Far be it from me to call a global brand with the longevity and fame of Ralph Lauren into question on the subject of fashion. Their stylish designs and fresh-faced mannequin-esque models are instantly recognisable across the globe where a tiny polo player atop his trusty steed is regarded as a mark of affluence, confidence and sophistication. Where I might challenge the brand managers of RL however, is on the name choice for their sub-branded range Big Pony Collection.
The sub-brand targets the younger end of RL’s male market hence the rather nice horse to pony visual analogy. The need for this acute differentiation from the master brand suggests that the rise of competitors such as Jack/Aubin & Wills and Abercrombie & Fitch has caused some concern back at RL headquarters.
Therefore whilst representing a strategically sound choice I cannot help but feel as though the name chosen is slightly misguided. I distinctly remember the term ‘big pony’ not being one of endearment in the 6th form common room or the students union a few years back. ‘Massive pony’ was of course worse but a ‘big pony’ was by no means a complement either. In terms of what it actually meant to friends and I back then; I think Urban Dictionary can shed some light on but I will allow readers to explore that for themselves!
RL are of course not alone here; there are a number of misguided brand names to have gone public to shock consumers and make us all chuckle for a number of different reasons. A couple of examples below show the importance of checking translations when targeting an international audience:
At The Value Engineers we carry out naming projects for our clients on a regular basis and recognise the importance a name carries in the marketplace. On a basic level understanding the spectrum outlined below for a selection of brands on the German dog food market shows how one can use a frame of reference to craft the basis of a naming strategy.
In this case we have used personality and meaning to highlight the differences between names however there are other ways to frame such contrasts:
The introduction to naming outlined above works well as an introduction to our thinking, however there are also a number of far more detailed aspects to consider when naming a brand. For more information on what these aspects entail and how the knowledge can benefit your brand(s) please contact Giles Lury.