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04 April 2012

What's In A Name?



Last week’s post focused on Kraft’s risqué new name for their snack food spin off. This week, we decided to look at Kodak, who some claim might have survived if they had created new names for different markets.

People have been critical of Kraft’s ‘Mondelez’ as it has sexual connotations in Russian. However unlike Kraft who is trying to innovate, some believe Kodak failed as a result of lack of innovation. Al Ries, an American marketing expert, argues that Kodak ultimately failed because its name was unable to translate into a manufacturer of digital products.

In 1996, Kodak was the world’s fourth biggest brand, behind Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. How come the top three have survived whilst Kodak has fallen by the wayside?

If some have attributed Kodak’s decline to their inability to spot the trend for digital, Al maintains that this is not the case, citing the invention of the digital camera by Kodak in 1976. During the years 1985 to 1994, Kodak ploughed $5 billion dollars into research and development.

Behind the News

For Ries, the name Kodak was so rooted in film photography that consumers could not make the transition to digital photography with them.

Perhaps Kodak might have had more success if it had invested money into creating a new name for the digital branch of the company, separating themselves from the film photography branch.

Ries uses the example of Eveready, the market leader in batteries that was overtaken by Duracell. Although Eveready produced alkaline batteries, consumers expressed little interest in this new innovation. When Eveready finally realized the potential benefits of giving this new product a new name, they went with Energizer, but it was already too late to rival the power of Duracell.

The right name can make or break a product. Although Kraft’s name choice was risky, they should be commended for trying to innovate and expand their business across boundaries. A little more help from linguistic experts specializing in the creating names for products entering foreign markets might have proved less controversial.




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