What’s In A Brand Name?

Okay, here we go with the marketing analysis of what constitutes a successful brand name.  Is it the identity or the product behind it?

Allow me to start out with a professional football team that has made a least one Super Bowl appearance.  For many years after that early appearance, the team compiled an unenviable losing record.  A former client who played for the team provided some insight that relates to the team’s brand.  When he signed with the team, the attitude of the players was more about when they were collecting their paychecks than if the team was winning.  The end result was the team rarely won and was losing its fan base.

When the attitude began to change that if they played well, fielded a competitive team, and won more games, there would be more fan support and their pay would be greater, lo and behold, they started making the playoffs.  They are now a serious contender consistently in their AFC division.

In this case, the product behind it was influential in the success of the brand.

Changing to a different product and a current client situation, there are many people who like to drink strong alcohol.  In a lion’s share of cases today, the identity carries more influence in consumer patterns than the product.  Significant advertising dollars are spent to create an image of the product that attracts consumers to drink and purchase the product.  Think of the pirate concept behind a certain brand of rum.  If you like, drink, and purchase that brand, are you buying the marketing concept or the rum?  A discerning palate with an acquired appreciation of rum is less likely to consume that product when there are better rum products out there.

In these two examples, one is more about the product and the other more about the identity, or brand.  The more closely these two can be married for your product or service, the greater likelihood you are to successfully market it and build your brand to the level it is capable of achieving.

How do you do that?

First, you must know your product or service from a different perspective; the viewpoint of your end user, the customer.  You might think you sell camouflage hunting clothes, but in reality you are selling the ability of a hunter to blend into the surroundings where they hunt to increase their odds of bagging their prey.  Your customer, therefore, is looking for a pattern similar to their hunting ground in a garment that is comfortable, quiet, and offers them the best chance of success in the woods.

Second, the better you know your customers, the more you can motivate them to use your product or service.  Once they’ve bought, you want to keep them as customers and build loyalty to your brand.  You want them to identify with your brand name and recommend it to others because of what they love about it!  McDonald's LogoEven though it may not be the healthiest fast food restaurant on the planet, consumers flock to McDonald’s because they a) recognize the brand; and, b) know the products will be fairly consistent in quality and price wherever they see the golden arches.  Brand loyalty strengthened by an identity that is reinforced by the product quality; you know what you’re going to get when you order at McDonald’s.

Third, build your brand.  If you have started a business and sales are lagging, it may be your identity – the perception consumers have of you – that needs to be adjusted.  Make the adjustment, but only after you’ve had someone help you with viable consumer research.  Talking to a couple of friends is market research, but comprehensive research and analysis goes a bit deeper.  Do some test marketing.  Get people’s perceptions of your product and the identity you put forth; it may reveal you simply need to change the color scheme to increase sales.  Get feedback from your customers.  What do they like or dislike about what you provide?  Some answers may enlighten you – what I refer to as a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) – while other suggestions may be of little merit.  You have to make the ultimate decisions.  Your brand is your ticket to adding revenue to your bottom line.