Brands vs. "Fantasy Names"

Swedish Fast Company reader Daniel Delviken emailed us early yesterday morning to pose an interesting question to our staff. A colleague thought it'd be a good idea to open up the query to the wider readership. Delviken writes:

Working as a brand manager in the strategic marketing department at a B2B company, I face the problem of naming new products every week. The issue raised is where we should draw the line between a simple name of a product and a brand. In principle you could either define any fantasy — or coined — name as a brand and/or sub brand, or you could define it as a mere name.

We have several examples of product names that grew into range names and today are better known than some brands in the market. I am sure that they also have grown brand personalities of their own. Thus they are sub brands. Or are they not? We have no intention of building them as brands, we do not coordinate them as brands, they do not receive brand budgets etc.

Some argue that a good creative name can support the mother brand simply by creating associations that its name triggers. This would be accomplished with almost no support or marketing of that name.

Others argue that any fantasy name does in reality compete with the mother brand for attention and thus harms that brand.

Do you have any insight or ideas on the subject?

If you'd like to contribute to the discussion, add a comment below! Let's see what we come up with.

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  • Dane Brown

    I would have to side with the first argument, in that a strong product or "sub brand" identity can lend to the overall brand equity of the mother brand.

    The quintessential example of this situation is Apple and the iPod. The iPod has a strong brand identity and has established Apple as the leader in portable mp3 players, even converting some hardcore windows users. This success in the sub market has in no way detracted from their main ambitions.

    I suppose the situation could be much different with a less successful product and I'm also sure that B2B marketing has its own intricacies. The only time I can see a problem arising is when a brand name is spread too thinly by being associated with too many divergent product lines... although it seems to be working well for Richard Branson.