Branding is a contentious exercise. Everyone has their own opinion on how you should name your brand, how you should create your logo and everything in between. Today, I want to avoid all of that and focus on a different strategy altogether - the one word brand.
These are the companies that take one word, make it their own, and use it throughout all their products.
The holy grail of this is Virgin itself. With dozens of companies across a ton of verticals, every time you get a Virgin product or service, you know you’re going to get a high quality product that places a premium on service with a slightly irreverent take. Whether that’s airlines, gyms, wines, cruises, trains or something else - if Virgin is the first word, you know it’s probably pretty good.
Even if they come out with a new product you’ve never heard of, you still might buy it - at least to try it - just because it’s Virgin.
But they’re not the only company doing this. Here are a few other companies that have mastered the one word brand (and what you can learn by watching their strategy).
Google is famous for this. Google Search. Google Voice. Google Mail (Gmail), Google Photos, Google Ventures, Google Docs, Google Fiber. The list is endless.
They have some off-brand ventures like Nest and Calico, that they’ve put under the Alphabet brand in their recent re-organising.
The benefit to Google is not only the brand effects, but that each time they roll out a product, they can use their existing customer base. That means they’re potentially gaining new customers and making current customers deeper entrenched in their brand with each new effort.
Sony is an interesting example of the one word brand as well. Sony has all sorts of products from the SONY Walkman (old school!) to Sony LIFE (insurance) to SONY Music, SONY Pictures, SONY Playstation and a lot more.
The SONY brand might not be as strong as Google or Virgin in that people may not choose products because they’re SONY, but the strategy still works because they have so many verticals with overlapping customer bases.
You don’t have to be a multi-national brand to take this to heart. Nomad List - a service that helps digital nomads find places to live and work - does this with their services as well.
Founder Pieter Levels doesn’t quite own the word Nomad yet, but he’s putting in a good effort.
After building Nomad List, he’s also built a way to track trips (Nomad Trips), a chat room for nomads (Nomad Chat), video content for nomads (Nomad TV) and an online forum for nomads (Nomad Forum). He’s also built places to work for nomads & RemoteOk (which don’t have the nomad branding, but really should - you can do it Pieter!).
I know - technically "need" and "want" are two words, but since the "slash" is a part of the name (with no space), I’m going to executively decide that Need/Want is a one word brand.
They have an interesting take on this. Need/Want is the studio brand that produces a wide array of products - from bedding to iPhone cases to blogs to notebooks to chat bots.
All their products are individually named, but built by Need/Want. This is an interesting way to handle the convention where it may not make sense to make every name "(your brand) product name."
However, the effect is the same. Every time they come out with a new product - even if it’s as different as bedding and chat bots - their current customers are likely to take notice, and they’re bound to find new customers too.
I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention my own company in this mix. Since I started Impossible, we’ve expanded the brand dramatically..
In addition to consulting with funded start-ups on growth strategies, we build and reinvest in our own products through Impossible X, and we’ve expanded our offerings. Impossible HQ is the blog where we focus on pushing your limits mentality and physically. Impossible TV is the video content and Impossible Radio is the podcast. We sell apparel at Impossible Gear and Impossible.org is our platform where we promote our charity initiatives and fundraisers, and we have more plans to expand into fitness under Impossible Fitness in the future. Every time we launch a new product or service, it invigorates our current customer list and helps us find new ones. Meanwhile, it’s all pulled together by the strong trademarked IMPOSSIBLE logo on all of our products and services, so customers clearly identify our new products and services when they run across them.
No matter what you decide to brand your company, keep in mind that the one word brand can be incredibly powerful if you use it right.