Power of a brand name and how do you analyze a brand potential
The brands name is often revealing of the brands intentions. This is obviously the case for brand names which, from the start, are specifically chosen to convey certain objectives or subjective characteristics of the brand. But it is also true of other brand names which get chosen for subjective reasons rather than for any apparent objective or rational ones, they too have the capacity to mark the bands legitimate territory.
Why did Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak choose ‘Apple’ as their brand name? Surely, this name neither popped out of any creative research nor of any computer software for brand name creation. It is simply the name that seemed plainly obvious to the new creative geniuses. In one word, the Apple brand name conveyed the exact same values as those which had driven them to revolutionize computer science. Clearly, the brand name had in itself all the necessary ingredients to produce a major breakthrough and establish a new norm. What worked for Apple, however, did not work for Apricot. Apple reflected the founders’ values, which materialized into user friendly computers. This is indeed a far cry from just choosing a similar name without prior verification that such values as Apple’s could indeed be conveyed by the brand.
The brand name is thus one of the most powerful sources of identity. When a brand questions its identity, the best answer is therefore to thoroughly examine its name and so try to understand the reasoning behind its creation. In doing so, we can discover the brands intentions and programme. Many brands make every effort to acquit qualities which their brand name fails to reflect or simply excludes altogether. ‘Apple’ sounds fun, not serious. Other brands simply proceed by ignoring their name. The temptation for a brand to just forget about its name is caused by a rash interpretation of the principle of brand autonomy. Experience indeed shows that brands become autonomous as they start to give words specific meanings other than those in the dictionary. Thus when hearing of ‘Birds Eye’no one thinks of a bird. The same is true of Nike. Mercedes is a Spanish Christian name, yet the brand has made it a symbol of Germany. This ability is not only characteristic of brands but also of proper nouns.
A name-like an identity-has to be managed. Certain names may have a double meaning. The purpose of communication then is to select one and drop the other. Thus, Shell naturally chose to emphasize the seas shell meaning rather than the bomb shell one. Likewise, the international temporary employment agency, Ecco, has never chosen to exploit the potential link with economy suggested in its name. On the other hand, it does use its name as a natural means to reinforce its positioning in the segment of high quality service; its advertising cleverly pays upon the theme of duplication, those stepping out of the company. Ecco will of course perfectly duplicate and echo those stepping out of the company.
Just as brands are a company’s capital, emblems are brands capital equity. An emblem serves to symbolize brand identity through a visual figure other than the brand name. It has many functions such as:
- to help identify
and recognize the brand. Emblems must identiy something before they signify
anything. They are particularly useful when marketing to children, since
the latter favours over texts, or when marketing worldwide.
- To guarantee the brand.
- To give the brand durability-since emblems are permanent signs-thereby enabling the company to capitalize on it. Thus Hermes’ legendary horse is the common emblem of ‘Equipage’, ‘Amazon’ and ‘caleche’.
- To help differentiate and personalize, an emblem transfers its personality to the brand. In doing so, it enhances brand value. But it also facilitates the identification process in which consumers are involved.
Animal emblems are often used to perform the last function. Animal symbolize the brand’s personality. It is quite significant, in this respect, that both the Chinese and western horoscopes represent human characters by animals. The Greek veneration of animals reflected their conception of a certain spiritual mystery. The animal is not only allegorical of the brand’s personality but also of the psychological characteristics of the targeted public. Emblems epitomize more than one facet of brand identity that is why they play such a crucial role in building identity capital. The world of whisky is filled with wild, rare untamable animals that symbolize the natural, pure and authentic character of this alcohol. The associated risk perceived by the customer is thus reduced. They also demonstrate, as we saw above, the brands personality, the red grouse is known for its noble gait and carriage, the wild turkey is a stubborn and clever bird symbolizing independence in the US.
Everybody knows Mercedes’ emblem, Renault’s diamond, Nike’s dash, Adidas’ three stripes, Nestlé’s nest, Yoplait’s little flower and Bull’s tree. These symbols help us to understand the brand’s culture and personality. They are actually chosen as such, the corporate specifications handed over to graphic identity and design agencies mainly pertain to the brands personality traits and values.
What is important about these symbols and logos is not so much that they help identify the brand but that the brand identifies them. When companies change logos, it usually means that either they or their brands are about to be transformed, as soon as they no longer identify with their past style, they want to start modifying it. Some companies proceed otherwise, to revitalize their brands and recover their identity; they milk their forlorn brand emblems for the energy and aggressiveness they need in order to be able to change. Just as human personality can be reflected in a signature, brand essence and self image can be reflected in symbols.
Brand identity cannot be dissociated from the creator’s identity. There is still some Georges Salomon in Salomon’s brand identity, even though the man and the family no longer manage the company. Inspired by its creator, Yves Saint Laurent’s brand identity is that of a feminine, self assured and strong minded 30 year old woman. The YSL brand celebrates the beauty of body, of charm of surrender to romance and is flavored with a hint of ostentatious indecency. When its creator passes away, the brand becomes autonomous; it forsakes its patronymic, which it comes to dominate. The brand is the creators name and woven into a set of values and a pattern of inspiration. Thus, it cannot be used by another member of the creator’s family. The relationship between a brand and its creator can last far beyond the death of creator; Chanel is a good example of this. Karl Lagerfeld does not try to imitate the Chanel style, but to interpret it in modern way. The world is changing; the brands values must be respected, yet adapted to modern times.
Analyzing a brands potential:
In analyzing the identity of a brand, which must precede any credible repositioning or revitalization of a brand, we find that the facets of its identity are not all equally patent. Some indeed are at the tops of our minds, while others are latent, concealed in certain underlying signs of the brand. Rich brands, which have many sources of identity, do not necessarily choose to tap them all. Typically the latent brand capital is that which is not tapped, but which can be if the company decides to make it an asset. Patent and latent capital alike can be either positive, ie an asset or negative, i.e. a liability. The cross combination of these two dimensions serves to represent the brands potential. Revitalizing a brand consists of revealing what is currently latent yet positive and concealing what is currently patent yet negative. Revitalizing a brand also consists of searching the brands latent potential for those identity sources that will best revive its messages and actions. Identity is the essence of a brand. It is the vital basis for positioning a new brand or repositioning an old one.
| The value of brand name | Sustaining long term brand name | Co-Branding |
| Brand equity concept | Luxury brand management | Brand contract requirement |
| Brand identity | Renew brand differences | Branding obstacles |
| Brand management recognition |
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