Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Jan 21 2005

To Kill A Mocking Bird, Or Maybe A Kiwi

There's been an interesting legal issue over the domain name www.KIWI.com. These types of disputes are bound to come up more often now that so many individuals, small businesses, charitable organizations and larger corporations are trying to find ways to live together in cyberspace. I never even knew that Sara Lee products and Kiwi shoe products could be traced to the same basic corporate structure. Unfortunately, now I do know that because I know that there was some negative publicity concerning at least one of these brands.

The internet is beginning to be a difficult place for those of us who work with words. It's getting to be tough to speak clearly and effectively. Increasingly, there seems to be someone waiting at every turn, ready and willing to accuse us of putting words together in groups they feel they have the right to keep as their own. And since there are a limited number of words in (at least) English, we're all bound to be using the same phrases as someone else, at some point. It's going to happen. And we'd better grow up and learn to accept it.

This is where the idea of branding presents a challenge to those of you who are marketers. Some of our thoughts and associations are so broad that we don't always think of the automatic associations between companies and products. And no amount of pressure on the part of marketers is going to change that for us. Branding has its place. But give me a marketer who doesn't hinge every campaign idea on traditional branding and is willing to go for the more unusual association, even if it appears to be some time warp from a company's past. I'll sit up and take notice of what they have to say, as long as they don't lie to me about the company's intent. And an inclusive attitude could go a long way toward making me think better of a company, even if I've heard some bad press about it in the past. I can't help but wonder if the two corporate entities mentioned in the above press release could have had a little fun with this whole thing, by each one cross-linking to the other's site and joking about the web site visitors having accessed the wrong sort of Kiwi. I wonder if anyone ever even thought of trying that approach before leaping headlong into the lap of the nearest legal counsel for some heavy-handedness. No one's likely to tell me, but I hope that at least some future disputes will be handled with more tact, warmth and creativity. It's much for fun to laugh with you than at you.

posted at: 10:35 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!