Choosing an Effective Brand Name

A brand must be linked to a business strategy and a viable product or service.

Business Considerations

New product ideas or concepts must be identified and evaluated in the context of industry dynamics and the competitive environment. Frequently this is driven by a consumer need not just a product or a service. Once it is decided that the concept is viable, an assessment can be made of what is expected of the new brand. Typically this will be expressed in terms of anticipated sales but other basic considerations must be addressed. For example, will the brand be a specialty brand or a low price brand? The assessment should be made in conjunction with market research directed to external market forces such as the state of competition, the nature of the product and substitutes for it and current economic conditions.

The impact on potential customers must be considered. Customer demographics, how they would describe the product including potential short forms or nicknames, product differentiation, use and positioning are all important.

The geographical markets in issue will be particularly important. In a global market there are a multitude of linguistic and cultural issues to be considered. The pronounceability and the meaning of the brand name in each relevant language must be considered.

Matters specific to the brand owner need to be considered such as the extent of corporate assets and the nature of its business and its current brands, including how the proposed name fits in the existing brand portfolio.

The end result should be a written business plan specifying anticipated sales, distribution channels and customer demographics and the criteria that the brand must satisfy.

Once a plan is in place potential brand names need to be generated. Sources of such names include employee suggestions, group discussions and studies, and input from advertising agencies or other specialists. Proposed names can be ranked in terms of anticipated effectiveness against the plan.

Since the Internet will frequently be an important element in the plan, consideration should be given to the availability of the relevant domain names that will be used in conjunction with the brand name.

Selecting a brand name can be an emotionally charged decision. It is important to keep in mind the strategy which is being implemented not internal politics or other extraneous matters. In addition, it is important to keep senior management involved and supportive.

Best Practices in Protecting Your Brand and The Fundamentals of Trademark Law: A 2017 Perspective LIVE Webcast

I will be speaking at this Knowledge Group webinar on June 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm EST. It is a live webcast by a panel of thought leaders and practitioners assembled by the Knowledge Group. There are some free passes to the event as well as tickets at discounted prices. If you are interested in this event please click here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at mckeown@gsnh.com

John McKeown
Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP

480 University Avenue, Suite 1600
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1V2
Direct Line: +1 (416) 597-3371
Fax: +1 (416) 597-3370
Email: mckeown@gsnh.com
These comments are of a general nature and not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer.