Brand Strategy and Design

Size and prominence of wording on business signs, product labels and hangtags will often emphasize brand signals. Yet, sometimes decisions are made to scream generic names instead.

Never having seen the above shown wacky fresh fruit until recently, my assumption was that Buddha’s Hand represented a clever brand name for a certain type of citron fruit. Nope, generic.

The source-indicating information on the above shown Buddha’s Hand hangtag — the trademark — is barely legible, so I’ll help readers out: Ripe to You represents the above shown brand name.

So, what are the best practices when it comes to marketing commodities over brands and vice versa? The Branding Strategy Insider had an informative take on this topic just yesterday, here.

From my perspective, since brands manifest reputation, relationships and experiences, there must be accountability, and sometimes apologies are needed. Commodities, nope, not so much.

I’m thinking that while Ripe to You apparently is working to create market demand and interest in the unusual Buddha’s Hand fruit, more emphasis on the fruit’s generic name may take priority.

It also stands to reason that as Buddha’s Hand citron fruit becomes as understood as cherry tomatoes, tangelos, and bananas, the thing will speak for itself, and the brand will be paramount.

It’s also important to remember that when work is needed to create demand for a new category of products, attention on a memorable generic name can be as important as the brand name.

Otherwise, a brand owner launching a new category might find itself forever working to avoid the slippery slope of genericide, can you say, Rollerblade, Velcro, Band-Aid, and Peppadew?

Thankfully for Ripe to You, the clever and memorable Budda’s Hand generic name was handed to it on a silver platter, leaving the field wide open to focus on and emphasize its brand name.

I’d love to hear more insights from our extraordinary marketers and designers about when and how to balance the marketing of commodities/brands — when do you lead with Buddha’s Hand?

Crapola sounds like something worth saying on the way to Chicago, after discovering the size of your PowerPoint file is too large to get through the recipient’s firewall, and then realizing the USB flash drive containing your inspiring presentation to FUSE conference attendees remains on your desk back in Minneapolis.

Perhaps an even stronger word might be appropriate, if this mishap were true, but thankfully it is only imagined (at least this version). To avoid uttering this word or an even harsher one, my digital presentation (The Intersection of Brands, Design, and the Law) remains in my pocket, so if it doesn’t make it to the stage today, I won’t either.

Let’s just say, I’m all fired up and ready for FUSE 2014 Brand Strategy & Design, again. So, ola FUSE attendees!

Anyway, back to Crapola, as it turns out, there is another meaning of Crapola, as I learned over the weekend, encountering for the first time an interesting granola brand called Crapola! The brains behind this brand are a husband and wife team doing business as Brain Storm Bakery, located in Ely, Minnesota:


Fritinancy traces the history of Granola, perhaps a former brand name, but now very generic. Indeed, the USPTO has recognized “granola” as a generic product name that can be found in the USPTO’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services, since at least as early as April 1991. Nancy Friedman knows a lot about the “ola” suffix too, recall her Duets guest post: Shinola 2.0?

In addition to what Nancy has to say, Wiktionary indicates the “ola” suffix is “used to form humorous and pejorative terms.”

Presumably all these federally-registered competing granola brands are intending the humorous, not the pejorative: GanolaCranola, Yumola, Crunola, Davola, San Franola, and Gheenola.

No doubt Crapola! has humor in mind too.

Just in case you’re wondering, we don’t do the pejorative “ola” stuff here, like Payola, and by all means, no Blogola, nope, none of that here!