Case Study: Athol Foden and Brighter Naming

BNLogoWRed2When I first met Athol Foden, we were at a typical networking event.  But Athol is anything but your typical Silicon Valley branding guy.  He is a creative, out of the box, idea generating machine.  I had the great fortune to work with him on a challenging naming project that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Athol is the real deal when it comes to naming and branding.  Check him out at Brighter Naming.

Laura: What is your definition of a brand?
Athol: “A brand is a promise of an experience.”  You can make it more complex, but it all comes down to the experience.

Laura: How did your brand come to be?
Athol: When you have a funny name, use it to your advantage.  As you know, branding is often about telling stories to illustrate the brand promise.  In the case of small businesses, consultancies, etc. the story is often about the owner, founder or principal.  Rather than treating my name (that many mispronounce rudely at first in the USA) as a handicap, I play it up instead.  In my case I have achieved a lot of initial brand recall for my business by having first given them some stories about me personally…for example, I’m a white African American with funny name.

Laura: As a naming expert, how did you come up with the name for your company?
Athol: The name “Brighter Naming” didn’t take a lot of effort in fact.  It was supposed to be a temporary name because I wasn’t going to start another agency.  I had had a lot of success with client names that had the root word “bright”.  Steve Jobs named his company “Next” after he left Apple to imply leadership and positioning.  “Bright” also has a subtle double meaning – it implies smarter and/or more light – both of which are positive meanings.

Laura: What are the most important elements of a brand?
Athol: It isn’t the name per se…it is the experience.  The website, the marketing materials must be more personable and detailed.  But they don’t need to be fancy.  I get tons of comments and business from my web site.  Now there are not many small businesses with 150+ pages in their site.  We try and have many different entry points for different customers.  High tech, sports, consumer companies…hooks and experiences for all of them. Customer experiences are detailed through customer successes and testimonials of work we’ve done for other companies in specific industries, regions, languages.  Plus, we have tons of naming articles, research and information.