Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

    Business-to-business marketers, start-up companies, and even technology-based companies are realizing more and more what consumer packaged goods companies have known since 1900: Brand names are important; so important they are often a company’s most valuable intellectual asset. However, many companies do not have the resident brand name development expertise required to do a good job on this important strategic issue. All too often, companies name their products based on internal schemes (such as numbering systems) or on acronyms that shorthand some company jargon. Here are a few guidelines to use when conceptualizing and naming new products and services.

  1. Ultimately, every product gets its name—it might be a number or a code, but it is a name—so why not give it a good name: a name that helps get and keep customers.
  2. Do not use the product or service category as the brand name. For example, “high-resolution television” or “low-call ice cream” is not brand names; they are product categories.
  3. Do not name the product with initials, especially initials that are an abbreviation for internal jargon. Let the marketplace choose the initials (e.g., ESPN).
  4. Whether you “like” or “dislike” the brand name is not a criterion for choosing the name. Brand naming is not a popularity contest among managers.
  5. The primary criterion for a brand name is the product’s positioning. Positioning is, in itself, an intellectual marketing exercise of the highest order. Many companies, including advertising agencies, do not really understand the concept of positioning. Positioning starts with an understanding of your target segment and knowing your customer’s perception of competitive substitutes.
  6. Consequently, when judging whether a proposed brand name is on or off strategy, you are really judging the name against a very carefully constructed and customer-tested positioning statement. (Examples of good positioning statements are “TV dinner”, “automated teller machine”, and “tubeless tire”.)
  7. Brand names that link the product to a product category or benefit are good (e.g., Pampers, Loctite, Reflexite, Sealed Air, Timex, Bufferin).
  8. Brand names consistent with key product benefits are good (e.g., Healthy Choice, Surge).
  9. Names that reinforce a brand personality and tone are good (e.g., Obsession perfume).
  10. Some brands with strong marketing generate customer-created nicknames that themselves become brand names (e.g., McDonald’s=Mickey D’s; Budweiser=Bud; United Parcel Service=UPS).
  11. Sometimes a brand that is nontraditional for a product category or industry will stand out and reduce the cost of creating awareness (e.g., Apple Computer, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Snapple, Yahoo).
  12. Brand names do not have to mean something (e.g., Kodak, Advil, Exxon).
  13. Brand names should be memorable, pronounceable, legally available, and readable.
  14. Always test a brand name for negatives. Certain words trigger unexpected customer negatives. The wrong word could trigger confusion, distaste, or anti-use sentiments. For example, a proposed brand name, “Stick-it,” for a glue pencil caused some prospective customers to think of needles, stabbing, and less-than-polite street gestures. The proposed brand name “Pop Tails” for a soda-flavoured alcoholic beverage confused customers. They didn’t know if the product was a soda pop or a mixed cocktail. A major running shoe company introduced a sneaker aimed at women. Unfortunately, the brand name, “Incubus,” is also the name of an evil spirit that violates sleeping women! That brand was quickly put to sleep.
  15. A good brand name will not sell a bad product. But, a good product with lots of marketing support can build a so-so brand name into a franchise.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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Fri Jul 5 , 2019
    Advertising messages must be grounded in the benefits of the product. The subject of the ad is the hero of the ad. Always put the name of the hero in the headline, or in a prominent subhead. Always put the brand name or company name or both where your customer […]

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