What’s in a brand name? — A lot, actually!

Published 6:45 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

I came across an interesting survey this week that listed the most popular generic name used by consumers of soft drinks. The exhaustive results were broken down by each county, in each of the 50 states.

The four choices that the 120,464 respondents were given included “pop,” “coke,” “soda,” or any other name. As you could probably guess, between 80-100 percent of the respondents in Decatur County used “coke” as the generic term for a soft drink. That result was pretty much the same all across the Deep South and most of Texas.

In the northeast, the generic term was overwhelmingly “soda,” while “pop” was the overwhelming choice in the middle states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan and all throughout the Midwest, up to the northwest states of Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

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While pop, soda, and cola are truly generic terms for a sugary, carbonated drink, Coke, of course, is a brand name of particular sugary, carbonated drink. In fact, the Coca-Cola logo is among the most recognizable in the world, along with McDonalds, Google, Nike, and Apple.

In any business or endeavor, branding is unbelievably important to the success and vitality of that business. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

While Bainbridge College has been a huge part of our community for almost 40 years, chances are most people could not list or name one common image that is associated with the college.

I would guess that the green live oak tree would be the most popular choice, simply because that logo is on the most visible signs at the entrance of the campus. But, that logo is not actually the official “brand” of the college.

Dr. Richard Carvajal, president of Bainbridge College, is intent of changing, improving, and redirecting the branding effort.

During a meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago at Bainbridge College, Carvajal mentioned that in the year he has been on the job, he has gone through three orders of business cards. Each of the three sets has been different.

In an effort to present a unified message and brand, Carvajal has decided to rebrand the entire campus and he wants your input. After reviewing hundreds of potential logos, each with different fonts, designs, and “feels,” an on-campus committee has narrowed the choices down to three potential logos.

Next week, every member of the community will have the opportunity to pick the logo he or she prefers. The results of the survey will weigh heavily into the decision-making process.

Carvajal also mentioned that official school colors and an official school mascot are also being discussed and could be addressed in the future. When the school introduces team sports in the future, these two aspects will become very important to the identity of the school.

So, be on the lookout next week and let your voice be heard.

Jeff Findley is the publisher of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at jeff.findley@thepostsearchlight.com.