“Don’t water down your branding efforts in the new year trying to be all things to all people,” says Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, North Carolina-based brand development firm. “Just focus on reaching the people who resonate with your company and your core brand message.” Determine which media platforms your best customers live on, and then truly build a presence there, he says. But first take stock of how your brand fared in 2017. For your website, tools like Google Analytics can help you observe trends in traffic, unique visitors, and referring web sites, Davis says. Sites such as SEMrush.com can show you how your site stacks up to competitors in terms of keywords, number of backlinks, and other key information, he says.
“This is a company looking to communicate a sense of ubiquity,” said Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a North Carolina firm that provides company naming services. “Walmart is saying it’s no longer going to be defined by bricks-and-mortar.”‘ The name change, Davis said, is a logical next step for a company that is working…
(Excerpts) In the wake of widespread sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the company that bears his sullied name is reportedly considering a rebrand. A rebrand and new name are unlikely to make anyone forget the horrifying accounts of Weinstein’s treatment of women. But a new name could signal a new era — one that would likely need…
Should you choose a business name for a professional edge, or does using your own name offer a personal touch? It’s a question Phillip Davis, President of Tungsten Branding, often hears – and not just from freelancers. Consultants, lawyers, and other “independents” struggle with this choice, he reports. On the one hand, there’s ego and the potential thrill of seeing your name on the door. Some freelancers believe they are established enough in an industry to warrant using their personal identity for name recognition. For them, Davis says, it’s a mental struggle of giving up a bit of notoriety for the potential of a more fitting and scalable brand name to reach the bigger, untapped market. “Often the resistance to a company name is due to the creative struggle required when coming up with a business brand name. It takes effort to drill down and determine your company’s reason for being; its ‘pivot point’ or that critical center value proposition around which your entire service offerings revolve,” Davis explains. “Finding that key differentiator and creating a cohesive and compelling identity that captures and conveys that message is challenging.”
Salon – A Gunmaker by Any Other Name: Why Smith & Wesson Wants to Change its Name to American Outdoor Brands
(Excerpts) As part of an effort to change the way consumers perceive the company, the company has proposed a name change that would turn Smith & Wesson into American Outdoor Brands — a matter that shareholders are widely expected to approve. Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a name development and rebranding firm, said the name American Outdoor Brands is a savvy pick because helps to reposition Smith & Wesson in the minds of consumers and also invokes a patriotic sentiment — that to be against Smith & Wesson’s gun business is to be against America itself. “It’s always a good idea to reposition your brand to be more palatable and congruent with not only your values as a company but also the values that are more readily acceptable to the public in general,” Davis told Salon. “By putting the name ‘American’ in front of ‘Outdoor Brands’ the company is trying to reaffirming that it represents American values. Strategically, it’s a great name.”
(Excerpts) When the founders of Tesla Motors set out to prove that electric cars could improve upon gas-powered vehicles, one of the earliest roadblocks they encountered was something much less grandiose. They couldn't register Tesla.com because it was registered in 1992 by somebody else. The company registered TeslaMotors.com in 2003 instead, something that naming and branding experts say was a smart move. "It comes at the worst time: when you have the least amount of money. You're already intellectually, physically, financially stressed out and that's when you're expected to come up with this genius," said Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding. "Dot-com will always be the downtown Manhattan real estate of the domain industry. It'll always be the Manhattan address. Having said that, does every office need to be in Manhattan?" said Davis.
(Excerpts) First came the slogan. Then the ads. Now the beer. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will introduce a limited-edition #WHHSH beer during a promotional party Saturday and Sunday at the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs, California. The event coincides with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which will run Friday through April 24 in Indio, California. Phillip Davis, founder of Brevard, North Carolina-based Tungsten Branding, said the beer makes a two-dimensional pitch (print, video advertising) three-dimensional and sensory. Walt Disney theme parks have used a parallel tactic, he said, pumping in scents — salty sea air on a “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride or fresh-baked cookies on Main Street — to heighten experiences. “You’re adding taste, you’re adding sensation,” Davis said of the #WHHSH beer. “And that it’s beer befits Las Vegas’ overall theme for being adult-oriented. They’re not doing it on a soda. It’s ingenious on several levels.” The hashtag, a signpost on Twitter, and initials serve as an insider’s wink, Davis said. “Adding a twist to a twist creates more of an inside joke,” he said. “If you get the twist on the twist, it makes you feel like more of an insider, more part of the ‘it’ club.”
(Excerpts) The National Law Journal spoke with branding expert Phillip Davis, president of North Carolina-based Tungsten Branding, about the naming brouhaha and what George Mason should do now that #ASSLaw has taken on a life of its own. (Yes, there is a parody Twitter account). His answers have been edited for length. When it comes to branding mistakes, how bad is this one? A couple things come into play. Sometimes these things can be explosive and horrible, but they fade quickly. The example that comes to mind is when Apple announced the iPad. The number one trending hashtag on Twitter was iTampon. Apple walked right into it. That was absolutely the hot topic of the day and that lasted about two to three days. The reason that faded is when you have an 800-pound gorilla, it will outbrand most mistakes. The question is: Are you an 800-pound gorilla?
(Excerpts) As the craft beer and spirits category grows larger, it's getting hard to select a unique, marketable name for a new beer or spirit. The shelves are bursting with beer brands bearing catchy names like Brew Free! or Die IPA, Smooth Hoperator, Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout and Dead Guy Ale. Phil Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding is keenly familiar with delights, challenges and potential roadblocks associated with naming craft beverages. Davis said that creating a truly unique name for a beer or spirit is a lot more difficult than it appears. "There's more groupthink than people are aware. When you think you're being extremely unique, you're probably following a trend. It's like the classic lament of teenagers who say 'I want to be different --- just like my friends'"
(Excerpts) Ever wonder how to create a commonly understood name for your brand that can still be owned? Have you had problems with restrictive domains? Do you know how the size and scope of your company can impact brand naming and recognition? Can’t decide between The Pope and Lady Gaga as your spokesperson? Listen in as Phil explores the common issues that entrepreneurs and large businesses alike deal with when it comes to naming their brand or rebranding their name. Also: what’s unique about Tom’s Shoes, how to not get stuck in the left-brain world, and how kickboxing and exercise can purge your brain of that pesky creative carbon buildup.
(Excerpts) What should a business consider before beginning the naming process? That’s a great question and one that everyone should ask. There are two primary points I would make. First, the number one question that people need to ask themselves is, ‘What business are you really in?’ I find that most entrepreneur startups, and even companies that are five or ten years along, got into the business they are in because of a particular skill set that manifested through a product or service. The product and service becomes outdated, transitions, or evolves, but they created the identity of the company based on the initial product or service offering, instead of on the skill set or the attributes that originally produced it. What are the stages of developing a name? We start with a discovery process. Where have you been? What have you done? What have you thought about? Then, how does that compare with who you are as a company? From there you can start the process of saying, ‘What direction do we need to move forward in? Do we need to continue down this path and find a name that works, or do we need to move in a different direction? Take your pivot point, the core essence, the common thread that runs through your business, and then ask, what is the best way to convey that? You marry the essence of the brand with a brand strategy, then you create naming candidates from that list, and then begin the process of winnowing them down. Are they available from a trademark perspective? Linguistically does it sound good? Is it long, is it short? What matters most? Is it the pronunciation, or is it how it appears on the page? What factors are going to make this name the best name out of the bunch? A lot of that is simply a judgment call. Has the need for a domain name influenced the way you develop names for companies? Yes definitely, on several levels. There are people in my industry who–because of the sparseness of domain names, and sometimes the high-inflated prices that some people ask for their domain names–have avoided naming their companies in ways that are intuitive and natural because they’re trying to circumvent this whole domain thing. Sometimes, people are so afraid of not getting the domain, not getting the right messaging, that they go around and end up with one name and a different domain, and it gets confusing. Our name is this, but online we’re this, and it becomes problematic. Over the years I’ve gotten about 3,000 brand-able domain names. If I have a shoe store, I better have shoes in my shoe store.
(Excerpts) In fact, though, the food world is inherently and relentlessly copycat and faddish (cf. chefs turning to food trucks, the trend of restaurants opening on the outer edges of downtown, the explosion of hipster Asian cooking.) Or, as Phillip Davis, the president of Tungsten Branding, a North Carolina-based branding and name development company for start-ups and entrepreneurs, puts it: “fish still swim in schools.” “Really creative names,” he said, “are perpendicular to trends.” And most businesses don’t want to be perpendicular to trends; they want to be congruent with them. He likened a creative name to the “kid in school with a white pressed shirt and tie. The really creative kid is the oddball kid.” Davis said the first question he asks of potential clients is, “Do you want to stand out or do you want to fit in?” “I tell people: when you do something different in the name, the product has to be tangibly different, so that the aha! of what you’re doing matches the aha! of the name. It has to be measurably different from other, similar business or experientially different.” When he frames the matter for his clients like that, Davis said, they begin to understand the enormous pressure they will be subjecting themselves to in stamping themselves as different from the herd. Better to sound like everyone else, they reason, and strive to carve out a small niche in the marketplace by putting out a useful, high-quality product.
KeySystems – Naming Experts’ 21 Tips to Choose the Right Domain Name in the New Top Level Domain Space
(Excerpts) What’s the right domain name to use as your web address? To help me out I got valuable input from some of the best naming specialists in the world. They spend their time brainstorming new brand names – and domain names is a natural part of their conversation with clients. I asked Phil Davis, a world renowned naming expert, what his thoughts were on making the choice between .com and the new domain extensions for your business. As a general rule, I advise my clients to go with a .com, since it’s the default behavior of most internet users to type that extension. When using a new TLD extension, you, as the business owner, are doing the heavy lifting in helping to promote and educate the public about that extension, and it can prove disruptive to your own message (e.g. having to stop and explain that the name ends in .xyz vs. .com) I would wait for a significant precedent to be set in the market to pave the way before using the extension, which may happen at some point. The .com domain name will be the “downtown” real estate for the foreseeable future.
Few people know branding and naming as well as Phil Davis, president of Tungsten Branding. He joins the Go For Launch podcast to talk about the challenges and opportunities of coming up with a great company name and brand positioning that will stand the test of time.
(Excerpts) Why should an entrepreneur turn to a professional for naming the company? Like any other aspect of starting a new business, an entrepreneur must allocate time and resources in the most efficient and effective manner to ensure success. To avoid the painful prospect of a botched launch or a trademark lawsuit, it best to hire naming professionals who live in that world every day. They can help you not only name, but also position the company so that the identity is built on a strong and lasting foundation. How can the right branding strategy be the key to success? Branding is like setting the cornerstone on a house. If it’s not set correctly, nothing lines up as additions and new levels are added. The right and best strategy is to truly know what drives your business. In other words, “What business are you REALLY in?” Most entrepreneurs, in a rush to go to market, define themselves by their current products and services, and that’s a big mistake.
(Excerpts) But all these attractions can cause problems in establishing a brand by creating a message that is muddled, said Phillip Davis, a branding specialist at Tungsten Branding in North Carolina. The key to establishing an effective regional brand is to hone in on one aspect and promote it, he said. Other attractions might be included marketing efforts, but effective branding requires a focus. “It is more like a recipe,” Davis said. “You have to have a main ingredient, but it’s not that the other ingredients go away. If everything is equal, it’s tasteless and nothing stands out.” Building a regional brand, Davis added, also requires the participation of the entire community, including the government, organizations, and residents. “There are components, like-minded people, a common vision, a common goal, and a little bit of magic,” he said.
(Excerpts) In a few weeks, the Sovereign Bank name created in Berks 26 years ago will disappear from branches as well as the Sovereign Center and the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. They’ll be rebranded under the Santander name, after parent company Santander Holdings USA Inc. Over time, people should learn the Santander name, said Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a North Carolina company. He compared the new name to Mitsubishi or Hyundai. It’s a little unwieldy and difficult to pronounce, but the hurdles are surmountable. “It sounds to me a little clunkier than the current name, but with time, community involvement and the right gestures, the community will come to accept it,” Davis said. Businesses should look at their industry, think about goals and ask whether fitting in or standing out is important with a new name. Financial companies usually focus on fitting in, Davis said.
(Excerpts) "Simple is the new black," says Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, N.C.-based naming and branding firm. Sometimes companies think that if they add more images and graphics to a logo, it will make it more memorable, but that's not necessarily the case, he says. When creating a logo, ask yourself, "Is the logo congruent with your brand attributes?" he says. "The idea is to evoke a sense of the qualities of your goods and services."
(Excerpts) Branding experts recommend thinking creatively. You can even invent a name, but it shouldn't be pure gibberish, says Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding in Brevard, N.C. A coined name should have a hint of an attribute and be easy to pronounce and spell, he adds. Mr. Davis also recommends using positive connotations and aspirational names. He helped create the name Freedom Peak Financial Inc., for example, for a firm that specializes in helping clients prepare for retirement. Rather than a generic title like Retirement Planning Associates, it points to the goal the firm intends to help clients reach--financial freedom." Mr. Davis also cautions against names that are too literal. "What you do should be conveyed in your tagline, not your name," he says. "Your name should be used to create distinction and differentiation." While the name doesn't have to be trademarked, Mr. Davis recommends doing so to keep others from treading too closely to your territory. "You're not offering a widget, you're offering yourself," he says. "You want to make sure this piece of your business is really solid."
(Excerpts) Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a name development firm, recommends creating a “pivot point,” a quality or core attribute that everything in the company revolves around, such as speed, price, leadership, or innovation. “From there, you can use any number of naming strategies to convey this central theme,” Davis says. “You can use metaphors, (Jaguar, Amazon, Monster), or positive connotation blends (OnStar, TruGreen, Bright House), or descriptive hybrids (CarMax, JetBlue, LendingTree,) or key attributes (Sir Speedy, Priceline, Service Masters).” Pick a flexible name. A successful candidate for a business’ name is not finite, but malleable enough that it can still stand as the business grows and changes. Davis says Midas is a great example of a flexible business name, because using the name of a mythical Greek king with the golden touch positioned the company based on quality service, not on mufflers specifically. This then allowed the company to transition to other automotive repair services without expensive rebranding. “What you do is typically not as important as how you do it," Davis says. "And your main products and services are likely to change and evolve."
(Excerpts) "Can a bad name kill a startup? Absolutely," said Phil Davis, founder of Tungsten Branding. "If you do something off-key or too convoluted, then there's a knee-jerk reaction against it." Davis says it's important to think about your audience. Names that combine two words, like Agilent, are OK for business-to-business companies but not so good for consumer-facing businesses. "When you're going out to the consumer, the name has to be intuitive and sticky and fun. The consumer is very unforgiving, so your name has to hit right away. In B-to-B, your audience is much more limited, and you have greater control over the conversation." Davis' firm has named more than 250 companies, from Pods (which makes those storage containers that sit in your driveway) to Double Cross Vodka (talk about truth in advertising). He says his current favorite company names include Pinterest and DropBox. A name he doesn't like is Gotomeeting.com. "If Gotomeeting ever tries to expand beyond meetings, they can't. Also, it's a long phrase and it still misses defining what they do. You can't say, 'Send me a Gotomeeting.' The ability to 'language' a brand is huge, and it's usually better if a name has verb potential. Can the name contort easily so someone can say, 'Hey, can you Xerox this?'" Names don't exist in isolation. A name that looks great on a whiteboard may sound dumb in an elevator pitch, so try it out often in conversation. "People miss by creating a name that stops you in your tracks - but doesn't go anywhere from there," Davis says. "Like Blue Taco. That's a cool name but where do you go from there? It's not about creativity for creativity's sake."
Bloomberg BusinessWeek – The Twitter Effect, The Struggle to create the perfectly weird company name
(Excerpts) “Perfecting a name in the Digital Age, according to Tungsten’s Davis, is both art and science. His most famous invention is PODS, short for Portable On-Demand Storage. The moving and storage company’s original name was Portables, but Davis thought it “sounded too much like a toilet.” A name like PODS, he says, creates a feeling of “what, tell me more” instead of “huh, I don’t get it. The biggest mistake among amateur name creators, Davis believes, is overanalyzing the language. Amateurs can become too focused on the linguistics and the number of vowels and consonants. “They’re so grammatically focused that they miss the bigger picture,” he says. “They forget that there’s got to be a story connected to it. Other people get the story, but the word is so clunky that nobody cares about the story. They’ll be like, ‘In Latin, this word means the god of business.’ Well, yeah, but it’s got 16 syllables and five x’s and three z’s.”
(Excerpts) "One thing that Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, NC-based naming firm, asks entrepreneurs is "do you want to fit in or stand out?" It seems straightforward. Who wouldn't want to stand out? But Davis explains that some businesses are so concerned about gaining credibility in their field, often those in financial services or consulting, that they will sacrifice an edgy or attention-getting name. "However, in the majority of cases, clients want to stand out and that's a better approach when looking at your long-term goals. Even the companies that say 'I just want to get my foot in the door' will usually begin wishing that they stood out more once they pass that first hurdle."
(Excerpts) Davis adds, "When people are starting off at first, they're so eager to get to market, to get traction, that they tend to go towards very literal, descriptive, functional names and those names end up pigeonholing them." He even goes so far as to say that pigeonholing names are the reason why companies like Best Buy have outstripped competitors such as RadioShack and CompUSA. Since companies tend to rebrand later in their life cycles, they often have more money than when they were first starting out. As a result, they can solicit more outside opinion in the process of choosing their names. But this isn't always a good thing, says Davis. "I see a lot of names get shot down that are good brand names because [companies] don't provide context when they're floating the name out to people," says Davis. If you don't tell people what your company does or what you want the name to evoke, all you can collect are random personal associations."
(Excerpts) "This is a tough one -- I don't envy the tourism marketers for Arizona," sums up Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding. "In this kind of scenario, the challenge is to maintain a strategic balance between over- and under-reacting. An overly aggressive approach can come off as shrill, and actually end up adding to the controversy by getting people who weren't even aware of or very interested in the issue involved." "In general, it would seem better to stay very non-political and stay on talking points about the larger, enduring 'brand' of Arizona -- what makes the state beautiful and attractive to visitors," Davis continues, noting that even the worst political or PR crises eventually subside. "You might want to consider adjusting or toning down certain aspects of an existing marketing campaign for the present, but it doesn't make sense to just drop current positioning." While Arizona's current "Free to Be" tagline is admittedly not ideal at present, he points to the example of Toyota -- which instead of dropping its 'Moving Forward' tagline in the face of its vehicle acceleration crisis, just downplayed the phrase and focused on taking concrete steps to motivate consumers to buy its cars. Davis approves of the strategy of reaching out to existing brand loyalists, or "friendlies," during such a crisis. Trying to convert or change the minds of people who are currently angry or antagonistic toward a brand is "hugely expensive," can take years, and is in any case likely to come off as "artificial and contrived," he points out. "It's easier and more effective to swim downstream, by reaching out to those existing loyalists -- including those who have enjoyed visiting the region in the past."
(Excerpts) Phil Davis, president and owner of Tungsten Branding, a company-naming consultancy, agrees, saying, “Next to start-up capital, a great brand name is one of the most valuable assets a start-up franchise can possess.” So what are the elements that make up a winning franchise name? “Great brand names are typically memorable, engaging, and easy to both say and spell,” says Davis. “They also tend to be evocative versus descriptive.” The right name will also give your franchise room to grow. “Think of your fledgling franchise as a new plant,” says Davis. “A one-gallon container might be big enough for its needs now, but what about in five years? Many franchisors find they become ‘root bound’ in just a few short years as products, services, and the economy changes.”
(Excerpts) “By using a memorable metaphor, Amazon really helped its brand grow.” says Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding in Brevard, N.C. “The name positions the company as a source of abundance and diversity.” (JetBlue) is a descriptive hybrid that conveys the industry and provides a sense of open, blue skies,” Davis says. It also uses the newer ‘jet’ rather than the old-school ‘airline.’” (CompUSA) "The truncated geographic descriptor name limits the company to one category in one country," Davis says. "If you're looking for a computer in the U.S., this is your place. But for a DVD player? Who knows?"
(Excerpts) You can also search for pre-owned names at such sites as Afternic.com and BuyDomains.com, says Phillip Davis of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, N.C.-based name development and brand strategy firm. But keep in mind that these pre-owned names can run in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, adds Davis. It’s less costly finding a domain that hasn’t already been taken, he says. You can then claim it through a domain registration site like GoDaddy.com (for a list of registrars see internic.net/alpha.html). It generally costs anywhere between $7 and $15 annually to register a domain, depending upon the site. Try different word combinations. Obvious picks may be unavailable, but consider a company name with endings like Group Inc., Solutions, Agency or Systems, says Phillip Davis of Tungsten Branding.
(Excerpts) “Let’s say you’re at a conference, and someone steps in the elevator with you, notices your name tag, and asks, “What do you guys do?” Quick–what’s your answer? You’ve got just 15 seconds before the doors open so you’d better think fast. For most business owners, getting to the crux of what they really…
(Excerpts) “Naming a business is a lot like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important, you’re right. With 18 years experience in the naming and branding business, I’ve witnessed the good, the bad and the really bad. To help you get off to a good start, read on to discover the top 8 mistakes I’ve found people make when it comes to choosing a name for their business:”