Volume 39, Issue 8,
What’s in a Name?
When Products Achieve Brand Name Recognition
by Dez Farnady
What’s in a name anyway? It is a question of identity. If you want to stay anonymous, then have no name. But if you want to be recognized and have a high-profile public image or if you are advertising your product, name recognition is key. It is the sign of ultimate success. When the world refers to a product by the brand name you have given to yours, you have arrived.
In the soft drink world, the name Coke® was the generic name for all soft drinks for a long, long time. When you asked for a Xerox®, everyone knew it was a copy you wanted and not the copy machine. Did you ever ask anyone for a facial tissue? No. It is a Kleenex® you ask for when it is a tissue you want and everyone knows it. I once asked a Frenchman what the French word for skylight is and he unblinkingly said “Velux.” So much for my language lesson; and it is not even a French product. But, that was another sure sign of a well-established product in the marketplace.
When Names Meant Something
There are thousands of products on the street that have succeeded in creating the kind of name recognition that immediately identifies the brand with the product. We, in the glass business, do not seem to like that idea. I still remember the time when all glass doors were automatically called Herculite doors, regardless of whether or not they came from PPG. Long after PPG stopped making them we still called them Herculite doors. Remember when all insulating glass was called Thermo-pane, the LOF brand name? Well, probably not. But then, I am much older than you are.
Back in the olden days life was easy because the product name often meant something, unlike today when everything has many names and no matter which one you use no one knows what you are talking about. I give you low-iron glass. Did you know that Krystal Klear, Water White, Opticlear and Starphire® are all brand names for low-iron products provided by several manufacturers for the furniture market primarily? OK, I can understand a manufacturer wanting to have its product identity with the hope that it will become the Coke of the glass market. I am sure that PPG would be delighted if all low-iron glass was always referred to as Starphire. This is at least going in the right direction.
What do you do when a company finally establishes a product identity only to dump it for the sake of satisfying some young turk in the advertising department? It had arrived to the point where nearly all light-green automotive glass was automatically called Solex. PPG spent a lot of years providing that product with the identity that the Ford version never had. LOF never could get blue-green to have a real identity, because it only seemed to describe the product and not name it. For decades, for most contract glaziers, that light-green glass was always Solex—no matter who made it. Hey, it is Solexia now. Doesn’t that just roll right off your tongue?
Making a Re-Appearance
Long before its Visteon years, Ford made the first green reflective glass. The product was just starting to catch on when, for some corporate reason I could never understand, they took it off the market. After LOF’s blue-green Eclipse became a success, Ford brought a comparable product back to the market and called it Jade Ice and no one knew what they were talking about. Had they just left it alone and called it green reflective a few people may have even recognized it. But then Visteon compounded the problem by calling the same product Versalux Green R. Now, I don’t think that is the 2000 R, just the R and you better name your surface because it can be a number one or a number two and if it was just green R and not just 2000 and some other colored R then, well, you know where this is going. And I have not even mentioned PPG with the Caribia™ and the Azuria™ and the Atlantica™ and the Pacifica and Pilkington, which used to be LOF, with the old Eclipse® and the new Eclipse and the Eclipse Advantage™ and the Eclipse Disadvantage.
This stuff is an advertising man’s dream and a glazier’s nightmare. These people seem to forget that even after the more than half a century that Solar Bronze has been around it still gets confused with Solarcool Bronze. You think I am kidding! I am not. It is less than 90 days since I had my last phone call from some poor glass guy calling me for help and clarification on Solarcool and Solar Bronze. Unfortunately for him it was too late. They had already glazed a couple of thousand square feet of Solarcool Bronze that was supposed to be Solar Bronze. Or was it the other way around?
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