Brand Twins. Same name, different products. Good or bad?
If you pay attention to the communication that different brands are doing on the market, you will notice in many cases, brands that are using the same name for a different type of business or product category.
These brands are also called “Brand Twins”. A famous example is the “Apple” name used by Apple Incorporation as “Apple” and by Apple Corporation Limited as “Apple Records”.
First of all, let’s see how is this possible.
Well, the reason why a name can be used by more companies than one is the trademark registration system. When you register a name, you don’t own the word in general. You gain the right to use it for one or more categories of products from the trademark classification system and for one or more territories, depending on your interests.
Because of that, there are a lot of names that are used by two or more companies.
Let’s see more examples:
Domino’s Pizza vs. Domino Sugar
Finlandia Vodka vs. Finlandia Cheese
Dove Beauty Bar vs. Dove Chocolate
Delta Airlines vs. Delta Faucets
Eos (for cameras) vs. VW Eos
Is this good or bad?
As mentioned above, it is impossible to own a word in general. Of course, if you have a lot of money and nothing better to do with it, you can register that word on all categories of products, all over the world. But not even Apple did it. The investment is not justified.
But even if from the trademark point of view, you can use a name already used by another company, is it good to choose it for your brand?
The answer is: in general, no.
There are only disadvantages of using the same name with other company, especially when we are talking about huge brands, known in many countries by a large number of people. Of course, there are some exceptions that we will mention later.
Why not to choose the same name with other company?
- It creates confusion
A brand doesn’t address only to its potential customers. Of course they are the main target of any communication effort, but a strong brand addresses to a larger target, in order to gain brand awareness.
Maybe your clients know what your brand is about, but for the people who are not on your first level of targeting, hearing the same name from you and from other company it’s confusing. Eos is a car or a camera?
- It affects the Brand Recall and Brand Recognition
The Brand recall is a qualitative measure of how well a brand name is connected with a product type or class of products by consumers.
The Brand recognition is the extent to which a consumer can correctly identify a particular product or service just by viewing the product or service's logo, tag line, packaging or advertising campaign.
When you use a name used by another brand, the consumers have difficulties in associating that name only with your brand, even in visual identity, since the logo contains the name of the brand. In this situation, the Brand Recall and Brand Recognition are affected for both brands.
- The attributes of one brand affect the other one
Let’s think about Dove, one of the most famous soap brands. Unilever invested a lot of money during time so Dove became a very strong brand in many people’s minds. When you hear the name Dove, the first think that comes into your mind is “a creamy soap which hydrates the skin”.
If you want to eat chocolate, would you choose Dove Chocolate? Doesn’t it make you think that it has a “soap taste”? Of course you know that it cannot be possible, but the first sensation that comes into your mind is the soap taste. So maybe you choose another brand.
And of course, the vice versa is possible. If for some people Dove Chocolate is stronger than Dove, the soap, they may not wash their hands with Dove, having the sensation that they wash them with chocolate.
- The bad management of a brand affects the image of the other one
In case of a PR crisis from various reasons, the bad image that falls over that brand, will automatically transfer to the other brand. People don’t bump their heads with a lot of information about brands, don’t study to much or research. If they heard that, for instance, two Delta Airlines planes crushed, they will transfer all the negative feelings to all the other Delta companies.
Are there any exceptions?
As in every situation, there are some exceptions.
- Brands don’t share the same territories
If one brand is addressing to the American market and the other one to the Asian market, for example, there are not so many conflicts involved, except the situation when one brand extends to the another one’s market. In this case, entering on the new market with a new and different name is much recommended.
- There is a legendary history behind
It is hard for two brands with the same name to co-exist, but if both of them have a big history behind or, for instance, the name comes from the founder of the company , there is no need to give up at all the heritage for a “Brand Twins” situation. There are different tools that can be used in order to avoid a very big conflict, like: a very, very different visual identity, an unique personality of the brand, a very different communication approach and tone of voice and so on.
Naming is not easy. As we always say, naming is more science than creativity. When you choose a name for your future brand, you have to go through a lot of criteria, some of them you may have never thought about. “Brand Twins” is one of them. Even if you own the trademark on your category, it doesn’t mean you own the name also. Make sure that you choose a name that helps you to avoid potential image and awareness confusion. You invest a lot of money in making it well-known. Don’t waste your money on a name that cannot be used at its fully potential.
Don’t even think to copy the name of a famous brand and trademark and use it on your category. You will kill it before it will be born! Not only the company that used the name first can take it from you (yes, it is possible), but even if not, your brand will always stick to the first one and it will never have its own personality and uniqueness.
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