Aishwarya Ramesh

What's in a name? The trap of hyper-specialisation in naming a brand

KeepSafe belongs to Marico, while Pee Safe is an indie startup. Both sell a similar range of personal hygiene products.

A clearly defined brand name can help a customer understand the brand's purpose and product better. It can aid a customer in gauging what products the brand makes, without needing to get too deeply involved in reading about the product offering itself.

This seemed to be the logic behind the name of the Indian startup Pee Safe. The startup was founded when Srijana, the wife of founder Vikas Bagaria, suffered from a urinary tract infection (UTI) during a road trip in 2013. This experience led the couple to the idea of creating a sanitisation spray, which was then created and used within their social groups, family and friends.

Pee Safe was initially created as a subsidiary of (2012), Bagaria’s e-commerce platform in the personal safety area. It was separated in 2017 to create a new company Radcliffe Hygiene. They decided to expand the distribution of Pee Safe in the Indian market when they realised it's a problem that the majority of the population faces.

Pee Safe went on to diversify into a range of products, unrelated to the initial offering. This included a cramp relief roll-on product (to relieve menstrual cramps), panty liners, menstrual pads, etc.

Eventually, the company diversified into products from different verticals. But, it ensured that the new products were under different (product range) names. For example, anti-masks, surface disinfectants, and sanitisers are sold under the 'Raho Safe' name. Mosquito repellent body sprays, patches, and roll-on products are sold under the 'Moskito Safe' name. Hand sanitisers, and foaming hand washes are sold under the 'Palm Safe' name.

Recently, FMCG giant Marico launched a range of products that sounds quite similar to Pee Safe. It's called 'KeepSafe'. The KeepSafe range includes toilet seat disinfectant, multi-purpose disinfectant spray, hand sanitiser, hygiene hand wipes, feminine hygiene wipes, and soon to be launched intimate wash. One can't deny the similarities in the way these two brands sound.

An AdAge article on lessons in naming companies points out that when it comes to the process of choosing a company name, most clients don't pick abstract ones. "They have something concrete to weigh their names against - something the name needs to embody, or reflect. When the time comes to choose a final name from their top three, they consider the names against many aspects of the brand, including the company’s personality, vision, culture, etc.," mentions the writer.

When afaqs! spoke to Pee Safe founder Bagaria in December 2019, he said he had never been in a situation where people expressed discomfort over the name. He did, however, admit that online reviews for other products, such as sanitary pads, said it's a 'wrong name' for the brand.

Vikas Bagaria
Vikas Bagaria

“We’ve had to clarify that it is a brand name, not the product name,” he says. In the same article, he also mentioned that the larger strategic intent was to use the name to build a strong online, and offline presence for the Pee Safe brand. “We have created a brand, and are building trust among our customers. Just as a classical CPG (consumer packaged goods), such as shaving cream, we have a high repeat rate. Apart from online, we are present in over 5,000 stores in 50 cities.”

In the long run, Bagaria’s aspirations are to turn Pee Safe into something like Dettol, a brand synonymous with the category. “We will probably reach there (Dettol’s stature) in 15 years. There has been little change in the personal hygiene area in a last couple of decades, with only one product becoming popular, the hand sanitiser. That came about post the SARS outbreak (mid-2000) in China,” he says.

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