Brands come in many different shapes and sizes, yet no matter how large or small, building brand equity takes time and effort. The digital landscape has new brands popping up at a fever pitch, yet the foundation of a strong brand remains the same no matter what – or who – you are marketing.
For example, do you know what the full name was on Cy Young’s birth certificate?
I’ll give you a minute to ponder that.
If you don’t even know who Cy Young was, then I guess you’re not a baseball fan. Cy Young is one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. And the Cy Young Award is given out each year to the best pitcher in the American League and the National League of Major League Baseball.
Ok, I’ll stop stalling. Time’s up.
Cy Young’s full name was Denton True Young.
Pretty cool, unique name, but why did they call him Cy?
As the story goes, he was at a tryout and impressed scouts and players alike with his fastball. The catcher warming him up that day gave him the nickname Cyclone because of the speed of his fastball. This was in 1889, in a time well before speed guns – and television, so the naked eye had to recognize and appreciate the heat he was throwing.
The nickname stuck and was shortened to Cy, and he went on to become a legend. He is the winningest pitcher in baseball history (511 wins) and he still holds many all-time records. His name – or brand – lives on to this day in the award named after him.
Brands aren’t always what we want them to be. Sometimes your birth name or a brand name that is created to support a new product, doesn’t really matter at all.
Sometimes a name is simply awarded to something – or somebody.
Paul Hewson is better known as Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2. Gordon Sumner, former frontman of The Police and current solo artist, is better known by one name, Sting. But we wouldn’t remember these rock stars by one name if their music didn’t hold water.
The product always has to be good enough to stand on its own.
Mack Trucks, an iconic American brand that I had the honor of working with for many years, earned its reputation – and its brand equity – from an unlikely source.
Mack supported Allied Troops with lots of trucks during World War I, and these trucks were so rugged and reliable, never getting slowed down or stuck in the mud, that British troops called them bulldog tough after their country’s stout British Bulldogs. That eventually ushered in Mack adopting the bulldog as its mascot and the marketing slogan Bulldog Tough was born.
The Ford Motor Company is named after its founder and automobile pioneer Henry Ford. Conversely, Tesla Motors, a relatively new U.S. electric car manufacturer, is named after Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla. It’s an inspired brand name as it pays homage to the man that created the induction engine and alternating current (AC) power transmission.
Creating a brand name is fun to do, and SWBR has produced its fair share of product names to launch new products. Most notably, I was part of a team that helped name some new Mack Truck models over the years. It’s a challenging process to pick a name that will stand out.
After the name is selected and you earn your brand reputation, in the company itself or in its individual products or services, it must be fiercely protected. Whether you’ve spent only a year or two building it or decades cultivating it, it can’t be an afterthought. How you present your brand to the world is critically important.
You need to own the best attributes about your brand name, whether it’s a family name, a name hatched by a marketing team, or one coined by your fans and customers.
Trust your stuff. Be true to your brand. Believe in what built your reputation and confidently groove your fastball down the middle, as it just might produce a continuous cyclone of sales for your business.
If you’re looking for new ways to grow your company’s brand equity, Contact SWBR to see how we can help put a little extra zip on your sales pitch.