August 31, 2011

Same Product, Different Name

You’re making a sandwich and go into your fridge to pull out a jar of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise…or is it Best Foods? Well, it depends where you are making this sandwich. If you live east of the Rockies, you’re spreading Hellmann’s Mayonnaise on your bread. But, move west of the Rockies and you’re using Best Foods.

Both brands have similar logos, websites and even taglines. Seems strange doesn’t it? So, why would a company create or give a different brand name for the same product in a different geography? We’ve compiled some common reasons you may find identical products with differing names.

MERGERS and ACQUISITIONS: It is not uncommon for mergers or buyouts to occur. Despite an acquisition, many brands are well-known–sometimes even better-known than the new parent brand– and retain strong brand equity. When the name of national brand is strong, the original name is often kept, even when an international visual identity is adopted. The same applies on local or regional levels. For example, when Richard Hellmann Inc. was acquired by Best Foods, Inc., Hellmann’s Mayonnaise sold east of the Rockies and Best Foods Mayonnaise sold west.

LEGAL: Whenever you create a name, there is always the possibility that someone else somewhere else has already thought of it. Often a local brand already owns the legal right to use a name, forcing a multinational company to create another name. This is particularly true in the pharmaceutical industry, which is why the same medication may have a different name in France than it does in the United States.

LANGUAGE: Words and phrases translate differently into different languages. Sometimes a brand’s name may be inappropriate or even misleading in a specific language, potentially hurting sales. Depending on the product it can be funny, or it can be horribly ironic; one example of both these instances is the Chevy Nova. “No va” in Spanish means doesn’t go…perhaps not the best name for a car.

How do you avoid any naming mishaps in different regions? Research is essential in developing a name with long-term staying power. Copyright and trademark screening will eliminate name candidates in existence and linguistic evaluations will ensure you not cursing out someone’s mother in another country. Doing research ahead of time will save you the time and money early on if you find your name already exists, and may even spare you embarrassment overseas.


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