A Startup Walks Into A Bar And Orders…


Six decade old advertising agency archer>malmo gave an amazing discussion at SXSW 2013 called “When Bad Names Happen to Good Startups.” It was a candid look at naming mistakes startups make. While sometimes names are an afterthought based on a url’s availability, the folks at archer>malmo and their investment arm  a>m ventures, preach the importance of a name because it’s the foundation of your brand.

Patrick Woods, a>m ventures Managing Director, says “say nodaddy to godaddy” referring to the practice of naming a startup for a URL. That was just the beginning of an amazing presentation at our Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference earlier this week.  What transpired after a brief introduction had the entire audience talking for the rest of the conference. In fact, shortly after the discussion The Cincinnati Business Courier’s Andy Brownfield was so blown away he posted this story.

So the story goes like this: archer>malmo’s Senior Copy Writer Justin Dobbs is a close friend of Woods. “He’s one of the most creative guys I know,” Woods told the audience. So it was a feeling of shock, or possibly being blown off when Woods was recently looking for a gift to get a male friend for his birthday. He figured he would turn to Dobbs’ creative edge to help him come up with something truly amazing. Dobbs’ suggestion? A bar of soap. But not just any soap,

Dobbs suggested a bar of Duke Cannon. Now Duke Cannon is a man’s soap. Its brand isn’t just a brand; it has a personality. Brand is bold, and masculine and their branding is something Woods was successful in driving home.

Their website and brand image is filled with personality. “Tested by soldiers, made in the USA” is one of the rotating graphics that dons the companies web page. “Veggie Burger’s Don’t Mind If I Don’t” is another.

“Duke Cannon doesn’t dine with vegans and he could give a damn about your iPad,” it says on the company’s about page.

Duke Canon’s personality is that of a man, a man’s man. If he walked into a bar he would undoubtedly order something hard.

That’s one question Wood’s asked the audience at Everywhere Else Cincinnati. “What would your startup order at a bar?” “What would your startup order to eat?” was another.

Woods said startups that use simple descriptors may have found the perfect way to tell what their startup does, but they’re so simple that they are insulting to users.

Duke Cannon has a brand voice and startups need one too. “Startups almost feel like they need to sound like a startup. Don’t try to sound like a startup,” Woods said to the audience.

“When you develop a strong personality, you start moving your startup from a product to a brand,” Woods told Brownfield. “Personality is what your brand says when you’re no longer speaking.”

Nibletz would order a Redbull and Vodka and pizza.

Find out more about a>m ventures here.


archer>malmo Submits Two Great Startup Branding Panels For SXSW

archer malmo, am ventures, sxsw, panel picker, startupsThis week we will preview some of the best startup panels that are up for consideration at SXSW Interactive in March.  SXSW gets thousands of possible panel, speakers, book reading and other content submissions for their “panel picker”. If you’re a startup founder, entrepreneur or influencer with a startup related panel please email us with a link to the panel information at startups@nibletz.com.

archer>malmo is a Memphis based PR and marketing firm that’s been around for 60 years. They have huge clients like Pfizer, Verizon and RJ Reynolds. But they also work with startups. Not only do they do work for startups but they have a a venture firm called a>m ventures that invests creative capital into new startups, for equity (*disclosure Nibletz Media Inc is an a>m ventures portfolio company).

With their vast experience in startups and working with all kinds of new and young companies, they’ve seen and learned some great (and not so great) things that are definitely worth sharing with other startup founders.

Last year, they held a well attended panel called “When Bad Names Happen To Good Startups”.  The panel discussed the importance of naming and how sometimes that name that goes with that cleve URL may not be the best decision ever. They also discussed the ins and out and why’s of choosing a name. For most companies you’re stuck on it, or some version of it for life.

This year they are hoping to expand on that theme with an equally as important topic, branding. “When Bad Brands Happen To Good Startups” ”  Gary Backaus, Chief Creative Officer/Director and Justin Dobbs Creative Director at archer>malmo, were the speakers for last years panel and will also be speaking on this panel as well (if selected).

We get it. Whether it’s an investor intro, an online listing, or your elevator pitch, there are times when capturing your startup concept in a few words is critical.
But talking to customers? It ain’t one of those times.
Yet for some reason many startups continue to court customers with the same robotic sound bites used in their pitch.
And while a digestible “My Unique Feature” formula is fine for accelerator applications, in the real world, you aren’t pitching a business model or market niche. You’re pitching a product. And even the simplest, fastest, shiniest, funnest product needs more than a value prop and a clever name.
It needs a personality.
We’ll examine brand personality types, marvel at great ones, laugh at bad ones, and share some tips for uncovering your brand voice—one that’s genuine, true, and that offers your customers something no positioning statement can.  (they said on their panel picker page)
am>ventures Director and Everywhere Else Cincinnati speaker, Patrick Woods, has also submitted a panel for this years SXSWi panelpicker. Woods just got back from being one of the “mentors” for the new SXSW V2V festival in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Woods has a long background in PR and marketing with the past few years spent exclusively with startups. As the director of am>ventures he’s tasked with finding the startups that the firm wants to invest it’s creative capital in.
Woods also mentors through local accelerators, does office hours via Skype and Google hangouts and both writes and speaks on startup branding and marketing.
“Branding From Day Zero: Startup Brand Strategy” is the discussion Woods has submitted.
Branding. All startups have to do it, but no one really knows how. Punch “startup branding” into google and you’ll find checklists and 10-step plans that’ll tell you to “have a logo” and “be consistent.”
Startups don’t need tips and tricks. They need an understanding of brand strategy—what it means and why it matters. And ultimately, how to do it from the beginning.
Name, logo, t-shirts, stickers—these are all parts of brand, but what undergirds the whole system? Brand strategy. Startups usually skip this crucial phase. And it shows. I’m a hybrid ad man/startup guy who’s built brands for everything from an event discovery app to an AI system. I’ve seen tons of branding tools, but none specifically those starting from scratch.
This talk will explore a way forward specifically for startups. We’ll move past the tips & tricks and focus on a few actually helpful questions for building a great brand that resonates with your audience and build long-term loyalty.” Woods wrote on his panelpicker page.

You can vote here for “When bad brands happen to good startups”

and here for “Branding from day zero: Startup Brand Strategy”


5 Rules For Naming Your Startup: Memphis Firm Offers Advice In SXSW Panel [sxsw]

archer malmo,memphis,startup,naming startups,startup tips,sxsw,sxswi60 year old Memphis advertising and PR firm archer>malmo presented their panel “When Bad Names Happen To Good Startups” last Monday at SXSW Interactive. Over 100 people attended the panel discussion and stayed throughout the entire hour long session.

archer>malmo Chief Creative Officer Gary Backaus and Senior Copy Writer Justin Dobbs presented the entertaining hour long session for startups curious about naming. The duo of advertising executives mixed humor with the session which made it quite entertaining.

Despite having a client roster that includes names like Pfizer, Verizon and RJ Reynolds, Dobbs broke the ice and established credibility by making light of the fact that the firm is located in Memphis. He showed a few slides of new technologies that archer>malmo currently employs including; email, and intranet. He also showed a slide of a rack card rack that you would find at a hotel, saying they were creating something new called the “Take One”.

When it came down to content though, Dobbs and Backaus gave out some great tips in their “5 Rules for Naming Your Startup”.

1) you’re not naming a startup you’re naming a brand.

2) Create a first impression that’s positive, intriguing and clear

3)  Don’t create conceptual or technical hurdles

4) When necessary be descriptive, whoa whoa not that descriptive

5) If it ain’t broke.

It was during the fifth rule where Backaus discussed the work that the firm is doing with nibletz.com The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else. (disclaimer: nibletz is a portfolio company for archer>malmo a>m ventures arm).

One of the biggest takeaways we got from the panel wasn’t an actual rule “You don’t need a big idea for your name you just need a name for your big idea” Backaus told the audience.

Find out more about archer>malmo here and a>m ventures here.

Here’s more of our great startup coverage from SXSW 2013

SXSW 13 Preview: When Bad Names Happen To Good Startups

archer malmo,sxsw13,startupsSouth By Southwest Interactive 2013 is less than two weeks away and for those of us who are actually going to attend the great panel sessions, keynotes and workshops held throughout downton Austin there’s a great one, no startup wants to miss.

archer>malmo our creative agency and an equity holder in nibletz media, through their am>ventures arm, is holding a panel discussion at the Four Seasons entitled “When Bad Names Happen To Good Startups”

Last August when the SXSWi committee took suggestions for panels archer>malmo submitted this panel that is a must attend for all startups.

archer>malmo has been around over 60 years, and is one of the largest and most widely respected firms located off Madison Avenue. They’ve worked with Fortune 100 companies and some of the top brands in the world including Verizon, Pfizer and RJ Reynolds.

archer>malmo has taken an interest and startups and created an investment arm called am>ventures, for which nibletz is a portfolio company. This experience, working with new entrepreneurs and companies, prompted the creative minds at archer>malmo to start talking about names.

Sometimes entrepreneurs and startup founders don’t fully consider the ramifications of their new name. Many startup founders go for a name based on a creative URL while others use a name ripe for great SEO. Still others have other reasons for a name, like nibletz.

When we originally created nibletz it was a companion site to thedroidguy.com and the original idea was to deliver capsulated tech and startup news. The tag line came first when I thought of the name. “Small Crunchy Bytes From The Tech & Startup Scene” was the line I had come up with. I took it to our massive “Thedroidguy” Twitter following at the time and more than 100 followers suggested the word niblets.

We found that niblets meant corn so we changed the S to a Z. At that time we didn’t look at the Urban Dictionary of the word. In fact it wasn’t until we cleared the 50,000 mark on social followers (we’re now at 130,000) that I bothered to look at the Urban Dictionary meaning (go check for yourself).

Another great story about names came by way of a demo day graduation at Chattanooga’s Gig Tank over the summer. The startup was called Corpora. I was writing a story during their live pitch and while one of our staffers was editing video I began to write but I needed a graphic. So I did what anyone would do and went to Google Images. (now go do it for yourself), pretty bad huh.

These things happen all the time and we don’t want to spoil any of the panel so you should check it out and then decide if you’re too invested to create a better name.

The panel will be hosted by archer>malmo’s Chief Creative Officer Gary Backaus and Senior Copy Writer Justin Dobbs.

Check out our interview with Dobbs about the panel below to get more insight:

archer>malmo was a sponsor of everywhereelse.co 2013 and a presenting corporate sponsor for everywhereelse.co 2014 get your tickets here.

When Bad Names Happen To Great Startups: Corpora And More NSFW

We were in Chattanooga Tennessee this past week covering GigTank’s demo day.  GigTank is a three month accelerator that was centered around building startups that utilized Chattanooga’s 1gb city wide fiber optic network. Chattanooga’s 1gb fiber optic network launched a year before Kansas City’s, Google backed 1gb network.

The first team that presented was a startup from Asheville North Carolina called Corpora. Corpora is a platform that uses social media to aggregate and crowdsource things on a grand scale. For the purposes of the competition they showed off how the service could be used to track medical conditions like allergy clusters. Corpora could also be used to source clusters of other conditions like a food poisoning outbreak or  conditions with widespread results.

One of the judges quickly shot the idea down by suggesting that they wouldn’t tweet about “a rash”. Aside from that, and if you can look past the medical vertical, there is a lot of data that could come out of something like Corpora. Although they didn’t win the grand prize of $100,000 they definitely have an idea worth continuing on now that the accelerator program is over.

So why is Corpora in the headline?

Well Thursday morning while sitting at the press table on the second row at the demo day presentations, I discovered something quite disturbing about Corpora.  I had just finished video taping their pitch and began to compile this story about Corpora. After writing a short summary of their presentation, and uploading the video to YouTube, I began to hunt for a logo for the startup. Like most people the first thing I did was a Google images search.

I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone reading this who was seated behind me and had their eyes on my monitor instead of the actual presentations. You see Corpora yielded a search for Corpora Cavvernosa. The first page of Google images results yielded over 25 pictures of penises. Some of the penises were pierced, some cut open, some were just medical illustrations. You see Corpora Cavernosa is the tissue part that runs on top of the urethra and fills with blood and expands as a result of nitric oxide during arousal. Yes Corpora Cavernosa is the actual part of the penis that “gets hard” during an erection.

In a half joking manner and in a half “WTF why didn’t these entrepreneurs vet this out better” manner, I texted a few of my colleagues who were sitting a few rows back (sorry Eric and Patrick) and of course they too saw the disturbing pictures that undoubtedly you’ve gone and Googled now as well.

Some may say that this is a minor thing, on the contrary it’s something that’s minor but could have been dealt with early on. They don’t actually have any significant brand presence at the moment.

We’re not totally in the clear either, however we knew about our issue early on and decided not to worry about it. There is an Urban Dictionary definition of niblets (with an s) that means something that may be a bit on the NSFW side (I’m sure you’ve Googled it now as well).

Our situation is a bit different, that colleague of mine I mentioned above Patrick Woods is a director at archer>malmo’s a>m ventures group. They specialize in branding, brand identity, advertising, and PR. Woods would love for us to change our name. When he thinks nibletz he thinks snacks, and now of course the UD definition we told him about.

Our name came about because we actually came out with our original tag line before the name itself, which was: “Small crunchy bytes from the tech and startup scene”. As a compliment to our huge Android site (which was sold in April) we came up with Nibletz last year. Our original plan was to do a capsulated version of tech and startups similar to what you would find on TechCrunch. We pivoted in January to “the voice of startups everywhere else” and kept the name.

Unlike Corpora we have an established brand presence so for now the name is the same.

a>m ventures has submitted a suggestion for a SXSWi panel/talk in 2013 called “When Bad Names Happen To Great Startups”. If selected archer>malmo’s Chief Creative Officer Gary Backaus along with their Senior Copy Writer will host and moderate a discussion on the importance of naming and having a great name that you can build an even greater brand identity with.

They’ll highlight some of the companies that have changed their names under archer>malmo’s direction and done very well.

Name changes happen for many reasons, but it’s much easier and a lot less costly when little nuances like your name being part of the word for erection, come up early on in the startup process. Even major corporations sometimes go through name changes. Phillip Morris Companies, the manufacturers of Marlboro cigarettes and one time owner of Kraft foods recently went through a name change to Altria. Of course for Altria many will always refer to them as Phillip Morris.

The Haloid Company was the first name for Xerox.  Lucky Goldstar, the Korean company that became LG, changed their name for better global adaption. Under the Lucky Goldstar name they released a number of very low end electronics, this may have had to do with the shift when they started shipping flat screens, and smartphones worldwide. Now with the shortened name they’ve adapted the slogan Life’s Good.

Many don’t realize that when they fly AirTran they are traveling on the same carrier once known as ValueJet Airlines. ValueJet quickly made a name for themselves in the early to mid 90’s until 1996 when a crash in the Everglades caused them to change their name permanently. Now, most people have forgotten (or didn’t know) that Airtran is ValueJet and just associate AirTran (a unit of Southwest) as a value carrier.

Our own word?

One thing we like about nibletz is that we’ve made it our own by swapping the S for the Z. Do we think we’re the next Google? No of course not but made up words can be fun. The downside to made up words is when you invert a letter like we did or use some other creative spelling that’s hard to articulate in speaking. We are forced to use some SEO ninja skills to help direct people who may be looking for us with an “s” and not a “z”.

We’ve also had a problem with good ole Heather who holds the Twitter name “nibletz” she used the name nibletz as her gamer name for many years and has tried to hold the Twitter handle hostage hoping we’ll pay her thousands of dollars to use it. Sorry we’re doing just fine wtih @startuptechguy my personal Twitter and @nibletztweets.

We’re hoping that the team behind Corpora will do something with the name (or flood the net with pictures to push down all those pictures of penises). We’re also hoping that archer>malmo will win a spot at SXSW for their valuable talk.


More great Chattanooga GigTank coverage here

Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup stories from “everywhere else”

This may be our last crowdfunding campaign but we need it the most!