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June 15, 2007 | Tate Linden
Here's a quick aside - since I'm still getting back into the swing of things after spending time with Theodore (more on the story of his name another time.)

The night before Teddy was born we went to see Garrison Keillor's Prarie Home Companion. It was a great experience and Wolf Trap is an exceptional environment to take in a show. We sat on the lawn near the front and listed to beautiful music, heard Garrison talk, and basically enjoyed ourselved on what we had been planning as our last pre-kiddo outing. ...though we had no clue how literal that was.

The show ended and we walked about a mile to our car. And then sat.

And the weirdest thing happened... This group of people who had a pleasant evening together turned into the rudest bunch of drivers I'd ever seen. As we attempted to get out of the parking lot we spent about ten minutes trying to catch the eye of drivers so they would let us into the exit lane. This didn't work at all since no one would look at our car. We followed this with about five more minutes of frantic waving - which we should've known wouldn't work since (as noted previously) no one was looking at us.

Next step - I asked my lovely wife to ask a driver if we might cut in (since the cars were coming from the passenger side.) Sure - it took a few cars before anyone would even admit that they could hear her. (And for the record, it is remotely believable that someone might not have seen our frantic waving and yet was still allowed to drive a car - but for someone not to hear my wife say "excuse me" when both windows are rolled down and to also ignore the polite wave - that's just... yeah... rude.)

But the rudeness got worse. We finally made eye contact and were able to get an acknowledgement to our greeting (probably after 20 minutes total of trying) and we asked "May we cut in?"

The driver of a Lexus SUV smiled at us and said...

"No. Sorry."

Well... at least she apologized immediately for being rude.

The next car again was with the "I can't see nor hear you" crowd. The one after that saw the whole thing and actually was very pleasant - its occupants saying "it's not like anyone will get out of here much faster by squeezing you out."

A special thanks go to these kind anonymous people.

However - to the folks that didn't let us in - particularly that last two... I have this lesson in naming:
If you are going to be rude to other drivers while driving your own car and sitting in traffic that doesn't move - perhaps you should get license plates less memorable than "RN I HOT" and "TWITTY"
Should you see them on the road please give them an appropriate "hello" from me. Wave with as many (or as few) fingers as you please.

I suppose this actually does have something to do with naming for business. If you're going to put out a product that angers your customers you probably want to avoid a memorable name. This is one reason why we didn't take the "herbal Viagra" contract that came up last year. I didn't want to be the guy that named the product that caused semi-virile men to storm the gates of a product manufacturer. And I'm not a big fan of naming for obscurity.

And in fairness to the ladies in both offending vehicles - perhaps they were in a hurry to get out of there because they had a woman going into labor in their car.

Oh... wait... that was me.
May 28, 2007
May 26th, 2007 at 8.30 pm Theodore Joseph Linden was born. Weighing in at 6 lbs 10 oz. Congratulations Sarah & Tate!

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March 26, 2007
A Little Brittan. A Little Corner of New YorkAnyone walking east down Jane Street in the West Village yesterday morning would have known they were approaching the border. There were puddles on the road when the rest of Manhattan was bone dry and somebody had laid little sections of plastic lawn around the bottoms of all the trees. images-2.jpeg All right, we are a little ahead of ourselves here. Wrest yourself from your daydream and look at the little green street sign. It says Greenwich Avenue as it has done for generations. Never mind that the block is home to that little oasis inbase_image.jpegimages-11.jpeg Gotham of British comfort cuisine, Tea & Sympathy. But renaming the block Little Britain is, in fact, exactly what the owners of the restaurant, Nicky Perry and Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett, have in mind. They are quite serious. So serious, they launched a petition drive last week to persuaimages2.jpegde the local community board and the Mayor to allow them to do it. There is nothing unsophisticated about their campaign. They hired a marketing company to create a website - www. campaignforlittlebritain.com - brought Virgin Atlantic on board as a co-sponsor and staged a press event with flight attendants and the English soul singer, Joss Stone.
February 26, 2007 | Tate Linden
baseballcards.jpgCan nicknames serve a purpose other than to make you look foolish in retrospect? (Did I really let people call me by the name of a small fried nugget of processed potato bits? Yes... yes I did. But in my defense I was only three.) Apparently they can.

Ernest L. Abel, Ph.D. and Michael L. Kruger from Wayne State University found a connection between the use of nicknames and living longer.

Here's the abstract from their report:
We investigated the effect of having a nickname on the longevity of major league baseball players. Ages of death, birth year, and career lengths of major league baseball players who debuted prior to 1950 were obtained and we compared longevities of players with nicknames with those who did not have a nickname. After controlling for these factors in analysis of covariance, there was a statistically significant increase in longevity of 2.5 years associated with having a nickname. Players with nicknames (N=2,666; 38.1 %) lived an average of 68.6 (±15.1 S.D.) years compared to players without nicknames (N=4,329; 61.9%) who lived an average of 66.1 (t16.1) years. We attributed this nickname-related effect on longevity to enhanced self-esteem.
Reprints of the report can be requested via email to: eabel@wayne.edu

While I agree that a name can have major impact on the success of a product, person, or business, I'm not sure that this report is throwing strikes.

I have to wonder how self-esteem can be quantified when the only variables controlled are age at death, birth year, career length, and whether or not they had a nickname. I did not read the full report but would imagine that there are better ways to determine if self esteem is a factor. Consider the more tangible variables of:
  • Salary rank (versus contemptoraries)
  • Stat rank (versus contemporaries)
  • Inclusion in team or league hall-of-fame
  • Records held (and for how long)
  • Position played (since some positions may be more likely to have nicknames than others - and each position requires different physical skills and body-types)
My feeling on this report is that there is some confusion between a "nickname-related effect on longevity" and another cause (the real one) that the nickname is also caused by. It could be physical attributes, increased skill, or something else. The fact is that people who get nicknames typically have something different about them (as proven by the fact that there aren't many ball-players called Joe Average.) Maybe these differences are the cause rather than the label that we put on them...

How does this apply to the world of branding and naming? When looking for true causes for success or failure it helps to look deeper than just the surface. I've found that many of the best-named companies aren't just named well - they're responsible for great products and they're managed well too. The name is the crowning achievement rather than a mask to hide a weak product.

A great name can help a company with other differentiators stand out from the crowd. It can also help a company stand out in an a commoditized industry. But as I often say, giving a piece of poo a great name may get that piece of poo a lot of press, but at the end of the day it will still only be a very well named piece of poo.

(You'll note my use of three-letter words instead of four. With the baby on the way I'm having an irrational fear that the kiddo will read this stuff and blame me for a nasty swearing habit.)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
January 16, 2007 | Tate Linden
The number of people who insert random letters into their childrens' names continues to rise. Not coincidentally the number of people who can't spell these names seems to rise in tandem.

The latest example? Jennifer Freeze of the Southeast Missourian wrote an article about this very thing - citing examples of people taking names already in use and making them their own. Consider the statements that she made - including:
It was Hollywood movie star Keira Knightley's name that inspired Hobeck to name her baby Kiarra, who was born in August.
and
Eleven baby girls born last year at Southeast Missouri Hospital were named Hailey, Haley, Halie, Hayleigh or Haylie -- each name pronounced the same way.
and
"With Jordynn, my husband and I each knew a male named Jordan. We wanted to separate her name from a manly version," Rash said. "My mother says I will pay for that later since there will be nothing with her name printed on it."
But in this very same article Ms. Freeze says this:
And Brittany Spears' second son, Jayden, sparked the use of "ayden" in baby names like Hayden, Cayden and Brayden during the past year.
There are two problems with this statement. The first is evident when you use Google to search on this name. The first hit says: Did you mean: Britney Spears'?

The second problem involves the name Jayden being more common after Britney used the name. It may be the case - but other stars used conventional spellings of the name first - including Will Smith.

...and before this these "-aden" and "-ayden" type names were known as Gaelic, Old English, and Hebrew options.

Please... parents... knock it off with inscerting random letters (or removing importnt ones) from conventional names. Kids are not Web 2.0 products.

And besides... how many weeks of their lives do you think they'll spend correcting the world on their spelling and pronunciation of "Jhaydien." (It's not like they're going to forget who stuck 'em with the name.)

And last. With everyone now naming their kids with off-the-wall monikers, the only way to really have your kid stand out is to give him a name like Mike, or maybe Joe.

Unless it's a girl, of course.

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
December 15, 2006 | Tate Linden

Indira Gandhi discovered a promising young talent around 1969 and nominated her as a member of the Indian delegation to the UN Commission on the status of women. This woman spun this nomination into a seat in Parliament in the 80s, and then as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and PMO. She followed this up with the presidency of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee and just became the first Chief Minister to get a second successive term to rule Delhi.

Her name?

I'll get to that...

First names are tricky. Last names are even moreso.

What would happen if your last name held a proud history in your own country but translated very nearly into a profane reference in other cultures? As this powerful woman has progressed in her career there must have been temptation to step onto the global stage. With all of her achievements she seemed ripe for the move.

But she didn't. Perhaps it was that she was more interested in helping her own country and culture.

Or perhaps it was because the English speaking world is not ready for someone with the name "Dikshit" to hold a prominent role in affairs of State.

From what I can tell, Sheila Dikshit is a great woman. But I can also confirm that English speakers have a very difficult time with her last name. Just check this thread that brings up the name, or this site that can't help but bring up many, many references to the name in popular culture. Or even Dikshit.com whose tagline is (no joke) "Feel The Difference."

English speakers have to feel at least a little bit naughty when saying the name.

In the name's defense, I've been told that it is pronounced "DIX-sit" but even so, we Americans can't pronounce "Ask" and "Nuclear" on most days - so how well do you think we're going to do with this name?

I'm sure there's a lesson in this. I'm pretty sure it isn't "Check your personal name for translation issues before you go into politics." But it seems at least a little bit telling that a woman with such a strong following hasn't made the leap to the world stage.

I'll be watching with interest when her term is up to see if she goes for a third consecutive or tries to affect world politics. I'm guessing that she'll stay in Delhi, though I'll be pleasantly surprised if she takes on the translation issues and makes a grand re-entry into the UN.

Tate Linden
Principal Consultant
Stokefire Consulting Group
703-778-992

November 6, 2006

YouTube Sued by Utube. The Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp., a Toledo, Ohio, company which operates under the website UTube.com, has a brand naming issue with the Google owned company and has asked that YouTube to stop using the youtube.com or pay Universal Tube’s cost for creating a new domain.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, the hip-hop star who changes his name more often than a secret agent, has declared that he would like to named be the first black 007.

Forbes writer meets Alex Castro, founder of a Seattle startup called Pluggd. "Pluggd," When asked about the 'mis-spelling' of his company name (which is irritating and hard to remember," Castro was frank: "It is impossible to get words with vowels that aren't already taken up on the Web." "Plugged," with the grammatically correct "e," would've cost Castro $10,000. The "e"-less version ran him $8.99.

Rita's Water Ice Lets Customers Name New Product. The nation's largest and fastest-growing Italian ice chain, announced the success of it's unique product naming strategy. "Today's consumer wants to be involved in the world of advertising that surrounds them -- they want to feel like they have a say in what companies are trying to sell them," said Denise Zimmerman, president and chief strategy officer of NetPlus Marketing, the firm steering the effort. "One of the great things about the Rita's campaign was the combining of online and offline channels to immerse the consumer in the product and the naming process. Who better than someone who has actually enjoyed a product to help name it?"

The Groomsmen a film out on DVD November 14, is about a groom (Ed Burns) and his four attendants and how they wrestle with issues related to friendship and maturity a week before the big day. The tagline on the box, "Till Death Do We Party,"would be hard to top in terms of irrelevance to the film. For instead of this film being a story about a last-gasp bachelor party, it's a coming-of-age/coming-to-terms tale of guys growing up.

Just when you thought Harlequin romance novels couldn't get any, well, racier, they're now introducing a new series "set against the backdrop of the thrill-a-minute world of NASCAR." And the publisher's tagline? "Falling in love can be a blur. Especially at 180 mph."

November 2, 2006
Co-operative Insurance (CIS) is set to bolster its new ‘green’ Eco motor insurance by unveiling a national television campaign which will feature images of CIS’ innovative Grass covered Car accompanied by the strapline, ‘now you can get green car insurance that doesn’t cost the earth’.

It appears US citizens have been segmented and tagged as consumers along neighborhood lines. Carnegie Communications has conducted a geodemographic analysis and has determined 66 different market segments, or "clusters". What have you been dubbed? A "Shotgun & Pickup" perhaps? IT hub Bangalore renamed (back to) Bengalooru, which translates to 'town of boiled beans'. Move seen as a bid to appease locals upset at the influx of outsiders.

Bud Light Beer television commercial filmed expediently to stick to the tagline ‘Always worth it’.

John Mellencamp has done more rebranding than just taking the "Cougar" out of his name. Seems that his stance against corporate greed has faded as he aligns his new song "Our Country" with the new General Motors, Our Country. Our truck” campaign.

"Circle K rebrands to Stripes," the Texas Susser companies decision to end its relationship with Circle K should be complete by the year’s. The new Stripes brand is Susser's own creation. The company raised $107 million in an initial public offering this week. The change over will be slow due to federal rules that prohibit promoting a new brand during the process of an initial public offering.
October 30, 2006 | Tate Linden

Ever hear of personal branding? We've spoken a little bit about it here, but at nowhere near the depth that it is covered in this week's Time Magazine.

I've held the belief that everyone has a brand and can't avoid sharing it with the world. Think you don't?

Ask yourself a few of these questions:

  1. Do you have kids?
  2. Are you energetic?
  3. Do you eat everything on your plate?
  4. Did you study in school?
  5. Do you have an iPod?
  6. Do you dress comfortably when traveling?
  7. Are you the life of the party?
  8. Do you like playing videogames?
  9. Do you have a blog?
  10. Do you own a pet?

Did you answer any of them?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions you've branded yourself. If you answered "no" to any of the questions you've also branded yourself. Heck... if you saw the list and thought "I don't have time for this" or "this is stupid" or "I want to see where he's going with this before I answer anything" then... yes... you've branded yourself.

Oh, and for you wiseacres that think by shutting yourself in a room and never talking to anyone you'll avoid branding yourself... Hope that you enjoy being branded as a recluse.

You see, anything about you that you communicate to other people becomes part of your brand. Even if you don't say a word or move a muscle you can still establish your brand solidly. As soon as you walk into a crowded room you are immediately checked for your brand by everyone that sees you. They see if you're stylish, confident, good looking, healthy, happy, and just about anything else that you might be showing. They're even potentially filing away bits of data about you like, "You're that guy who wore stripes and paisleys together" or "the woman that fell into the cocktail sauce."

Why are people looking for shorthand? Because we can't handle the complexity presented by human beings. We need a mental shorthand to help with recall. (Suddenly all those high-school nicknames like "Shorty", "Freckles", and "Pig Pen" begin to make sense...) We find one or two things that are distinctive about a person and we use them as the tabs on our mental folders so we can always find who we're looking for.

So - even before you spend a dime you probably already have a brand. It may not be good, but it is certainly there.

The idea presented by Time (that companies can help you with your personal brand) is pretty interesting to me. People often see themselves as so multi-faceted that they couldn't possibly simplify themselves down to the one or two things that will lead them to success in life. In job interviews we often throw dozens of great things about ourselves at the interviewer - hoping that at least a couple of 'em hit the right spot and get us hired. So we say we're confident, we're organized, our only flaw is that we don't know when to call it a day, we get along well with everyone, we're a natural leader who knows how to be a team member, we're looking for a job that helps us grow but we have all the skills we need to do it perfectly today.

Not only do most of us not say anything that will help to create a compelling shorthand in an interviewer's mind, we often contradict ourselves in the hopes that one of the two things we say will match with what the hiring manager is looking for.

So - the idea than an industry would spring up to help people land jobs, write personals, and basically be ourselves(only in higher concentrations) actually seems useful. It helps us carve out mental space in the minds of the people we interact with. If you carve out the right mental space with the right person you can end up with your dream job, the perfect spouse, or the best friend you've always wanted. Isn't that worth a couple thousand dollar investment?

But there are downsides. Once you've branded yourself to get that dream job you must find ways to live within that brand. If you've misstated yourself at all it can come back to bite you. Did you say that you were "detail oriented" when you should have said "aware that there are details?" When your copy isn't flawless it isn't going to go over well with the boss.

Even if you nail your brand perfectly it may lock you into a role that doesn't allow you to grow in ways that you want to. Branding is usually about finding the compelling differences between you and everyone else - and the desire to do a little bit of everything doesn't help you stand out. Everyone says (or thinks) it - and most also say they're interested in personal growth. Once you pin your brand to your chest you're going to have to live with (and as) it for a while. Are you comfortable with that? Does your life-history tell the same story?

Remember in today's world we now leave a trail of bits and bytes behind us and Google is there to sweep them into little organized bins. In looking for my name you'll find hundreds of hits, including articles I've written, my own blog posts, memberships in online forums, and even stuff that other bloggers and thought leaders have said about me. If I were to suddenly decide that I wanted to spend the rest of my life as an accountant I might find that my online identity would prevent any reputable accounting firm from hiring me. Anyone with knowledge of computers and the Internet would know in an instant that I had no experience. (You can read numerous stories about bad stuff happening and being found online if you look for 'em. You can't outrun your online identity.)

Is personal branding worth it? Actually I think it is - if you aren't doing as well in life as you think you could be. If you're happy then why bother? Same goes for big business - if you're happy with where you are (and where you're going) then why would you ever invest money in changing that?

(This is actually a pretty big problem for companies that are about to encounter bad times - they don't see that they need to change and are caught flatfooted when times change and being the best record-player manufacturer goes from being something to boast about to something worthy of shame.)

Here's the real key, though. Investing in your brand won't do a darn thing for you if you don't know who you are or what you genuinely want to do with your life. If you don't know what direction you want to go then chances are good that improving your directionless brand will improve your chances of landing a job (or mate) that you probably don't want or can't support for the long term.

How do you figure out who you are and where you want to go? You could hire an expert. Or if you're saving your money you could just take a look at your own life. Just by walking around your house you can learn a lot. Are all your cosmetics lined up on the counter? Do you move your furniture when you vacuum? Do you have a piano? Do you use it? How many dirty dishes are in your sink? Do you have art on the walls? Is it original or reproduction? Each one of these questions points to something that you are or believe in. Even seeing where you put your money (electronics, politics, baby-food, your church) could help you figure out who you are.

It's what you do with the things that matter to you that probably define you best of all. So - you've got time, money, and effort. Where have you been investing them? Once you figure that out then you may be in a better position to develop a brand that can support your real goals.

In closing this exceedingly long ramble, you should consider how effective companies have been in trying to rebrand themselves as something that they are not. We've talked about how Altria (Philip Morris) has a name and brand image that doesn't really support who they are - and the response from the public has been overwhelmingly negative. Aspirational branding (when you aspire to be something, but aren't yet there - like the "altruistic" cigarette maker) doesn't work for companies. And it doesn't work for people either.

Tate Linden
Principal Consultant
Stokefire Consulting Group
703-778-9925

October 24, 2006 | Tate Linden
Yep, it is another post about people, not companies... but it all ties in with branding... trust me.

I like Dana (my associate.) She keeps me in line. She reminds me about stuff. She generally makes Stokefire look good... so I take exception to people that want to call her names.

Especially ones that use the word "Bastard."

Okay, but there's a problem. Some really smart people have stated that the prefix from Dana's last name ("Fitz") literally means an illegitimate child. Here... read what some smart guy had to say about it:
April 18, 2006 | Tate Linden
Carl Smith over at nGen Works has a great short post about a guy that has slapped an honest-to-goodness real-life tattoo of the John Deere logo on his bicep. Why'd he do it? Apparently because "They's the best." Wow... I remember when people would put the big red Superman "S" on their arms to indicate their power. Now we've got guys essentially saying that they're so well made that a tractor company would proudly claim them... (In looking at the picture on Carl's site I'm guessing the tattoo-ee is probably more of a steam roller than a garden tractor, but still he's obviously not falling apart at the seams. I certainly wouldn't want to question his solidity...) This is truly a powerful message. Imagine a world where cows get to choose their brand. (“I’m a Lazy K cow!”) Apparently quite a few people are doing this. Are our bovine friends next? Will this become a world of Star-Bellied Sneetches? As for how this literal branding relates to the more common corporate branding, I have this to say. I would love to see someone wearing a Stokefire logo on their arm. To have someone that passionate about a brand that I worked to create would be a deeply satisfying validation of the impact of my hard work. If you work hard enough to establish a reputation that connects with your target audience, not only will they buy your products for life, they’ll also proudly take on the very qualities you have infused your products with and claim them as their own. The John Deere statement that “nothing runs like a Deere” connects with the target buyers. They think something like, “Yeah, nothing does run like a Deere – except me.” It sends the message that there’s something special, and since Deere’s are in fact well made, the message not only connects, but rings true after experiencing the product. There’s a scale of commitment with brands – people are more willing to wear a cap or t-shirt with a brand message on it than they are to put one on the bumper of their car. They’re even more likely to associate themselves with a brand by being seen inside a store as a shopper (just being seen in a store is an impermanent legitimization of a brand - just look at how restaurants fill the front window seats first...) On the more permanent side you have bumper stickers and airbrushed car art. So – where is your brand on the scale of client commitment? Does your market advertise for you at all? Do they wear shirts, hats, or pins? Do they have a bumper sticker that sends business your way? Have they claimed you as their manufacturer by slapping your logo on their body?

Aside: Just giving away stickers and tees doesn't mean your brand is connecting. Check the parking lot (or their torso) the next time you see your client. Are they using what you gave them? If not then you've still got work to do.)

If you can’t bump the needle off of zero, then it’s time to figure out why. Does your brand fit with your real-life performance? Does your brand inspire loyalty? Are you even trying to connect on an emotional level with your client base? Politicians do it all the time, but never seem to get past the bumper-sticker or yard-sign commitment level. Their jobs depend on that emotional connection more than most of us. They literally go out of business if they don’t connect better than the competition. (I think I’ll look into this aspect another time, as I could write for pages on why there’s such an impermanent connection with politicians.) Back to the topic. Can you imagine the impact of seeing one of your clients walking into your shop and rolling up their sleeve to show you… your own logo? If that doesn’t give you goose-bumps then you’re unable to see the potential and power of branding. Here's to hoping you can see and feel the power, and want to give it a shot.

(Disclaimer: Crap with good branding is still crap. If you don’t like your own brand then no matter what you do you won’t be able to make other people like it either. Fix your product, then fix your brand - anything else will be a waste of time and money.) Tate Linden Principal Consultant 703-778-9925
April 3, 2006 | Tate Linden
The Washington Post had an interesting article on Real Estate agent advertisements over the weekend. Follow the link to: Answer Man: Grimacing Over Real Estate Agent Ads.

Stokefire has helped quite a few Realtors and brokers craft their brands and we've yet to be convinced that a picture in an advertisement or business card is critical. The referenced article seems to back us up on this.

The current thinking in Realty seems to be that one doesn't sell a house, one sells one's self. Anyone can get you the house of your dreams, but only I (Blonde haired, dimpled, smiling) can get it for you in my uniquely personalized way.

This thinking may have worked a few years back, but now with more than 70% of Realtors (Coldwell Banker's numbers from ref'd article) putting pictures on their cards you may be more unique without a picture than with one. I've sold three homes in the last decade and have witnessed the change by looking in the 'card tray' after a showing. Everyone's cards used to look the same because they were conservative and respectable. Now they look the same because they have a picture, tagline, three phone numbers, and are essentially a jumbled mess of information. Obviously I don't think this is an improvement.

This is not to say that I think personal branding is bad (I don't.) Personal branding is great, but I just don't see a picture as critical for business success unless you're a) a model or b) a personal trainer. These are two industries that really do depend on looks for success. If 70% of the competition wasn't doing the same thing in Realty then perhaps this method would work, but as it is, each new photograph makes all the rest less impactful.

So, if a Realtor's smiling face isn't enough to reinforce a brand, then what is? How about using an original (or at least regionally unique) message? Search Google for Realty taglines and you'll find thousands or even millions of hits for things like "Home of Your Dreams" and "Find You Your Ideal Home." How do I feel about tags such as these? How should you, the target client, feel about them? How about insulted? *All* Realtors should be trying to find you the ideal home, so saying it in the valuable space of a business card or advertisment is wasted space. It's like Stokefire having an ad-blitz with the phrase "Stokefire - We Breathe!" [Ed. - that's a keeper!] There's no added value - you're just telling people you provide the same service as everyone else - and worse - that you're not as creative as the better ones.

Here's another way to see this. If you were going to sell your house, wouldn't you want to know that the person selling it was going to be able to have your house stand out somehow from all the rest for sale in the area? If a Realtor can't get themselves to stand out, then how the heck are they going to have your home do so?

Don't even get me started about the big Realtor campaign hitting the airwaves now that essentially shouts "Use Realtors - We've Taken An Ethics Course!" Not only does this not say that Realtors are ethical, it points an unflattering light on the fact that Realtors might have been unethical in the first place. Just because someone sits through a four hour lecture on what it means to be ethical does not mean that they have achieved a state of ethical being once they're done.

I truly value the services that good Realtors provide. The ones that get it - that Realtors can increase the value of a home, that they can take care of most of the difficult aspects of a home sale (such as negotiations, paperwork, prepping the home for sale, etc.) - are worth far more than the six percent that they frequently charge. The ones that don't get it are worse than going it alone.

That's enough brand poking for today. I may come back to this at another date to get into some of the finer points of Realtor branding and why a bad agent is worse than no agent, among other things.