Thursday, January 17, 2013
It all started not long ago when we were driving home from Charleston on I-26. I spotted a billboard advertising a gym with what I thought was one of the cleverest business slogans ever: “Pay Diddly For Your Squats.” I just couldn’t get this phrase out of my head. Which is, of course, the goal of catchy business and product names.
The more I thought about it, the more catchy local names came to mind.
Near us on Trolley Road is a sign for the “Howl-A-Day Inn,” a veterinarian’s kennel. In the Ladson area is a tavern called the “Pour House.” Among clever business names in downtown Summerville are a brace of them with two-word, well defining titles:: “Finishing Touch,” and “Perfectly Frank’s.” The former offers custom framing and just the right decor pieces for the home. The latter plays on the proprietor’s name as well as a main menu item.
Also nearby are “Pop’s Top Shop,” an upholster doing, among other things, convertible tops and sunroof repairs. Then too, are the self-explanatory “Bearly Worn Baby Boutique,” and “Tread Quarters,” plus a quartet of salons called “Attitudes,” “Great Clips,” “Hair Jazz,” and “Just Teasin.”
Well, I was hooked and became a significant sign seeker, starting a list of those which appealed to me wherever I went. Visiting in Lexington I saw a marquee outside a butcher’s which proclaimed “Meat’n Place.” In North Charleston there’s an architectural practice called “Verdi,” which in five letters underscore its mission and services. Using the Italian word for “Green,” it offers some of today’s most sought-after building assets, including economy and sustainability. Succinct. Clever. Again, memorable.
I saw a catchy sign in the Blue Ridge Mountains which said in huge Capital letters “Snow For Sale,” written one word on each of three lines. I didn’t think it clever; I thought it ridiculous. Who would buy snow in the Virginia hills? But the joke was on me. Turned out it advertised a realtor whose last name was Snow! (Maybe clever at that? I remembered it, didn’t I?)
There is also such a thing as a catchy symbol. Every time we go to Folly Beach I can’t help grinning at the clever (and humorous) life-sized model of a shark hanging boldly outside an attorney’s office. I’ll bet this actually brings in business.
The internet, of course, features dozens of sites offering brainstorming techniques helping to come up with catchy names and phrases. There are also a myriad of books for sale which purport to instruct you on how to do same.
A favorite site was a posting by one Lily Rose, who went on a quest similar to mine. Seeing a sign for a bike shop, she thought of the one which caught her eye in her college town a few years before. She never forgot the “Cycle Path.” This led her to research other clever business and product names and compile a lengthy list. My six favorites were a coffee shop named “A Brewed Awakening Espresso;” “Lettuce Eat,” a restaurant, and one of the best to my mind, medical consultants tagged “Ill Advisors.” The other three I really liked were “Kid Napping Center,” for preschoolers, an automatic garden sprinkler aptly labeled “Bed Wetter,” and the “Humpty Dumpster,” for, of course, tossing garbage and junk.
Then the other day I was in the grocery store called “Publix” in which “x” marks the distinctive marketing spot and came across a clever product to dispatch flies and other small critters. It was a melody of alliteration. The product called “Swift Swat,” had its slogan tell us it was three-pronged – a “Swatter,” a “Sweeper,” and a “Scooper.”
Now that’s catchy – in more ways than one!