Brand - Its All in the Name

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on August 16, 2016

How would it feel when someone offers you a Brad’s cola? What would you do when someone asks you to look for something in a BackRug? Though these names sound very peculiar we all have used these rugs and tasted these colas. It would not be exaggeration to say that these names got imbibed into the lives of “GEN Y”. They are none other than the erstwhile names of Pepsi & Google.

Corporates use different ways to interacting with the consumers and the brand name and logo stands at the epitome. Brand names and logos create a strong association with the consumers. Today, a black swoosh and a red circle do not need any introduction across the globe and such is the power of the brand titles & logos. As times change, customers and their preferences change and so do companies try to keep them updated by changing their brand identities. While a considerable percent of the name changes are warranted by M&A, this article covers those changes made with time and those made to change the brand perceptions.

Image: pixabay

1. Apple Computers to Apple

When Apple unveiled its first iPhone in 2007 and had aggressive plans to diversify into phones and tablets, Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple wanted to create an impression that the company is not just into computers but far beyond. He decided to pair this initiation with the launch of iPhone. "We're going to make some history here today," are his words when the name got changed from Apple Computers to Apple.


2. DOW Chemicals to DOW

The story of DOW is yet another similar one when the company decided to move away from its Chlorine business and focus on specialty materials. This decision to change the customers association of DOW with harmful chemicals was made in 2013 and accordingly the company changed its name.


3. Philip Morris to Altria

Philip Morris decided to rebrand itself & changed its name to Altria. The decision was taken in 2003, when company had 84% of stake in Kraft foods and as the company is being closely associated with its Marlboro brand. However, critics considered this as a PR trick, designed to disassociate itself from the negative perception of harmful product manufacturer.


4. The subtle story of Nestle

The journey of Nestle is a 150 year story to talk about and its logo has been doing the talking. The initial logo was a coat of arms, drawn from the family tradition slowly changed into the current ones.

The initial logo was to communicate emphasize on child health, which is demonstrated with the “mother bid feeding its babies with worms” logo.

As the company started to diversify in child health care, the worm in the logo was removed.

Further, to accommodate the shift towards nuclear families, the logo was further amended to two baby birds from three. The company is coming up with a new logo to commemorate the completion of 150 years.


5. Imperial Tobacco Company to ITC

ITC is the second largest FMCG companies in India. All through the journey, the company appealed to its stakeholders in multiple ways and has utilized the brand name to the fullest.

ITC started as Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited in 1910 and to mark the change of ownership the name has been changed to Indian Tobacco Company in 1970. Subsequently when the company planned to diversify in 1970’s one big challenge in front of the company was the perception in the public and there by inflicting damage to the lives of people. To get away of this, the first step the company did was to change the brand label as I.T.C Limited. Further to strengthen the position, the company rebranded itself as ITC Limited in 2001. The company subsequently registered two changes to its brand image, one to celebrate the completion of 100 years of inception, in 2010 as ITC-100 Inspiring Years and subsequently to ITC- Enduring Value.


While this list goes endless, there are a few instances where the companies do not realize their mistakes in naming their products wrongly and then pay a huge price later. Many companies do not realize the meanings of their products when translated into different language. While a lot of such products do not face any issue, being local player, the actual trouble comes when the companies plan to expand their reach in International markets.


A popular cola drink in Ghana, Pee Cola which means “very good cola” in local language a Chinese drink “The Jews Ear Juice” which takes its name from the mushroom which is referred as jelly ear are a few examples.


Tata Tiago

A recent calamity was force upon the Indian conglomerate Tata Motors when they decided to launch their new generation hatchback as “Tata Zica” in 2016. Tata had aggressive plans to launch their new model in the International markets; however they were caught with the name which sounded similar to the virus Zika which took several lives in 2016. While the initial meaning was derived from “Zippy Car” meaning quick and speed car, the striking similarity of its title with Zika had a huge impact. Tatas immediately announced that they would change the name of the car and also to garner the initial buzz among the youth launched an online campaign and asked netizens to vote for their preferred name. The name was subsequently changed to “Tiago” and their brand ambassador Messi was rushed into the rebranding activity.


A lot of care and diligence is taken by the companies in choosing their brand names and logos. The selection is made by considering all possible meanings of the names and also the references to the logos in various geographies. Today, where brands and the consumers are interacting in digital space, surpassing geographic and physical boundaries, companies do not want their million dollar brands to turn into a mockery or catch in a controversy and hence are paying much higher attention and in this process increasing brand power.


This article has been authored by Karteek Kala from IIM Raipur



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