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What’s in a name? Branding your product.

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?

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • @yousifabdullah October 31, 2011, 8:00 am

    A cute story, but I feel inclined to make a remark. You start off with the baked goods and tell us a bit of Tim's background, then what seems to be a forceful and unimaginative push to link the 'baked goods' analogy with BlackBerry Jam and 'Jam Sessions'. Reading your text, it seems less like a serious commitment to the Jam brand / franchise, but more like a quick try to justify the brand in your head, making little effort to actually explain the very reason for this blog: "what's in a name?"

    To me, a BlackBerry developer, BlackBerry Jam sounded as good as a Disney movie from yesteryear, think Camp Rock for a moment. Or High School Musical. Simple names put together with a lot of good acting and marketing to support the idea of a plain yet effective brand / product name. As much as I find the Jam Sessions to be a nice touch, you could've gone with something more true to your own self, more Canadian for example. Off the top of my head, why not call the developer section 'BlackBerry Cuisine'? You could call code snippets "recipes", downloads "ripe packages" and betas "fresh crops". And the process of building applications could be called "baking" instead of compiling, thus completing your analogy of the "baked goods".

    I don't know, but that was just a quick observation and the whole "BlackBerry Cuisine" just popped up in my mind while typing this. If the brand team worked months on this, so should've your webmasters and designers, as "BlackBerry Jam" is equally obnoxious and frustrating to use as the previous developer portals.


  • @alexkinsella October 31, 2011, 9:36 am

    Honey cruller?

  • Angela M November 3, 2011, 1:01 pm

    The Jam session makes me cringe 😛

  • Personalmoneynetwork November 21, 2011, 4:03 am

    Branding a product is a tough job to do especially when you are dealing with a variety of audience. You need to establish solid connection to each and every one of them in order to build that relation and make your brand the demanded one.

  • LIz December 7, 2011, 2:22 pm

    There is a lot in a name – and my guess is the guy will sell a lot more items if he doesn't keep the description vague. Hmmm.. if I'm offered baked goods or fresh donuts which would I be more likely to instantly go for? The donut because I can visualize that as soon as it is mentioned.

  • Todd December 11, 2011, 12:45 pm

    How about PB&J or PBNJ (PlayBook and Jam?) I always thought that was a cool play on words to be used for/with the PlayBook somehow. But then again, I'm not in Marketing. :)

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