Monday, April 30, 2007

What’s in a name?

Pop Quiz!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say…


I am sure you would have thought detergent, ayurvedic face cream and anti-septic lotion.

That’s what we’ve all associated these brands to, it’s been hammered in our heads for years now. Over the years these brand names and many more like them have become synonymous with the product itself. Need more examples? Think Xerox, Post-its, Scissors etc.

Over the last few years we’ve seen almost every company expanding its product line. For example Pond’s, which we all used to associate with talcum powder, broke into the personal care and cosmetics market with every possible product imaginable. They even have certified beauty salons. Likewise we’ve seen the Will’s ‘made for each other’ cigarette brand extend its product line to fashion.

When companies decide to go into such product line extensions, they have the option of doing it in two different ways. One, keep the same brand name across all their product offerings. Two, create a new brand name for each of its products. The former is called blanket branding or family branding, a single brand or company name which is used to identify a range of products. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

When different products of the same company have different brand names the risk of one product’s credibility rubbing off on the other is very low or even non-existent. Supposing a new product from a company was to be a failure in the market, it really wouldn’t affect the credibility of another product of the same company. Manufacturers could pull out unsuccessful brands without damaging their other successful brands. But incase of blanket branding or family branding the risk of generalizing product credibility (regardless of product category) is very high.

There are some companies that have pulled of blanket branding across various product categories very successfully. To name a few, kingfisher, Virgin etc.

And there are those that have (in my personal opinion) fallen or are falling flat on their faces. There are two particular brands I’d like to take as bad examples of blanket or family branding.

Parachute as we all know has been the leader in the coconut hair oil segment for donkey’s years. Especially in the south, oiling one’s hair is more auspicious than hygienic. Oil baths are a weekend ritual that almost everyone follows religiously and without question. In the recent past Parachute revamped its image of being a traditional brand to a more chic brand. You might have spotted the Asin Ad for nariyal tel or more recently the Yuvraj Ad for parachute styling creams taking the free running fad route. I must say they look pretty cool and are doing wonders in making Parachute a more fashionable brand. But parachute made an even bolder move. They brought out a string of after shower products like hair gels etc. under the same brand, i.e. Parachute. The Ads look great but the name Parachute just doesn’t sound right for such products. In my personal opinion I would rather pick up a styling gel that’s called Set Wet than Parachute. Gel’s are all about styling and so I think they need to have stylish names. Parachute just won’t do. Period.

The other brand that I want to talk about is Kamasutra…yup, the condom brand name who’s very mention makes most Indians squeamish. Recently I came across these nice black teaser hoardings with pink and red typos. The message on one such hoarding read “She wears Kamasutra while studying.” That really got my grey cells working overtime, and while I was eagerly waiting for the revealer, I came across another hoarding with the same kind of art treatment. This one read “My boss used my Kamasutra.” Imagine my curiosity. A few days later I came across the revealer and was totally blown. The ads were for a range of Deos and perfumes that Kamasutra has launched. I really don’t know what Kamasutra’s game plan is. If their plan is to make Kamasutra a household name, and to spread the message that condoms are not a taboo thing, then I guess it’s a good effort. But personally I can’t see myself telling my mom to add Kamasutra to the monthly grocery list. I think it’s just a bad example of blanket branding.

It’s not just product association, in case of a blanket brand, which is a problem, it also becomes extremely difficult to market. For instance, a couple of years ago I worked on a launch campaign of a vodka brand. The client wanted to give it the same brand name as all his other products (theme park, food grains, transport etc). The client would have nothing else, and we gave up after several unsuccessful attempts to convince him. The whole launch exercise became a Herculean task, taking into consideration the rules and regulations on alcohol advertising in India. A Mischief Vodka or a Smirnoff has so much more possibilities to explore when it came to advertising.

Well, I am no Philip Kotler and all that I might have said here might be absolute nonsense, but this is how I feel about these two brands and their extended family of products. If you’d like to dispute my views on these two brands and straighten out my thinking, you are most welcome as always.


Dhivya said...

Its funny to think that blanket branding works for some and is disastrous for the others.

It makes no sense for Kamasutra (an ancient Sanskrit text giving rules for sensuous and sensual pleasure and love) to launch deos instaed they would be better off launching aromatic candles and a whole lot of products that titillate the senses.

And Parachute the boring sticky hair oil could revamp their image alright. Well if they think launching styling products will help they are sadly mistaken.

Angela said...

I have to write an essay about creating a new vodka brand and provide examples of failed vodka brands. Could you possibly help me with where I could find this information?
Many thanks Angela

sonam said...

m writing this to d writer of this column n olso d viewers and posters mass media student and i need urgent help on a failed ad/ad campaign of a product or service in if whosover reading this can hlp den plzz do so..thnx

Ravi said...

Ravindra I started new company of vitrified tiles manufacture. i want to make new brand name on s alphabet. so i have not any idea for it. please help me as soon as possible on my E-mail id.

Elliott Broidy said...

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