What’s Your BrandWord?

What's Your BrandWord?

Fitjerk makes me laugh. No, really. I’ll be sitting there minding my own business and an email drops from the sky. “JAMES!! JAMES, I’m so excited, check out this POST!!!!!” And voila, there’s 1,500 words of rambling, passionate, off tangent, barely-sensical excitement splattered all over. I get the gist of it, but not much else.

“Good idea,” I’ll write back, wrapping my “No way in hell I’m accepting this post,” inside friendly suggestions on how to clean it up. And every single time, Fitjerk goes to work. “Okay, okay, I got it, right,” he replies absently, and I know he’s already working on it and doesn’t even realize I’m there anymore. All his focus goes into making the post better, cleaner, tighter. There’s no room for anything else.

Then the post comes back. “There. Done.” It’s clean, tight, concise, logical. And Fitjerk knows it’s good. He doesn’t need me to say so. That kind of determination and self-confidence? I love it – it makes me laugh every time, just because it’s so great to see.

But I digress. Go read today’s post. Enjoy.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s the concept of brands. A brand just makes life so much easier. I love how I can quickly determine the quality of a product, the experience I’ll have if I buy it, or the knowledge that it’ll be garbage just by looking at its brand logo.

We preach not to be superficial, yet in business school, we’re taught the importance of brands and how to make customers expect the expected just by looking at a certain image, word or color.

Pfft, what a ridiculous contradiction. It’s no wonder so many people are confused in this day and age.

But the truth is that we need brands. There are way too many products out there, and we sure as hell can’t be bothered to remember them all. We need a quick, efficient system that allows us to make an accurate buying decision – and branding is where it’s at!

It should be common sense that building, maintaining and protecting your brand or image should be of ultimate importance if you want your blog or business to thrive. The problem is that not many people track their branding power online – or worse, they don’t push their branding efforts far enough.

But what is far enough? Apple certainly doesn’t need to try to build their brand anymore; they just need to maintain leadership by not doing stupid stuff *cough* iphone4 *cough*.

When is it okay to pull back on branding efforts and spend more time on building products? I’ll tell you when: when your online brand becomes a major keyword… or as I like to call it, a BrandWord!

Now, not every blog or online business can claim that they are a BrandWord, oh no. You can only say you have a BrandWord when people type in the name of your product or company into Google or the URL address bar of a browser to visit your site. In other words, a BrandWord should bring you traffic because you are just that well known.

A few examples: When I want to find reviews on a certain cell phones and tech gadgets, I don’t go to Google. I go directly to engadget.com, because they most likely have what I need. If I want SEO or marketing advice, I go to Sphinn.com, not some funny-looking  blog that fuses three random keywords together to end up with a horrific creation.

Mind you, some of them have good content, but if it’s good, it’ll end up on Sphinn anyways, and that’s where I go.

If I want copywriting or writing tips I come here, go to Copyblogger or bother James. Think about it. What’s more appealing as a brand, MenWithPens or thewritersforhire? Both provide the same service, but one is easily forgettable, while the other is… well, we’re all here, aren’t we?

And to prove my point further, it seems that when people are looking for a really handsome young man to whip their ass into shape, they throw my BrandWord into Google. Because my site is so relevant to what people are looking for, the average stickiness rate of unique hits – people who’ve never been to my site before – is 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

That’s right, I am loved. You may feel jealous now. It’s only natural.

Build Yourself a BrandWord

Since the subject of brand building is obnoxiously huge, I’m going to cut to the chase and throw out a few of my best kick-ass tactics that help your site become a BrandWord. All you have to do is follow my awesome plan, which consists of four kind-of-easy steps:

  • Pick a brand name (duh!). Make sure it’s not too long and that it’s easy to remember. It should be relevant and descriptive, and a name you’ll feel good using forever. (I know, commitments scare me too, but a lifetime devotion to cash is something even I can handle.)
  • Create a blog for your brand name that has a relevant URL. One of my early mistakes was that I bought fitjerk.com after I bought flawlessfitnessbook.com, and the blog attached to my book blew up faster than I anticipated. The problem was that there was no branding for that URL.
  • Create a load of content and make sure you toss in your Brandword frequently. Spread it around – guest posts, articles, social bookmarking, free ebooks etc. This is an obvious step but so crucial and so often overlooked.
  • Spend some cash on advertising, but write catchy ads. About a year ago, I set up a Facebook ad that said, “He’s a Jerk, but he’ll get you in the best shape of your life!”. The title had my BrandWord in it, I targeted the ad to males that were 30 to 40 years old, I set the budget and let it loose on the book-facers! The ad was NOT supposed to generate a click; it was meant to give my BrandWord exposure. The money I spent gave me a ridiculous number of impressions. Play around with exposure advertising on the web.

Honestly, that’s all there is to it. Time does factor into making this work, but then again, a business is a long-term plan to wealth. The accumulative time you spend on building your BrandWord  pays off quite nicely… and I’m speaking from experience here.

So, is your business a BrandWord? Or is it just an unknown keyword?

Author Bio: “While he has a passion for writing and oozes the entrepreneurial spirit, FJ is a Fitness Expert first and foremost, focusing on impeccably accurate advice delivered in a straightforward, no-BS style. Check out his popular Fitness Blog and E-Training program!”

Here's James' favourite resource on branding that teaches you everything you ever wanted to know about branding your business (and the mistakes you don't want to make):

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by experts Al and Laura Ries.

You'll be on your way to building a branded success!

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.

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  1. Hi,

    Excellent tip regarding branding.

    After reading your post, I think I will have to concentrate and pay more attention on branding.

    Some people say only keywords are fine, but I think brands are important too.

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  2. SuperWAHM! SuperWAHM rocks and even has the url… definitely need more brand exposure too.

    FJ, what’s the point behind getting the exposure on Facebook? If your aim wasn’t to get clicks then what’s the benefit of putting the money into advertising?

  3. Okay, so maybe I don’t have a WORD, but I’m known for “telling it like it is” in terms of social media. A little snarky, a little rude, but only because it drives me freaking CRAZY PANTS when I see people (especially freelancers and small businesses) approaching social media like it’s just another marketing tactic. Anyway, my point is that I have more of a personal brand than a word and I think that’s okay.

    I’m totally open to suggestions, but I like where I’m at at the moment. And to be honest, I’m not sure how relevant a specific word is to every single business or freelancer out there. Aaaannnnd, to be perfectly honest again, this post isn’t super clear about how to go about finding that word or how freelancers can use it.

    The bullet-pointed advice is actually just (very) general advice on how to use the internet to strengthen your brand. Yeah, of course, have a company/brand name, get a website, post content on that website, advertise to spread the word. I think most of us have figured that part out already.

  4. Hi FitJerk, There were some great one-liners that made me laugh. Also, I think your advertising slogan is a winner because a real exercise person only wants results and expects a drill sergeant.

    Couple questions: So BrandWord is really the name of your business? ie. FitJerk, MenwithPens…? and the keywords would be “exercise” or “freelancing”?

    “Create a load of content and make sure you toss in your Brandword frequently.” If I understand that, you put the name of your business into your posts? (Sorry, I’m not trying to be smartass here, I’m just trying to figure out how to do this without sounding self-serving and awkward.) I can see where in this post, using the name of your company in the examples makes perfect sense, but I’m trying to figure out how this might work in a regular blog. Maybe it is two different animals.

    I think your use of “BrandWord” should join Niebu in our urban dictionary :)

  5. Cool post.

    I’m trying to own the term “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs” – its not quite a single “brandword'” … but its close.

    There’s some good tips in here – I dig the upfront, no BS writing style too :)

  6. Fantastic post there. Really given us something to think about.

    (and as for the director’s commentary up at the top. I have a very similar blogger on the team. He’s not quite as efficient though!)

  7. Super-duper post. Branding is one of the most talked about and least researched topics by new entrepreneurs, and it’s something that you have to do from the very beginning. When you develop a new business, you really need to develop your brand strategy alongside it.

    There are too many people out there focusing on crating a new non-sensical word that is memorable, like a new Google.

    However, for most of us, the best thing you can do is to incorporate a witty play on your niche, while still maintaining a name that people will understant what you do, when they hear it.

    I like fitjerk, that is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s short, but it presents a massive picture in the reader’s head, even if it’s the first time they see it.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  8. Great post. I created a brand a few years back, fell in love with it, tested it, and it stuck. Thank goodness, because I was really attached to it.

    What cracks me up is when the site began beta testing, a few over zealous writers actually wrote to me and corrected the grammar and punctuation. You need an apostrophe here, you need a space there. All true, if it was not graphically branded the way I wanted it.

    Brand: WritersLatte

    At first it bothered me and I began playing with the design. Then changed my mind and responded to the last email. I politely told them when Walmart spells Wall correctly and Toys ‘R Us fixes the backwards R, let alone fixes the word! I will take into consideration there request that I separate the words and add the appropriate apostrophe.

    :) Love your brand, be your brand!

  9. “There are too many people out there focusing on crating a new non-sensical word that is memorable, like a new Google.”

    I’m too lazy to reach for my master’s level marketing textbook right now and flip to the chapter on branding, but if I did it would say that is a viable strategy.

    The idea of a brand is to differentiate a product/service in consumer’s minds and build trust/comfort. You can label your brand in generic three ways:

    1 – Create a new word. Google and Exxon are two examples. Reliant on positioning and communications to create distinction and meaning in a consumer’s mind.
    2 – Combine two existing words, preferably related to the firm’s offering and loaded with imagery. JetBlue is the best damn name on the planet. British Petroleum not so good.
    3 – Combine several words, usually ends up describing the firm and thus will ultimately lack consumer associations leading to greatly diminished branding power. “Real Social Media Marketing Strategies” is a disgustingly weak brand name.

    However, to address Marian’s above question, not every firm needs to have “perfect brand-ability. One of the sites I’m currently working on is called “Best Music Ever.” Here I don’t want a strong brand, I want a communicable message, but that’s a choice and a trade-off most firms should not be making. “Shrink for Entrepreneurs” (as above) is a horrible brand name but a great title. Think of the difference of how you would title a book (or a professional service) vs. a firm.

    Note that for businesses the vast majority of companies you know utilize strategy one or two. As far as branding power is concerned:

    Online Marketing Strategies.com < Sphinn.com
    Best Polos For Men And Women < The Gap
    The Search Engine Company < Google
    That Comfy Shoe Company < Dockers

    Looking through the comments, I do see a lot of people utilizing strategy three, I suspect accidentally or unknowingly. I've recommended this before here and I'm sure do it again: One of the best things you can do is spend $100 and grab a high level marketing textbook. Best money you'll ever spend.

  10. @Nabeel – The power of branding today goes a long way, so it’s a worthwhile area to look into.

    @Melinda – LOL, yes, dear, you have branding going on.

    To answer the question of, “if the point wasn’t clicks,” question, think of new stars that hit the celebrity scene. They use exposure marketing and show up everywhere you look, in all the tabloids and news… but none of that is done to encourage immediate action. It’s done to instigate interest and attention.

    People will eventually say, “Who IS that damned James showing up all over?”

    And THEN they’ll come see.

    @Marian – Personal branding is one of those “up for debate” topics. People attempt to brand themselves, and when you’re just another person amongst billions, it’s very difficult to become known via branding. You have to become THE go-to resource for whatever need and use exposure marketing to make sure everyone knows about you.

    @Mary – I think Niebu is a beautiful word. And I send plenty your way.

    @Peter – *points up to the part about being THE go-to resource…*

    @Andy – Oooh, you called me Director. *swaggers* I like that.

    @Joshua – Yep, it’s the number one step for business (amongst all the other number-one steps, of course), and so many people neglect this one. Then they wonder why their business isn’t doing so well.

    Because it’s generic! Why *would* it do well?

    @LL – Great point: You’d best be damned sure the brand is the right fit, because you might be stuck with it a long, LONG time.

    @Justin – That’s an awesome comment, so your laziness is forgiven. I also absolutely agree that a good textbook (easily available at Amazon, people) is a wise, WISE investment. I have several myself, and my favourite ones are those discussing consumer behaviour.

    You’re correct that “shrink for entrepreneurs” isn’t a brand name in itself. But it IS a very strong part of the marketing strategy. It answers that question: who’s the go-to guy for biz psychology? The shrink for entrepreneurs.

    Not to be under-shadowed, of course by THE go-to guys for killer content and kickass design… *coughMenwithPenscough*… I hear they have a great brand name. ;)

  11. James, that first paragraph is quite possibly the most ridiculously accurate representation of our email conversations. Awesome.

    Now, since most questions seem to be answered at a more than satisfactory level, I’ll just elaborate a few points home.

    @Nabeel – You totally need a brand. Right now, your closest competitor that I think of is XSitePro. Id say think of a similar catchy name then use the “create your website by tonight” as a slogan. Either way, you’ve got some thinking to do.

    @Melinda – There is something about superWHAM that does stick… thought “business” wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. More like a toy I’d use to beat up my cousin with. But that’s just me. And simple way to think of my FB ad campaign is billboards. Just remember one thing though – it seems that FB is getting smarter now. Before you could get away with setting a CPC ad, making a crappy copy for branding purposes and generate hundreds of thousands of impressions for pennies. Now, if you ad doesn’t perform (isn’t getting clicks) they will stop showing it and you’ll have to increase your bid. If you play around though, you could get thousands of impressions for like a few bucks a day.

    @Marian – I like your feisty-ness, and I agree with James on this. Personal branding is a bit tricky, specially with your last name that I can’t easily spell. Break that shit down and regurgitate it over and over to your readers like Vaynerchuk did. “Hey this is Gary Vayy-Nerr-Chuck! And THIS my friends IS the thunder show…” << You can't forget something like that.

    @Mary – A Brandword can be your business name, trademark or pen-name people know you by. Perfect example is Procter & Gamble – A really shitty Brandword but they own Oldspice, which is a killer Brandword. Specially after that YouTube campaign.

    Also what do you mean by a "regular" blog? If you're running a blog for fun or as a side hobby then Branding or building your Brandword isn't that important… my post was referring to those who do "Pro" blogging – making money through sales. And I took up your suggestion on urban dictionary. Good call on that one.

    @Peter – Agreed with James on this also, your name needs to be known. How many others out there do what you do? I'm guessing not many? Take advantage of this. By the way, that is one sexy ass website. Hmm, wonder which crack team of creative individuals came up with THAT one… ;)

    @Andy – I think being called efficient is one of the best compliments I've gotten besides being falsely blamed for "airbrushing" or "photoshopping" my body.

    @Joshua – You've got it going on homie. "Underdog Millionaire" – Its slightly long but it's descriptive and enough for people to bang it in Google if curiosity strikes. I'll be keeping an eye on you to see where you take this.

    @LL – Indeed, I would've done the same, while telling them they don't know shit about marketing or branding. "Writer's Latte" would just kill it. I believe Kia came out with a car in Europe called Cee'd. I think the marketing team was on holiday.

    @Justin – Hell yes, I knew I wasn't the only one that loved the name JetBlue. And a marketing book also gets a nod from my end. The insights you can get from that are priceless.

  12. @James – Consumer Behavior was my favorite subject during my master’s program. Nothing like being able to hack people’s minds :D

    @FitJerk – It’s good to see you over here. I remember first seeing your site and thinking “Yep, that’ll succeed wildly.” Well played good sir!

    Now that I’ve had my morning coffee and done some work I’ll dive back in. For those wondering what makes a good brand name, here is a paraphrase from my aforementioned text (Kotler).

    Brands should:

    – Communicate something about the product’s benefits and features. JetBlue, Beautyrest.
    – Be easy to pronounce, recognize, spell, and remember. Tide, Aim, Total.
    – Be distinctive. Exxon, Google.
    – Translate easily into foreign languages. Fun story, before deciding on the name Exxon the company was considering calling itself Enco. They translated the name into over 50 languages and found that Enco meant “stalled engine” in Japanese.
    – Be capable of registration.

    Someone asked how exactly you create a brand. Here’s how I’d recommend doing it:

    1 – Figure out your product offering and positioning.
    2 – Brainstorm, find a great name, go through the above list, find it fails, repeat x 1 million.
    3 – You have a great name! Now go to GoDaddy, find it’s been taken, back to step 2, repeat x 1 million. Get frustrated, begin drinking.
    4 – Success!
    5 – Start associating tangibles and intangibles with your brand. Have a great logo, a distinct website, and a unique product offering. Your positioning is key here. Walmart.com is very different to Prada.com, and your design should reflect a similar correlation.
    6 – Start communicating messages about your brand. Think Lululemon or Old Spice.

    And that’s all! Damn I love marketing.

    P.S. I fudged part of my previous comment. Brands notably can be only one (existing) word, but brand management is often challenging due to the fact that they communicate primarily other meanings. For example, Tide will tend to make people think of water first and detergent second. Not optimal.

  13. Great post FitJerk, you have done an excellent job of branding. Not just your business either because you have chosen a brand that translates to you as the individual as well.

    I wonder if there are so many brands out there that don’t follow your great suggestions because the brand is created in the earliest period of development. For many start ups low on cash, paying someone to help them plan their brand doesn’t seem worthwhile.

    The problem is a catch 22 situation for most people. They say they’ll spend money on branding once they start getting some sales. The only problem is that once you have a customer base, it is difficult and costly to change the brand.

    @Peter I like the branding of “The Entrepreneurs Shrink”. There are many companies that have built solid brand awareness with great slogans. Nike – Just Do It, Honda – Power of Dreams, McDonalds – I’m lovin’ it.

  14. @Justin – You’re my new favorite person. (Also, what’s your Twitter ID?)

  15. Great post, FJ.
    With so much stuff out there, it takes a great BrandWord to get my attention.
    It takes great content to keep it.

    Larry Hehn, the “Christian in the Rough”

  16. @James – I just wrapped up grad school a month ago, so between moving around the world (back to Canada!), getting settled, and building businesses I have had no time for personal branding yet.

    Still, I definitely see myself doing some freelance consulting in the future and need to get on it asap. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. This post is excellent food for thought, especially considering how many businesses use generic terms for their name and website, and end up all sounding the same in the process. (Just try searching for something generic like IT solutions and see how many variations of that used as a name you come up with.)

    I don’t think it’s JUST about the word though. It is, or should be, about personality, the unique qualities, whatever it is you want to be remembered for.

    FitJerk is an excellent example of that. You get the feeling right away of what kind of coaching you will be getting with him. And while it may not be right for everybody (and that’s a good thing! Can’t please everybody), there are plenty of people that are looking just for that.

    Picking just one thing to focus on is also a good idea. MenWithPens would have been called MenAndWomenwithPensComputersCamerasAndLotsofOtherStuff if they tried to incorporate all of their services in the name.

    I was tempted myself to incorporate more of what I can do in the name and description, or to go with the generic “graphic design” — and I still have to explain to clients that yes, I can make a banner for use on the web as well — but print design is my main thing, so I don’t really mind.

    Asking others who know you to describe what you do can be a good starting point. Just a thought.

    By the way, love the sound of Shrink for Entrepreneurs and the Underdog Millionaire.

    But often less descriptive ones work too — it’s not just about the name… According to Wiki, “a brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan. […] it affects the personality of a product, company or service.”

    The thing is, you probably already have a brand. Whether it does a good job of expressing what you stand for is a whole different story.

    Also according to Wiki, “The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp.” — which is completely irrelevant to this post, but does explain a few things, such as why James has trouble finding stock images for branding. ;)

    But I digress… Back to my main point. (yes, there was a point, somewhere)

    David Ogilvy said this many years ago, but I still think this is very relevant today, and he expresses it much better than I ever could:

    “How do you decide what kind of image to build? There is no short answer. Research cannot help you much here. You have to actually use judgment. […]
    Most manufacturers are reluctant to accept any limitation on the image of their brand. They want it to be all things to all people. They want their brand to be a male brand and a female brand. An upper-crust brand and a plebeian brand. They generally end up with a brand which has no personality of any kind, a wishy-washy neuter. No capon ever rules the roost.”

    This has been said a million times in a million different ways, I know. Yet I am still finding myself explaining over and over again why “target market = everyone” is a bad idea.

    Sorry, that was rather wordy, and probably not quite as clear as it could have been. This comment has kinda gotten away from me. Better stop here and go back to Twitter. 140-character limitation is a good thing. :)

  18. @Jayturn – Yeah, there is no DOUBT that anyone thinking of running their business needs to think about branding from the very beginning. It’s not a total catch 22 because starting a real business needs some kind of real captial. Part of that has just GOT to go towards building the brand IMO.

    Now, everyone check out Lisa *points finger*… wait, I don’t mean “check” her out, I meant check out her brand. “fitforpaper” – If you don’t think that’s gonna become (or is) a BrandWord, then you weren’t paying attention son!

    @Lisa – You’re right, your brand is more than just a name or image… it should most definitely have a personality behind it. If you can convey that personality through your BrandWord, even better. In fact, it should be your FIRST priority. Damn it, I should’ve put that in the post.

    And big ups to Mary. “BrandWord” is now officially included in the Urban Dictionary. If you’ve got a second, go give it a thumbs up: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=brandword

  19. Hi FitJerk, I couldn’t resist reading a post by someone named FitJerk. It’s all very well telling people to use a “brandword” – the advantages are obvious.

    But what about people like me who suck at choosing business names? What process did you go through to come up with your “brandword”?

  20. Something I’ve noticed with a lot of new webmasters is they have been told that they need to buy a url with a keyword, which is great n’ all but nobody (until now) ever talks about branding and how having a brandable and memorable URL can be just as important or even more so that grabbing up mysuperkeywordblog.com.

    Anyway, thanks for the article, at least I’m not the only loon who thinks having a brandable URL is a good idea.

  21. OT @FitJerk Now you did it! They’re all going to be checking me out, looking for ripped pics like yours and finding design portfolio and dogs instead. /OT
    Thanks for the compliment. I am just starting with the brand building, but hopefully it will work out as well as yours has.

    @CathLawson I believe FitJerk mentions that it was a friend that first called him that, and it stuck. I think that asking people who know you well is an excellent starting point — they’re usually quick to lock in on the qualities/character traits that set you apart. Gives you at least a starting point of the personality you want to convey.
    As for the actual wording/name, if you’re really bad at it/get stuck, you can always ask for professional help. This is exactly the kind of thing that (good) copywriters shine at. I hear there are a few of those on this very site. ;)

    Lisa.

  22. “That’s right, I am loved. You may feel jealous now. It’s only natural.” – I had to laugh out loud at that. FitJerk is a very catchy brand name. You’ve given me a lot to think about – thanks!

  23. @CathLawson – Justin did a pretty good job of how you can go about creating a brand… which will lead to your Brandword. Here’s the exact link: http://menwithpens.ca/brandword/comment-page-1#comment-35342

    @Lisa – Close, it was in fact an original book customer. I was busting her balls and she called me a jerk “but a fit one”. I was like HELL YES and ran with the idea. That’s the jist of it.

    @Rebecca – Awesome, and NP.

  24. FitJerk is now stuck in my brain, nice work. I think that many businesses are too excited to promote themselves online that they forget to fix their own brand first. I love what you wrote here, reminds me of reading one of Seth Godin’s blog. I’d say what works today is being genuine… with a twist. Call it guerrilla publicity, marketing, etc. In the end, your readers will be the judge – so write for them, and not for some search engine algorithm that counts keywords, not words that portray quality.

  25. Brand words have a tendency to go wrong. It can also say that your not confident enough in your businesses name or products that you need something else to help sell them.

  26. @Tom – You are so far off it seems like you’ve been cast away. Not sure how you managed to relate confidence to a Brandword but even that attempt tanked. Great products from known brands practically sell themselves because of… well, the branding.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd Rutherford and FreelanceCamp 2010, Glenn Arcaro. Glenn Arcaro said: What’s Your BrandWord? http://bit.ly/cVF8IB […]

  2. […] What’s Your BrandWord? -A business is a long-term plan to wealth. Many people do not track their branding power online – or worse, they don’t push their branding efforts far enough. The accumulative time you spend on building your BrandWord pays off quite nicely. […]

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