I’m generally skeptical of corporate-storytelling advice, but Andy Raskin’s “How to Design Your Company Story” is just wacky enough – its hypothetical company is called FairyGodmothers.com – to win me over.
Full disclosure up front: I’m a registered Democrat, and I voted for Hillary Clinton in the California primary and the general election. I contributed a modest amount of money to her campaign. I am in no way an expert in presidential politics, just a reasonably well-informed observer and participant in the democratic process (such as it is under late-stage capitalism).
Here’s what I do know a few things about: branding and marketing. And from the beginning, even though I liked Clinton as a candidate and wanted her to prevail, I saw a lot that troubled me about how her campaign handled marketing, positioning, and advertising. I kept seeing what seemed like rookie mistakes, despite Clinton’s decades of experience and despite the glossy surface of the marketing content.
And so, even though the election was eight days ago and this may seem like beating a dead horse, I’m going to do a little flogging. With any luck, I may prevent some of you from making similar errors in your own marketing efforts – political, personal, or corporate.
Software engineers and the enterprises that hire them as vendors share a frustration: long-term contracts with little flexibility. Adrian Ionel, who’d co-founded the successful cloud-infrastructure company Mirantis, had a better idea: a software-support network that cuts out the middlemen and the expensive contracts, delivering expert technical services on an as-needed basis. Adrian came to me for help in naming the company after internal naming efforts had not yielded satisfactory results.
That asymmetrical face? Breathtaking. And, it turns out, devilishly difficult to manufacture. As Wired magazine reported in 2013, when Bulbul launched, “Factories are set up to make circular, square, and oval watches, but the subtly asymmetrical shape of the Pebble required almost every part to be customized—from the sapphire crystal on the face to hidden rubber rings inside the watch that keep it waterproof.” (Lots of droolworthy photoshere.)
I’m going to wrench myself out of my covetous reverie (the watch is probably too big for me anyway, right?) and focus on the name: Where does “Bulbul” come from?
Glyph: A nonverbal symbol such as an arrow; a carved groove on a column or frieze; any computer-generated character. From Greek gluphe, a carving; imported into English around 1727 from French glyphe.
Glyph was in the news last week following the death of Prince, the musician who in 1993 changed his name to a symbol of his own design, partly in an act of defiance against his uncooperative record label, Warner Bros.
Prince’s “Love Symbol” combined the male and female symbols and a stylized horn.
Good news for liberal-arts majors: “Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.” (“The Next Hot Job in Silicon Valley Is for Poets,” Washington Post.)
There’s a curious little kerfuffle going on between two businesswomen whose flower-shaped logos are suspiciously similar in shape and embellishment. What makes it especially newsworthy is that one of the businesswomen is the actress Reese Witherspoon, and she’s the one being sued.
But that’s not the only thing I find interesting about Ms. Witherspoon’s retail venture, which is called Draper James, after the actress’s grandmother (Dorothea Draper) and grandfather (William James Witherspoon). For me, that name – no matter how sweetly familial – is all too reminiscent of another, much older retail chain, Draper’s & Damon’s.