Saturday, July 17, 1999

The 800 Number -- the Original Interactive Brand. 

5 July 1999: Last week, in The Worth of a Brand, we considered how the web affects brand value. It prompted one reader to write about the 800 number, "the original interactive brand." In the rush for the new, old marketing methods -- that work -- should not be forgotten.

In "The Worth of a Brand", June 28, 1999, the writer states, "Interactivity calls for solution branding -- because consumers use the web as a tool to help them accomplish particular objectives. Online a brand can't just "be," it must do."

Good point, but it's worth remembering that interactivity already has solution branding -- the 800 vanity number -- the original interactive brand.

SB Master, president of Master McNeil (creator of corporate, brand and product names for companies worldwide), states, "...the holy grail of new company or brand name development is to be able to have the identical name as a trademark (US federal or in multiple countries), as an 800 number, and as a domain name with no variation....In addition to developing a name which conveys the benefit of the service....we need to create a name which is available as all three -- the trademark, 800 number and domain name." ("800 GMBUYPOWER Created by Brand Masters")

Furthermore, concurrent with the article's observation that the interactive brand "must do", the vanity 800 number answers the three most important questions in advertising:

What product/service you are providing?
Who are you?
How can you be reached?

It is the brand. It is the cash register. It is transportation to the cash register. And properly executed, it is doorman and concierge.

Because of this, vanity 800's have a track record of increasing advertising response by 30% or more. One recent study, Toll-free Numbers in Radio Advertising (, showed that an advertisement using a toll-free vanity number yielded 14 times more phone calls than an advertisement using a toll-free numeric number.

In a related vein, it is worth noting that efforts by various entities to control the "brand" of the net -- domain names -- are not unlike those battles previously and still being fought, on the North American toll free and global freephone fronts. Those with interest in interactive brand matters, would be well advised to familiarize themselves with correlating issues in the 800 arena.


Judith Oppenheimer
Publisher ICB Toll Free News
President ICB Toll Free Consultancy
Moderator TOLLFREE-L