What’s the 5th Worst Branding Mistake Businesses Make?

Their Name and Slogan Aren’t Purposeful

Every year several dozen companies pay millions to place a 30-60 second ad during the Super Bowl.

Some of those ads produce big laughs. But if, one day later, you can’t remember the company or the product that was featured in that ad that made you howl, that wasn’t a purposeful ad.

If you want tyour brand to POP! out, it’s got to be Purposeful, Original and Pithy. As ad genius Bill Bernbach said, “Dullness will not sell your product; neither will irrelevant brilliance.”

I’m always on the lookout for shining examples of organizations and individuals who are standing out from their crowd – for all the right reasons.

I can think of no finer example than13 year old Jack McShane who is bringing “lawn and order” to New Orleans City Park. After Hurricane Katrina flooded this formerly beautiful park, the city abandoned it. The city has no funds to keep it up and personnel are too busy re-building infrastructure.

Jack said, “It bothered me that it didn’t look good. Nobody was taking care of it, so I decided I had to.”

Jack took his family’s lawn-mower out of the garage, walked across the street and got to work. People started thanking him for his efforts, so he recruited other “Mow-rons” to help out.
Their original slogan, ‘The Mow-Rons are in City Park, the idiots are in City Hall,'” was intended to be edgy. After awhile, Jack decided it was inappropriate and counter-productive, so he changed it.

The result? A perfect POP! name. What does this fine young man now call his grass-roots organization? Weeding by Example.

As a result of that smile-inducing name, he’s been interviewed by Katie Couric, featured on CNN, and thousands of people are contributing to his worthy cause. Not that’s a purposeful brand!

Do you have recent examples of companies, causes and creations that have POP’d out for all the right reasons? Submit your nominations. If they make our POP! Hall of Fame, we’ll send an autographd copy of POP! (which Edelman Sr. VP Marilynn Mobley says, “If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll like Sam Horn’s POP!”)

  1. Hi Sam!! I just discovered your work, and I find it refreshingly wonderful!!

    There are a lot of examples of this on American Idol when fans come up with words to promote their favorite contestants. Here are a few:
    Pick Pickler (for Kellie Pickler)
    Catch McPheever (Katherine McPhee)

    Can I nominate myself?? My line of spray-painted clothing (sprapparel) with a spiritual/religious focus. What did I call it?

    hope & spray

    The slogan? What else?? Spray it, don’t say it!

  2. I just thought of a great name for a Chicago salon:

    Curl Up & Dye

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