Having recently spent two solid days manning an exhibition stand I had plenty of time to think. Surrounded by around 360 other exhibitors’ stands my mind naturally turned to branding. The relative merits and slip ups were too tempting to ignore. Obviously it would be poor form to use specific examples of brand identities that fell short and likewise I’ll let you decide what might work best .
Instead here are some key observations about brand identity that became very apparent over the course of my time in the alternative dimension of a national industry show.
When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.Meg Whitman
Your brand name is often where you begin when considering starting a new venture. There are many considerations including length, ease of spelling and pronunciation not to mention existing mental associations in the mind of your target market and well, availability within the sector you are working in.
Observing the wide range of names at the industry show a common problem in naming raised its head. The problem of description. That is, an attempt at describing the sector or product within the name. It’s very tempting but does it help? The number of exhibitors whose brand name begins with the letter P and using some aspect of the word ‘pharmacist’ i.e. ‘pharma’, ‘pharmacy’ or ‘pharmacist’ was significantly higher than any other letter. The letter C came in second without any clustering to help it along.
Some letters predominate and some less so. There are many factors that might be affecting this (sector, product, personal preference, accident etc) and it may not be a causal relationship between sector and name.
There is little if any data relating to the first letter of words in the English language let alone brand names however the little I could find did suggest that P and M were both high in the list but also placed S first and C, D and A in the top six. Neither does this data fit with the most commonly used letters in the alphabet of which E, T, A, I, N, and S top the chart and P and M coming pretty low down. Remove the clustering effect and the pattern becomes more usual.
DESCRIPTION Vs UNIQUENESS
Understandable that a show about pharmacy has more exhibitors with names related to the main topics. However does it make sense in branding terms?
Of course a name can be descriptive and can help to anchor a brand in a specific category. Makes sense to aid customer recognition right? If it’s got ‘pharma’ at the front/middle/end of it then it must be to do with ‘pharmacy’ right? Or maybe pharmaceuticals. Something in that area anyway? As a customer would that encourage me to spend precious time and energy investigating and confirming?
Brand is about making it easy for your customer to choose you and your name is one of the foundation stones.Gavin Birchall
In some environments a descriptive name can help with identifying the product category. That might be when the brand name is observed in amongst other brand names of varying categories. Like the high street or a supermarket shelf.
With specialist products targeting pharmacy contractors it is less likely that their customers will find themselves in that environment. More often, vastly more often, customers will be comparing brands in a controlled environment where the category is clear. An industry show for example but not only there, a web search is not that different. The customer has self-selected the control for their search.
In those controlled environments it is worth considering whether the value of declaring the product category through ‘pharma’ this or that is worth the risk of blending in with others doing the same. The customer already knows the category, they searched for it, so this kind of naming is missing an opportunity to do something to stand out rather than blend in.
Perhaps uniqueness is more valuable in a brand name. If you want your brand name to be famous for what you do, to carry the brand with it in conversations, like only a name can, then uniqueness is highly attractive. Your name will never exist on its own anyway and will be supported by your people, distinctive brand assets and a whole host of other content explaining what you do.
Now if your operate a community pharmacy and that exists in the very uncontrolled environment of the world outside then using the word ‘pharmacy’ in the brand name makes a lot of sense if that is what you want to get across.
There is no single correct answer as every situation is different and it boils down to thinking about it when you make the choice. Here are some key points to consider.
- Length – keep it short for understanding, spelling and urls / e-mail etc
- Spelling – avoid difficult to spell words or using unusual spellings
- Availability – check legal availability in your country and others alongside non legally registered use and digital property
- Uniqueness – owning a space in your customer’s head and building associations around it will be a lot easier with a unique name
- Cultural sensitivity – check the meanings of your shortlisted names in other cultures and countries
Now take a look at that A – Z chart again and have a think about what brand name you might choose for your next venture and why…
WHICH DIRECTION IS PHARMACY HEADED?
An important question and one that is on a lot of peoples’ minds at the moment. Directions are being set by the DOH, negotiators and pioneers, all knocked into shape by external factors. As always there is no definitive direction but I find insight each year from the pattern of exhibitors at our industry show. I’ve put that pattern into an easier to appreciate format below. See what you make of it and let me know if you have any inspired thoughts…