot thickens …


Brand storytelling is the way in which a brand harnesses the allure and power of relating a narrative in order to share their brand values, attract more customers and leapfrog the competition in ways that traditional marketing messages fail. The term is fairly obviously named – if you consider storytelling to be you sharing your life events or experiences, then think of brand storytelling as the very same thing, just how it relates to your brand.


No, not quite. Brand storytelling goes much deeper than just branded content. Content typically is any form of messaging that is formed in the mind of that content originator – the marketer – and put out to the audience, without any attention given to the mind of the consumer. Branded content is very much a type of advertising medium, hence there’s little audience participation because advertising is an impersonal medium with the intention to promote, not to entertain, help or educate.

In contrast to content, stories rely on the audience to develop the details and imagery within their own minds adding the element of ‘co-creation’, according to Jon Hamm.  Just like how Jacuzzi is a specific brand of hot-tubs and thus all Jacuzzis are hot-tubs, but not all hot-tubs are Jacuzzis, brand storytelling is still a form of branded content, but not ALL content is brand storytelling. Think about when you last read a gripping novel.  There were just words on the page. Yet somehow, your imagination whisked you off on a mental adventure where you could see and hear the characters, where you imagined the surrounding they were in so vividly. And for every reader, that novel’s characters and setting will appear quite differently – making the experience personal and unique. That is how brand storytelling has one-up on branded content, because it is the specific type of content that draws you in emotionally. It’s the consumer creating and living a unique experience in their own minds – now that’s a FAR more powerful medium!



So for brands to truly capitalise on the opportunities that the interconnected digital space provides via social consumer networks and distribution platforms, they need to shift from thinking about branded content, to a mindset of telling a story.


product_thumbnailIf you haven’t picked it up already from the distinction outlined above, do yourself a huge favour and grab yourself a copy of renowned South African speaker Justin Cohen’s book The Astonishing Power of Story online.

This is one of the books in my private library and having read it about two years ago, I’ve gained some great insight into this ultimate form of influence. So why do brand stories work their persuasive magic so much better? Well because stories intrigue whereas facts bore. Sure facts are important, but stories make customers care, makes them feel and when you move them on that deeper level, they respond.

Stories have been important throughout all time. Think the likes of Socrates who was great. Jesus was even greater! Then there was the likes of Dale Carnegie, whose narrative teachings have become seminal works of genius for business leaders seeking to influence. These were all among the great storytellers of time because their stories could make people feel deeply moved, forming a profound connection between the audience and characters.

Stories matter in your marketing because they’re a catalyst for building your brand loyalty which leads to greater brand value and hence greater market capitalisation – the financial stuff everyone really worries about. This is where digital storytelling comes in. Advertising traditionally talks AT customers, but stories mean talking TO them, allowing customers to communicate back. So if you too can masterfully develop an emotional connection (between your brand and customers) you will open up those communication channels and begin to reap the untold rewards from the almighty consumers of today.


Finding that spark of genius for a story idea isn’t all that hard. Just like with people sitting next to you on a plane ride, there are stories in everyone and everywhere you look for your business. Consider for instance: How did your brand start? What story do you have of when your brand last touched people’s lives? What story can convey your brand values?Nandos

Being one of my all time favourite brands, I’m inclined to say that Nando’s have a very delicious way of crafting their story. Check it out here. 

Now before you go over the hills and far away by writing about some knight-in-shining-armour saving the damsel in distress, there’s a catch. In fact, there’s a few so it’s crucial that you always bear these in mind.

  • Brand storytelling is by no means a new medium

Storytelling is as much about the design of the story’s presentation as it is the content itself. Brand stories have been created throughout time as everything from brochures to white papers, e-magazines to TV adverts. Design can really evoke feelings instantly and the format in which you deliver your story is part of that story itself.
The idea of telling stories has been around forever. Just remember that as media evolves, so must the WAY you tell your story. Engage customers in their personal space.

  • Stories require strategy

Yes, you hear ‘story’ and think fantasy and magical ideas and wonderful characters. But unless the manner in which the story is delivered reflects the core values and ties back to your marketing objectives, you would have failed to enhance your brand value.

  • Keep your story authentic.

In today’s cultural and tech savvy world, consumers know everything about a brand – how it’s made, where, what’s the price, who own it, the works. So communicating just the benefits of your brand’s products is no longer the way to secure competitive advantage because consumers evaluate brands on more than just products. Instead, a brand’s values and the emotions they evoke are of increasing concern. So the most important consideration is authenticity, dealing in the truth.

marlboroConsider cigarette brands in the 60s and 70s like Marlboro who branded smoking as cool and almost sexy even. Well the actors portraying the rugged, invincible-like Marlboro Man died from emphysema and lung cancer, and today consumers are less likely to believe such fabricated brand stories. Customers demand truth and if your brand doesn’t come off as honest, it will (metaphorically of course) be shot, castrated and shot again on various social platforms! Don’t underestimate negative word-of-mouth.

The way you do this is by staying true to your brand purpose (does this content I’m producing reinforce the brand and marketing goals?). The other way is by showing your true brand personality because stories are told by people, not companies – customers want to get to know WHO your brand is.

If you haven’t seen it already, Oude Meester’s recent ad called Mastery In The Making addresses this point so well. It takes you through the story of famous actor Idris Elba from his days as a DJ and producer to his acting fame and how mastery is a long journey, and that it’s all about WHAT you do that makes you great. This links so well with the brand values that Oude Meester tries to push onto their targets. Remember, brand story telling involves some degree of creative and fictional writing. The skillset is different from copywriting because brand stories are meant to indirectly sell your brand when you’re telling the stories. So consider these next few tips on creative story crafting.

  • Create really relatable characters

gecko_with_logoMany brands have established mascots that act out in their stories such as Tony the Tiger or the Geico gecko.

However, you don’t have to go so big. You can just use a buyer persona, a typical person that represents the typical consumer from your audience. This will then be someone the viewer can easily root for and feel emotionally connected to – which is the whole point of your brand story. Your story will likely be short too, so limit yourself to just one hero of your grand adventure. The better the audience relates to characters, the more organically their emotional connection to your brand grows. Score!

  • Create a complete story arc

Your brand story shouldn’t be singular short stories, but should fit into a greater story. But since most brand stories are short, your arc can be simplified. As is the case with typical story writing structure, you want to create an opening, a conflict, a climax and a resolution that the character experiences. These obstacles make the character’s experience more life-like for the audience watching or reading, meaning they can more easily identify with the character and thus are more likely to engage and cheer the character on.

Chipotle’s video entitled The Scarecrow plays out these four story arc phases perfectly.

Finally, as with all branding endeavours, always keep consistent.

  • Ensure consistency of the brand promise

As mentioned earlier, your brand story needs to relate to your overall brand image. If you are pulling your audience in one direction with your story, when their perceptions of the brand are going the other way, they will soon leave your brand for one which will deliver more consistently on their expectations.

Red Bull are bang on the money of brand story consistency! Their brand conveys the image of total, extreme sports and freedom and fun that comes with that lifestyle. Their campaigns are integrated to focus on how various characters live that very lifestyle and when heard, these stories elicit emotions from the audience that  fosters that connection between brand an customer. Don’t act like you weren’t left thinking “Man! That was EPIC!” after seeing the space jump ad. Consistency is how you reinforce the relationship at every touchpoint.


With all the content barraging customers out there on the daily, they’ve come to easily recognise when they’re being marketed to. And nobody likes it. The good news is that customers DO want to engage with brands, but you have to be tactical about it. Treat customers like people instead of them always thinking you’re going to try sell something whenever they see you. If you just sell the story, people will sell the product onto themselves. Just remember these starting elements:

  • Be authentic
  • Create relatable characters
  • Understand the complete story arc
  • Keep the brand promise consistent

You know you’ve got it right when your brand story doesn’t reek of preachy advertising, forcing marketing speak onto customers – it sounds like a story.  Guaranteed, your brand will live happily ever after.



Branding For Start-ups : How to Start Right

Graphic1If like me you’re were still in varsity recently and were just COUNTING the marks till you could get out on the open road and start earning, you probably started asking yourself ‘Why wait till I get out?’

In today’s uber competitive work space with everyone vying for the shrinking pool of commercial vacancies, millions of people turn to start-ups as the solution, with countless even starting while still at college. But make no mistake, there’s a lot of time, energy and Red Bull one pours into launching a SUCCESSFUL start-up. The endless nights you spare on this venture, not to mention the emotional mix of excitement at the hope of getting rich; the anticipation of being able to retire at 40; or the fear that it could all fall to ruin any moment, you flunk varsity, have to move back in with the parents and even your CAT becomes more successful and waxed than you via YouTube and Instagram! Start-up reality bites … and leaves teeth marks.

Part of that reality is that far too often, start-ups get caught up in the urgency of launching too quick to try and generate maximum revenues before the seed capital runs out – what I call the “go live” syndrome. As a result, many ventures (especially tech start-ups) neglect the critical bit of their strategy that makes all the difference – branding. Sure, you’ve defined your strategy and goals and so you move onto logos, web design and social media. Yet while identity and awareness are core items on the branding agenda, you’ve got to go deeper than colours and logos. The most powerful brand names MEAN something to people, they market their values which makes them emotionally attractive to their target audience. So what’s missing?

Let’s not waste time with buzzwords and fancy definitions. When it comes down to it, your brand is really just the experience you create and deliver to your customers. The connection between company and customer is what underpins (or SHOULD underpin) your branding and that connection is strengthened by constantly understanding the customer – what drives them to your product? Once you grasp that understanding then you can begin those mad Photoshop skills working on your brand identity. So why do start-ups fall face-first on building their brand experience and how can you start smart?

Sell the sizzle, not the steak

Just about all start-ups have competitors offering identical products so when you break down your product or service, what exactly do you have left? Your primary goal with branding is more than to just tell a great story or have a memorable logo, you are selling the company’s heart and soul to your targets. It comes down to defining what your personality is, what you stand for and why should I buy into that? It comes down to your message. Your message is the golden ticket!

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, but my product is way better than the rest out there so I’ll win!” News flash buddy: Your product is not your brand. Having a better product without a better message will lack all punch with your audience and won’t count for much. A lot of ventures go about branding activities on the assumption that they’ve crafted the perfect business concept and since they’ve fallen in love with it, the customers will love it too! You’re taking suuuch a massive gamble on your start-up here because you run the risk of your brand not resonating with your target audience. Failing to connect a bit deeper with customers is a main cause of start-ups floundering.

This is the advice I give clients on projects I’ve worked on before and I’ll give it to you right now, right here and for free! Attempting to improve without customer feedback, or even just ignoring the feedback and fine-tuning your own things, is going to leave you running out of money before you realise that building the brand experience must always come first.

Bells, whistles and lots of blings. These are a few of my favourite things

Find new favourite things man! Instead of focusing on feedback and crafting the right message to form that connection, start-ups focus on brand identity too much way before they consider building the experience. Stop! Doing this just means you’re going to be wasting years and money (probably not even yours!) promoting something your customers won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of caring about! No logo or fancy website graphics is going to cover up a crap product or service. Unless the brand experience is bang on the money, what does it matter how your identity looks? It’s like with giving someone a gift – if it was just some shelf-bought half thought and not something heartfelt which you know the person has wanted for ages or which will mean something special to them, well then who cares how beautifully it’s wrapped in the best looking paper with the fanciest ribbon? There’s no point growing your customer base if your existing customers aren’t head-over-heels for your product already. Get the brand experience right.

How to experience a better experience

You obviously set out with this venture in mind so that you could build something that was truly your own, your own empire where you could reap untold rewards. This is your dream. It’s the baby of YOUR entrepreneurial genius and who wants to leave their kid in someone else’s hands? Neither your venture capitalist nor the people you tasked with developing your brand identity are as equipped as yourself to evaluate the brand experience – you, the one who poured your soul into starting this whole thing! Get in there directly with your customers and conduct interviews. Do an email brand survey, or even have a feedback form sent out with every order or just leave them at reception for clients to complete when they visit.

Whatever method you choose, a customer feedback mechanism will help gauge how customers truly perceive and value your brand, which fuels your improvement process. Here are a few questions I advised people to ask their customers in order to suss out their current brand experience:

  • If [your brand name here] were a person, how would you describe our personality?
  • How would you describe our product to a friend?
  • What type of person do you think would benefit most from our product?
  • How would you feel if you could no longer use our product or service?
    Ideally, the majority should say they’d be very unhappy if they were forced to find a solution elsewhere.
  • Find out why they’d be unhappy. What do they feel are the main benefits of your product?
  • What alternative would you choose should our solution be discontinued?
  • How can we improve our product to better serve your needs?

So that’s my take on branding for start-ups – work on improving the brand experience first. Don’t get in a tizz over brand identity or growing the business until you have that solid base of customer loyalty. If you’re going to start, start smart.

What are some of your branding concerns that you’d like my professional prescriptions for? Drop me post suggestions in the comments below.

Tim Howard : Brands Want His Hands (via AdWeek)



World Cup closes. Branding kicks off! 

The man with the golden hands is now a branding goldmine. Here’s the latest scoop in the field of footballer endorsements and a great lesson on how the most successful brands make it to the top – consistently aligning to the brand image.




What’s In A Name? : top tips to create a powerful brand name

Things have been a bit quiet recently, but man have I been rushing around! After an extended stay in Cape Town, I finally made my way back home to Durban this past Tuesday – packing your whole life into a suitcase and travelling right across the country isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. Ask any student. Anyway, some much needed down time was in order. Did I say down time? Ooooh, eh eh! Not to be stereotypical, but if you’re a Durban Indian studying Business Science, when you get back home … EVERYONE expects you to help make miracles in the family business! Needless to say, the first day back my dad and I put our heads together in working on a new online venture that started up months ago – a motivational and self-development academy. After having the company name rejected again, yours truly was called in to assess the brand and brainstorm a new name.

This got me thinking – what’s in a name? Uh, well … a LOT! Ever read the story of Rumpelstiltskin? Devising the right name for your business is probably the single-most important branding concern you will have. So choose wisely. Essentially, a powerful name demonstrates your brand and its values, whereas poorer names force you to do way more explaining and advertising. Perhaps you’re starting out a new project, or maybe you’re a student trying to go big in the start-up world. Whatever your reason for kicking off your brand, here are some sure-fire tips on creating a brand name that I’ve picked up through my studies and along the way on numerous brand projects.

  1. Think Before You Ink

Not just a rule of thumb for midnight-oil-burning students, but for brand developers too. Lots of people try articulating their brand way before they’ve even defined it. You wouldn’t just name your beloved new-born after the very first person you saw upon leaving the hospital, so why subject your brand to a lifetime of similar embarrassment? Longevity is core to your brand because although it isn’t your brand itself, it IS a strong signal which customers will equate to your brand well into the future. So it’s worth labouring on this research phase a little bit and really tapping into creative insights. How? Draw your inspiration from multiple sources.


Splurge the first few words that come to your mind when you think of your business. What do you stand for? What is your product? What is your personality? Also be sure to Google your brand name idea. Even if it hasn’t been trademarked yet, some sad sap may be sitting on your genius name or something very similar. Know what’s out there and know what you want. Unless you know what you’re trying to communicate to your audience, you will end up mixing your signals – something that all guys know is NEVER fun.

  1. Here’s to the Memories

Jay Jurisich, creative director of San Francisco-based naming and branding agency Igor asserts that “It doesn’t matter how many linguists you can get to justify a particular name. Everybody is saturated with messages and people can only remember so many, and they’re only going to notice a name that is memorable. When it goes out into the marketplace, it’s going to live or die based on how well it succeeds as a piece of tangible poetry.”

Nicely put, Jay. You want your brand to be the next best thing since the iPhone , 4S, 5S … since sliced bread! And the only way to achieve that longevity in tip #1 is to be memorable.


The simplest way to get memorable is to make sure your name is easy to pronounce, spell and well … memorise. To this end, you should stick to real English words please – even a string of them or some variation. Think of JetBlue or Google (a variation of ‘googol’). Real-world names are more easily recalled because the brain is hardwired to follow the path of least resistance in recognising terms. High imagery names are also recalled at a higher rate – Anthony Shore summarises some amazing research into this on his blog where he demonstrates how a name like Firefly is better recalled than, say, General Software. Check it out and be amazed.

  1. Fitting in was only cool in high school

For your name to really pop, you have to differentiate. Stand out. Seth Godin has said before that “a brand name is a peg that people use to hang all the attributes of your business”. This means your name should aim to have LESS to do with your category directly. Functional and descriptive names like Subway and Martha Stewart are great for directing attention to the company brand. But functional names aren’t so great when all they do is explain what the company does. Apple didn’t call themselves New Computing when they started, or Something-something Technologies, or whatever else seemed befitting a tech company at the time. Yawn. They went with Apple. Random? It works. Building your name around a category or product (like XYZ Consultants) leaves a lot less room to peg other attributes onto your brand as you expand.

Using a not-so-obvious name has several practical implications for your setup further down the line, helping you avoid legal scuffles with competitors – like ensuring the name is trademarkable or allowing you to register a domain name.

  1. Experiential names may not be worth the experience

Experiential names are usually literal and are the lovechild of one’s vision statement and a thesaurus. It makes sense to the consumer because it plays off of the experience of using the product or service. However, in many markets there are so many similar experiential names with generic, bland adjectives like Super, Ultra, Advanced or Smart that the impact is often sorely diluted. For example, Explorer and Safari are browsers … and SUVs.

  1. Aint Nobody Got Time For Plain English!

Invented names are great just because they are so fun and can often be quite memorable. Every loves Oreo, and you probably reach for a Kleenex when your nose is having a bad mood. But be careful about playing with crazy Latin roots or exotic linguistics. These may come across as more official-sounding, but is that the personality and image you’re trying to build for your brand? While it may be easy to get trademarked, you may have to also fork out a bucket-load on advertising to reinforce what you actually do and to clarify your positioning. Why not just leave the starting blocks with the strongest possible brand name to aid in recall? These days it’s all about rethinking how you budget your media spend, so give your brand the best possible chance to travel virally on its own.

  1.   Humour sells. So how about a funny name?


No bru. No. This is a very fine line you’re treading here. Being different just for the sake of it is not what ‘differentiation’ is all about. Heading down that path is like delivering a one-liner to your audience – you may get noticed or remembered at first, but the joke gets really old, really quick.

Have you needed to create a brand name? What approach did you use? Comment below and let’s see what your brand mastermind can come up with!