What’s in a name? More than you think.

Still_ResearchingA recent court case got me thinking.

In Cocke County Tennessee, a judge recently ruled that a baby couldn’t be named Messiah.  Not sure if I’ve ever heard of a ruling like this before and am wondering where the judge was when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their child North West.

In an earlier post, I wrote about name recognition and customer service, but what about the names of the products and services your company offers?

What if the iPhone would have been named, High-Tech Phone?  Doesn’t have the same ring as the iPhone, but that is essentially what the iPhone started out as, a high-tech phone.

Can a Name Limit a Product

XBoxWhat if the XBox was named Extraordinary Gaming Console?

At the time of its release, the name would have made sense.  The XBox was released as a video gaming machine, but look at it now.  You can stream different types of media, share information on Social Media and watch movies with Netflix.  In fact, my wife now uses our XBox more than me and she doesn’t even play video games.

Would the XBox have this much success if its name solely focused on video gaming?  Probably not, but Microsoft had big plans for the XBox and knew the name needed to match their idea of what the XBox would become, a fully engaged entertainment system.

Does a Name Touch Your Audience

QuestionA name may sound great to you and your co-workers, but does will it jive well with your audience?  Working in the banking industry, this has often been a challenge.  Early on in my career I kept running into an issue; we would gather a team together to create a new product or service and end up naming the new product or service a bank jargon driven name.  To avoid this, I would either:

  • Ask the team to pitch the name to a new hire that were also new to the banking world
  • Have our commercial lenders or branch managers ask their customers about the potential new name

Sometimes the name passed the test, but usually we had to go back to the drawing board.

Is the name unique

BeersWill the name of your product compete with another name in your industry?  Here’s a real life example…

A few years ago, a brewery opened in Knoxville and, in a short period of time, established a brand name that most craft beer drinkers in Knoxville embraced.  The name tied to the history of Knoxville and the beer was good.  There was only one problem; another beer company had a very similar name.  The brewery tried to fight it, but eventually had to change the name of their company and brand.  Fortunately the brewery is still in business and producing great beer.

The moral of the story: It’s important to research the name.

  • Perform a Google search for the name
  • Search to see if the name is being used as a website’s domain name

Two easy ways to get started with research that can prevent a future headache.

Wrap it up

These are just three ways to get started with naming a product or service. There plenty of other steps and processes out there, some easier and some more complex.  The important thing is that you create a name that will help start a conversation that leads to a successful sale.

What steps have you used when selecting a name for a new product or service?

What advice would you give others when choosing a name?


Running Scared

Killer-Bunny--monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-590929_1008_566Are you running off your customers?  You may not be doing it on purpose, but it’s happening in just about every industry.  The demand we put on customers to use new technology compounded by the lack of face-to-face/human-to-human service is causing people to look for other ways to conduct their business.

Unfortunately community banks are no different.  In addition to the two previously mentioned issues, banks are also trying to find ways to cover cost by reviewing fee structures.  But community banks should learn a lesson from the mistake Bank of America (BoA) made back in 2011.  BoA dropped the ball a couple of years ago when they tried to apply a debit card fee to customers.  By trying to quietly pass the fee through, it sparked a national outrage that caused BoA to stop the new fee.  To this day, people still remember that mistake and are quick to take any bank to task if they try to sneak in a new fee.

So how can a community bank keep the peace will trying to stay in business?  It boils down to adding value and communication.  Whether you are creating a new product or instituting a new fee structure, you need to make sure it adds value and that everyone is on the same page.

Adding Value

What do you and your team take into account when launching a new product or service?  Do you just look at how it will make your company profitable or do you go outside your company walls to see how it will benefit your customer?  Worse yet, you are giving the bank away by downplaying a product or service and giving it out for free?

Example: Remote Deposit Capture

A few years ago, I had the privilege of diving into the Cash Management side of banking and helped create a Remote Deposit Capture service for a bank.  We put a team together, researched pricing, interviewed vendors, created a marketing strategy and came up with a solid plan.  When the dust settled, I started selling the service to current customers alongside the bank’s commercial lenders.  The hardest people to sale the service to wasn’t the customers, it was a couple of lenders who believed we should give the service away for free.  They were shocked that the service started out at $50 a month and could reach $100 if the customer leased the scanner through the bank.  It wasn’t until the lenders saw how much value customers saw in the service (convenience, saving time, reduced spending), that they were finally comfortable with the pricing.


Effective communication must be done both internally to staff and externally to customers.

Keep your staff up to date

Before launching a new service or restructuring any process that will affect your customers, start communicating with your staff.  After all, your staff will be the ones who receive the most feedback from your customers, and you want to make sure they are well educated to handle any incoming questions or complaints.

  1. Communicate early: Let your staff know what changes are coming in enough time so they will be prepared.  This also allows for time to make sure your systems are ready for any change and that the change is compliant.
  2. Explain why changes are being made: If you do not tell your staff why changes are being made, then you are leaving it up to them to find out why.  This will result in everyone having a different answer, which leads to confusion and unnecessary stress to both staff and customers.
  3. Distribute tools to help communicate to customers: Provide a list of talking points or provide a list of possible Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) along with a list of answers.

Three simple steps, that when executed efficiently, pay off in dividends.

Keep customers in the communication loop

Sounds easy, right?  Sadly not all banks think about updating communication outlets, nor do they proactively communicate and listen.

  1. Update your website: How often do you update your site?  At the very least, update it whenever a new service has been launched.
  2. Communicate in different ways: Direct mail, email, statements, traditional advertising and online outlets are just options out there to use.
  3. Keep listening: When customers come in to talk about changes, be sure you and your team listens.  You may not like everything you hear, but you will learn ore about your customers and how the changes impacted their experience with your bank.

Change isn’t easy, but it’s needed for survival.  For a business to survive, you need to change without scaring your customers so bad they leave you and run right to your competitor.  In other words don’t let your customers feel like this…

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