I’ll provide a quick summary from a book I read last month and how this book can give you insight for your business ideas, app ideas, or Kickstarter projects.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace by Al Ries and Jack Trout
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I highly recommend this book to anyone who plans to make an app, create a product, or provide a service. It has opened my eyes to different trends within the marketplace and helped me to understand the strategy behind naming . . . something that, while extremely important to me, was difficult to describe until reading this book.
Get the quick summary, memorable quote, and how this book can make you think about your business ideas, app ideas, or Kickstarter projects.
Paul’s quick summary
1. Do NOT use acronyms for your name or business name. It loses meaning and only works for the established players. Use a name that is simple to remember, and avoid anything that is clever just for the sake of being clever.
2. A word has no meaning until someone fills it with meaning. Webster’s Dictionary is not a guide; your target demographic is! Volkswagen means economy car, while Audi mean medium-sized luxury cars. Names need to be associated with a type of product or service (your product can’t be both premium and cheap) The name has to make sense to people, it has to be intuitive, and it can’t just have meaning to you and your business team.
3. Use different names to instantly distinguish your product lines, rather than rebranding your products via line extensions—Dove Soap, Dove Shampoo, Dove Hand Cream, Dove Chocolate. Use names that carry instant name recognition: “Tide” instantly denotes detergent, and “Crest” is instantly recognized as toothpaste. “Dove,” on the other hand, carries less meaning because it is not something that I can reference by its name alone; if I do, you then have to ask me, “Dove what?”
4. Keep your brand messaging simple “Raisins from California. Nature’s candy.”
5. Be willing to sacrifice some of the market. NyQuil, for example, launched in a crowded space as “nighttime” medicine rather than competing with other all-day medicines. They gave up the daytime market, yet found great success.
6. You are capable of marketing without a marketing background: too much success can misguide you. Xerox had a disappointing record with computers—they are known for copiers. IBM had the same issue with their plain-paper copier—they are known for computers (and now business services).
7. Trying to attack the #1 product in your industry is fatal. Bristol-Myers repeatedly tried to create products that could compete with [insert company they tried to compete with here]; these attempts resulted in $5M and $11M marketing flops. You can’t afford to compete with the marketing dollars of the established players – differentiate your product from them in an area that you could own.
8. Products that focus on being better instead of focusing on something that matters (like “speed”) will always fail – look at Apple’s marketing. To launch an improved product, you need to quantify it in the buyers mind and be willing to spend money on marketing it.
“To win the battle of the mind, you can’t compete head-on against a company that has a strong, established position. You can go around, under or over, but never head to head.”
Why do I recommend this book?
The book is a little dated with some examples, however, the insights offered and the examination of the successes and downfalls of various market leaders are fascinating—if you’re like me, you’ll find that you can’t put it down.
Bottom line: pick a name that is minimalistic and easy to remember while capturing the product’s essence (for example: Mustang), and avoid acronyms at all costs!
Your product naming starts here
When you go to make your next app or launch a Kickstarter project you are going to have to think about naming. Don’t waste months on this, but do spend 2-5 days thinking through options.
I like to take a walk and in my notepad I’ll jot down ideas and then I’ll do web domain checks. If I can get a web domain, then I check the Trademark database to see if anything exists. I’m not doing a comprehensive search, but I am looking to make sure that nothing fills the space in the field that I’d like to make a product.
Too many startups choose clever names (remove one or more vowel), compound word, or super long word. These names always felt strange to me and the book gave me real world examples that helped provide context to why I didn’t like them (and how the market didn’t either).
Your own personal brand is something that you can establish with simple steps.
- Buy a web domain (I recommend Hover.com because of clean design and no extra up-sells)
- Use Squarespace.com to host your blog/business site/portfolio/landing page/email capture page
- Add a photo of you to all your social profiles (make it public – especially on LinkedIn)
Do these same steps with any new product – I just made a new website for a new app I’m publishing (2 hours to create – 7 email subscribers).
It’s called Brew Coffee, check it out at http://BrewCoffeeApp.com