I love James Bond movies. All of them. Even the bad ones (think anything with Denise Richards or Tanya Roberts). And I have now done something either completely horrible—or fantastic and empowering—by introducing my tween daughters to Bond. We have been trolling the catalog together on Friday nights.
And so it was to my horror that I found myself completely unable to name a whole swath of Bond films, despite the fact that I have probably seen each and every one of them five times or more.
There were the films that jumped to mind quickly:
• Moonraker (yes, I know, horrible)
• Diamonds are Forever
• Casino Royale
• Even On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (you know, the one with the Bond actor no one can ever remember – it’s George Lazenby, BTW)
And then there were the films I just couldn’t call up, although I had the vague recollection that they each had the words Live, Die or Tomorrow somewhere in the title. I even struggled with the recent Daniel Craig offering, Quantum of Solace. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to go there, why not just call it Spooky Action at a Distance?
The difference for me between the memorable and the less memorable is imagery. The Bond titles with words that sparked imagery, creating visual cues, simply stuck better. The highly generic and abstract titles, ones that don’t intuitively connect to an image, or even a sensation, are simply less memorable—less sticky.
This lesson is not new, but it is one that bears repeating. As marketers we often wade into our naming, copy and other verbal communications with high order ideas, and we use lots of abstract language to get them across. And it is a particular danger in the world of B2B.
So what is a brand to do?
First off, talk like a human being. Imagine that you are talking to another person, not broadcasting a message out to the world.
Use simple language. I love big words. But save “peripatetic,” “precipitous” and “pernicious” for your diary.
Finally, use imagery – create a mental picture. Don’t be afraid to use metaphors or similes that connect to the tangible world to help bring your ideas to life.
A quick example: I recently saw a new product offering from Xerox called BenefitWallet, a tool to help people manage multiple health accounts. The name does a nice job of leveraging an imagistic metaphor, the wallet, to help communicate that the product is going to help organize things and be intuitive and simple. I’m just guessing here, but this is no doubt going to be stickier than “Health Aggregator,” “SimpliHealth” or any of the other more abstract, on-strategy names that Xerox could have developed.
Now, that is not to say that there aren’t other tools that can be used to create memorability—sometimes sound or other disruptive elements can really help a name or an idea break through. But imagery is a great tool to have in the toolbox. So go forth and be imagistic. And definitely watch You Only Live Twice, even though it has a hard-to-remember name.