To Name it is to Own It

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Yahweh must have been a business man.

If you remember way back when, the biblical story is that Yahweh refused to allow his name to be used. He ended up as “he who shall remain nameless!”

When you can name something, to a large extent, you own it. And the term you own will often, in fact, be the term other people begin using.

The essence of a brand “is the creation of a name that not only conjures a particular impression, but that also is used by other people.” That’s the power of the brand. The more common the usage – the clearer the understanding of what the name means – the more power you will find in that particular name.

When I first began teaching about investing in real estate notes, the commonly used term was “discount mortgages.” I didn’t like the concept of discount mortgages because I thought it was inaccurate and it also portrayed a different concept than what I was attempting to accomplish. The concept of a discount suggested we were simply buying the thing on a discounted basis as opposed to valuing the present value of the future cash flow, which is truly what it’s all about.

I began using the term “private real estate notes” way back in the late 80’s and subsequently I started using the term, “private mortgage industry”, to describe the industry that made a living out of buying and selling these privately held real estate notes.

The term stuck and although there are people out there who continue to use the term, discount mortgages, the chances are very strong they are outside the mainstream of the industry.

Simultaneously, I also began using the term “Cash Flow Industry” to describe all the different types of income streams which were brokerable or fundable in the secondary marketplace. We created the term and then began using it in the early 1990’s. Out of that term emerged the Cash Flow Industry.

Whether it’s private mortgages, cash flow, or anything else, to name it is to own it.

Not too long ago, a woman named Faith Popcorn started producing the Popcorn Report. She described a particular way statistics could be used to evaluate what was up and coming and what was going by the wayside. The Popcorn Report turned out to be not only extremely valid, but a ticket for longevity for Faith Popcorn.

Later on, she produced a book called “Clicking”. She defined “Clicking”, i.e. she named it in order to own it. However, it just simply didn’t take off. It didn’t make any sense to a whole lot of people, and, because of that, it just simply wasn’t used in common language. She might have owned it, but nobody cared.

When I evaluate a business opportunity, the first structure I focus on is the business model itself. The attempt is to understand whether a particular business model will be successful to achieve a repetitive result.

However, the second thing I look at is the extent to which we have an opportunity to brand a particular name, or define a particular position which has not been done in the past.