What’s in a name? Branding your product.

by alec on October 31, 2011

I stood at the cash at the local Tim Horton’s (a Canadian doughnut chain), and ordered a “combo” – sandwich, coffee, and a doughnut. 

“And which baked good would you like with your lunch, sir?”

Baked good.  Wow!

Questioned, he explained that “baked goods” just seemed an easier and shorter description than enumerating all the possible confections I could order in place of the doughnut with my lunch.

Tim’s sells doughnuts, and plenty of them.  But they also sell other (ahem) “baked goods” such as croissants, pastries, muffins and cookies.  You see, over the years it has evolved from a doughnut shop to a coffee shop, and more recently into a chain of what might best be described as sandwich shops.  My clerk just didn’t want to go through the agro of asking “Would you like a doughnut, muffin, or cookie with your lunch sir?”, because then he would have had to ask the follow on question “Which one?”.

I suspect for most Canadians, however, Tim’s is, and always will be, the corner doughnut shop.  Timbits hockey, a Tim’s coffee at the rink, the working man’s breakfast — that’s their brand.  And that’s why the young guy at the cash surprised me with his casual offer of “baked goods”.

Naming things and creating brands is tough.  You just have to look at the launch of the BlackBerry Jam franchise a couple of weeks ago at our DevCon America’s event.  The brand team worked for months on concepts that would evoke the idea of communications and collaboration which are core to the BlackBerry brand, but still fit the developer ethos.  Personally, I love what they’ve done.  The idea of developers working together in a Jam Session, like musicians, plays perfectly in today’s reality of co-working spaces and hackathons.

Even so, when we started to extend the brand concepts to all of the places we wanted it to go, everyone stumbled over the BlackBerry Jam Recognition Program.  It didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and it lacked emotional intensity – the connection that has to be made between the value proposition of the brand, and the audience that it’s speaking to.

So internally we started calling the awards “Jammies”.  The rest played out on the stage at DevCon in San Francisco.

Whether you’re selling baked goods, or communications devices, the brand you build needs to connect with your audience.  The best are descriptive, evocative, emotional, and easy to understand. 

Now, anyone for a doughnut?

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