Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Call Me That

We’ve had a couple of clients ask us recently about if and when it’s okay to use an informal “nickname” for their brand. With RadioShack recently making the very uncool move of trying to be cool by calling itself “The Shack,” we wondered if it’s ever okay to use a nickname. Here’s what we’ve concluded: the nickname should be in the hands of your customers. It’s cool when McDonald’s customers call it “Mickey D’s,” but it would be uncool if the company referred to itself that way. Conversely, it would be unwise of California Pizza Kitchen to insist that people STOP calling it CPK. The insiders know best. Let them call you what they will (as long as it’s not derogatory.) But as a company, you should continue to refer to yourself by your given name – you chose it for a reason, so don’t let it get away from you.

A Brand with a Plan

If you’re anything like us, you are ready for 2009 to be O-V-E-R. Many of us are already anxious to look ahead to sunnier times in 2010. With only 6 weeks left in the year (okay, really 4 weeks – who are we kidding that any work gets done over the holidays?) this is a good time to start thinking about the plan for your brand in the year ahead. A lot may have changed since you last examined your brand positioning, so here are 3 questions you should ask to begin your planning:

  1. Who are your real competitors?
    They’re probably not the same ones you had one or two years ago. What are they saying about themselves? Has your brand remained distinctive among your competitive set, or have they caught up to your positioning?

  2. Who are your customers, and what do they care about?
    Many companies assume that their customers are the same year after year. But especially in this economy, the demographics – and psychographics – of your customer base may have changed. And if you have a generational target, remember that the oldest Gen Xers are turning 45 next year, and the Millenials/Gen Y are pushing 30. What worked for Boomer 45-year-olds 5 years ago isn’t likely to resonate with Xers.

  3. What is your vision for the future of your company?
    With so much focus on “stayin’ alive,” many companies haven’t had the time to look ahead to the future. But now is a great time to reassess and connect where you’ve been to where you’re going, and whether your brand developed correctly to help you get there.