Alternate Title: Do As I Say, Not As I [FREE INTERNET PORN] Do.
Another in the sporadic series of proddings, provocations, and rants by the Thingnamer. You Have Been Warned.
I get dozens of requests a month asking for links to free information on naming and branding. I usually send of an email with current stuff. About twice a year I get off my butt and check to see what’s available since many sites are only active for a limited time – or only offer free trials during beta – or whatever.
Frequent readers will know that it actually takes quite a lot to get genuine negative attention from me. Typically when I see something I disagree with I will post a balanced response – pointing out the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn’t – and I’ll ask questions of the company or person to see if they can help me understand how they offset the negatives. It’s a learning process for all involved.
Rarely, though, I find something that hits me in just the wrong way – as has happened today. While searching for free resources to help out those companies that aren’t able to invest in our services I came across This Site.
Cool, right? I searched for a Brand Name Generator on Google and found one! See… the Title says “Brand Name Generator” so it must be what I’m looking for.
The first paragraph reads thusly:
[COMPANY NAME REMOVED] is the premier full-service branding agency dedicated to strategic and innovative brand naming and identity solutions. We strive to exceed the expectations of every client by combining leading-edge market research with the highest levels of client service, integrity and brand management.
Right On! Now we know that we’re not only going to be able to use a brand name generator – but it is backed by a company with the highest levels of service, integrity, and brand management. And they helpfully link us to their home page (links removed for this post) in case we’re interested in learning more about them.
Let’s read on…
Jury finds Merck liable in Vioxx trial
Merck & Co. Inc. shares fell 3.2 percent after a New Jersey jury
decided that the company concealed the dangers of Vioxx (rofecoxib), a
prescription drug previously used to treat pain.
Neat! Does that mean that they named Merck? Or maybe Vioxx? Or even “rofecoxib?” Interestingly, they don’t tell us that – but halfway through the story on the court case we find this:
“This case was about the McDarbys and the Conas, but it was about
more than that,” title=”branding company” said Robert Gordon, one of
McDarby’s attorneys, in an Associated Press article. “It was about the
100,000 people in this nation who had heart attacks. It’s about the
tens of thousands doctors who were lied to by Merck about the dangers
of Vioxx.” title=”branding company”
It boggles the mind how “title=’branding company’ ” has anything to do with name generators – much in the way it seems odd that halfway through this press release we don’t have any idea as to why we’re reading it.
It also seems odd that this release is exactly the same as one listed here – and that it happens to be copyrighted. By someone other than this company.
There’s more. Thinking that perhaps I reached this page was an error I did a page search for name generator. More neatness. After every single news clipping there is a little thing that says “Brand Name Generator” in case we forget why we came to the page. Some of ‘em were even linked… to the company home page (with no information on name generators.)
After going through all of those I found that there’s even a “brand name generator” hidden text down at the bottom of the page in minuscule text that I could see until I did my nifty “find” command.
Am I done? I should be, but I’m not. The fun continues in the left-hand column where we find links to “Brand Name Generator” “Company Name Generator” “Corporate Name Generator” and “Tagline Generator.” A reasonable person would think that upon clicking these links (if they had the patience to sort through the approximately two hundred links provided in an alphabetical list) they’d be directed to a place where they could actually find said Brand, Company, or Corporate Name Generator. A reasonable person would be sadly disappointed when they clicked and were presented with a page that was nearly identical to the one they just left. But of course “Brand Name Generator” would be replaced in the headings with the new search term – and the articles appear to have changed (but rest assured they continue to be entirely irrelevant.)
Want to leave the site? The only way off the site is either to another bogus page or to the main website of the company. Or hit the back button a bunch of times, I suppose.
It’s almost like they’re trying to increase traffic by mentioning the two hundred things that people might search for. Then they’re hoping we’re idiots and we won’t read past the introductory paragraph to see that we’ve landed on a branded link-farm with content provided by someone who knows how to cut and paste from off-topic news feeds.
The company leadership is far more experienced and likely smarter than I am (as evidenced by their Ivy League education versus my State ed.) His company is responsible for over 8,500 names whereas mine can only claim a couple hundred. In addition to offering services that compete directly with the firm that pays my bills, his company sells services such as Brand Audit, Promotional/Advertising, Design, and Research. The company is well established and respected enough that major corporations are on the client list.
It is obvious to me that his tactic works. His site is far higher in the rankings than is Stokefire’s. It’s highly likely the business is more profitable and much better known.
But it does make me want some questions answered. Perhaps the biggest one is this (admittedly provocative) one:
How can someone sell Brand Audit, Advertising, and Research products (and do it quite well) when they’re using advertising and branding tactics that show they’re trying to lure clients with services they don’t offer, and have poorly designed and audited webpages set up to ensnare the very people they want as clients?
Or, put differently…
Are the concepts of “Brand Truth” or “Being Genuine” ideals that we as branding firms don’t have to live up to?
If not, why are we even talking about it? Is it just to make the sale?
[Edit - Whiny paragraph about hypocrisy and other completely irrelevant stuff removed because it was whiny and irrelevant. We hate us when we get that way. We bet you do too... Of course you might think the whole post was whiny and irrelevant. But we're assuming that if you thought that you'd have stopped reading by now. Carry on.]
If anyone is still reading at this point I’d love to know your thoughts.
(Apologies to people looking for free name generation tools. Those will be done another day.)