Aaron Keller, Managing Principal, Capsule

You may have plenty of excuses for missing FUSE this year. Perhaps budgets were cut in favor of quarterly earnings, learning is no longer important to your organization, or inspiration has been limited to watching TED videos between meetings. Whatever the reason, we’re not judging, just looking to help fill your knowledge gap on what you missed. So here it is: the slightly amusing and even more slightly inspiring version of the events at FUSE 2014.

Design Thinker as Economic Contributor: the economic value of design was pushed up from several fronts. The DMI economic value study was discussed in significant detail and other thinkers brought forth further evidence of the contribution design makes to the economic engine.

Wicked Speed of Retail: Design an Adaptive Behavior: Dave Moore spoke on the adaptive nature of running marketing, brand and design for Ethan Allen. Then, Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador, Barneys gave the audience a retrospective on his window designs for retail, showing us all how he has adapted to culture and retail.

Decades of Design Innovation: the legacy of Nike in the world of design, innovation and creative thought is already written. Tinker Hatfield, VP Creative Concepts faced the audience by video conference and gave us a peak inside the large shoes he filled in the history of Nike. And, in a speech Phil Duncan, Global Design Officer at P&G gave us a great view inside the “chief” suite along with lessons on how we can keep the C-seat warm.

If this wasn’t enough, the CEO and Chief Design Officer of Pepsi Co, Indra Nooyi and Mauro Porcini (and his red shoes) made a visit to the FUSE stage. And, the most authentic representation of the Chipotle brand in William Espy’s speech on how they are changing the economics of better food sourced from better origins. Add to this list, The Associated Press, Gilt.com, David Carson, Colgate, SC Johnson, and many others.

After going back over this list of memories, photos, tweets and blog posts it occurs to me that the FUSE conference packs more inspiration for the investment than any other design, innovation or brand conference. Bold? Yes. Rational argument for attending next year? We hope. If you don’t agree yet, read the blog, browse the tweets. If you’re still suspicious, call or email me: 612-702-6286, akeller@capsule.us and I’ll talk you through this year and the previous three years of this inspired gathering of thinkers, leaders, academics and activists in design.

– Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash

Back in the mid-2000s, A.G. Lafley (during his first tour of duty as CEO of P&G) championed the “First Moment of Truth” which represented the time when people are looking at the store shelf and trying to decide whether to buy the product.

Later, P&G emphasized the “Second Moment of Truth,” which is when people try the product at home, to rationalize why they spend oodles of money on Research & Development.

Google VP-U.S. Sales and Service Jim Lecinski jumped back in time to coin “ZMOT,” for the “Zero Moment of Truth,” which is the time when people research a purchase online before shopping for the product. By the way, if you have not read Jim’s book you must do so. It is a free download.

As a professional name developer I believe there is an even more important moment of truth. I call it the Minus One Moment of Truth™ and I believe it can help guide the choice of a name for your company, product or service.

What is the Minus One Moment of Truth? It is the very first time your prospective target customer hears of your company, product or service. If you are choosing a name for your company, product or service, please do the necessary research to understand the Minus One Moment of Truth for your key target customers, because understanding it will yield a lot of clues for your name choice (and your marketing).

For example, let’s say you are developing a new name for a plumbing service. You have done the research and discovered that the vast majority of new customers hear of your company through recommendations of other satisfied customers. In this case, your Minus One Moment of Truth is the instant that George tells Sam that his plumbing is leaking and Sam tells George that he should call “XYZ Plumbers” because they will do the work fast and won’t charge you an arm and a leg (or whatever your unique points of difference are). The conclusion from this example is your name had better be easy to remember because you are relying on Sam to convey the information to George and for George to remember it until he can contact the plumber.

How can things go wrong in this example? Well, what if George does not remember the exact name but remembers that the plumber was supposed to be inexpensive? He uses Google to search for inexpensive plumbers in his area and finds Affordable Plumbers, Discount Plumbers, Cheapskate Plumbers, and SaveMore Plumbers. Here is where failure in the Minus One Moment of Truth leads to a disaster in the Zero Moment of Truth. If George can’t remember the name from his first encounter with Sam, then XYZ Plumbers loses because Google will provide many alternatives. Clearly XYZ Plumbers needs a name that conveys its unique point of difference in a way that will make the Minus One Moment of Truth a memorable event.

Here is another example. Jenny is an artist who wants to rename her art business. She spends a lot of weekends at art fairs around the country and she also has an Etsy e-commerce store. What is her Minus One Moment of Truth? In looking at her business, she believes the Minus One Moment of Truth happens on her Etsy storefront as the Etsy store is her biggest sales volume generator. So she thinks that she needs a name that will search well and therefore she wants to include keywords that relate to her inventory. I’m not going to argue against that approach, but I will point out that she needs to understand the Minus One Moment of Truth for her business. Do the people who buy her product come from searches on Google or Etsy, or do they come from people who have met her in person at the art fairs? If the former, then yes by all means consider inclusion of relevant keywords. If the latter, keywords may not be that important because the Etsy sales are generated by people who met her in person. These people are likely to get her business card and be driven to her web presence by that connection, so perhaps the new business name can be something memorable about her as an artist.

I’m not suggesting that you should violate the fundamentals of developing a good name (and my “Top 5” fundamentals of name selection are shown below). But I am suggesting that you understand your target market and how they first hear of you and then apply these fundamentals:

Fundamentals of a Good Name:

1.  Is simple and concise (easy to pronounce, read and spell).

2.  Is legally available from a trademark standpoint and has domain name options.

3.  Is differentiated versus competition in the category.

4.  Is easy to remember.

5.  Delivers the idea or concept behind the product or conveys something real and specific about the product.

So don’t name your business, product or service without considering where your target customer first hears the name…the Minus One Moment of Truth!

—Brent Carlson-Lee, Founder & Owner of Eli’s Donut Burgers

I have to admit Beef Products Inc.’s “lean, finely textured beef” sounds pretty good. But call it “pink slime” (its recently popularized nickname) and I find it much less appetizing. In their defense, pink slime is 100% beef…except for the ammonia. And beef without ammonia is like, God forbid, lutefisk without lye.

While many find its wool-over-the-consumers’-eyes product naming reprehensible, the company clearly had a solid understanding it was in the Spin, Baby, Spin quadrant of the framework below. FDA guidelines require ingredients to be disclosed; however, a food additive consisting of heated and processed beef waste treated with ammonia to kill bacteria clearly doesn’t elicit a positive consumer reaction. As such, Beef Products Inc. took artistic license in crafting the terminology used to describe its ingredients.

Beef Products Inc. isn’t alone in the Spin, Baby Spin quadrant – the Corn Refiners Association aspires to re-badge “high-fructose corn syrup” as “corn sugar,” and P&G has struggled with how to talk about its olestra ingredient (aka Olean) for two decades. You may recall Dan Kelly’s prior posts on the high-fructose corn syrup/corn sugar flap here and here.

Some brands Shout it from the Mountain Top – think Fiber One. While it is required to disclose the fiber content in the nutrition facts panel, General Mills went as far as incorporating “fiber” into the brand name, given its overwhelmingly positive consumer perception.

Go ahead, Puff(ery) Away. As Steve Baird blogged last November, artisan puffery is in full force. Obviously, there is no requirement to communicate the artisan nature of a product (nor to drive the term into a meaningless oblivion); however, it seems to evoke a positive consumer perception.

Shhhh. This often relates to how products are processed or prepared. Generally, consumers don’t care, or even want to know, how products are made (baked vs. fried is a notable exception). For example, you don’t hear McDonald’s talk about how its burgers are fried to perfection by a machine that requires minimal human intervention.

While this newly-penned framework may never make its way into mainstream marketing textbooks, deciding whether and how to communicate ingredient and how-its-made information to consumers is undoubtedly an important issue.

—Mark Prus, NameFlashSM

A few years ago, Procter & Gamble launched the Olay Total Effects line, and introduced us to “Anti aging skin care products that moisturize and fight seven signs of aging.” In case you don’t know, the “seven signs of aging” are “look of fine lines and wrinkles, rough texture, uneven skin tone, surface dullness, appearance of prominent pores, noticeability of age spots, and dryness.”

Interesting. And wouldn’t you know it, Olay Total Effects works on all seven signs of aging (imagine that).

The skeptic in me thought that maybe there were more signs of aging that Olay was not designed to work on, but I let it go, figuring that I was not an expert on skin care.

The skeptic came back when I noticed Iams advertising that provided “Seven Signs of Healthy Vitality.” Iams is another Procter & Gamble product. Hmmm.

And guess what…Head & Shoulders (another P&G product) has “Seven Benefits”…fights dryness, calms itching, relieves irritation, reduces redness, controls oiliness, removes flakes, and beautiful hair.

And there are other P&G brands who have dabbled with the “Number Seven” mystique.

So what is the magic in the number seven?

I will confess, I have no inside connection to P&G and frankly really don’t know why so many brands at P&G are drawn to “seven things.” But I am a pretty good student of human nature and can make some educated guesses.

Let’s roll through the numbers…

ONE OR TWO – No, this won’t work as ONE means you really only do one thing and so that is not enough. Same with TWO.

THREE OR FOUR OR FIVE – Now we are talking. When you can say three to five good things about your product, then you are saying something. What is wrong with 3, 4 or 5? One theory is when you say 3, 4 or 5 things people can remember them and can fact check all of them. Sometimes that is good. But when you dig into the “seven” that P&G brands use, you find that some of them are a little “squishy” and may not stand up to scrutiny.

SIX – We are getting there…but SIX is a funny number. And there are some bad connotations to multiples of six.

SEVEN – Ahhh. Schoolhouse Rock taught us that “three is a magic number” but the reality is SEVEN is the magic number. I will explain in a minute. But from a scientific standpoint, it has been proven that SEVEN of anything is about all that the human brain can comprehend in one chunk, which is why phone numbers are seven digits long.

EIGHT OR ABOVE – More than SEVEN and the human brain shuts down.

So why is SEVEN the magic number? I think it is because of two reasons:

1. It sounds like a lot so people are impressed

2. It is so many that people won’t fact check each one

OK, maybe it is the skeptic in me again. But the proof is in the pudding. Go to the Total Effects page or the Head & Shoulders page and read the “SEVEN”…then go do something else for 15 minutes, then try to recall the SEVEN reasons…I bet you won’t get more than half right.

But SEVEN sounds like a lot of good things, doesn’t it?

There is no question that attempting to own “hot” or versions of “hot” appears to have great value and importance in the marketing world. So, how many original, unique, and memorable ways are there to communicate spicy “hot” anyway?

As to memorable, perhaps painfully memorable, Paris Hilton apparently sells designer clothes under her “That’s Hot” brand, and judging from her pending federal trademark filings, she still has an intention of expanding her “That’s Hot” brand to cell phones and alcoholic beverages, among other items, but apparently not buffalo chicken wing sauce or potato chips, thankfully.

Otherwise, it really might distract from a recent pair of trademark food fights in Minneapolis, both involving chips claiming to be “hot” too. You may recall the “Red Hot” Chip Fight between Barrel O’Fun and Old Vienna discussed here, that was quickly bagged here.

So, here are the current contenders in the most recent “Blazin’ Hot” trademark food fight:


A copy of the Buffalo Wild Wings trademark infringement complaint against P&G and Pringles is here.

The most interesting aspect of the complaint, from a trademark strategy perspective, is the fact that Buffalo Wild Wings did not bring a claim for infringement of a federally-registered trademark (Section 32 of the Lanham Act). Instead, it only relies on Section 43 of the Lanham Act (designed to protect unregistered trademarks) and a pair of Minnesota state law causes of action, even though it refers to owning some federal trademark and service mark registrations for and containing the term BLAZIN’. Perhaps Buffalo Wild Wings is attempting to insulate them from attack or challenge by P&G, since none is five years old yet or incontestable. Stay tuned to learn whether P&G turns up the heat on this dispute and counterclaims for cancellation anyway.

Now, as to the “original and unique” point raised above, it is worth asking, who else appears to have a stake in “Blazin” hot trademarks for food products? Uh, let’s just say, more than a few . . . .

Continue Reading How Hot Will This Saucy Trademark Chip Fight Be? Blazin’ Hot? Now, That’s Hot!