bantam bagels branding blunder

On the latest episode of the new show “Beyond the Tank” Lori Greiner spent some time with the couple behind “Bantam Bagels.” If you’ve forgotten about them, or their product you can watch the deal go down here at the 38:38 mark:

The product is a pretty cool idea, although I’m not a big bagel eater. From the start Lori didn’t like the name. Nor did Barbara (who sounds drunk in the clip above because of the audio problems, it’s great). I think they’re both drunk, good idea and a great name!

In the episode Lori visits the couple in New York and somehow persuades the couple to change their name from “Bantam Bagels” to “Bagel Stuffins.” Yes I’m serious, that’s not a joke. Lori insists that if she walks down the grocery aisle she can’t tell what it is from the name. First of all she probably has someone do her shopping for her, so she never goes down a grocery aisle. Second, have you ever heard of photography? Third your reasoning is so stupid it goes against branding 101.

Tell me if any of these “brands” describe what’s in the box:

How bout Twinkie?

Or maybe Oreo?

Zinger, Ho Ho, Snowballs?

Pringles, Reeses, Kit Kat, Payday, M&M, Nutella, Chex, Coke, Pepsi?

Those were just a few off the top of my head.

Perhaps Lori should take a branding course, I’m sure one of the sharks would even mentor her. Here’s a nice primer for you: 10 Biggest Rebranding Failures to Learn From.

Bantam had a perfect name. In the episode they asked a few customers if they knew what a bantam was or what the name meant. None of them knew. That’s a perfect opportunity to re-brand a word that’s antiquated. Words are redefined in every generation. Bantam could have been tomorrow’s Kleenex or Band-Aid, those are brands by the way, not just products.

You see that’s how branding works. You take a good name, like Bantam, and then make that word or name synonymous with a product. Chapstick, Velcro, Zipper, and Jell-O to name a few. Here is a list of 100 “Genercized” brands that are now synonymous with a product.

Bantam could have had a chance at becoming number 101 on the list above. But no, it’s now “Bagel Stuffins.” Not to be confused with “Doc McStuffin’s.” Lori has effectively taken a high quality brand name and cheapened it into a bargain item in the frozen food aisle. It sounds like a fad item likely to come and go like so many freezer foods have done in the past. It seems Freezer foods are on the decline anyway, tough market to make such a big mistake.

Here are a few quotes floating around on the internets:

“Sounds like something you’d buy off the gas station hot rack.”

“Would Starbucks change its name because nobody knows its high quality coffee?”

“Bagel Stuffins = BAD NAME CHANGE! The new name and packaging is insulting to the customer’s intelligence!”

“Bantam Bagels sounds like a gourmet product. Bagel Stuffin’s sounds cheap.”

“Bantam Stuffed Bagel Company. Bantam Stuffed Bagels. Bantam Bagels. All of these are so much better than Bagel Stuffins.”

“…stop trying to cater to the lowest common denominator. Product speaks for itself, people will rise to its level… Great products inspire ppl to remember the brand. No need to conform to presumption customers cant think.”

Just to prove that the name was gaining traction and growing as a brand, I took a look at the search data provided by Google. In the months leading up to the air date of the show the search volume for “Bantam Bagels” looked like this: (These numbers are only estimates by Google, they aren’t 100% accurate but give a general idea of search volume per month)

May 2014 1,600
June 2014 1,600
July 2014 1,300
August 2014 2,400
September 2014 1,900
October 2014 1,600
November 2014 4,400
December 2014 5,400
January 2015 165,000
February 2015 18,100
March 2015 8,100
April 2015 8,100

So they were trending up already before the show even aired. They must have first aired on QVC in November, I could only find the December airing on YouTube. After shark tank it looks like they have been settling in at roughly 4-5 times the search volume as they received before November, and only double the search traffic after airing several times on QVC.

Let me add that having someone search for your brand more than 8,000 times a month is an extremely difficult thing to accomplish. I worked for a company that generated over $3 million a year in revenue and we were only Googled about 1,000 times a month. See, I used the word “Googled” there because well, they branded internet searches.

So it looks like the people have spoken as well, at the time of this post 314 say keep the name, and only 144 say change it. Should have done a poll before the name change.

I was at my local pizza place the other day and I ordered the “Jo Spartacus.” It’s a crowd favorite for sure. Wait you’ve never heard of it? Well that’s because you haven’t been in our town yet. Everybody knows what a “Jo Spartacus” is in this town. It’s a piece of pizza you’ll never forget. The point is, word gets out, people talk. Brands develop, names become synonymous with products and services. They don’t need to describe the product because eventually anything resembling “THE product” will be called a “Jo Spartacus” or a “Bantam” Bagel.

Oh and by the way, who does your logo design and branding? Let me guess, you went to a community college and asked some beginner design students to have a logo contest. Guess what? Nobody won, including Bantam Bagels.

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