One thing a lot of people comment on is the name, “Chimney Sheep”. It’s easy to remember and I get people calling who heard about it a year or two previously but still remember the name when they search for it online. To be honest, what else would you call a product that is made of wool and is stuck up the chimney?
Hmm well it seems that although the Brits and the Americans speak more or less the same language, there are cultural differences that mean nuances of language work with one population and fail with another. In the UK sheep are part of our national heritage. We have nursery rhymes and fairy stories about sheep. There’s a sack of wool in the House of Lords from which the Lord Speaker must address the house, to remind us all of how important the wool trade was for our economy. If we drive around the country, there are sheep in abundance in most rural corners. British people just sort of get the name “Chimney Sheep”.
When Jason Raddenbach from South Carolina got in touch to say how he loved the product and wanted to sell it, I was thrilled. “Just one thing though Sally” he said, “the name. I can’t sell it with that name. We don’t have sheep in the US.” I had to think about it. I really liked the name. We’d been selling around 80 sheep a week on the Amazon US site, so it seemed that there were a good number of Americans who didn’t mind the name.
“Um, what else would you call it, if you didn’t use the name Chimney Sheep?” I asked. “Flueblocker” came the emphatic answer. Well, with my cultural word associations, it sounded like something you’d stick in the loo, though not sure why. Jason patiently explained that “Flue” as well as being the chimney duct, is also associated in the American’s mind with chimney dampers, the traditional moveable iron flap that closes the flue. And “Blocker” – well it does what it says. Apparently Americans like things literal.
I had to see the sense in this. While a lot of individual customers might not mind a slightly comical, bit whimsical name, it would be harder to convince heating engineers, chimney sweeps, hardware store owners and the like that the Chimney Sheep was a serious product. So “Flueblocker” it is now, with its own logo and website. Try saying it out loud – it’s hard to say in an English accent (Floo Blokka), you have to say it with a Yankie twang (flueblockerr).
Jason has worked extremely hard to re-brand the product, developing the website, logo and explainer video – have a look at the website: www.flueblocker.com. It’s already selling well; here’s hoping for a cold winter both sides of the Atlantic.