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August 13, 2007 | Tate Linden
I admit it, I'm a member of the Colbert Nation. Can't say I see every show, but I'd bet I see most of 'em.

Interestingly, he covers a huge number of concepts that pertain to thingnaming. He and his staff coin words on a weekly basis, playing around with words and slogans that at the very least make us chuckle, and often get stuck in our heads for days.

While I'd intended to write a column on some of the new concepts he's developed I am instead sidetracked by something he mentioned in mid-April. Something I have thought of almost every day since then. I'll use the excuse that it pertains to names and taglines, but really, I think I just need to share it.

The naming part: There's a part of the evaluation process Stokefire uses that we call "Whoa!" We measure a name or tagline's ability to make us stop our existing thought process and focus on the word itself. It's one of the more than forty qualities we measure. Why do we measure it? Because "Whoa!" has immense power.
  • By interrupting the prospect's thought process you're getting uninterrupted attention rather than just a shared portion of the input.
  • Something that surprises the prospect will be more likely to be remembered
Sadly, many companies think that using surprise is enough to make a name great. Surprise without an element of tie-in to the core of the brand is a wasted effort. Who cares if everyone remembers a funeral parlor called "A Bazillion Monkeys" (certainly a name that would make us stop and think) if the name didn't in some way tie into what the company was about. If A Bazillion Monkeys just offered the same services that everyone else did then the name becomes a turn-off. (Though if a funeral parlor could make a living off of having tons of furry beasts around to play with during the viewing then perhaps this is the name to go with...)

Names with a high "Whoa!" factor should go with business that have a similarly high "Whoa!" factor themselves. If you've got a commodity product and are using a standard business model and are often heard using terms like TQM, Six Sigma, "The Customer is Always Right," and such, then a surprising name ain't going to do much for you.

What's the use in getting someone to remember your name if you're just going to bore them to death after they interact with your brand?

Which brings us to the title of this post: Location, Location, BEES! This was voiced by "The Big Red Button" on Colbert's show - and had us in fits. This is the perfect type of surprise... everyone knows what that third word is supposed to be. When it isn't "location" we're shocked into trying to figure out what the heck it means. (And in this case it means "Do not buy a house filled with bees.") The switch fit perfectly with the show's brand - that of pompous advice-giving and opinion-shouting. Both typically given with lots of passion and little logic. If "Location, Location, BEES!" isn't true to that brand then... well... thankfully it is true.

Stokefire is now a place where if someone begins to talk on a track that is overly predictable - like when I start intoning on the importance of being true to the brand - someone will shout "BEES!"


Because unless there's a reason for me to be reinforcing something that everyone knows or I've got a new thing to say... there isn't much reason for me to say the same thing all over again. Everyone who works for me knows what I'm saying. BEES! is now their new way of saying "We get it - now unless you're going somewhere new just let us do our damn jobs."