What’s really in a name? Although the current trend for quirky and ambiguous monikers certainly stirs consumer interest, it’s often the most straightforward name that relays vital information about company values to the market.
According to David Amar, co-founder of The Roadsafe Company, a functional business name that creates a positive emotional response is a key element of powerful branding.
“It is important that people know exactly what it is that you do,” explains Amar, who founded The Roadsafe Company in 2005 with business partner, Peter Hardi. “A functional brand name means that your market understands exactly what your products are about.”
With Amar’s extensive background in business, electronics, engineering and the military, he put this to use to develop the Roadstar – a solar-powered, self-contained, Australian-made LED illuminated road marker that is visible up to a kilometre away – provides clear traffic guidance in all weather conditions. This environmentally-friendly and innovative technology was founded by The Roadsafe Company to do just that – make the roads a safer place.
A rough road
Initially, getting the Roadstar to market was no easy feat. Manufacturing overseas proved problematic and selling to the government meant that success lay in the duo’s ability to convince road ministers Australia-wide that their products lived up to the company’s name.
“Road safety technology is fairly outdated in this country,” explains Amar. “Convincing the road authorities is a challenge we still face today. Knowing exactly who you are selling to and what it is that they need is one of the most important things to the success of a new business.”
Success also lies in the extent to which a seller can put their absolute trust in a product. The Roadsafe Company had a responsibility to get it right – which they take very seriously if their research and intense testing procedures are anything to go by. These involved exposure to extreme temperatures, pressures and impacts to test the capabilities of the Roadstar’s electronics, batteries and solar panels.
Stripping the Roadstar to its basics in order to understand exactly what it endures on Australian roads, the Roadsafe boys are slowly narrowing their checklist. With every test, they are discovering how they can achieve product perfection.
One such discovery came about while the duo investigated the effects of dimly lit roads on driver’s brains to find that the human brain is programmed to fall asleep at certain parts of the day and how flashing lights (or road markers) can actually stimulate the brain, keeping drivers awake and alert – as a result, the light mode of the product can be either flashing or constant.
The duo provides potential buyers with a list detailing the extent and results of their product testing: product life, back-up, durability and LED technology. This point of difference is one of the things setting the Roadstar apart from its competitors. Extensive product testing proves the company’s business ethics and values as directly corresponding with their product.
“Business ethics and values go hand-in-hand with selling. You must support the people you’re selling to and you must support your product,” Amar explains. “The people purchasing the Roadstar know how far we went to maintain our credibility and because of this, they are assured of its quality.”
Quality assurance plays a big part in guiding the success of The Roadsafe Company. “Deciding to manufacture in Australia was one of the biggest decisions we had to make, but a worthwhile one,” says Amar. “You can get everything you want in this country, you just need to know where to look.”
Plan the trip
Aside from quality control, Amar acknowledges the importance of marketing and brand placement in start-up success.
“We really took the name ‘Roadstar’ into consideration,” he says. “Now the ministers we sell to already have the name in their heads. They all refer to it as the Roadstar, not as a solar road marker, and this has made it easier for us to approach them.”
To make The Roadsafe Company a reality, Amar says it required planning, planning and more planning.
“A business plan is the single most important thing. You must make sure you have a very good idea on where you are going,” he advises. “Be very structured. If you don’t have a map then you don’t know where you are going and you will make decisions on the spot. Business should never be like that.
“If you have a product you believe in, a business plan, and a good amount of funds to fall back on, the rest is very straightforward.”
Having opened several businesses over the years, Amar now knows the importance of having your finances in order during the initial start-up phase. The Roadsafe Company, though, was never just about the money – instead it’s about making a difference. Even the company’s financial structure reflects values of social responsibility, with five percent of every sale donated to charity.
While the company moves from success to success, Amar insists it is the contribution to improving driver confidence and saving lives that makes the hard work worthwhile.
“The Roadsafe Company has a much bigger dream,” he says. “You cannot put a price on life.”