Ping-Pong, Band-Aid, Jet Ski, Bubble Wrap, Popsicle, Q-tips, Rollerblade, Velcro, Dumpster, Frisbee. No, this is neither poetry nor is it a shopping list. But I’m sure that you’re still wondering, who would want to start an article about branding by listing ten random and completely unrelated things? That’s where you would be wrong, because these my friend are not “Things”... they are “Brands”.
All of the names That I listed have something in common, they went from being unknown to being part of every american’s vocabulary. How that happened is far from being a mystery, it is actually quite easy to understand and in this article we will see how your startup’s name can one day be part of the english language too.
1. What Is A Brand?
Before we begin, let us clear any misconceptions that you might have about what a brand is. Having worked in the branding field for years now—most of which were spent working with startups, I quickly found myself having to explain what a brand actually is to almost every client.
That’s not to say that all of these founders and CEOs didn’t know what they were doing. But when it came to branding, it is no surprise that most were misinformed. Which is understandable considering the endless pile of tasks a founder has to deal with in the early stages of a startup’s life. Leaving them with virtually no time to properly educate themselves on branding.
At uniqium™ we see a brand as a necessary byproduct of interacting with people, not as a startup’s own definition of who they are. The latter is simply part of what we call “Branding Efforts” which are used to allow a startup to have a hand in shaping their “Brand”. At the end of the day, the final say goes to your audience or sometimes the public as a whole.
2. How New Words Are Adopted Into A Language?
It’s no secret that languages are very flexible and change over time. There are many ways that this change happens but a common one is through adopting new words from other languages (i.e. “Entrepreneur” is taken directly from French).
Back in the day, this was simply a result of people migrating from one place to another. Bringing with them their culture, customs and of course their language. And because of the social nature of the way people live, new words were learned by being exposed to them in day to day interactions. This is known as Osmosis and you can read more about it in our article “It Took Apple 20 Years To Drop Their Wordmark”.
Now that the world we live in no longer has any borders thanks to the internet, and people can influence each other from opposite sides of the planet without traveling long distances, things are way different. Ideas are easier to spread and change occurs far more often. But because the process of adding a new word to your vocabulary still remains slow and gradual, it often goes unnoticed.
3. The Power of Daily Use
Similarly to the way our increased connectivity has made adopting words from other languages more likely to happen, the same is true for creating a new word. What needs to happen is that people have to hear it regularly enough that it sticks in their minds, leading them to start using it.
Take Venmo for example, they were able to dominate the space of small day to day cash transfers between friends and family. And the rest was just social magic at work. The phrase “Venmo me” organically became so common that it was more than a reference to the use of the app, but the act of sending money itself.
Another manifestation of this phenomenon is when a brand name—like those mentioned right at the start of this article—starts to represent an entire category. And this doesn't have to be for something as common as tissue papers. Fitbit being the most popular brand name in their industry, has a gained superiority over the competition. The name is so well known that most people call other smart bracelets or fitness trackers Fitbits too.
If you take into consideration the process by which a language is updated and changed through time, you can understand that your startup’s brand name has a fair shot at becoming more than just a household name.
This shows the power of branding that so many startup founders and CEOs ignore. They think that they should invest in things that will bring them a return but forget that that can be in forms other than money. Reaching a point where people use your startup’s name in their normal conversations is priceless and should be as desirable as having a good product, service or team.