Mar 23, 2008

Branding With A Sell and Tell

You may have heard that features tell, and benefits sell. Well, that may be true, but when it comes to branding, salesmanship ups the ante.

When developing a brand, whether for a website, a company, a new product, or service, consider the use of the "tell" and "sell" to build your brand.

Examples of websites that use the tell-and-sell (or sell and tell) strategy include the following: - Darren Rouse's site uses "pro" meaning he's a professional, and "blogger" telling you that his site is about blogs. - This helpful site offers the sell "buster" and again "blogger" to tell you what it's about. - Another example of the tell and sell. eTail, meaning, retail but in an electronic or Internet forum, and "ology" is the sell - site features that build brand and sell (although they could tighten their slogan up a tad).

Examples of other famous brands or top brands that use the Tell and Sell strategy include:

Coca-cola - Coca-cola is known as the top brand of all time. Originally, the coca-cola recipe included cocaine. So, "Coca" definitely was the sell. "Cola" was the tell that described you were buying a soda. This brand also included the "word-blending" strategy by combining two words, as well as a word-abbreviation strategy. The result of coca-cola is a complex, and highly successful brand.

GE - General Electric is basically any appliance that uses electricity. A classic tell-and-sell brand.

HBO - Home Box Office is the most successful premium home video network. The tell is that the box office is in your home. The box office is the sell, meaning a theatre delivered to your home. With two channels, HBO and Cinemax boasted over 36 million subscribers as recent as 2006.

IBM - Originally, IBM stood for International Business Machines. You hardly ever see IBM use the full words of their name anymore. Why? Because they're focused on consulting solutions more than the sales of hardware. It is still a great brand, though.

Microsoft - the words Micro (small) and soft (software) indicate a small software solution.

Time, Inc. - Time magazine describes a sell: being a place in time, a meaningful moment in history, and hope of useful journalism about that moment. The tell, of course, is the magazine itself.

(List source is Business Week:

A more complicated brand might be Google - "Google is a play on the word googol, which was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, "Mathematics and the Imagination" by Kasner and James Newman. Google's use of the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense, seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web." Source: (

My own company's name, ARRiiVE Business Solutions, is a combination tell-and-sell and a word-play. ARRiiVE is the "sell" in the word, and utilizes an additional "i" in the brand. Also, the large letters denote strength, while the ii's indicate that it's not just "i" going it alone, but "i" and "i" together creating a team. I have noticed that the extra "i" also created an intentionally mis-spelled word. I learned that technique from Sara Blakeley, from her mis-spelled company name and product name "Spanx" hosiery. Sara claimed people remembered mis-spelled names more than correctly spelled names. I'm finding this to be true for ARRiiVE, as well. Business Solutions is the "tell" in the brand, as we provide business solutions for launching products, improving sales, creating interactive marketing, and building teams to create more business success. Lately, I'm finding tremendous success helping draw traffic to websites using a combination of modern and old-world marketing strategies that works like a charm (email me to learn more).

Product or service names can also be a tell and sell. For example, I'm using to be a tell and sell branding strategy for my sales training. Cold denotes a popular word for selling (cold-calling) and gold is the "sell" part of the phrase.

For example, Cisco's router strategy is to utilize the Linksys brand to become a household name. The tactic will probably pay off. Link - to tie together, sys - systems with a abbreviated name and name combination denotes a complicated, yet simple brand that ought to catch on.

How does your brand sell? Are you using a tell and sell in your product names?

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