At Red Hat, I often get questions about how we name stuff. It is usually not just idle curiosity, mind you, in most cases someone has a new program or product and would like to call it something like Supersexyshinyfoo. Our team has to play the bad guy role and explain that we don’t usually create new brands like that at Red Hat.
The response is typically something like “Let me get this straight… You guys think long, boring names like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and JBoss Enterprise Application Platform are better than Supersexyshinyfoo?”
My answer? We already have a Supersexyshiny… it’s the Red Hat brand.
We’ve spent years building the Red Hat brand into something that people associate with (according to our surveys) value, trust, openness, choice, collaboration, and a bunch of other neat things. Studies have shown that Red Hat brand karma is pretty positive. And the logo looks great on a t-shirt. Our brand is one of our most valuable assets.
This is why most Red Hat products have very descriptive (some would say boring…) names. The equation probably looks something like this:
(Supersexyshiny + Foo) = (Red Hat + descriptive name)
This brand strategy is often referred to as a “branded house” strategy. Take one strong brand, plow all of your brand meaning into it, while differentiating each product with descriptors instead of brand names.
These days, many automobile manufacturers do things this way. Remember when Acura used to have the Acura Integra and the Acura Legend? Honda simplified the branding strategy by moving to RL, TL, TSX, etc. as descriptors for their cars, pointing all of the brand energy back at the Acura brand. Many other auto manufacturers follow similar principles.
In brand positioning tips 1-3, we discussed the 4 elements of good brand positioning: points of difference, points of parity, the competitive frame of reference, and the brand mantra. In this post, we are going to switch gears and talk about a subject called brand permission.
When attempting to position your brand in a new competitive frame of reference (or, in non-marketing-ese, when you want to start selling stuff in a new market), consider whether your brand has earned permission to enter that market.
How do you know if you have permission? And who do you need permission from? Well, let’s look at a few examples.
Back in the early 1990s, Clorox underwent a failed experiment in extending the Clorox brand into detergent. There is a nice short writeup of it here. Why did the detergent product fail?