July 13, 2021 | Branding
Most companies start by offering one product or service, and frequently the company name and what they are selling are the same and used interchangeably. But as the business grows, and you expand your offerings, there needs to be a distinction between the name of the business and the name of the products and services it offers.
It’s important not to overlook the impact a new product or service has on a brand.
Different approaches to rebranding as your business expands
Two Visible Logic clients recently faced this challenge as their respective companies grew.
Example: Group MarketShare
Group MarketShare offers software that enables insurance providers to securely share market information. Their company name and software both used that name. As they began looking to apply their technology to other industries they realized these new applications may need new brand names. So, they wanted to separate the name of their software from the name of their company, which raised the question: Should the company remain “Group MarketShare” or do they keep that as the name of the software and find a new name for the company?
Their current brand name used words that were relevant to the insurance industry and might not resonate in other sectors, so with our guidance, they chose a new company name — Retego Data — and kept “Group Market Share” as the name for their original software which directly serves the insurance marketplace.
Keeping Group MarketShare as the name of their flagship software helped their loyal customers to keep seeing a name they were familiar with. Choosing a new company name that was industry-agnostic gives Retego Data the flexibility to expand into any industry or sector. Once they are ready to go to market with new software, they can create a name that will be compelling to their new prospects.
Example: STARC Systems
STARC Systems is another client of ours who recently expanded their product line. STARC sells reusable temporary containment walls to hospitals and construction contractors. Their company name and product had always been used interchangeably. STARC was the company and the walls they sold.
But as they prepared to offer a new type of wall, they had to clarify the difference between the company and the different products they offered.
In the end, the company name remained STARC, their original product was rebranded as RealWall, and their new product is called LiteBarrier. More recently, they introduced their third new product and were able to continue with this same naming convention. They introduced a new name that highlights the key benefits of the product.
Once you have a strategy for your names they can all work together in a system that supports your overall brand.
New business name or new product name? Which is right?
Retego and STARC took two opposite approaches. But which one was right? Well, they both were, and understanding why may help you make the right decision when your business is faced with a similar predicament.
In Retego’s case, it made sense to create an entirely new name for their business because the audience they were targeting with their new services had no familiarity with Group MarketShare. The term “Group Market Share” was related to the insurance industry and didn’t accurately describe how the technology would be applied to other sectors. Choosing a new company name enabled them to have more widespread appeal. Retaining the Group MarketShare name for the software that served their existing insurance customers, maintained their brand equity.
STARC, however, wasn’t targeting an entirely new audience with their new product. They were continuing to sell to contractors and healthcare providers, many of whom had become loyal customers. If they changed their name, it could create confusion — “Did STARC get bought by another company?” “Will that impact the high-quality product I’ve grown to rely on?” By keeping STARC Systems as the company name, it maintained consistency and familiarity. It also provided an opportunity to rename the products to better reflect their attributes. What was previously called “STARC walls” became RealWall, named for its sturdy construction that resembled a permanent wall. The new product was named “LiteBarrier” to compete with other lightweight containment walls on the market.
What else should you consider?
Like Retego and STARC, you should definitely consider how expanding your product line or service offering will impact how your audience perceives you. There are other questions you should ask as well:
What does growth look like beyond this most immediate expansion of products or services?
In STARC’s case, they would later go on to announce a new product called FireblockWall, which fit within the naming structure they created. You want to make sure whatever you decide, the brand can scale so you aren’t changing it and rebranding with every new product or service launch.
What equity do I have in my current brand?
Is there SEO value in your business name? Would you have to incur significant costs to reprint materials, update signage or change your website and social media channels?
How will you communicate the difference between business and product or service?
Whatever route you take in expanding your business and your offerings, it’s going to be a departure from the ways you were doing things. It’ll be important to communicate these changes and ensure your audience understands the new product or service, and how it fits into your organization’s larger mission.
What’s the best approach?
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Expanding your product line of service offerings will impact nearly every facet of your brand — design, messaging, websites, sales material, marketing campaigns, and more. While you’ll likely be eager to launch your new product or service, doing so without properly accounting for its impact on your brand could be costly.
Go through every piece of marketing you have — look at every visual and read every sentence — and ask yourself, “Does this new product/service impact the way I show/say this?” If the answer is “Yes,” you’ll need to plan how to change it accordingly.
If this sounds like a Herculean task, that’s why professional marketing agencies like Visible Logic exist. We’ve helped brands like STARC and Retego see the big picture when they’ve prepared to launch a new product or service, and we can help yours as well.