Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going animal for your brand

Naming a company is nothing to be taken lightly. Or  maybe it is. Consider the number of businesses that have decided to go animal for their brand.
  • delivers a monthly box of goodies for your dog.
  • is a search engine that combines results from other leading search engines.
  • searches the Web without annoying filters than can limit search results.
  • Aflac isn't named for a duck, but the company is now synonymous with one, having gained 90 percent brand awareness since introducing the Aflac Duck.
  • Likewise, GEICO is synonymous with a gecko, drawing inspiration for its mascot from a common mispronunciation of its name.
  • (two cows) is global provider of domain names and other Internet services.
  • offers custom digital prints and gifts from personal photos, and is an editing site that touts “fearless photo embitterment.”
  • offers free online survey software and questionnaire tools.
Like animals themselves, there are many more, I mean brands out there with names borrowed from our fine furry or feathered friends.

Still, naming experts continue to tout abstract names, informative names, and even made-up names. I can’t remember reading any advice about looking to your pet for inspiration.

If that were the case, my freelance writing business might have been called Purr-fect Prose instead of Amy Ink.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Picture this

Maybe it’s me. When I think of “social” media, I expect to interact with someone on more of a personal level than, say, a business communication. The difference can be as minor as seeing a picture – of having a face to connect to a name.

True, the headshots can be so small as to barely indicate human versus plant existence – especially on a smartphone – but they’re a start.

What amazes me is how so many people make such bad choices when it comes to their photos. “Bad” as in:

  • Cutting what is obviously a couples photo in half. (We can still see your partner’s arm around your shoulder.)
  • Holding your smartphone at arm’s length and clicking away. (Now we can see your arm, and it looks freakishly out of proportion to your head, thanks to the wide-angle lens.).
  • Repurposing a candid from a wedding or other formal event. (Woo-hoo! You look like you’re having a great time, but your glassy stare says you're having too much fun to drive. You might want to use a different picture for LinkedIn, especially if you’re job-hunting or looking for clients.)
Good pictures are hard to capture, even with the abundance of cameras available on phones and tablets, not to mention digital cameras of all sizes and price ranges. And sitting for a picture can be a painful process. (Is that really what I look like?)

I share your pain. I just went through an agonizing photo session to update my social media photo. At least clients will recognize me when I walk in their door.

It can be tempting to opt out of posting a picture, to prefer the mystery of staying hidden. But it’s hard to take someone seriously on social media when staring at their default no-photo stand-in or Twitter egghead.