A brand name or trade mark is often one of the most important
and valuable assets that a company owns. Or to be more accurate, a
good brand name is often one of the most important
and valuable assets that a company owns.
A brand name is how you communicate to customers that your
company is providing the specific goods and services on offer.
People pick products based on brand names so a well-chosen brand
name can create a world of difference between you and your
competitors. These brand names are protectable and the strongest
form of protection is through registration as a trade mark.
Things to think about
Successful brand names which are also easy to protect as trade
Distinctive: The world is already full of
brand names, and the market is becoming increasingly congested on a
global basis. You need a name that stands out in a crowd of
competitors. Remember that what is distinctive will vary depending
on your market place. Take APPLE for example, not so distinctive in
the food market, but oh-so distinctive in the consumer electronics
Original: By this we mean different from the
brand names of other people, including your competitors. Stay away
from brand names which are similar to someone else's brand
name. For one thing you may possibly be sued for a trade mark
infringement, but from a commercial point of view, a brand name is
unlikely to add value to your business if people don't
immediately associate the brand name with your company.
Memorable: There's no value in a brand
that no one can remember. Try and think of a name that is easy to
say, spell and remember.
Tensions and considerations
There is often a temptation to pick a brand name which describes
the product or a particular quality of the product. The advantage?
It's self-explanatory, easy for customers to remember, and it
tells your customers what you're about. The problem? If the
brand is descriptive of your products, it is also likely to be
descriptive of your competitors' products, so it won't
differentiate you in the marketplace. Descriptive names are also
difficult to protect by registering as trade marks and also to
protect against third party use.
Some of the most valuable brand names are coined words. Think of
Google, Walmart, Exxon and Starbucks. The advantage? Coined words
are inherently distinctive as a trade mark and are unlikely to have
already been used as a brand name by someone else. The problem? A
coined word is not always easy to say or remembered by
Other successful brand names are arbitrary words. These brand
names are known words with a meaning, but the meanings have no
connection with the products being offered. Think Blackberry, Shell
and Amazon. The advantage? It's unlikely that your competitors
would have thought of the same word, so it will stand out in the
market. The problem? If the words are so far removed from the
products you are offering, consumers may struggle to remember it or
Always remember your marketplace. What will work in one market
may not work in another. For example, a coined word full of
peculiar letter combinations may not be successful in the food
industry because consumers may favour brands that are relatable and
trustworthy. In the pharmaceutical industry, however, potentially
it's a case of the more exotic and unusual the word, the
Who got it right?
A quick look at a list of the world's leading companies will
tell you who 'got it right' with their brand names.
These brands all mean something to consumers now, but when they
were first developed they were new, distinctive and original.
Key take-away message: Research. Pick a brand
name which is not being used by others, that is distinctive and
memorable for the market you are operating in, and avoid choosing a
name which directly describes your products.
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