Re-branding, Re-naming, and Re-thinking the Whole Thing!

Posted by Robert Weitz on July 12, 2011 4:05 PM

Let’s begin with the image of a barefoot cobbler. Our last re-brand/re-think/refresh was over 7 years ago! In cyber years, 7 years equals: 2 years of heroism, publication and intense traffic, 2 years of “wow nice site!” and 3 years of excuses!

cobbler

Well, after a couple years of overdrive where we put all of our extra energy trying to help our clients deal with the realities of the financial downturn, we have finally turned our attention to our own needs. We designed a new website (to be launched soon) that looks great on any device or browser, and we have to the joy of everyone around FS, renamed and refocused our blog!

Our old name PROUN 21, while exciting to me, is hard to pronounce, spell, and when we explain what it means, people remain even more perplexed, lost and uninterested.

Here is a perfect case of a name chosen by a company head (me), that is close to his (my) heart, but says nothing to my readers!!! PROUN 21 is what I call a brand pooper, or a brand choice that was a total failure from the get-go.

So all the why the self-flagellation?

I am a brand-maker. I see companies do this all the time, and it is my job to explain that when it comes to names, logos or language of any kind, the most important thing is that it’s easy to remember and it’s meaningful to your specific audience or market—not what is meaningful to the CEO.

That doesn’t mean that the two don’t align, and in fact, some CEOs are so enlightened and in tune with their customers that they know exactly what they want and how they want it. (See Apple, Google, Amazon and Zappos)

But visionary leaders of the world be warned: There are a handful of companies that have leaders that truly understand their customers. The rest of us had better listen when our fellow workers, partners, and friends can’t pronounce or figure out the name we chose for our pet projects! I, for one, have seen the error of my ways and am ready to accept humble pie and rename this blog to The Brand Wash!!!

Is it easy to remember? Yes. Meaningful? Absolutely!

Defining or discussing brand is like discussing the idea of family. There is an idea of something we call family, but that concept is something that is very different, depending on many factors.

The Brand Wash will be a place where we point out, discuss or chortle about things that relate to brands and branding with some art, architecture, and design ideas randomly thrown in to the mix as we notice them and find them interesting or provocative.

Comments

  1. jacki apple says:

    Hmmm….I LIKED Proun 21 – but I’m not a customer. I’m just an artist so I got it and thought it was cool, whether or not it suited what you do. I can see that it might be a little obscure to a lot of people. However…..

    Brand Wash just makes me think of detergent, — like the middle word is missing — Brand NEW Wash. Or whiter than whiter and super clean. Help your clients clean up their corporate dirty laundry. That’s it – Brand Wash = laundering. Personally, I don’t think that is a good metaphor. Makes me wonder exactly what kinds of clients it attracts. Ones with a lot of money probably. And bad P.R. Ones who need to clean up their act. Whitewashing. Ouch.

    Language is a tricky business, more than ever. Careful with what a word can conjure up. I almost didn’t open this email. Maybe think about that name a bit more and what it implies. Are you sure it says what you want it to? But maybe you are already totally committed. This is just my reaction/interpretation.

    I have a name that sounds like a brand. And I had it before Apple computers even existed. They should give me free products. But they don’t need to so they don’t. I have been around so long that I have thought about “re-branding” as a fictitious YOUNG artist. Just to see what happens.

    Good luck and best wishes.

  2. Bob Weitz says:

    Wow! We are so honored to have Jacki Apple comment. Jacki is an amazing storyteller, performer and artist.

    The Brand Wash begs certain questions that most people who do branding (tell people’s stories using narrative, symbols, words, music, etc) are uncomfortable with: how we do it. We conjure very carefully, and the way we use language moves billions of dollars around. Our very careful choice of images and words wins elections, sells stuff, rips some people off, alerts people about meaningful ideas, lies and enlightens.

    I hate explaining subtext, but since like the best kid in the class, Jacki stood up and asked the right questions – We acknowledge that branding and advertising = brainwashing! And it also seems like a natural way to tell a story and make it stick! In a way Jacki is a precursor to Lady Gaga, who has perfected every aspect of personal branding by essentially “brandwashing” us. She bombards us with her brand schema in a way that seminal artists like Jacki could only dream of. Proun 21 means something to Jacki, certainly to me, and to a bunch of Russian art students.

    To the rest of the world, I am talking about “brandwashing” – An effort to convince a segment of a population to buy into a narrative, purchase a product, or join a movement or community using classic indoctrination methods that date back to the beginnings of history.

    I know brainwashing has a negative connotation, and it is when it convinces you to drink Coke after Coke, or buy into a bad war. But the converse is that when practiced in a healthy productive way, we can convince people to support excellent causes, elect good leaders, or find the best products. The reason we all love Apple is that we have been brainwashed or taught that the brand stands for intelligence, creativity, and exquisite craft! (I’m speaking about Jacki Apple!)

  3. Yeah, I been thinking of changing my name too. I’m getting so tired of everybody asking me questions. (Welcome back.)

  4. Bob Weitz says:

    Google – easy to spell, easy to pronounce, no baggage, fun…. we approve!