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Who Really Owns Your Brand?

By Naseem Javed

You may think that you have an absolute, 100% ownership for your brand, yet if your name identity is shared with hundreds of others, then you clearly lack 100% ownership. What's the point of brand-building if you are simply brand-sharing? Global icons like Sony, Rolex or PlayStation are completely unique around the world, there is no dispute concerning who owns these brands whatsoever.

So why is it so difficult for your brands to achieve this global respect and position.

Corporations often justify or deny such serious name handicaps, similarities, marketplace confusion, and trademark limitations directly impacting the sales as customers out there are not catching the tune. Agencies can come up with advertising campaigns and announcements complete with all the hype to attract temporary attention, yet like a fireworks display, this is often short lived and the impact of the brand name will fade away, as it begins to need more and more oxygen to survive.  

So what is it that makes a great name?

Something short, sweet and simple, like Sony, something highly related to its goods and services, like Microsoft or PlayStation; something globally protectable like Rolex; and lastly, something with an identically matching dotcom URL as a key to its corporate empire, flowing smoothly on the worldwide e-commerce access, like CNN.com. Without the above qualities, a name is simply an injured identity gasping for oxygen, masked with big-budget advertising fireworks to hide its latent weaknesses, later only screaming to stay afloat while customers simply walk by. Healthy names attract customers en masse, while injured names repel discreetly.

If you have a super brand, then let the whole world see it, if you have an absolute 100% global ownership of that brand, prove it. A two second search on Google will demonstrate.

Today, 95% of big, expensive brands out there do not have complete ownership. They may have logos, unique designs, colorful executions, banners and billboards, but as long as there are similar and identical name brands existing within the marketplace, they do not have 100% ownership. Their name identities are shared by the hundreds. Why?

There are thousands of massive branding campaigns taking place throughout the world this is what happens when panic and creativity collide with the human psyche in hyper-accelerated, happy-go-lucky consumerism, desperately trying to create pyramids of wealth that reach the sky. Few succeed, and mostly fail, as their burn-rate of advertising is faster then the buy-in of the name identity in the global marketplace which directly impacts sales and market share. This also explains why there are hardly any globally respected, equally protected name identities, as currently, most of the hype and fanfare outlining new mergers and name identities are based on short-lived promotions wrapped around common look-alikes. Good names grow and attract customers.

When the killer "A" virus became loose, desperate ad agencies seeking fame and glory came up with the idea of adding the letter "A" to just about everything in an attempt to appear unique and exotic. Hence, ALTIMA, ACHIEVA, ASUNA and AROURA came about. The glut of "A" names became confusing and meaningless, as monikers with even more A's began to appear, such as APAYA, AVAVYA or AVAVA. After many thousands of these look-alikes, sound-alike, naming accidents later, the trend finally died, 

Now does this mean that we should start discussing prospects for abusing the letters "B" "C" or "D"? No, please don't. Because each letter of the alphabet has some powerful hidden characters, strengths and weaknesses amidst alpha structural related trends, without a solid understanding of what a brand must ultimately deliver, one is simply shooting in the dark. Corporate Name branding is a very serious issue and is not a question of simply inserting letters into already existing or famous name brands.

The solution is to stop the denial of ever-lingering name problems and to put an end to bandage branding; attempting to "cure" an injured name by adding "One" "PLUS" "FIRST" "WORLD" or the letter "E" to an existing brand with the intention of appearing unique.

The question is, why are so many business names so dysfunctional and poorly chosen, especially when they continuously hurt their owners who waste huge amounts in advertising fireworks and eventually end up in smoke while going nowhere? Does this explain why there are endless daily name changes? Further, why are these desperate name change processes producing even more "dumb and dumber" identities?

The question is, why are so many business names so dysfunctional and poorly chosen, especially when they continuously hurt their owners who waste huge amounts in advertising fireworks but eventually end up in smoke and go nowhere? Does this also explain why there are endless daily name changes, and further, why are these desperate name change processes producing even more "dumb and dumber" identities?  

So Why Is Naming so International?

Names are only international, burn all the books that say otherwise. Whether we like it or not, marketing is borderless, as is communication via the world's e-commerce community. It is naive to be smug about a successful national or regional name identity while ignoring its lack of functionality in neighboring countries or overseas. We are now living in a name economy, where the power of a nation is being measured by its armies of name brands. Corporations are fully engaged in expanding markets, which demands hassle-free names so that they can travel country to country without worry over translation issues or marketing to a foreign culture.

PriceWaterHouseCooper's consultancy and their infamous name change to "Monday" cost them $60 Million. Deloitte's consultancy became Braxton and spent $60 million. Accenture spent $170 million and BearingPoint $40 million. This is just a small example of how much agency effort is demanded by the upkeep of a poor name, amidst an attempt to gain much-needed public attention. Therefore, for international naming, the corporation must have a solid team backed by clear leadership in international expertise on global corporate nomenclature.  

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Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on name identities and global Image branding. He introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80's and also founded ABC Namebank International in Toronto and New York a quarter century ago. Currently, Naseem is on a lecture tour in GCC and can be reached at nj@njabc.com

 

  

 

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Status: 01. Juli 2015