All successful businesses must position their company and products in the market in a manner that differentiates it from others. A vital part of this positioning involves your business name and brands.
Business or product names can literally be anything – as long as it’s obviously different from a name already in use. It doesn’t have to be descriptive of what you do or sell, although if it isn’t, you will need to ensure you explain this in the rest of your positioning.
Often a business name arises from a family name, an existing business name or something with which you, as the business owner, have an emotional connection. In the process of choosing a name though, it is important to take stock of what the business or product is about, and to remember this identity will represent you to the wider world for a long time. Brand and product names are often different to the business name, for example Robern Menz is a business name with multiple brands such as Fruchocs, Medlow Fine Gels and Crown Mints.
- Choosing a name
- What is branding?
- Why brands matter
- Creating your brand
- How do others see my brand?
- Does my brand fit into a branding hierarchy?
- Will regional branding help?
- My brand is the best at…making the most of market segmentation
To choose a name, it is a good idea to start by reviewing your product, its benefits, the needs of the target market and the manner in which you plan to market the product. Successful names, even if they are not a literal representation of the product or service are usually:
- Descriptive enough to suggest something of the product’s benefits and/or qualities
- easy to say, recognise and remember
- in a style that fits the target market (they can be clever but not so clever no-one in your target market gets it)
- can be translatable into other languages
- doesn’t translate into anything offensive in another language or, if abbreviated, result in a word that could be offensive (unless this actually suits your product or brand)
- legally defensible (ie a trademark that is unmistakably and uniquely yours)
- flexible enough to allow you to grow your business in new directions or introduce new products and ranges
Managing branding is the process of managing your business reputation so that the opinion people have of your business is positive, memorable and trusted.
Your brand values are the combination of your name, symbols (including logo and brand colours) and the perceptions others have of your product or service. If you get this mix right and use it consistently, it will add significant value to your product.
Branding is often misunderstood to be just about having a logo and not much more. In fact, your brand is all about the relationship between you and your consumers, your industry and the wider world. It is the psychological and emotional connection between you and your consumer. The logo is really only the entry point to this relationship and all it stands for, sometimes described as the ‘shortcut’ because it is that easily recognised, consistent representation of your brand. It is wise to seek expert advice from an experienced, qualified designer to develop your brand.
Brands can represent a significantly valuable business asset in their own right, in some cases worth many millions of dollars, because exposure to them creates a positive and sometimes deeply felt reaction on the part of consumers. This is a key way in which businesses compete. Brands and branding have become more important as the market gets more cluttered and consumers are bombarded with more and more messages and promotions but have less and less time in which to decide which product to trust and purchase.
Your brand has to represent your values as well as your products because it is your brand that supplies the ‘emotional connection’ with the benefits the product offers to your consumer.
A good brand will help you to:
- define how your target market benefits from using your product or service
- define how the product is different from the competition – branding is not only about what you do, it is about what you do differently from your competition
- promote a clear message about the difference to the target market
It can also help define any points of difference you may have with your competitors, such as a regional identity, environmental benefits, or designed to service a distinct niche or gourmet market.
Research shows humans react in very specific ways to certain elements of design, including positive and negative reactions to colour. Even how our brains work and therefore how we read and take in information can have an effect on how a brand is perceived. Getting your brand right to cover all eventualities such as consistency across packaging and promotion is difficult without experienced advice.
If you have an existing name or brand, ask a range of trusted business associates (suppliers, sellers, customers) to give you three words that describe your product. Often those outside the business will see it quite differently and you may be inspired by their comments, or you may realise that what people outside your business, including consumers, see is currently quite different from how you wish the business to be seen. You may choose to go with that perception if there is a business or competitive advantage to be gained, or to review your marketing strategy and positioning to better reflect the values you want to present.
Once you have assessed your needs, you will have a clearer idea on how to position and differentiate your product, brand and business against the competition. The 4Ps – product, price, place and promotion will assist you to get your message across. Each of these decisions signals something important to the market. Visit marketing plans for more information.
Thinking of brands in terms of a hierarchy can be useful, especially in terms of extending into export markets where the local or even state brand may not be so well-recognised or understood but the larger national brand, or your particular region is well known. Typically, the brand hierarchy begins with your own brand, extending on to the regional brand, state brand and national brand. Using the connections that are already understood in a new market helps new consumers attach positive perceptions to your product by association.
If regional branding is done well it means that region will be noticed and remembered by your potential customers. It also means you can leverage the significant investment other sectors, for example tourism, make to position your region. It assists with product differentiation too because it can be one of the few authentic differences between products in some categories.
By linking with your local regional brand you may be able to add a further dimension to your own brand.
Regional branding puts a focus on qualities or attributes readily recognised as a special and attractive characteristic to a region. In Australia, and in South Australia, there are regional food groups and regional wine industry associations who are working with regional tourism authorities to develop regional brands.
Examples of successful regional branding campaigns include:
- history (Barossa Valley)
- geographical location (Fleurieu Peninsula)
- climate (Margaret River)
- type of people who live there (Byron Bay)
- quality of produce (Yarra Valley)
- pristine environment protected by the sea (Kangaroo Island)
The value here lies in linking this special characteristic or attribute to the physical region and then attaching your brand to that connection. By linking the regional brand to that characteristic, the regional brand itself becomes attractive to consumers and they will link the special attributes of your products.
The seafood industry in Eyre Peninsula, for example, has developed a brand that promotes them globally as Australia’s Seafood Frontier, while the South Australian Government’s ‘Premium Food and Wine from Our Clean Environment’ strategic initiative uses the combination of the state’s clean soil, water and air to distinguish South Australian food products in competitive overseas markets and forms an important element in the State’s strategic plan. Another example is the New Zealand Pure campaign, designed to position New Zealand as the destination of choice for tourists seeking an unspoilt, natural, “pure” holiday experience – pure environments, pure, clean food and so on.
Effective regional branding works through cooperation between:
However, where a region is not widely and easily recognised already, it will take considerable flexibility and investment of both time and money to create a regional brand and the benefits will not come immediately. It can be done, as shown by the above examples, but if you are starting out from scratch, you will need to allow some years to see this level of recognition.
Geographical differentiation is not the only way to make this kind of link to broader positive brand values. These differentiations are effective ways to capture the attention of market segments.
Here are some others differentiations that can allow you stand out from the crowd on the shelf:
- environmentally friendly production methods or ingredients sourced from sustainable resources
- quality and production methods
- ethical animal welfare practices
- waste management and the use of recycled materials or recyclable packaging
- locally grown ingredients
- Australian ingredients
- Australian produced packaging and labelling
- fair trade
- wild- caught
These attributes can be critically important to a small business unable to compete with the big players on price alone. The decisions you make about where you source and how you process your product can definitely cost you more per unit if you decide to, for example, only use Australian packaging, but that same decision can also enable your product to compete on the shelf on more than just price if consumers are aware of, and share, your values.
It is estimated that four million Australian adults now buy products with a health or sustainability benefit, and that environmental, social and community benefits are also considered when making product choices. It is important to remember, however, that many more Australians will say they want to make their purchasing decisions based on these benefits than actually do it. Their eventual decision may be influenced by time, confusion over what competing products and brands offer or by price. It is essential to have real evidence of your sustainability credentials to be able to benefit successfully from green positioning and to be very clear about it in all your marketing materials.
If sustainability is a priority for you and your brand, you can learn more about how consumers view and value these qualities through market research. As well as researching ‘green’ trends, check out ‘LOHAS’ as a marketing term. It stands for ‘Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability’ and is used internationally to identify and analyse the consumer market segments aligned to these benefits. While these consumers exist in most developed markets, their behaviour differs significantly from continent to continent so it is important not to assume a target export market will behave the same way as your domestic market. See Market Intelligence for more.
Environmental awareness is also a focus for packaging and labelling of foods. In Australia and New Zealand, industry and various levels of governments have developed self-regulation to minimise the environmental impacts of consumer packaging waste and production waste. See Environmental Awareness and Packaging and Environmental Sustainability for business for more information.
If your focus is on Australian-made or Australian-sourced ingredients there are a number of major cooperative marketing initiatives that can help you. These include:
Brand South Australia and its co-brand Buy South Australia are brands representing South Australia, combining resources to help South Australian businesses promote their businesses. Brand South Australia also host events and awards designed to showcase these businesses and undertake marketing campaigns on their behalf.
Ausbuyis the consumer brand of the Australian Companies Institute Ltd. It represents and promotes Australian-owned businesses exclusively with marketing campaigns, online resources and Australian made branding available to members.
Other initiatives include:
Want more information?
- Choosing a business name
- Australian LOHAS research trends
- Green retailing trends (PDF 556KB)
- Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability
Food SA has a number of service provider members who can assist you: