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Brands & Brand Names

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012


How should brand names be chosen? Is the name important?

Marketing theory suggests that there are three main types of brand name:

(1) Family brand names:

A family brand name is used for all products. By building customer trust and loyalty to the family brand name, all products that use the brand can benefit.

Good examples include brands in the food industry, including Kellogg’s, Heinz and Del Monte. Of course, the use of a family brand can also create problems if one of the products gets bad publicity or is a failure in a market. This can damage the reputation of a whole range of brands.

(2) Individual brand names:

An individual brand name does not identify a brand with a particular company.

For example, take the case of Heinz. Heinz is a leading global food manufacturer with a very strong family brand. However, it also operates many well-known individual brand names. Examples include Farleys (baby food) and Weight Watcher’s Foods (diet/slimming meals and supplements).

Why does Heinz use individual brand names when it has such a strong family brand name? There are several reasons why a brand needs a separate identity – unrelated to the family brand name:

• The product may be competing in a new market segment where failure could harm the main family brand name

• The family brand name may be positioned inappropriately for the target market segment. For example the family brand name might be positioned as an upmarket brand for affluent consumers.

• The brand may have been acquired; in other words it has already established itself as a leading brand in the market segment. The fact that it has been acquired by a company with a strong family brand name does not mean that the acquired brand has to be changed.

(3) Combination brand names:

A combination brand name brings together a family brand name and an individual brand name. The idea here is to provide some association for the product with a strong family brand name but maintaining some distinctiveness so that customers know what they are getting.

Examples of combination brand names include Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office in personal computing software and Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Heinz Pet Foods.

What are the features of a good brand name?

Brand names should be chosen carefully since the name conveys a lot of information to a customer. The following list contains considerations that should be made before making a final choice of brand name:

A good brand name should:

• Evoke positive associations
• Be easy to pronounce and remember
• Suggest product benefits
• Be distinctive
• Use numerals when emphasising technological features
• Not infringe existing registered brand names

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