Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Customer Service Limitations of Twitter

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

twitterCompanies maintain Twitter accounts  because it allows them to connect with their customers instantly. But what happens when a customer complains about a defective product or an unpleasant service experience? Is 140 characters really enough space to address their concerns? Probably not, so be sure you have a customer relations support team in place that can work to resolve the customer’s issue, otherwise the whole situation could get bigger and more vocal than it needs to be on Twitter. That’s Erik Sass’ take on the situation. Read his article in MediaPost Blog here.

The 10 best/worst Internet Company Names of the Decade

Monday, January 4th, 2010

naming-babyLaurel Sutton of Catchword Branding does a great job spotlighting some of the most notable Internet company names of the decade. Her recent Marketing Profs article, shown below, offers some valuable insights into what can make or break an effective company name.

Like the internet phenoms they trumpeted, Internet company names of the last decade have been, by turns, wildly inventive, deeply troubled, breathtakingly silly, serviceable (if dull)—and, occasionally, brilliant.

Having christened our share of Internet phenoms, we at Catchword decided to looked back to identify the 10 biggest dot-com naming trends—and their best and worst examples.

(Although, frankly, it was hard to choose just one “worst” in some cases. There were so many Web 2.0 disasters! It was as though the rules of language had ceased to apply.)

Here are the trends and names that rose to the top (and sank to the bottom).

1. The Hookup

Sometimes two words are better than one—especially to convey a new way of doing things. Serviceable hookups can range from descriptive (Facebook, StubHub) to suggestive (LinkedIn) to evocative (Snapfish).

But if two words don’t have a discernible relationship with each other—or the brand—it’s a Random Hookup. And we all know how short-lived those are—in this or any realm.

Win: YouTube

Intuitive, catchy, grassroots-y. The retro slang “tube” for TV evokes simpler times and ease of use: clever for a new app that could have been seen as intimidatingly high-tech.

Fail: TalkShoe

Say what? The name is a play on the use of Ed Sullivan’s pronunciation of the word “show” on his long-ago TV show. Like anyone is going to make the connection…

2. The Conjurer

Evocative words can make memorable brand names when they relate to the core of a brand’s story (like Yelp). But the line can be fine between edgy and baffling.

Win: Twitter

Whimsically conjures up users’ sharing short little bursts of information (like birds twittering in a tree)—as well as excitement (”all atwitter”). It’s extendable, too. A whole vocabulary quickly takes flight—from tweet and twitfriend to twipic.

Fail: MOO

Great for cows, milk, cheese, ice cream. Not so great for a site offering printing services.

3. The Letter-Dropper

The problem with this type of coinage is it’s so distinctive you’re almost bound to look like a copycat if you’re not the first out of the gate. And if you drop more than one letter, you’re asking for trouble. (Was Motorola’s SLVR cell phone meant to be Silver or Sliver? And what’s with Scribd?)

Win: Flickr

The image of a camera’s flicker is relevant for photo sharing and reassuringly familiar, while the dropped letter—a new naming convention—suggested cutting-edge technology.

Fail: iStalkr

Creepy.

4. The Assembly Line

Names assembled from word parts with meaningful associations can be rich and unexpected (witness Gizmodo, the gadget blog). But tone and messaging need to be just right.

Win: Wikipedia

The unusualness of the name establishes it as a fresh player, while the evocation of both encyclopedias and speed (”wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick”) is spot on.

Fail: Nupedia

The flatfooted claim of newness sounds dated from day one. Plus it’s risky to stake an identity on newness in internet-land. Before long, this premise is far from “nu.”

5. The Misspeller

This kind of brand name often spells disaster: hard to remember (Ideeli, Scrybe), confusing to pronounce and spell (Myngle, Wotnext, Gravee), and reeking of URL-search desperation (Itzbig, Profilactic, Fairtilizer).

Win: Boku

French word “beaucoup” is on the money for an online payment service—and for many Americans, the misspelling is actually more intuitive and inviting.

Fail: Cuil

Meant to be pronounced “cool,” but who’s gonna get that? Rule No. 1: Your name shouldn’t need to come with a pronunciation guide.

6. The Wordster

Another convention that ages fast. And there’s nothing more pathetic in naming than a transparent attempt to appear cool (cases in point: Dogster, Agester, Talkster).

Win: Friendster

Not exciting, we’ll grant you, but the intuitiveness of the name helped usher in the era of social networking.

Fail: Napster

In light of its ensuing legal woes, to highlight the “kidnapping” of music is probably not the best idea (to put it kindly).

7. The Double or Nothing

Doubling a letter in a real word only works when the word remains recognizable, and the addition of the second letter serves some purpose, other than to complicate spelling (as in Gawwk).

Win: Digg

Intuitive and evocative, the double “g” underscores the digging nature of research and is graphically interesting.

Fail: Diigo

A social bookmarking site, the double “i” destroys the semantic connection and confuses pronunciation. (Is it Dee-go or Dih-go?) Plus, coming on the heels of Digg, it seems hopelessly derivative.

8. The eThing, the iThing, the meThing, the myThing

“e/i” shorthand quickly becomes redundant in the internet space, although it spawns many workhorse names: serviceable, if dull. The me/my thing (as in mySpace) tends to be similarly predictable and unremarkable. (Now, myBad—that would be interesting…)

Win: iContact

For a provider of email marketing, the “i” works on three levels: “I contact,” “eye contact,” and, of course, “Internet contact.”

Fail: eSnailer, eBaum’s World, eXpresso…

9. The Empty Vessel

A word without recognizable semantic roots can be a useful umbrella name for a company that may want to branch out in different directions. But it needs to be pronounceable and have relevant sound symbolism. Otherwise, it’s not an Empty Vessel—it’s Alphabet Soup. Like Disaboom, Xoopit, Yebol, and Goozex. Cover your ears.

Win: Kazaa

Recalls huzzah or hurrah, conveying excitement. (Sample exclamation: “Kazaa! I just downloaded Season One of Six Feet Under, FOR FREE!!!”)

Fail: Eefoof

Vintage Web 2.0: hard to spell, silly—and utterly meaningless.

10. The Foreigner

Words in little-known languages can also make good empty-vessel names, especially if their meaning provides a springboard into their brand story. The trick is to find words that are easy to pronounce and pleasing to the American ear (like Kijiji, a communal website with a Swahili name meaning “village”).

Win: Hulu

Good empty vessel name for an entertainment company that wants to keep its options open. (Interestingly, the word means “empty gourd” in Mandarin.) The rhyming word is playful, and by evoking hula hoops, it suggests fun.

Fail: Jwaala

Talk about a tongue-twister.

The Coming Decade

As for Internet company naming trends of the coming decade: Companies will demand more meaningful brand names, as far from Web 2.0 flights of fancy as possible; they’ll be willing to pay a premium for real-word or lightly coined domain names; and they will be creative in the messages they explore—as long as they’re relevant to the brand.

Like Internet companies themselves, it appears, Internet naming will be coming back down to earth.

The skinny on LA’s food trucks

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The food trucks are taking over LA and we love it! Especially since we’ve partnered with many of them to bring traffic, prospects and PR to our client’s TLofts development in WestLA. The trucks stop by TLofts Monday-Friday, so come out and sample some of this gourmet street food. This link will take you to the weekly schedule.

For a primer on all the great truck food, check out this video from the folks at WunderBlog covering their recent truck tasting tour. Their first stop is at TLofts.

LA Food Truck Tour from Terry Wunder on Vimeo.

Email marketing suicide; a step-by-step guide

Friday, October 9th, 2009

gravestoneOh sure, anyone can implement an effective email marketing campaign that offers great ROI. But what if you’re looking to tank your email campaign? Not so easy, is it? Don’t worry, Andrew Kordek from Deliverability.com has outlined nine basic steps guaranteed to sink your campaign. In a nutshell:

  1. Boast to your subscribers about your prowess in email marketing. And do it often. They really care about this.
  2. Forget about what your subscribers want; you’re in this to generate revenue. So, be sure to send them an email everyday and eventually they’re bound to buy something. Or opt out.
  3. Remember, you’re not really sending emails or communications, your sending “blasts” and all that the name implies. Get those subscribers in your sights and blast and blast away.
  4. You know all those white papers, articles and blogs that cover email marketing best practices? Print them out and turn them into paper airplanes. C’mon, no one knows better than you anyway.
  5. People signed up for your email so they must obviously want it. They crave it. That said, don’t spend too much time thinking about what you send, they’ll be happy to get anything. They’re so needy.
  6. Don’t waste money on an email expert to run your program since any bozo can do the job. No bozos around?  Grab someone from the mail room; they’re experts with the mail, right?
  7. Choose an email service provider based on the following criteria: A) they can send email, and B) they are the cheapest ones around. Don’t be bothered with trivial things like does their user interface and service support suck.
  8. Never grow your list organically when you can buy a list with 4 million opt-in names for just $99. Hey, who doesn’t love a bargain?
  9. And finally, be sure to let your CMO or president tell you how to run the show. Just because he or she does not fully understand what you do, that’s no reason to think they can’t do it better.

Pearls, indeed.

Click here for Andrew Kordek’s complete post.

FTC wants more transparency from advertisers and bloggers

Monday, October 5th, 2009

federal-trade-commission-ftc-logo_jpgThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  has recently announced two new requirments that will impact both advertisers and bloggers.

Testimonials

According to Mary Engle, associate director of ad practices at the commission, the FTC is changing its guidelines on endorsement so that advertisers will no longer be able  to use statements like “Results may vary” as a way to justify claims that are counter to the norm of a product or services’ expected performance.

David Vladeck,  head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “Disclaimers of guidelines are not working. Misuse has been especially prevalent in weight-loss products.

“In the FTC’s review of 300 ads, two-thirds used consumer testimonials. Few showed realistic claims, and disclosures of atypical results were flashed too quickly to read. ‘Results may vary’ does not adequately inform consumers that claims are outliers or extreme cases. They do not disclose results consumers should realistically expect. That is the main problem.”

The changes to the guidelines will take affect this year.

Bloggers

The Associate Press reports that under new guidelines approved the by the FTC,  bloggers will now be required to disclose any gifts or payments they receive for reviewing a company’s product. The penaly for noncompliance is a fine of up to $11,000 per violation.