Should Product and Company Name be One in the Same?

It’s a popular topic for every business owner who sells a product or service: Should product and company name be one in the same? Should they be different and distinct?

After reading David Cummings’ article Products and Company Name Should be the Same, I started thinking about this debate – and I’d say David and I agree in most cases. In the article, David recounts his experience with his company, Pardot, and its product, Prospect Insight. As the company grew, he realized that when customers called inquiring about the product, they called it Pardot. After learning that product name doesn’t mean as much to the customer as he thought, he re-branded the company, matching the product name with the company name.

I certainly agree that product and company name should be the same – especially for startups. Here’s why.

3 Goals of Brand Strategy

A company should consider branding each product as a strategic investment. The top three goals of brand strategy should be:

  • Increasing customer loyalty,
  • Differentiating the product from the competition
  • Establishing market leadership.

Branding architecture tries to optimize the customer’s view of a product in relation to both the company itself and the other products in the company’s portfolio. The product may be branded as a stand-alone product, associated with other products, or simply associated with the company as a whole.

There are two main forms of brand architecture: master brand strategy and sub-branding strategy.

Master brand strategies can be highly beneficial for start-ups. In a master brand strategy, the company’s products and services hold the company name. Google is a great example of a well-executed master brand strategy with Google Calendar, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Chrome, Google Alerts – and the list goes on. This strategy helped build immense brand recognition around the Google name and its vast portfolio of products.

Sub-branding strategies can make marketing a little cloudy. In a sub-branding strategy, the company’s products and services don’t carry the company name. Take, for example, Apple; think about the iPhone, iPod, iTunes, MacBook and MacBook Air. Apple offers a wide variety of products, and each family of products has its own sub-brand. This branding strategy clearly hasn’t harmed Apple, which has a rather large marketing budget at its disposal, but on a smaller scale this type of strategy often leaves customers without a sense of loyalty and understanding of the brand identity and promise.

It’s safe to say that smaller companies, start-ups, and beginning technology companies, especially, should stick to the master brand strategy.

What are your thoughts on branding and company name?