Tugboat Wins Silver Stevie Award

New York, New York - November 9, 2013 - Tugboat Brand & Business Development has been named the winner of a Silver Stevie Award for Reputation & Brand Management in the 10th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business are the world's top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run. All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations - public and private, for profit and non-profit, large and small. The 2013 awards received entries from 18 nations and territories. 

Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for "crowned" the awards were presented to winners during a sold-out event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.  

More than 1,200 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a a wide range of categories. Stevie Award winners were selected by more than 240 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process this year. Details about the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the list of Stevie Award winners are available at 

Tugboat Brand & Business Development was founded in 2001 and is based on a simple premise the work comes first, not the retainer. We are a group of seasoned, independent professionals who are well-versed in providing clients with best-in-class creative solutions for branding, marketing and communications. For more information, please visit or call toll-free at 1.800.284.2135. 




Critical Factors in Developing A Brand Portfolio Framework for Large, Complex Organizations

Article Synopsis

It is not uncommon for large scale B2B companies operating across multiple vertical markets to grow by virtue of acquisition. While business growth by acquisition is a finely honed, well-established practice in terms of risk and rewards, organizational alignment, financial return and market expectations; often overlooked is the long-term implication(s) of acquiring multiple organizational brands, without consideration for the potential impact these brand assets may have on the acquiring brand over a long period of time.

This article briefly addresses a few of the critical factors in how complex organizations with multiple brands operating across markets can initiate and gain support to develop a brand portfolio framework, without disrupting core business processes and reporting structures.

To read the entire article click here.



Life After M&A


In my professional experience, I have found that the role of branding during integration can run between two extremes.  In any corporate branding initiative there is the distinct possibility that the brand strategy will fail. There are a myriad of factors for this; these may include, but are not limited to, a lack of commitment by executive leadership, internal politics, resource limitations, employee resistance, or even a misguided branding approach, to name just a few. These factors can and often do get in the way of a successful brand initiative, regardless of whether an acquisition has been made.

During M&A, however, the probability of these and other factors impacting brand integration are even greater. This is because the pressure to integrate two organizations in order to maximize shareholder value is significant.  This creates even greater pressure on the branding team to get it right, and ultimately increases the likelihood that the brand integration will end up being viewed as either a lightning rod to vent organizational resistance associated with integration, or as a powerful bridge for strengthening business value and rallying employees and customers around a new value proposition.  It is this author’s opinion that once a brand initiative becomes a lightning rod for management it can be quite difficult to succeed in executing a strong corporate brand strategy.

This short article explores how the management team can utilize brand integration as a way to build a bridge and avoid the lightning rod syndrome.

 Click on image to read entire article.



Jump Start Name Development

Neophyte namers are often overwhelmed at the prospect of developing a new name. The world of naming conventions is finite. Becoming familiar with naming in your industry and within your competitive set is easy, and is an important first step in understanding what type of name to pursue. Here are a few more tips to consider.

Learn Basic Naming Conventions

Generally speaking, there are four basic categories of naming conventions that marketers and managers should understand.

1. Descriptive Names

  • Carries a literal association with it as in ""

2. Proper Names

  • Directly related to a partner, individual or found of an organization as in "Bain & Co"

3. Suggestive Names

  • Evocative with some or no direct association to the product or service as in "Starbucks"

4. Coined Names

  • Made-up terms that can be evocative when marketed well as in "Viagra" or "Zazzle"


For almost obvious reasons, different industries tend toward different conventions. Professional service firms have historically relied upon proper names. This is because the equity is primarily derived from individuals and their respective reputations. Other industries like consumer products tend to be more suggestive or evocative.

Strong Names Jump the Right Hurdles

Ultimately, a viable name candidate must make it through three critical hurdles:

1. The name has to be relevant among customers

2. The name must be well-received by leadership

3. Legal must be able to clear and obtain it

Failing any one of these requirements will undermine a new name's potential.

Worship at the Alter of Easy Alliteration

In an effort to get a secure and protected mark, there is a tendency among naming firms to pursue highly coined or suggestive names. This is often a last resort because descriptive names can be tough to protect. The challenge however is that often a coined term ends up being a tongue twister that no one can pronounce or say easily. This is a name killer and should be avoided at all costs.

Running Naked is Costly

Nobody plans on being sued. So why do smart, educated professionals put their organizations, albeit, at risk? Here are a few painful bromides we've heard along our naming travels.

"We were under pressure from management to launch and get it out the door"

"We did a preliminary screen and it came back clear"

"Well, yeah, I know we sell globally on the Internet, but we're based here in the U.S., we never even considered filing outside of the U.S."

"We can't afford legal fees; we're a start-up operation, topline revenue is our priority, not legal costs."

Sound familiar? Hopefully not. Putting your name out there in the public domain without the proper registration is begging for the wrong attention.






Guidelines for Creating New Product Names

Identifying and developing a new name for your product portfolio can be a tricky business. Here are some quick tips to make sure development stays on track.

Start the Process Early

And by this we mean while the product is in the development stage, not prior to an estimated launch. Ideally, name development should be part of product development with marketing taking the lead. We live in a cluttered marketplace. The key is to build a cushion of time assuming that several name candidates will fall out due to legal restrictions. The naming process should start a minimum of six months out, prior to public release. The more pressure the team is under to get a name out the door, the more likely nobody will end up pleased with the result. Even worse is the prospect that the new name would potentially result in making the portfolio confusing to understand to the customer.

Develop a Naming Framework

Ask key questions that will guide strategic direction:

  • How will this new product name (brand) relate to other products in the portfolio? Will this be sold as a bundled solution or a point product?
  • Are we developing a name that complements or distracts from our existing name nomenclature?
  • Will we be making improvements to this product in the near future in terms of features and benefits? Does it make sense to develop a new name or leverage an existing name form the customer's point of view?
  • How will this product brand be differentiated from what is currently on the market? And will the customer understand this differentiation? Have we tested this in the marketplace? Or are we just working on internal assumptions?
  • What is the role of the product name (brand) in the portfolio? Is is a me-too or a category leader? Is our resource allocation in alignment with the type of name we are developing?

Consider the Brand Portfolio

Avoid developing the name without considering your product portfolio. This is one of the single greatest mistakes to make because what may be right for the individual brand (new name) may be wrong for the entire portfolio. This often ends up resulting in:

  • Too many names in too many segments
  • Duplication and overlap
  • Gaps in communicating how the names are different from one another
  • Inefficient and diffused resource allocation of names we choose (for example, if we invent a name that has no associative quality do we have the funds to build the right recognition)

The Typical Steps Required for New Name Generation

1. Competitive Analysis

2. Naming Brief

3. First Round of Name Generation

4. Preliminary Legal Screening

5. Second Round of Name Generation

6. Short List Selection

7. Full Legal Search

8. Linguistic Evaluation

9. Oral Evaluation

10. Name Decision

Work Closely with Corporate Counsel

Your internal corporate counsel can provide the team with a sense of how cluttered the field is by forwarding a small list of names for pre-screening. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office also maintains an online database that lists registered markes where you can search their database at  Also, don't be shy to check out names that come up in a Google search and other engines to get a feel for what is currently taken and in circulation. Doing basic online searching will help determine what types of naming nomenclature is already in the public domain and protected.

Wait for Legal Clearance

Resist the urge to start putting a new name into circulation on draft marketing materials and collateral, until it has been fully cleared by corporate counsel. First, it adds an unnecessary legal risk. And second, it tends to make it that much more difficult to try and switch to a new term. Once a name starts being referenced internally, it almost automatically moves to adoption by the organization.

Great Brands Are Built Over Time

Contrary to popular belief, strong names take time and investment. Even the ones with a built-in evocative feeling like "Yahoo" require marketing support. Don't expect a new name to simply take-off without generating internal enthusiasm for it. It is important to make sure that the sales force and customer service representatives will embrace and support it as well.