Q&A with Alexandra Watkins

    Kat Engh Posted by Kat Engh.

    Kat used to work for Berrett Koehler as a Social Media Strategist & Communications Manager. Now she works in the fashion industry.

    Say hello to Kat here.



    Q&A with Alexandra Watkins

    Why is the right name so important?

    A name will last longer than any other investment you make in your business. Whether people see it on your storefront, read it on your badge at a tradeshow, or see it on their caller ID, your brand name makes a critical first impression – even more than your shoes.

    How often do you re-name existing brands?

    About a quarter of our work is re-naming brands because they are being threatened with trademark infringement, outgrew their name, or simply had a name that sucked.

    Do you have an instance where you have re-named an existing brand and seen their success increase as a result?

    The hip Hotel Vitale on San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront experienced a 25% jump in their wedding business when we changed the ho-hum names of their wedding services to ones that were, pardon the pun, emotionally engaging.

    Before

    After

    Rehearsal Dinner

    Meet the Parents

    Co-ed Bridal Shower

    Shower Together

    Post-Reception Bar Rental

    Last Call for Alcohol

    Post-Wedding Brunch

    Bloody Married

    Guest Rate

    Entourage Rate

    How long does it typically take to name a brand?

    3- weeks

    Does the name ever just hit you straight away?

    Yes, Eat My Words came to me in a flash. Even if we do think of the perfect name right off the bat, we still do a full exploration, just to be sure we are right.

    How much do your services cost? I.e. Between what and what?

    Our fees vary wildly depending on the size of the client, number of decision makers, domain name needs, trademark class saturation, and “fun factor.” Some clients have paid us in trade with ice cream and chocolate and others have forked over US $50,000.

    Why the name Eat My Words?

    I started out naming things that make people fat and drunk.

    Do friends and family often ask you for your help on things?

    Yes, and I am happy to help my friends and family.

    What are the most common mistakes companies make when choosing names?

    Thinking the domain name is more important than the brand name. It's not. No one cares what your domain name is. They can find you on Google. Names that aren't spelled the way they sound are frustrating for customers, spell-check and journalists. And names that are meaningful to you but not to your audience are terrible. Examples: Vungle, Xboni, Tcho.

    Can you think of any examples of awful names?

    See above. Plus..

    Squrl

    Ipiit

    Mogad

    Loud3r

    SmolkSignal

    Zippii

    What made you decide not to go to college?

    I knew I wanted to be in advertising since I was in 8th grade. I could not imagine sitting in a classroom for 4 more years after high school. On the creative side of advertising, no one cares where you went to school. They only care about your portfolio.

    Why did you write your upcoming book? How long did you work on it for?

    A publisher, Berrett-Koehler, approached me about writing a book because they loved the humorous writing style on my website (www.eatmywords.com) - humor is seriously lacking in business books. And no one had ever written a how-to book on naming. It took me 3 months of weekends to write it.

    Have you always lived in SF?

    I am a California native, and was born and raised in San Diego. I have lived in SF for nearly 20 years.

    Do you ever find it a disadvantage being a woman in a man’s world so to speak?

    That is a terribly sexist question! 90% of purchasing decisions are made by or influenced by women, and 50% of buying decisions are based on emotion, so it's only natural that women name the products they are buying.

    Do you ever get writers block? And if so how do you break it?

    No. Honestly, that has never happened to me.

    Who was your very first client?

    One of my first clients was Gap. I wrote names and taglines for a lot of their holiday beauty products. My favorite was a travel makeup kit. I named it, "Dash." The tagline was, "A little color goes a long way."

    Did you get investment at the start? I.e. How did you begin?

    I didn't need $ to start my business. Just a computer and a quiet place to think.

    What is your favorite brand name ever?

    Kryptonite, the industrial strength bike locks.

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