So I invented the most amazing thing in my garage the other day. What it does will blow your mind. You’ve never seen anything like it. It’s incredible. When you finally have one of your own, I promise it’ll change your life. It’s that good.
Even I couldn’t believe it at first. I mean, what are the odds that a guy like me is going to go into his garage and come out a few hours later having invented something—it’s a device, sort of, but could also double as a spiffy clothing accessory—that has the potential to change the world? Stuff like that never happens to me, so believe me when I tell you that after I finished building it, I was as surprised as anyone.
This wasn’t one of those deals like the inventors of Coke, who spent years tinkering with the formula to get it just right. No, the idea for my thing—the aha moment—came in a flash, wholly formed, and I saw no need to question it. It was like the idea came from God, and who am I to question God? So I went down to the AxMan surplus store, got the parts I needed, spent a few hours assembling it, per the instructions divinely handed to me, and voila! It worked perfectly the first time I turned it on. No bugs, no hiccups, no extra tinkering.
It just worked.
How often does that happen? Never. Which to me is an indication of how truly fantastic this thing really is. It’s genius and elegance and beauty all wrapped in a package about the size of a child’s hand. I mean, wow. How cool is that?
You're interested, I can tell. Don’t tell me you don’t want one, because I know you do. Who wouldn’t? In fact, I predict that everyone in the world is going to want one of my things. And they’re in luck. I can see no way to improve it—it’s perfect the way it is—so I’m finally ready to sell it and cash in.
Now I just need to name the thing, build a brand around it, and purchase a manufacturing facility large enough to meet demand, which is going to be phenomenal.
NAME THAT THING
This is where I’m stuck. Yes, the idea for my life-changing thing-a-ma-whacky came in a divine flash of inspiration, but it did not come complete with a name. Or if it did, I didn’t quite catch it. There might have been a “Z” in there somewhere, and maybe a “K,” but I’m not sure. It all happened so fast. Regardless, I need a name for it now, one that leaves no doubt in people’s minds that it’s the most awesome thing ever invented. The name has to make it feel worth the price, which is going to be roughly three times what people think it should be—because, get this, we’re going to make it in America.
Still, I need a name.
I’m new to this whole branding thing, so maybe that’s where some of you marketing and advertising geniuses can help me out. I’ve been studying many of the so-called “great” brands to get an idea of what I should be shooting for. I mean, I’ve got the greatest product ever lying in a shoebox on my workbench, so naturally it needs the greatest brand—or one that’s at least pretty great. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Apple, everyone seems to agree, is the best brand in the world at the moment. As I understand it, Steve Jobs named the company after his favorite fruit. Which seems easy enough. My favorite fruit is the blackberry, though, and that fruit is already taken. My second-favorite fruit is the banana, but again, there appears to be a company called Banana Republic that sells safari clothes to white people, so that won’t work.
I’m no branding expert, but it seems to me that when you get down to your third-favorite fruit, you’re really talking about fruits you don’t actually like or could do without, like pears and watermelons. If I named my device The Pear, for instance, I’m not sure how compelling it would be to tell people how the Pear company was named after my third-favorite fruit, because, had I named it after one of my top two favorites, I would have gotten sued. A good PR person might be able to spin that story, but not me.
Microsoft is another great brand, but I must admit that I don’t quite get it. I mean, here’s the biggest, most hard-assed tech company in the world, and it goes out of it’s way to put two words together that mean “small” and “squishy.” Packing that much irony into a single word is quite an accomplishment. Funny, even. But Microsoft as a company has no sense of humor whatsoever, and will sue your ass blind if you so much as breathe the word “pirate” within twenty feet of a computer. It’s like those big, tough goons in prison they call “tiny,” because they’re not. Then you’re dead. It’s confusing, and scary.
Pharmaceutical companies are great branders, too, but again, I’m having trouble seeing how I can use any of their favorite strategies. Lots of drug names use the letters “J” “X” and “Z,” but the names don’t mean anything. “Xeljanz?” “Xanax?” “Zipro?” WTF! Sure, I could name my thing the “ZiffleXitz,” but what then? I’d have to explain what a ZiffleXitz is, and what it does, and pretty soon people would have questions I’d have to answer. I need a name that does all that work for me, so I don’t have to. Yes, my product might very well give people an involuntary erection due to its unprecedented awesomeness, and some sort of warning label might be necessary. But beyond that, I’m not sure the drug companies have much to offer in the way of branding insight. It almost goes without saying that when people use my thing, they will experience intense product satisfaction for more than four hours—but that’s more of a promise than a warning. Unless you’re the sort of person who does not like to experience delirious amounts of pleasure, in which case: consider yourself warned.
Having surveyed the branding landscape, I have to say that I’m leaning toward naming my product after a fake person with a charming, folksy backstory. Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Dr. Pepper, Uncle Ben, Colonel Sanders, Oscar Mayer, Paul Newman—something like that. People seem to love a product more if it is represented by a fake person they can believe in.
There’s something about an actor playing a bogus character dreamed up by an ad agency that people trust, so going that direction might make sense. People are definitely going to love my product. The question is: Will they love it more if there’s an imaginary man with twinkly eyes and a friendly smile on the package?
Honestly, I don’t know which way to go. All I know is that this is the most important decision of my life. I’ve got what is going to be the greatest product in the world, so I need to create the greatest brand in the world to go along with it. Otherwise, it might end up in the great trash heap of million-dollar ideas that never went anywhere because the person who invented it couldn’t come up with a good name. Bowel Buddy bran wafers were a great product, after all—the best on the market as far as I was concerned—but the name didn’t do the product justice. Those babies needed a name like Blowout! or Blast-elicious or Colon Cracker. They were not your buddy. There was nothing friendly about them. They just got the job done.
So the name is important.
But where does that leave me? It leaves me thinking that if I want to create the best brand in the world for the best product ever, I should combine all of greatest branding strategies into one single, magnificent brand whose greatness cannot be denied.
And that’s what I’ve decided to do. That’s why I look forward to introducing the world to:
Dr. Phineas Sweatmore’s Mango Mini Zexjiz, positively the greatest product ever sold, anywhere, by anyone, real or otherwise!
On the label, we’ll have a picture of Dr. Phineas Sweatmore, of course, along with a bunch of promises and testimonials:
“Guaranteed to give you such long-lasting satisfaction that no mere doctor will be able to help you.”
“The Mango Mini ZexJiz will surprise and delight you in ways you never expected—because you’ve never seen anything like this, so you have no idea what to expect!”
“It filled a need I didn’t know I had. Now that need has turned into a throbbing, aching void that only Mango Mini ZexJiz can fill.”
“Sweatmore’s ZexJiz is amazing. It turns pain into pleasure. If you’re sad, it makes you happy. If you’re afraid, it comforts you. If you’re hungry, it feeds you. If you stink, it makes you smell better. Honestly, ZexJiz is so fantastic that I decided to divorce my wife and buy two more, so they could keep each other company when I’m out of the house.”
“This is the last think I’ll ever buy—because it does pretty much everything.”
Don’t worry, Dr. Phineas Sweatmore’s Mango Mini ZexJiz will be available to everyone, everywhere soon.
And remember, it’s made—where else?—in America.