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A brand is a name, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes a seller’s goods or services in the marketplace. More than a million brands are registered globally with pertinent regulatory bodies in different countries.  Brands serve their owners by allowing them to cultivate customer recognition of, and loyalty toward, their offerings.

Brands also serve the consumer by supplying information about the quality, origin, value of the goods and services. Without brands to guide buying decisions, the free market will become a confusing, faceless crowd of consumables. An established and respected brand can be the most valuable asset a company possesses.

Selecting Brand Names

Brand names are very important for business, as they provide potential customers with information about the product and help them form an immediate impression of the company. A well-chosen brand name offset a business’s product apart from those of competitors and communicate a message regarding a firm’s marketing position or corporate personality. When preparing to enter a market with a product or service, an entrepreneur must decide whether to establish a brand and, if so, what name to use.

Experts claim that successful branding is most likely when the product is easy to identify, provides the best value for the price, is widely available, and has strong enough demand to make the branding effort profitable.  Branding is also recommended in a situation where obtaining favourable display space or locations on the store shelves will significantly influence sales of the product. Finally, a successful branding effort requires economies of scale, meaning that costs should decrease and profits should increase as more units of the product are made.

After deciding to establish a brand, a business faces the task of selecting a brand name. An entrepreneur might decide to consult an advertising agency, design house, or marketing firm that specializes in naming or to come up with a name on their own. A good brand name should be short and simple; easy to spell, pronounce, and remember: pronounceable in only one way: suggestive of product’s benefits; adaptable to packaging and labelling needs or any advertising medium; labelling site or native; not likely to become dated; and legally available for use.

To create a brand name without an expert, a business owner should begin by examining names already in use in the market and evaluating their effectiveness.

The next step is to identify three to five attributes that make the product special and should help influence buyers to choose it over the competition.

It may also be helpful to identify three to five company personality traits – such as friendly, innovative, or economical – that customers might appreciate about the product.

Then when thinking about the business make a list of all the words and phrases that comes to mind for each attribute or personality trait that has en identified.

If the brand name is to include the type of product or service being offered, it is important to consider whether the phrases on the list fit well with these terms.

The next step is to think about how the phrases on the list would look on a sign or on a product package, including possible visual images and typefaces that could be used to enhance their appearance.

Next, the entrepreneur should narrow down the list with the help of a few friends. It may be helpful to say the possible name aloud, thinking about how they would sound if they were used by a receptionist answering a telephone or by a customer requesting a product from a store.

It is also important to consider whether the names will stand the test of time as the business grows, or whether they include an in-joke that may become dated. Once the list has been narrowed down to between ten and fifteen candidates, then the possibilities should be tested for impact on at least thirty strangers, perhaps through a focus group or survey. The opinions of people who may be potential customers should be given the most weight.

Finally, once the top few choices have been identified, the entrepreneur can find out whether they are available for use – or are already being used by another business – by conducting a trademark search. This search can be performed by advertising or marketing firms, or by some attorneys, for a fee.

Alternatively, the business owner can simply send in a formal request for a trademark and wait to see whether it is approved. The request must be sent to relevant patent and trademark office, and also to the federal office if the business will be conducting interstate commerce.

In order for a trademark to be approved, it must be available and distinctive, and it must depart from a mere description of the product.

Brand Strategy

To benefit from consumer relationship as a brand, a company must painstakingly strive to earn brand loyalty. The company must gain some recognition for its product, get the consumer to actually try its brand, and then convince him that the brand is acceptable. Only after those triumphs can the company hope to secure some degree of preference for its brand.

Indeed, name awareness is the most critical factor in achieving success.

Companies may spend vast sums of money and effort just to attain recognition of a new brand. To penetrate a market with established brands, moreover, they may resort to giving a branded product away for free just to get people to try it. Even if the product outperforms its competitors, however, consumers may adhere to their traditional buying patterns simply because of their comfort with those competitive products.

An easier way to quickly establish a brand is to be the first company to offer a product or service. But there are also simpler methods of penetrating existing niches, namely product line extension and brand franchising extension.

Product line extension entails the use of an established brand name on a new related product. For example, Wonder Bread name could be applied to a whole-wheat bread to penetrate their market. Brand franchise extension refers to the application of an old brand to a completely new product line. Coca-cola could elect to apply its name to a line of candy products. One of the risks of brand and product extensions is that the name will be diluted or damaged by the new product.

Once a company establishes brand loyalty, it must constantly work to maintain its presence with consistent quality and competitive responses to new market entrants and existing competitors. The science of sustaining and increasing brand loyalty and maximizing brand equity is called “Brand Management.”

Large companies often hire brand managers whose sole purpose is to foster and promote an individual brand. In many ways, the job of a brand manager in a large company is similar to that of an entrepreneur who seeks to enter and maintain a presence in a market with a branded product or service.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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