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A brand is a name given by a business to one or more of its products. Branding gives products an identity that distinguishes them from similar products produced by rival firms. It helps to generate brand loyalty, encouraging customers to regularly purchase particular products. The demand for a product with strong brand loyalty tends to become less price sensitive, meaning that price can be increased without losing much demand. Selecting a brand name is therefore a very important part of a firm’s marketing strategy.
Organizations can use a number of different approaches to branding:
A brand name should be snappy, easy to remember, unique and convey appropriate images or values. In addition, popular brands are often supported by advertising catch phrases, such as “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”.
Most organizations employ specialist identity and naming consultants to handle this creative process. The name is the first and greatest expression of the brand. It is vital you get it right and we carry out extensive consumer research. For a food launch we might ask for a description of the product, and get people to be wishful and tell us what they would like it to do for them. Once we have a shortlist we then go through the linguistic, cultural and legal trademark checking stages.
The process of coming up with names for new products is complex, but it is complicated further by the need for Internet-workable names. Companies using the Internet, either to sell their products or simply to provide information on themselves, must decide whether their site is aimed at existing customers, they will know the brand and will search the Web primarily to attract consumers who may be unaware that their service exists, then a generic name is better – for example, applesandpears.com rather than bloggs-grocers.com.
A major problem for organizations that trade globally is finding names that translate appropriately. One way to avoid language and translation difficulties is to invent a completely new word, such as Toyota’s Avensis. But there are problems even here. For example, firms must be careful which letters they use. The sounds for R and L, for instance, can be confusing and difficult for Asian customers to pronounce, which might deter them from asking a particular product. Studies by Interbrand Group, which has offices in 22 countries, also warns against using the number 8 when launching a food product in China, because it has connotations with death.
The fact that many cultures read from right to left can also cause difficulties with names and packaging. Interbrand’s director of naming recalls the story of washing powder that used three cartoon images on its packaging – the first illustrating a dirty shirt, the second the shirt going to the washing machine, and the third a clean shirt. When the packaging was launched in China it was read the other way around.
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