5 Tips for Thinking Through Names that Outsell the Competition

5 Tips for Thinking Through Names that Outsell the Competition

It’s branding Jiu Jitsu: Use the weight of your competitors to knock them off balance.

Ask yourself these 5 questions as you develop your branding and naming strategies: Naming a brand is more than just a creative process—it’s an exercise in strategy, deploying competitive leverage. Knowing who you are and what promise you want to deliver (see last week’s blog) is a key step, but knowing what your competition is up to is just as critical to your success, if not more so.

1. How is your competition positioning itself?

Some companies take a “spaghetti” approach to naming and brand strategy: throwing a bunch of ideas against the wall to see what sticks. However, you should assume your competition is taking a thoughtful, strategic approach—targeting one or more clearly-defined customer profiles, underserved markets or untapped segments. Understanding who they’re trying to talk to and how can be valuable information as you shape your strategy. Consider, do you need to compete for the same mindshare or market, or can you thrive by going after a different opportunity or segment?

2. What do their brands look like?

Are your competitors currently setting the market standard or following it? How your brand is perceived in the eyes of consumers can be shaped by your relationship to the market leader. If you’re an innovative newcomer, does the look and feel of your competitor’s brand suggest an opportunity to make your brand distinctive? On the flip side, if you’ve been around for a while, are there existing brand elements that have earned consumer trust that you can incorporate into your new branding? Is it time for an established line to be refreshed in order to maintain its leadership?

3. What brand vocabulary and naming conventions are they using relative to you?

Look for patterns in your competitors’ naming conventions, and don’t duplicate them. Taken one step further, ask what their names are trying to convey about their brand persona. Are their brands in synch with their brand persona? There could be a gap your brand can exploit. Your style should be as distinctive as possible to emphasize the difference.

4. What experience and expectations do customers have with your competitors?

Put another way—what do your competitors currently “own” with their customers and how quickly and easily can you take that away if you name, position and market your brand correctly? Even if converting their customers is a challenge in the short term, is it worth it in the long term?

5. How can you be sustainably different—and more valuable?

As the other four questions above suggest, this one is the heart of the matter. Coming up with a differentiated name you can own is very important; however, the true power is in uncovering the key strategic opportunity and market position you can own (and support…and extend…) and then branding to that. Strategically analyzing your competition can help you identify that sweet spot and make it your own for the foreseeable future.

Want to learn more? Watch for our next parathink Briefing: Names That Sell Global Healthcare Brands: How to create distinctive brand names that drive customer preference, sales and loyalty. We’ll be releasing it in early September, and you can view it on our White Papers page.

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