PepperMill June 2016

Tim’s For Sale

In my humble opinion, LinkedIn is one of the greatest business tools ever invented. It has changed the sales landscape by making contacts easy to find, and gives us a chance to understand their past and current selves.

Of course like anything else, there is great variety in the way people choose to share who they are, what they do, and my favorite—what drives and differentiates them. LinkedIn is, after all, a marketplace. We’re selling ourselves to the rest of the world. Literally. Will someone buy from me? Will someone hire me?

I love it when someone spices it up! I ran across a recent profile (en route to looking up other things, as most of us do), and it dropped me in my tracks. In the very first sentence, the owner states, “I have extensive experience working with serial killers.” Kelley Hunter of Lynchburg, Virginia went on to say, “My interest is learning about the most evil minds and motivators that produced the personality that developed into a serial killer. This population is difficult to develop a rapport with, let alone gain any insightful information for research …”

It turns out Kelley is the real deal, an accomplished author with career experience in law enforcement and a PhD in psychology. I love a person who puts it out there and describes their passions, whatever they may be (and to each her own).

Mark Lazen, a marketing guy from NYC, had a great line in his profile. “I am a multi-linguist of technology-driven business. I speak fluent geek, marketer, editor, designer, trainer, salesperson and difficult client. Understanding means fewer missteps, and missteps cost a fortune.”

I really enjoyed Justin Clifford’s profile. Again, how I got there I forget, but see if you agree:

I love taking on a challenge and lending a hand when I can. I (usually) have a smile on my face while doing either. When work has my name on it, the end product will only be delivered if I'm proud of it. My pleasure comes from connecting dots and people, being surrounded by friends and family, new experiences, teaching and learning, and helping put people in a position to be successful. I get a thrill out of coming to reasonable and fair conclusions when working through problems.

I don't need to be remembered for being the best, fastest or richest. When I'm gone, I hope people will say these four things about me:

- He looked out for me.

- He did what was right.

- He got things done.

- He had fun.

That, to me, will be success. 

Have you ever considered how you might express your personal brand? Just like any other branding, being honest and transparent is the best course of action. After all, that’s what we can back up and deliver!

Tim Padgett

Had LinkedIn been around, maybe we would have seen these in their profiles:

“It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”
—H.L. Mencken

“I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.”
—Vincent van Gogh

American Web Design Awards and Hermes Creative Awards—10 Wins in One Month!

Graphic Design USA

GDUSA has recognized Pepper Group with three 2016 American Web Design Awards in its annual contest showcasing the power of design to enhance online communications. This year’s contest received more than 1,150 entries, and only a highly-selective 15% of entrants were recognized as winners.

Pepper Group won American Web Design Awards for:
Swift Prepaid Solutions Website
MTC Performance Website
Sogeti Digital Transformation Video 
Sogeti Video

Hermes Creative Awards

Hermes Creative Awards also announced winners for their 2016 international awards competition recognizing outstanding work in the industry while promoting the philanthropic nature of marketing and communication professionals. There were more than 6,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and 15 other countries. Entries came from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers. A list of Platinum and Gold Winners can be found on the Hermes Creative Awards website at

Pepper Group won Hermes Creative Awards in the following categories:

Vegetable Juices, Inc. for A Natural Evolution Brochure 
Vegetable Juices Brochure
Follett School Solutions for Back to School Campaign 
Follett Campaign
Sogeti for Digital Transformation Video 
Sogeti Video
Swift Prepaid Solutions for Swift Website

Sebold Capital Management for Business Owner Invitation 
Sebold Invite
Omron for Overview and Recruitment Videos 
Omron Video

Honorable Mention
Single Path for K-12 Direct Mailer 
Single Path Mailer

Thank you to these and all our clients for allowing us to do such creative work!


6 Keys for Naming a Product, Service or Company

It’s hard enough to name a dog, but let’s face it, nearly any name will work and the stakes are pretty low. Creating a name for a product, service or company, however, is much more complex. It is linguistic art. It requires experience, creativity and focus. And it has to be supported by great positioning, a quality graphic identity and superior execution.

Let’s emphasize that last point. A name is only a combination of letters. The real strength lies not in the word itself, but in what you do with it. Many companies get stuck in the naming process because they expect the name itself to do everything. It can’t. Think about some of the “great” names, such as Google, Intel, Disney, Apple, Harley-Davidson. Genius naming? Not really. In fact, when you break it down, the names themselves are not great at all. Genius positioning, great creative execution and delivering on promises? Absolutely! In other words, it’s what they did with the name that made it truly great.

This is not to diminish the name’s importance, but to simply put it into perspective. The name, of course, is a key component in the mix. It is the sound that your brand will be attached to and as such, it deserves a lot of thought and effort.

Based on many years of experience in helping to create hundreds of names, here are six key factors for naming success:  

1. Strategy. Before a name can be finalized, what it will represent must be clearly identified. Who is the company? What is the positioning strategy? What is the product? Who is the customer and what is their mindset? What do or don’t we want to communicate? And who is the competition?

When these elements are addressed, the best names are created. Careful, in-depth preparation is an important part of the process.

2. Uniqueness. It may be a common word applied to a new category, a new play on an existing word or a totally new word. But don’t overdo it. For example, requiring that your new name have a short and available “.com” address can overly limit your options. There are, however, many new top-level domain (TLD) name extensions you can use. Take, for example. No .com needed. There are now more than 1,000 TLDs. Here’s a complete list.

The best question is does the name Google well? Is the name unique enough that people will easily find it, or will you have tons of competition? For example, “Phone Case” might be a neat name for your new product, but good luck appearing in search results.

3. Meaning. Whether it is something important to the organization or the founder, something about what the product or company stands for, or some other connection, having a story behind the name is a great thing. Pepper Group has a story. Even something as seemingly arbitrary as the name “Starbucks” has a story (it was named after the coffee-loving first mate in Moby Dick).

4. Character. This is about how the letters look together, how they sound and “feel.” Some names are energetic, while some just sound stong or soft. Other names make you think of a different word with positive associations (i.e. Intel). The bottom line here is that the character of the name should support your brand.

5. The Basics. Can the name be easily pronounced? Easily spelled? At best, there is no question. At worst, once someone sees or hears it once or twice, they have no trouble remembering it again. Take “Nike”. Try to imagine that you’ve never heard it spoken before. You would probably not pronounce a hard “e” at the end. But after hearing it a few times, it’s clear.

Also, does it carry some other unwanted association? For example, the mobile payment solution “Isis” was a fine name when it launched, but they ended up having to change it to “Softcard” for obvious reasons.

And finally, what does it mean in other languages? Most people in marketing have heard of the Chevrolet Nova not selling well in Mexico because it translates into “doesn’t go.” Did you know, however, that according to Snopes that is not true? Urban legend or not, the point still stands … make sure your new name doesn’t have a weird translation in countries where you want it to sell!

6. Availability. This is one of the toughest aspects of naming. With so many products, services and companies in existance, finding any name that doesn’t have a conflict is incredibly difficult. Usually you can use a similar name if you’re in a completely different industry, but you’ll often have to abandon your favorite options.

Be sure to start with a Google search of possible names to uncover current uses. We also recommend a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office database. These searches will eliminate obvious conflicts. From there, get a IP Lawyer to run a full search. If you’re looking for help, we have a great resource for you.

What’s important to remember is that names rarely (if ever) seem perfect immediately. You’re looking at something with no context—no logo, no tagline, no branding and no history. Pepper Group has a great tool that can help you objectively rate your finalists, but don’t expect one name to ever jump off the page and get universal applause from all stakeholders. What’s amazing, however, is that it takes a remarkably short time for everyone to start to fall in love with a new name once it’s selected.

From there, it’s onward and upward in making the name truly “great” with great positioning, top quality creative execution, and delivering on your promises. If you’re considering a new name, give us a call. We can help!

Blazing Forward

The iPhone 4 has four times the processing power of NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover. A chip in a musical birthday card has more computer power than the Allied Forces had in WW II. It’s statistically certain that we’re in a computer simulation right now.

This infographic tells the history of computing power, in a way that puts it in perspective, makes you think twice and dares you to wonder what’s next.

See if you agree that the speed of today’s computers is incredible. But the speed at which technology has changed in just a few decades is staggering.

Sharla Davis

YouTubin’: See What?

School’s out for summer! In an effort to help those children of all ages who have some free time on their hands, I’m sharing this series of fun optical illusions that are simple to create, and likely to gain them some big ooohs and ahhhs from friends and family. The illusions come to us courtesy of author and magician Richard Wiseman. Wiseman dabbles in psychology, illusions and magic. A column in the magazine Scientific American described him as “the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today.”

Here’s a link to download the template to make your own deceptive paper die from the video.

If that isn’t enough to keep everyone busy, visit the Quirkology YouTube channel and I dare you not to spend days down that rabbit hole!

Got some YouTube videos of your own you’d like to share? Just send them my way!

Todd Underwood