Two interesting pieces of sugary branding news out today —
- Maria Sharapova is apparently considering legally changing her name to be Maria Sugarpova for the duration of the U.S. Open to bring attention to her candy line, Sugarpova. (The Guardian)
- AirAsia Japan is changing their name to Vanilla Air. (Economic Times)
Sharapova’s Sugarpova is a PR Stunt
In Maria Sharapova’s case, she’s built her reputation and fortune on the name Sharapova. But as key stakeholder in the Sugarpova candy line, even the reports that she is considering changing her name (just for the U.S. Open) is bringing untold visibility and press to the Sugarpova business. Whether or not she actually completes the name change is irrelevant. This is a PR stunt — and it’s working. The world-wide press is talking, and she doesn’t need to be introduced at the U.S. Open as Ms. Sugarpova to have successfully promoted the new business.
The Wisdom of Vanilla Air?
Certainly, in the West, the word vanilla has connotation that will be quite difficult to overcome. The Inquirer reported: “We chose vanilla as our brand name because it is popular and loved by everyone in the world,” the airline’s president Tomonori Ishii told a news conference in Tokyo. “I think it is a very cute name.” Cute it maybe, and it’s certainly true that most everyone likes vanilla, but still Vanilla Air seems decidedly — well, vanilla.
Interestingly, there are a number of other budget airlines with food based names: Mango Airlines SOC Ltd. in South Africa, and SpiceJet Ltd. in India, and ANA owned Peach Aviation. (Japan Times). This seems strange as in the intellectual space for budget airline, the single most important brand attribute for a budget airline is arguably the ability for the passenger to arrive safely at their destination.
It would seem that there surely was a better choice among the 200+ names considered, but at the end of the day, a name is just a name. It’s the surrounding branding that goes into it that will determine the relative success (or failure) of the brand. Okay, well that and their safety record.
What do you think? Are Sugarpova and Vanilla Air smart branding moves? Or a little to saccharine and ill considered for true success?