What’s in a name?



What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, once mused William Shakespeare. But does it?

Mikes runners just [doesn’t] do it. I don’t want a Zucchini either. A glass of choke?

Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola  aren’t just names. They’re brands. A quick glance at the Forbes Top 10 brands in the World installs the value of brand in what is often analogous goods and services. And while a brand begins with a name, a good brand goes beyond that: It’s a portfolio of qualities associated with the name (Iacobucci, 2013).

That’s what’s in a name.

Making it personal.

Traditionally marketing has focused on the branding of ‘products’ – goods and services that have a “set of features, functions and benefits that customers purchase” (Czinkota et al., 2000). However today, branding extends beyond goods or services.

It’s Kayne. It’s Madonna. It’s Obama. Branding became personal.


“Political figures like Obama know the power of building and maintaining their personal brand and so they invest hugely in trying to manage their most valuable asset” says Sydney University Associate Professor, Pennie Frow, in her blog Building a successful personal brand: Barack Obama

So if we can brand the Kardashians, then what else?

Move over New York, here comes Geelong.

2014-12-12 - COGG Cinema - Fluke-1111.jpg

“While branding has been applied to consumer products since the late nineteenth century, the idea that destinations should formulate brand strategies only emerged in the 1990s (Kalandides, 2009).”

According to Baker the principles and processes of product branding can just as readily be applied to regions, countries, scenic byways, Main Streets, heritage districts and recently, the City of Greater Geelong.

“The practice of city marketing has evolved in response to the increased inter-city competition for the intellectual elite, residents, tourists, investors, entrepreneurs and the like (Baskina, 2010)” and is a major driver of ‘Brand Geelong’.

“It has been recognised that Geelong needs a ‘brand’ to market and position the city as a place to live, work, invest, move to and visit (Galeforce Strategic Services, 2014).”

Perhaps driven by a combination of city pride, aspirations of innovation, the need to satisfy current customers (residents) and attract new ones (residents and tourists), Geelong is seeking to improve its ‘product’, the city image, following difficult economic times and significant macroenvironment changes, including the loss of global businesses.

On the continuum of goods to services, destination marketing has it all and traditionally theory has suggested different marketing approaches depending on the search, experience and credence values of the ‘product’. So given destination branding has all elements, it’s not surprising there are plenty of examples of city branding failures – who could forget the 2013 Adelaide logo debacle?! However, getting destination branding right brings strong economic gains as demonstrated in the The Return on Investment of Brand USA Marketing.

So how to establish and differentiate the Geelong brand into a sound marketing strategy?

Customers search. Brands must research.

According to Iacobucci, marketing-orientated companies seek customer feedback at most phases in the brand development process. An approach embraced by Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Tourism who are driving the Brand Geelong project.

“It would be difficult to try and reposition Geelong in the hearts and minds of Melburnians and those living in Regional Victoria, without first knowing the status of the ‘brand health’ of Geelong (Galeforce Strategic Services, 2014).”

Understanding customer perceptions of the brand is important, but so too is identifying the competition (i.e. the Mornington Peninsular), the brand’s core elements (the givens required for ‘customer’ satisfaction – such as a safe region) and the ‘value-adds’ the region has to offer. The top five attributes (or value adds) of Geelong, identified by Brand Geelong’s customer research included:

  1. Natural beauty and attractions.
  2. Education system and institutions.
  3. Sporting events and facilities.
  4. Cafe and dining options.
  5. Events and festivals.

These value adds (points of desirable difference) enable marketers to strategically leverage Geelong against other Victorian destinations. Again, the infamous SWOT Analysis comes into play – a strategic tool equally applicable to tourism as it is to traditional products as illustrated in the link.

Giddy Up Geelong!


So what is Geelong’s brand?

Once known as a growing city with a thriving port and wool hub, Geelong fell on quiet times and earned the nickname of ‘sleepy hollow‘ – a name that would haunt the town for decades. To reinvigorate a ‘sleepy’/ mature brand, Geelong now seeks to reinvent itself (a classic repositoning strategy!) as a brand (region) that is:

  • Fresh & Energetic.
  • Adventurous.
  • Courageous (iSpy, 2016).

Although still in the early stages of development, the all encompassing Brand Geelong project already has traction in the marketplace with the majority of consumer cognitive and emotional sentiment towards Geelong being positive.

Will Brand Geelong be successful? Only time will tell. But in a classic tale of re-invention, the ‘new’ Geelong has launched to the World in a very fresh, energetic, adventurous and courageous YouTube clip.

Additional References

Baker, B, 2007, Destination branding for small cities: The essentials for successful place branding, https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hl3Mx-k31_sC&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=define+place+branding&ots=4CD80FMJN5&sig=Pc_px6dBPvSMrjKnIswz6lVrjWs#v=onepage&q=define%20place%20branding&f=false, accessed 20 August 2016.

Baskina, A, 2010, From image to brand, Masterarbeit, University of Vienna , Austria.

Czinkota, M. R, Dickson, P. R, Dunne, P, Griffin, A, Hoffman K. D, Hutt, M. D, Lindgren, J. H Jnr, Lusch, R. F, Ronkainen I. A, Rosenbloom, B, Sheth, J. N, Shimp, T. A, Siguaw, J. A, Simpson, P. M, Speh, T. W & Urbany, J. E, 2000, Marketing Best Practices, The Dryden Press, Harcourt college Publishers, United States of America.

Farrelly, T., 2016, Brand Geelong The New Narrative, iSpy Strategic Intelligence, Geelong.

Gale, R., 2014, Brand Geelong 214, Qualitative Research into the Perceptions of Geelong, Galeforce Strategic Services, Melbourne.

Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason, Ohio.

Kalandides, A. and Kavaratzis, M., 2009, Marketing cities: place branding in perspective, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bradford, England.


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