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HT PowerJob: The brand game

Choosing a name for your product or company is a well thought, scientific process, Varun Soni reports.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 20:02 IST
Varun Soni

In 1898, the BJ Johnson Soap Company introduced Palmolive Soap, which descriptively communicated the unique ingredients of palm and olive oil in the soap to keep hands nice and soft.

The product and name were a smashing success. So much so that BJ Johnson Soap Company became Palmolive and eventually Palmolive-Peet. After merging with Colgate in order to become a global leader in oral care and household cleaning products, the name 'Palmolive' may have moved down a notch by coming at the end of the brand name, but, it's still notably present across three centuries.

Naming a business or a product is not always easy, but it can be fun. It has been seen that a company often christens itself and then applies the same name to its first product or product line. But, once in a great branding while, a product is so successful that it becomes the new moniker for the entire company.

So what goes into choosing a name? Is there an entire process involved? "There definitely is," says Ajit Chauhan of Krauter Healthcare, that has launched a herbal baby care range called Tenderils, "Choosing a name for your product is a long, well-thought out scientific process for new product ranges.

When choosing a brand name, we first identify the attributes, then run these names through various focus groups as well as market surveys, based on which we are able to select a suitable name."

How to choose a name

Experts opine that it's best to choose a name, which will provide a good image and will communicate your business purpose clearly. Some of the factors to be kept in mind are:

- Brand positioning
- Geographical distribution
- Competition
- End-user
- Market segment
- Influencers & decision makers
- Brand essence
- Packaging
- Brand residue

Says Mahesh S Rao, Managing Director, Carbon Accessories Ltd, "The important criterion to building a powerful name for a brand are: it should preferably be a common noun, indicate the nature of the business one is in, should be spelt the same with no distortions universally, should not have a pun of intended dual meaning, and there should be a direct co-relation to the ethos of the product category."

Adds Samir Modi of Modicare, which has brands like 24x7, Color Bar, Godfrey Phillips etc, "One has to see what category the product falls into. It should not be a long name, neither should it be a tongue twister so that the recall value is good. Before finalising a name, it's also important to think about the logo, its colour scheme and the font size. If done well, there is a better chance of the consumer picking it up."

Take the example of Birla Yamaha Ltd, which has recently been rechristened Birla Power Solutions Ltd. Says Sanjay Khazanchi, the President and CEO of the company, "The word Power Solutions was added to give the company a new identity and create a new company with a better value proposition than the earlier one. So, the strategy adopted was —- an amalgamation of the earlier brand equity created with the company's new role."

Modi cites the example of Anytimers, a range of dry snacks. "The name is so easy and understandable that the consumer doesn't even have to think twice." Adds Rao, "An effective brand is built with the principles of acquaintance, recall and recognition. As they say, "familiarity breeds favouratism —- a name that sounds good usually is well-recalled.”

The advantages

But, how important is choosing the right name? How does it help the company? Says Chauhan, "Quite important, as it defines the personality of the company or a product. However, a lot depends on the brand equity created by the name. It helps the company give the product a desired identity. For instance, take the case of brand positioning. If the brand is being positioned to a particular segment, then the name has to leave a positive image in the mind of the target segment."

Adds Rao, "A good brand name acts as a catalyst in communicating the brand to the customer. It's a vehicle that helps you cut down on the lead time in building brand recall." But, what's better —- adopting the product's name as the company name or keeping both separate?

Says Rao, "This is specific to the category the brand belongs to, as far as the lifestyle or aspirational brands are concerned. There is always a latent need to build a certain sense of aspiration, which is only possible if the brand is self-expressive. Deliverance of the ethos of the brand is crucial and hence a differentiated name always helps."

Adds Chauhan, "This question becomes pertinent depending upon the focus and the long-term business plan. In case, a company wants to enter into different product categories or areas of a business, then the company name and the brand name must be different.

Generally speaking, they should always be separate because the brand name is based on micro level factors, whereas the company name has a more macro outlook."

Though, it does happen that over a period of time based on the successes of the various brand names owned by it, the company name itself becomes the umbrella brand name viz Tata, Godrej etc. "The customer usually relates to the brand name for new products launched by new companies. Later on as the company name matures along with the brand name, the customer slowly starts relating more to the company name," says Chauhan.

Adds Modi, "If it's a multi-product company, then there are bound to be many names. However, it's advisable for a single product company to have the same name for itself as well as the product. For instance, Coca Cola and Pepsi both are known by the product as well as the company."

Keep in mind

- Make the name meaningful.
- Make sure the name is easy to understand and pronounce.
- Choose a name that you can live and grow with.
- Try it on for size.
- Does it work in print?
- Turn to designers for a professional-looking logo and letterhead.
And Voila! you will have a name to reckon with!

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 19:05 IST