When Bad Names Happen to Good Companies.

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare -- Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)


You have an idea, you have the ambition, you have the time, and most importantly, you have the funding.

Now all you have to do is come up with a simple, but easy to recall name for your new business venture or product. Easy right?


Never in the history of marketing, branding, advertising or design has the naming convention game been more important or more difficult. The major hurdle that you will deal with won't be with your business or product’s name. It will be with your business or product’s domain name. And if you know anything about branding or brand identity you'll probably want the two names to match.

Just for kicks and giggles, enter a name or product you may have been mulling over into one of the various internet "WhoIs" search forms. (Okay, I'll make it easy on you as we both know you're a very busy entrepreneur; try this link:
http://www.internic.net/whois.html . Go ahead, type it in, no one is looking.

Oh, too bad! If your business or product wasn't named after, hmm, let's say a blend of 37th century B.C. Sumerian cheeses, chances are high it was already taken. In fact, last I checked, I think every word or letter in the previous sentence was already taken.

That doesn't leave you with a whole lot of wiggle room when naming your new 21st century business baby, but don't get discouraged. With the strategic thought and creative care of a professional team at your helm, the letters will all fall into place. Just like apple, adobe, windows, amazon, google, vonage, skype, viagra, zyrtec, vioxx and xanax.

And no, I'm not picking on the big pharmaceuticals. It's just that, unlike Sumerian, the Klingon language should stay where it belongs.

Gary LoBue Jr / Art Director / The Russo Group

ps: ga-àr-ra: a powdered or finely grated Sumerian cheese ('milk' + 'to grind'); gaarra.com: a product, company and domain name that's just raring to go --

Along Came a Spider – Search Engine Optimization

Little Miss Muffet sat at her laptop
Building a cool new website,
Along came a net spider
Who passed right by her…
Mocking her along the way.

So you’ve spent major cash on a cool new website for your company. One built in Flash and featuring all the latest bells and whistles. You show it off to clients. You talk about it with friends. You even dream about it at night. This site, you tell yourself, this virtual Mecca, means you, well, you have arrived. You are a 21st century entrepreneur.

Alas. Your joy soon dies. Because it isn’t long before you realize this Zen of all sites receives an average of one hit daily – yours. The problem – no one knows where you are. Your fancy new site lacks an essential programming ingredient – Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What is SEO? It’s making sure the right copy, not the right graphics pack your site. Don’t panic – good web designers can still make your site look cool too, but when it comes to programming – you’ve got to consider the spiders.

Warning – our discussion requires I now launch into web-speak.

Most Search Engines have little pieces of code called spiders that crawl around internet content, indexing site content based on how easy it is to read and follow. Spiders don’t see the web as you and I do. They don’t pause and look at the pretty pictures. They don’t gasp in excitement at the fancy Flash presentation. And, unfortunately, they don’t boogey down to your homepage music. The spider is only interested in the code. And if in programming you didn’t consider the code, if your site lacks certain keywords, you won’t be found. Search engines like Google and Yahoo will pass right over you when they list relevant matches to keyword inquiries.

Remember your website is only as effective as the response you receive from it. Make friends with the spiders, and they will make friends with your site.

John Rockweiler, Interactive Director
The Russo Group

What Your Last Agency Might Have Forgotten – A Strategic Brief

We’ve seen it time and time again. Companies left dazed and confused after interviewing agencies to handle their marketing needs. Business owners sit in conference rooms hearing pitches stolen from some universal “How to Sound Important Without Actually Saying Anything” manual.

These agencies show their portfolio with pride and boast of numerous awards kept neatly polished in trophy cases. They claim to have all of the answers and, for a modest fee, will place your company on the fast track to world domination.

Some will even bring spec creative to convince you of their talent, but offer little that assures you they really understand your needs, not to mention your budget. They often forget the one thing that actually matters – a strategy.

Without a sound strategy of implementation, your marketing efforts are destined to either A) fail or B) do little to get you where you want to go.

Save yourself conference room fatigue by asking the agency for a strategic brief. Don’t expect the brief to give away the agency’s creative concepts, but it should offer the meat of their proposed marketing plan. It will:

• Detail the agency’s understanding of your needs
• Outline the goals for your campaign
• Propose a budget in line with reality
• Suggest a strategic media buy based on budget and ROI
• Give you an understanding of who they are and how they work

Simply put – tell them, no brief, no contract.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner
The Russo Group