Corin and Brian Mullins are two startup founders – who happen to be in their early sixties. They created a high-fiber breakfast product that was originally called ‘Hapi Food Cereal’. Sounds reasonable enough right?
But one day a very enthusiastic customer called, and the first two words out of his mouth were, ‘Holy Crap!‘
They decided to do some quick, inexpensive market research – and took the same package with the two different names to a farmer’s market. In one day, Hapi Food Cereal sold ten boxes. Holy Crap sold over a hundred.
In 1999, Dave Hall decided he needed something to help his construction company stand out from the crowd. So he decided to go with ‘Mammoth Erection’. Honestly. According to Mr. Hall, the phone has never stopped ringing since. And not with prank calls, but new business inquiries.
Carey Smith originally had an industrial fan company called HVLS – which was an acronym for high volume, low speed. Sensible, but not very memorable. But he started to get an occasional call asking about the company’s ‘big ass fans’. In the years since he appropriated the name, the company has grown dramatically. And made the successful transition from industrial to a broad (big ass) consumer line of products.
Today you can order a glass of wine called ‘If You See Kay’ or ‘Sassy Bitch’. There’s a great beer from San Diego called ‘Arrogant Bastard’. There’s even a ‘Maybe You Touched Your Genitals’ hand sanitizer.
The fact is, we’re not living in the 1950’s anymore. And as a recent article in the NYTimes put it, ‘Even sophomoric humor is a sales lubricant’. People don’t gravitate toward serious. They much prefer it when you keep your message light. Give a potential customer a reason to smile, and you have a much better chance of creating real brand loyalty.