The Brand Name-Free-Ride Trap
A company introducing a new product often is tempted to use the brand name of an existing product, avoiding the need to build the brand from scratch. For example, Alka-Seltzer named a new product Alka-Seltzer Plus. Ries and Trout do not favor this strategy since the original name already in positioned in the consumer’s mind. In fact, consumers viewed Alka-Seltzer Plus simply as a better Alka-Seltzer, and the sales of Alka-Seltzer Plus came at the expense of Alka-Seltzer, not from the market share of the competition.
Some firms have built a wide range of products on a single brand name. Others, such as Procter & Gamble have selected new names for each new product, carefully positioning the product in a different part of the consumer’s mind. Ries and Trout maintain that a single brand name cannot hold multiple positions; either the new product will not be successful or the original product bearing the name will lose its leadership position.
Nonetheless, some companies do not want their new products to be anonymous with an unrecognized name.
However, Ries and Trout propose that anonymity is not so bad; in fact, it is a resource. When the product eventually catches the attention of the media, it will have the advantage of being seen without any previous bias, and if a firm prepares for this event well, once under the spotlight the carefully designed positioning can be communicated exactly as intended. This moment of fame is a one-shot event and once it has passed, the product will not have a second chance to be fresh and new.