How Slick is Google’s name “Chrome”?

  Some small businesses claim it’s getting harder to find a short, interesting short word that really sums up a new product they’re launching. One that grabs attention and has an appropriate meaning. One that “fits.” I disagree, so let’s have a look.

Google recently launched the beta of Chrome, a new type of Web browser. Folks who use it seem to love it. But I’m more interested in its name.

A recent piece in “Name Wire” discussed this topic. The author seemed to doubt its value, saying its too much of an “insider” name (the word “chrome” means something to them when it comes to industry jargon). You can see for yourself at 

Let me clarify… I’m no chip-head. I’m not a computer geek or expert when it comes to code or programming or such. I can navigate my way around a Help page pretty well, but that doesn’t count here. So I feel pretty comfortable in looking at Google’s naming as Mrs. John Q. Public would. And I really like it.

For most PC users, Google’s Chrome is an add-on feature to help “make the Internet run faster.” When I think of the word “chrome,” I think of Pimp My Ride. I think of Father’s Day antique car shows where one is blinded by the workmanship of chome enthusiasts. I think of chrome as a shiny automotive aftermarket add-on for hot cars to make them look even more spectacular. Just as racing stripes make a car look faster, chrome makes it look more expensive. And way cool.

So to me, Chrome on my computer will bring the perception of “cool,” speed and quality in an add-on customized, pimp-my-ride kinda way… then the name more than works.

Let’s hope the browser works half as well!


Patron Saints of… Marketing?

 It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”
                                             – St. Dominic de Guzman

When you’re creating a brand, you’re crafting a message you hope will resonate and last for a long time. One that makes you stand out… one that is memorable.

I’ve always been curious about how the stories of people (and their messages) have been able to survive through the ages. When you consider historic saints, for instance, you typically have a crazy rebellious person of legendary actions. Heck, some were so persuasive that people today still devote their lives to them, or honor them in quiet ways. How many St. Francis of Assisi statues decorate gardens in your town? Quite a few in mine.

One of my favorite saints is Saint Dominic, who must have been fantastic at the art of persuasion. He started the Order of Preachers back in 1215. Born of wealthy parents, he traveled parts of Europe, sharing stories with people and correcting false information about Christian teachings. To help make his point about the perils of a worldly life (versus living simply), he practiced extreme self denial, wore uncomfortable clothes and slept on the floor instead of the beds provided.

In other words, he wrapped himself in his message.

Saint Dominic and others like him are fine examples of how personal branding can last for centuries – if your message is authentic and if its done right, with the right intentions. Here are some examples:

1) Logo and image – A dog with a torch in its mouth, and a star from his chest are both visions his mother is said to have seen around the time of Dominic’s birth. Now they’re part of his iconic images.

2) Consistent message – History books say that Dominic never spoke a work unless it was to praise God. Not a word. No “do you think it will rain?” No “these sandals are killing me.” Not a word that was not consistent with his message and his mission.

3) Stand out in the market – Dominic was passionate. He knew his market, who he wanted to persuade, and he was inspired to be as different from the existing “brands” (heretics) as possible. In his dress, in his behavior, in his message… “It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-hosteled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.”

4) Words supported by image – He wrapped himself in his brand, and he acted in a manner completely consistent with his message.

When you consider your own branding approach, both personally and corporately, what messages do you send? Are they consistent with the mission and goals for your business – and for your life?

When you offer “the full package,” you may not earn sainthood, but you’ll certainly be a top choice in your market to reach the clients who need you most. Be inspiring, and may your journey be Blessed!

Do Ideas Come Quicker with Some Liquor?

 In today’s Ad Age, there’s an article about how the wet bar is making a comeback in the offices of some big-name agencies. <AD AGE ARTICLE> What’s old is new again.

Back in the day when I was the editor in chief of an upstart business-to-business magazine, I had a fantastic publisher who had the cadence of Murphy Brown. When it was time to really wrap our brains around a new marketing approach, the meetings were set for 5:30 PM, her office, “bring empty mug and ice.”

Soon after 5, the halls would begin to clear. And at 5:31, the meeting would start with her announcing that the book is doing great, and “the Skyy is blue!”

This was code for the bright blue bottle of vodka about to come forth from her lower desk drawer.

She poured. We’d sip. And great ideas began to flow.

Perhaps “thinking outside the box” can get some help from “drinking what’s inside the bottle.”

I’m not saying that you should go get all liqueured up before your next session of slinging slogans. But sometimes a little “social lubricant” can help. Sometimes getting juiced helps those creative juices flow.

Now, I don’t want to have a bunch of comments from people who are MADD or upset about my condoning the use of alcohol in the workplace. We know already. Consider it a tool for creativity.

When you want better results from your next brainstorming session, perhaps a little cocktail may be just the ticket. (Just be sure not to get drunk or you won’t be able to read your notes!) And be smart about it.

So when you’re stuck on the branding or wording of your current project, maybe it’s worth a shot.

The Marketing F-word: Focus

  Many small businesses make marketing changes on blind faith. They read a business book, or hear the gurus say things like “Change is good.” So they ponder and plan, then launch themselves into uncharted waters.

One of my favorite cliches is “You can’t expect different results by doing things the same way.” But you do have to be smart about it. And there’s a single element that can make all the difference, for more intelligent marketing.

It’s called Focus. Pick your path… one path… and go with it.

Those trash-mouthed marketing folks throw this F-word around all the time. But for some small businesses, Focus really is a dirty word. They remain stuck in neutral because of fear – fear of the changes that come when honing in on a single specialty area, or fear that their business will suffer by not promoting all of their services. No matter what the experts tell them, they truly believe that changing their marketing, focusing on the one thing they do best is too risky, or too expensive.

When you’re a small business trying to make a dent in your market, it’s vital to take a clean, focused approach. Of course part of you wants to cling to old ways and old ideas. So you hesitate… you want to hedge your bets… cut your losses. Bad idea.

Only when you focus in a single concept in your marketing messages will you begin to see better results.

Advertising and marketing is all about teaching your audience about your brand. It’s kinda like college. Offer a lecture of too many topics and your “class” of clients will glaze over, zone out, and forget everything you just said. But stick to a single focused topic and you have a much stronger chance of the message taking hold.

Focus also goes beyond mere slogans and tagline messages. Better results come from having a strong identity… knowing what you do best, and for whom. Marketing that reveals your confidence, along with a clear message, only strengthens your marketing approach.

That tricky F-word can make all the difference.

Playing with Heartstrings

 This morning as I was slinging slogans for a client, I went through my sheets of ideas to list out the ones they might like best.

After a few hours of brainstorming, all kinds of thoughts had splashed down on the page. But from dozens of ideas, only a handful were strong enough to pass along for consideration.

So what made the difference? Why did some wording ideas seem stronger than others?

For this project, it was all about heart. The project involved the marketing of a fundraiser campaign. To motivate their specific audience into action, the message had to make a direct, emotional appeal in a sophisticated way. It had to tug at their heart – showing the donor that they can directly benefit in some way by making contribution, without stating it directly. It requires subtlety – that also packs a wallop!

In today’s economy, giving the talking points about your wonderful organization isn’t enough. The break-through messages are the ones that give the the donor (or client) a reason to feel great about giving (or doing business with you). It really doesn’t matter that you’ve been serving your community since 1962. What really matters for your message is how their donation can make a difference – making them feel good about themselves in some way.

Touching their hearts can open their wallets. Playing their heartstrings is key.

The Zen of Marketing

 Sometimes we become an obstacle to our own success. The trick is to get out of your own way to allow great things to flow. For marketing messages, this means the flow of ideas… of creativity… of uniquely effective wording. When crafting better marketing, what we think we know (our assumptions) ends up limiting us from potential brilliance.

Over the weekend, I picked the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” by Shunryu Suzuki. My friend Monica Day recommended it to me a couple of months ago. She once told me that I should approach each project with a “Beginner’s Mind,” a fresh outlook. Ignore your past impressions, stereotypes, experiences and prejudices. See the thing as it truly is – as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Once I did this, amazing things began to flow, to the delight of my clients!

When you consider your marketing, you may find that your approach has evolved from the campaign before it, and the campaign before that. But when you examine your message as it is today… without regard to its history… is it as strong a message as it could be?

Taking a “Beginner’s Mind” approach helps you see things in a fresh light when evaluating a fresh marketing approach. When working with your creative team, remind them of the “knowns,” but don’t limit them.

Encourage them to have a Beginner’s Mind as they work on your campaign. Only then do you see things as your customers do. Only then can you invite the flow of fresh creativity you deserve to help your business grow.

Making the Grade with your Online Content

  Every night after work, my cute husband and I relax together on the couch and catch up on the news of the day. When we first married, our faces were often lit by candlelight. But today, it’s by laptop – each of us tapping away on our computers, our faces bathed in the cool glow of our screens. 

Now more than ever, people are on their computers, doing their “homework.” Before they buy, before they meet, before they call. The Internet gives us the opportunity to really check things out in advance, before we develop a relationship with the person, brand or business. Your online presence gives an impression – good or bad.

Be sure you use it to your best advantage.

Making the most of the trend of online research means offering more information for your customers than you may have in the past. Consider what information they need when making a buying decision, then give it to them. Tell them about what you do, your industry, your history, what makes you unique. Start a blog to share insider tips and advice to help them. Focus more on what they want to know… and less about what you want them to hear. It’s not about you – it’s about them.

People don’t buy a drill because they want to own another power tool. People buy a drill because they want to make a hole. Remember that.

The words you choose need to reflect the fact that you “get it.” Show that you’re the best choice for them.

As people do their homework online, make sure you’re the one who gets an A.