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8.9. Brand Names

When a new product has been developed, the producer will usually give it a brand name. A brand name is a term, symbol or design that distinguishes one seller's product from its competitors. The strategic considerations for brand naming are as follows:

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  • Marketing objectives. The brand name should fit the overall marketing objectives of the firm: for example, a firm intending to enter the youth market will need to develop brand names that appeal to a young audience.
  • Brand audit. An estimate of the internal and external forces such as critical success factor (also known as the unique selling proposition).
  • Brand objectives. As with the marketing objectives, the overall intentions about the brand need to be specified.
  • Brand strategy alternatives. The other ways of achieving the brand’s objectives, and the other factors involved in its success, have a bearing on the choice of brand name.

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Brand names can be protected in most countries by registration, but there is some protection for brands in that it is illegal to try to ‘pass off’ a product as being a branded one when it is not. For example, using a very similar brand name to a famous brand, or even using similar package design, could be regarded as passing off. This is a civil offence, not a criminal one, so it is up to the offended brand owner to take legal action. Ries suggests that brand names should have some, or all, of the following characteristics:

  • They should shock, i.e. catch the customer's attention. French Connection UK use their FCUK acronym for this purpose.
  • They should be alliterative: this helps them to be memorable. For example, West’n’Welsh double-glazing is a more memorable name than BJ double glazing.
  • They should connect to the product's positioning in the consumer's perceptual map. UK biscuit brand Hob Nobs conveys an image of a warm kitchen (the hob) with friendliness (hob-nobbing).
  • They should link to a visual image: again, this helps the memorability. Timberland outdoor clothing conjures a visual image of mountain country.
  • They should communicate something about the product, or be capable of being used to communicate about the product. Duracell conveys the main advantage of the batteries – they are durable.
  • They should encourage the development of a nickname (for example, Bud for Budweiser Beer).
  • They should be telephone and directory-friendly. Words often seem muffled on the telephone, so that ‘Bud’ becomes ‘Mud’.

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