What Is a Brand Name?
Though it cannot be counted or touched, an organization's brand and brand name are its primary assets. But exactly what is a brand name?
A brand name is an identifying word or words applied to organizations, people, products, services and concepts that differentiate them from others in the marketplace. The name is one piece of the market branding identity which also includes colors, logos, fonts, taglines, customer service standards, and much more.
A brand name may also be referred to as a trade name. It may or may not be the actual legal name of the organization, person or product, but it refers to the name which is used and known in the marketplace (often referred to as an assumed name).
Example: The Ford Motor Company produces automobiles bearing the Ford and Lincoln brand names.
History of Brand Names
The origins of branding can be traced to ancient civilizations (Wikipedia), with the word "branding" referring to marks which were literally burned into products (similar to branding livestock) to identify their creator or owner. However, it wasn't until the Industrial Revolution and the evolution of packaged products that brand names developed into branding as we know it today.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, products were usually produced locally. To help consumers identify non-local products that could be relied upon time and again, a consistent brand name and image became a necessity.
Brand Name, Store Brand, Unbranded and White Label Products
In today's consumer market, brand name products occupy a significant share of retail space. However, two additional types of products are offered side-by-side with them: Store brand and unbranded products.
Store brands, also referred to as private label or house brands, carry the retail store's name or brand name. For example, drug giant Walgreen's offers Walgreens named products and Target's food line is called Archer Farms. These products may be of a similar quality to large brands. However, these store brands are rarely marketed separately to help keep them priced competitively compared to national brands.
Unbranded products carry no brand name whatsoever. A can of peas may be simply and literally labeled "Peas," often with a white label. These are not to be confused with white label goods.
White label goods are products that are manufactured without a brand name, but are sold to other organizations to resell under their own brand name. Many store brands are actually white label goods which are then labeled with the store's name. Some white label goods are actually made by national brands for the sole purpose of selling to retailers for resale.
In tough economic times, consumer commitment to buying brand name goods often drops in favor of store or even unbranded products (Time). And because consumers are aware of the fact that some store brands are actually national brands under the label, they have less resistance to trying store brand products.
While selling white label goods to retailers may be a strategy to help national brands build sales, there is also the danger of these store brands cannibalizing the national brand name products. Though this strategy can help build total market share, it can also reduce revenues and profits from national brands' higher priced products.
Investment in a Brand Name
Businesses invest heavily in promoting and legally protecting their brand names, particularly through marketing and advertising. This is more than just an image boosting exercise, it is an investment in future profits and growth.
The way this investment can aid in a business' growth would be through the introduction of additional products which carry the same brand name. For example, a manufacturer of popular hair care products may decide to introduce a skin care line. This is referred to as brand extension. In a similar move, the hair care manufacturer may decide to introduce a new type of hair styling gel. This new styling product would be referred to as line extension.
For both brand and line extension, a strong brand name can improve the chances that consumers will try the new products since they are already familiar with the company's offerings.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2013 Heidi Thorne