The following entry was written by Kevin Taylor:

Is it always the best idea to give your product or service a name that tells everyone it is the best thing available and that nothing else will ever get close?

I recently had a conversation with a client about the strategy he wanted to apply to his company’s new product names over the coming year. Some of these were to be new brands, some would be sub-brands and some would be limited editions of existing products only intended to be on the market for a short time. We were discussing the options that he had been considering for each of the categories and some of the names that his team had been pushing for.

For one particular product, several members of the team were championing a name along the lines of ‘Brand X Pinnacle’. Basically the name declared that this was the height of this type of product’s development. It said that this new product was far better than anything else available. The idea fairly obviously being that this should appeal to consumers on the grounds that they would be getting the best possible product.

The problem with this was that the product was only intended to be on the shelves for a maximum of 3 to 4 months. It was a limited edition of an existing product (which would still be available at the same time) that was not intended to be a long term offering. What would consumers be thinking when they could suddenly no longer purchase this ultimate product? They’ll find themselves looking for a new product to fill the gap and it’s entirely possible that they wouldn’t go back to what they were originally buying from the client in the first place.

Take a made up (and not very inventive!) example. You’re cheerily buying ‘Happy Smile Toothpaste’ from Tooth Co. Suddenly Tooth Co. brings out ‘Ultimate Smile’ and you switch over because the name is telling you that this is even better for your teeth, even if that is not really the point of the new product which may simply be a new flavour. After a few months ‘Ultimate Smile’ vanishes from the shelves and you need to find a replacement. Unfortunately Tooth Co. has placed the idea in your head that their own product, Happy Smile, is not actually the best toothpaste it’s possible to make. Do you go back to buying Happy Smile or do you decide to have a look around now for something that may be better? Tooth Co. has diluted the strength of their own product’s brand. Even if they decided to keep Ultimate Smile around forever they have already damaged their other alternative options by telling you that they are not as good. Any company that has two products that can be seen as alternatives on the shelf risks diluting the brand of one of them by calling the other ‘the absolute best there is’.

In the case of my client this was one of those occasions where he had to say no to the name being put forward which was hard for the team involved. To be fair, the name they had come up with was very good and ticked a lot of the boxes that you want filled when creating brands. It’s always hard to lose a good name. It’s often even harder when the product stopping you from using it is one of your own rather than one of your competitors.