How important is naming a new brand? It is absolutely critical – and also exceedingly difficult to accomplish. Marketers have to come up with a new name that represents the product’s value and attributes, AND be attractive to customers, AND it must not be taken by another company, AND is not too common a name, AND is not offensive to any population. Whew. No wonder so many companies use made-up words as brand names.
A recent case about the perils of naming a new brand was the ‘Kimono’ shapewear brand developed by celebrity icon Kim Kardashian West. Although the branding was rigorously researched, the ‘Kimono’ name was criticized globally as being offensive and profiting from a traditional clothing article that was a cultural symbol of Japanese heritage. The name had to go, along with the Kimono Web site, logo, labels, and more. More than two million garments will need to be relabeled so that no products are wasted.
The stakes are high for the new brand. The global women’s underwear industry is valued at approximately $83.3 billion and is still growing. It is also fragmented with new comers gaining market share at the expense of older more established brands. To her credit, Kardashian West listened to criticisms and has decided to change the name prior to releasing any product. (The new name has not yet been announced.)
What’s in a name? Everything!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students about their viewpoints on the Kimono name. Do they agree with the decision to change the name?
- Discuss competition: Who are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
- For ‘Kimono’ put students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis.
- Strengths: What is the company good at?
- Weaknesses: What needs work?
- Opportunities: What is going on in the marketplace that is positive?
- Threats: What factors should the company be wary of?
- Put students into teams. Have each team develop a new name for the Kimono brand.
- Post the names on the board and vote on a winner.
Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company, other news sources