During the branding process of a new product or service, it’s easy for advertisers to only ‘say what it does on the tin’, and dream up an unexciting brand name. Think Carphone Warehouse.
It’s normally the quickest and cheapest way to gain market penetration. Your target audience knows exactly what sector you are in and what they are going to get.
It’s relatively easy to gain awareness, while consumers should be able to find you on the internet or on the high street.
However, this means that the brand is automatically put in a box which is likely to lead to a lack of market distinction, with the wrong name choice limiting future expansion.
Worse still, the market may move on, leaving the original name out of date. Again, just how relevant is Carphone Warehouse now?
So, the alternative is to use an unusual name which will require more marketing spend initially to raise awareness and understanding but creates distinctiveness and allows growth.
They’re similar products, but compare Dove to Head and Shoulders. Dove has expanded into multiple personal hygiene/beauty categories, while Head and Shoulders has little option but to remain solely in the hair care sector.
Just imagine if Amazon had been named buybooks.com, or Google called itself ‘Websearch’…
Develop and Clear Brand Essence and Vision
There are some brands that have had the best of both worlds, starting out with an obvious name to gain quick and cheap awareness and uptake within their category but then dropping the product element to broaden out.
What these brands all have in common is a clear brand essence and vision.
When the way the brand behaves and the customer experience it offers is aligned behind a clear vision, then the brand itself becomes bigger than the product, the name, or even in some cases, the sector.