Kleenex is well aware of this and is running banner ads to help protect “brand identity theft”. We’re all guilty of this crime. Everyone uses facial tissues, but not necessarily of the Kleenex brand. Most people will still use the word Kleenex when referring to facial tissues when Kleenex itself is not benefiting at all. This is also true with Band-Aid, Q-Tip, Xerox and Jello to name a few.
Marketers cannot forget about the equity in a brand name and need to work hard to solidify the brand’s positioning. This is a key linkage to building strong relationships with consumers and needs to represent what the brand stands for. Keeping the brand relevant for today’s consumers is also important to keep in mind.
Balancing relevancy and equity is not always an easy task. Take Radio Shack for example. In trying to modernize a dwindling company, they re-branded themselves as “The Shack” and threw most of their equity out the window. Yes, the “radio” part of the name is not really relevant today, but that’s how consumers know of the brand. “The Shack” immediately brings to mind cheap images and a basketball player — nothing remotely related to electronics. Radio Shack should have capitalized on the equity built into the origins of its name: “The phrase originally referred to the cabins aboard ships where the Marconi wireless was kept, and it had a built-in nostalgia for millions of servicemen after World War II, who would have known field communications centers as “radio shacks”.
And what about Gatorade’s new name,G? Why change something that’s not broken? Gatorade’s popularity and widespread consumption has given it vocabulary elite status like Kleenex. The name is derived from its origins – a quenching beverage for University of Florida athletes (Gators). By shortening it to G, the brand loses all the equity it had built up over the years.
Marketers need to make sure to leverage the equity of their brands, or they may end up on a MISSING poster themselves.
— Stacy Cohen