REGIONAL products that aim to go national should bear powerful brands to survive competition, said marketing guru Dr. Ned Roberto in a forum yesterday.

Roberto said brand plays a crucial role in the success of the business. He cited two important elements when creating a brand name, namely recognizability and meaningfulness.

“The monosyllabic ones are easiest to remember,” he said. “When creating a band name, it should be easy to remember and pronounce. It should also exude positive meaning and reinforces the product's positioning," he added during the Entrepreneurship Forum at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

Testing recognizability, he said, may involve asking residents in different parts of the country to say the brand. The brand should be easy to pronounce.

For meaningfulness, he advised companies to test brands for any negative connotation or association in their target consumers’ minds as well as its relevance to product category and brand promise.

Roberto said companies can ask the help of linguists or semiotics it their brand fails any of the tests.

Of the two elements, Roberto said firms can work first on recognizability as meaningfulness is a long-term process, which can be taught to consumers.

Roberto, who is also a member of the American Marketing Association, advised homegrown businesses to build on brand equity before going nationwide so their brands will survive.

He advised firms to prepare for brand evolution so that it would continue to resonate and connect with the changing priority, needs and values of target consumers.

“There is no such thing as sustainable brand equity. You should anticipate consumer change, and when they change, you must change,” said Roberto.

He said that an integral part of managing brand evolution is adopting brand policies of brand addition, brand deletion and brand consolidation.

Roberto encouraged companies to review their brand names at least quarterly and include monitoring in the annual corporate strategy planning.

Roberto, also a professor at the Asia Institute of Management, said firms should build on consumer equity.

“For it (brand) to be a sustainable success, it must be a continuing, interacting conversation,” he said, noting that the conversation can either start from the consumer or the brand.

One of the successful homegrown businesses that have gone national is International Pharmaceutical Inc. (IPI).

Stanley Uang, vice president for sales and marketing of IPI, said that like any other regional business, IPI also encountered the same challenges in converting to national brands. He cited Casino Ethyl Alcohol.

Uang said IPI consolidated its alcohol brands under the Casino brand because of its recognizability.