I am often asked how I come up with my article topics. My answer is usually: “They just come to me.” This weekend this article came to me while desperately trying to find a Starbucks in between my daughter’s soccer games. After five minutes of driving the main boulevard with no sign of my favorite siren my daughter said, “Don’t worry Dad. I’ll Google it.” Sixty seconds later: problem solved.
As an entrepreneur and a writer of “all things entrepreneur” I am constantly looking at the successes and failures of businesses. I do this to both implement it in my ventures as well as to share it with the world.
There are no guarantees in business. Success comes through the culmination of many moving parts that come together and result in an outcome where the sum is greater than its parts. Notwithstanding the absence of a secret sauce for success there are definitely some strategies that come close to acting as silver bullets. One such strategy is turning the brand into a verb.
I noted above how my daughter saved my morning when she volunteered to “Google” the closest Starbucks. She didn’t “search” for Starbucks. She “Googled” Starbucks. I don’t even think she used Google to find the location. But she has come to think of the act of searching as Googling. That is what I call the closest thing to a silver bullet in the world of entrepreneurship.
Richard Laermer, in his book Full Frontal PR, asserts that the coining of a phrase is a great way to start people talking about your product. In Google’s case, the brand name (Google) replaced the act of searching for something on the Internet. Yahoo!, AltaVista, Hotbot and Ask Jeeves all preceded Google by years. Yet it was Google that became the 800 pound gorilla. Was that the result of better technology, smarter management or a cooler logo? I say not.
Google’s ability to own the verb used to describe the act of searching for something made it the king of the search engines and strongly contributed to its staying power in the evolving search space. Think about it. How many times has someone asked you to Google something. How many of those times did the person want you to specifically use Google and not another search engine? Brilliant!
“If you do it right, your name will be the first one that leaps to mind when consumers think,” Laermer states. “This is not an overnight effort, but the effects can be powerful, and they can last a lifetime.” Just ask Google!
Someone who gets the power translating the brand to a verb is Boldface CEO Randy Fenton. “While we are not a tech company like Google, YouTube or Facebook, we are involved in producing and delivering innovative products. As the world’s only maker of on-demand customized backpacks there does not yet exist a well-recognized understanding or vocabulary for what Boldface does. So the timing is ripe for us to take ownership of that process.”
Fenton uses the phrase “I’m gonna Boldface that” and the corresponding hashtag “#ImGonnaBoldfaceThat” to establish Boldface as the verb describing the process of creating customized on-demand apparel.
“Our product is unique and our process highly innovative. Regardless, we know that competition will always be brutal – no matter how awesome our backpacks are when compared to the competition. So having Boldface become synonymous with producing customized on-demand products will ensure our long term success,” said Fenton.
Laermer encourages entrepreneurs attempting to “own” the verb to use the word as a verb replacement everywhere possible. “When you’re trying to drive buzz about your product in this way, you have to use the new word whenever you can, in conversation and in writing, to get people truly to start using it and to make it stick in the collective memory.”
Good luck. And if you have any comments or questions about turning your brand into a verb you can post them below. Or you can always Google it!