Branding: If the service is good, keep the name

Shakespeare once argued that a rose by any other name would still smell as nice. In other words, the gist of the flower’s purposefulness is carried by the recognisable sweet smell and not necessarily the name. In a more technical sense, the name of the flower is rose while its brand is the recognisable sweet smell.

Shakespeare once argued that a rose by any other name would still smell as nice. In other words, the gist of the flower’s purposefulness is carried by the recognisable sweet smell and not necessarily the name. In a more technical sense, the name of the flower is rose while its brand is the recognisable sweet smell.

When a company is set up, it registers its name with the company registry, which in Rwanda’s case is the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). With time it creates or develops a brand. A brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business.

To simplify this further, when we are born, we are given names and the registration is the baptism ceremony.

However later in life we develop an identity or brand of ourselves. That is why when certain names are mentioned something in particular comes to mind. Take the example of Obama, Mandela or even Gadaffi.

In the world of capitalism, names and brands are very crucial for the survival and operations of any business. Names, logos, colour combinations or slogans are developed to differentiate particular businesses from others. In some cases, these brands are even legally protected as registered trademarks.

Businesses strive to achieve brand recognition which refers to the symbolic construct in the minds of the people consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product or service. It is safe to say that companies like MTN, Tigo or Bralirwa have achieved credible brand recognition in Rwanda. Many don’t even know what the initials ‘MTN’ stand for, but they will recognise it at the first instance.

It is against that background that I fail to understand why a company with a known brand identity can constantly change its name as if the aim was to become unrecognisable. Can some one please tell me why the national utility company, Electrogaz, had to change its name to RECO/RWASCO and soon after, to EWSA?

The name people still recognise is Electrogaz and they know it supplies water and electricity services. The RECO/RWASCO name was only on their pickup trucks not on people’s lips. And now a recent cabinet decision gave us the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA).

The name changes are so confusing. The company in question has over the years developed a reputation of efficient service provision. 

The numerous name changes are not doing it any favours if you ask me. In branding, once you have created a strong brand identity it makes no same to tinker with the name of the company as the identity will soon be lost or confusing to the clients.

That is why HSBC, a global financial services company with headquarters in London has stuck to its initials which stand for The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation even after attaining a global reach of 8,000 offices in 91 countries. Its origins being Hong Kong and Shanghai where branches were first opened in 1865.

Therefore the expansion of Electrogaz is not reason enough for it to constantly change its name to unrecognisable initials yet on the street almost everyone still refers to it as Electrogaz.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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