Saturday, August 30, 2008

The power of a name and the need for change

I maintain another blog called FULL TANK. Being a professional in the field of marketing communications and an avid observer of the process of branding, I've always felt that choosing a good name is extremely crucial. Laura Ries has changed the name of the her blog. And these are her thoughts on the change.

I appreciate the candid confessions. It triggered a thought about one of my blogs mentioned above. To begin with, my blog was just another blog. It was a record of my thoughts on very many things. Cricket, Motorcycles, Beauty, Mumbai, India, etc. I observed that I was writing more about two-wheelers. Not just quantitatively but also qualitatively. So I decided to narrow my focus for the blog on two-wheelers and record my thoughts on other things by creating other blogs like FORK (on brands and businesses), Profss Drums (on education, policy-making and governance), etc.

Over the months, I've changed the name of my first blog many a time depending on my mood. Firstly I named it Indusbeats, then Slumberic Memoirs Of an MBA, later disstraction, and then thrillon2wheels, and finally settling for Full Tank. My impatience and a thirst for something more interesting every now and then also played a part in changing names so frequently.

Just when I felt fairly convinced that I had chosen an apt name Full Tank for my blog on two-wheelers, this article by Laura Ries gives me other thoughts. What does Full Tank mean? What does it connote/signify? Many things. Passion for motorcycling, cruisers, perhaps big bikes, etc. Importantly it also signifies the object that holds fuel (petrol, to be more specific) in a motorcycle/ two-wheeler. So what happens if tomorrow the world changes and most of the two-wheelers are battery-powered? Will there be a Full Tank? Will the name make sense? I know for the moment the name's just good. But tomorrow...

So? I'm not gonna change the name yet again :) though I did feel the temptation when I was reading the article. My only point here is to discuss the importance of the process of naming and the power a name (or a brand name) possesses.

What's your brand name?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Smokin' Joe's Might Smoke It All!

Smokin Joe's is India's homegrown Pizza brand. And seems to be doing well. Says 'Fresh Pizzas'. Seemingly a me-too brand (following in the footsteps of Dominos), it differentiates because it offers good pizzas but at a lower price than the brand it's following.

Having tasted success, this Joe seems to have grand plans. Like? Smokin Lees! What? Yes, a brand positioned to offer Home-delivered Chinese food. There are quite a few question marks here.
  1. Has Smokin' Joe's exhausted all the possibilities of growing the Pizza brand? I don't think so. So if growth opportunities exist, why shift focus from a growing the brand to launching another brand?
  2. Has Smokin' Joe's studied the Pizza brands worldwide, especially the biggies like Pizza Hut and Dominos? Why didn't these two brands extend themselves into any other food category? Don't they have more understanding and wherewithal to undertake an initiative like that?
  3. What does Smokin' Joe's stand for? How does Smokin' Lee's does justice the established brand? When the brands are meant for two different categories of food (and also, when the promises 'seem' different), why is there such a similarity in names?
Smokin' Joe's might end up undo a lot of good work that's gone behind the first brand. Firstly, it shouldn't have taken a chance to shift its focus from the Pizza category. Secondly, even it were to expand in other territories like Chinese Food, the name and the positioning deserved more thought.

Look at the name Smokin' Joe's and the way it is rendered as part of the logo. It reminds you of the wild wild west where the cowboys come from. The word 'smokin' makes you envision the gun-totting cowboys. Now considering this, how does it compare with Smokin' Lee's? What's Lee gotta do with 'smokin'? 'Lee' sure does remind you of China but definitely not the cowboys. The brand manager at Smokin' Joe's must have thought that the common element 'Smokin' might help the new brand establish itself easily. I am not sure of that, but definitely if brand-naming follows any logic (even if not pure logic but perception-driven logic), then this is a clear case of 'anti-logic'. Even if brand-naming isn't about logic, it definitely must not be so obviously 'anti-logical'.

Smokin' Joe's is Fresh Pizzas. Smokin' Lee's is Home Delivered Chinese Food. Do the two sound/mean similar things. May be. May be not. Yes there could be an overlap but the two do seem different things. Then why use 'Smokin' as a common word (or theme). My word, the two brands should've been entirely different with different promises. A brand focussing entirely on Home Delivered Chinese Food is a new happening in the market but Smokin' Lee's might not help to exploit the potential.