Mixed Messages

Posted by in Branding | January 2, 2013

Branding experts have their standard list of questions: Does your name fit the product? Is it easy to say and spell? Will it look good on a logo? What will your URL be? All well and good.  But to do your homework properly, you need to get your mind in the gutter. Think dirty. Because everyone else will. Check that favorite name for double entedres. Say it aloud. Best practice, say the name  in the presence of 14-year-old boys. If you get snickers, you’ve got problems.

Take, for example, the Barnes and Noble Nook eReader. Nook eReader looks perfectly innocent on the printed page. But spoken, as in a radio ad?   You’ve got the Nookie Reader.   B&N folks have rewritten their advertising copy to put some space between Nook and eReader, calling the device a tablet or simply The Nook. But why set yourself up for those  complications?

Sometimes you can’t take care of the problem just by rewriting the ad copy. Consider Boot Town Western Wear in Fort Worth. On the radio, said with a West Texas accent, Boot Town sounds an awful lot  like Boob Town. Larry and I used to argue about whether the radio announcers were mispronouncing the name on purpose. Being a guy, he was pretty sure they were.

And then there is the iPad.  Nano seconds after Apple announced the product launch, Saturday Night Live skit writers were going to town with the parody, which lives to this day on YouTube. The yucks haven’t hurt sales for Apple, but Larry did watch one young sales clerk go red in the face just last weekend when a middle-aged woman told him she wanted to buy a Maxi Pad.

To some, scripture may seem safe.  Unfortunately, people today just don’t know their bible verses like they used to. On its website, the Ezekiel 4:9 bread company says that its “products are crafted in the likeness of Holy Scripture.”  We enjoy the bread and so looked up  the scripture.   “Take thou also unto thee wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and fitches and put them in one vessel and make the bread thereof, according to the number of days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shall thou eat thereof.”

Sounds pretty good until you read how the bread is to be baked and eaten in 4:12-13. “And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.”  Ewwww!

Kind of makes you wonder if the Ezekiel 4:9 marketing folks read to the end of the chapter.