My recent trip to New Zealand not only gave me a valuable opportunity to find out more about the country's kiwifruit business, it also gave me a chance to meet someone I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time, namely Zespri shipping manager Mike Knowles.

It's not every day you get to meet someone with the same first and last names – let alone a namesake working in the same industry as you – and suffice to say we got on extremely well, discovering a shared fondness for beer, sport and, of course, the fruit trade.

I spent an afternoon with Mike and his colleagues at the Port of Tauranga, and as we watched pallets of kiwifruit being loaded onto a ship, I caught myself thinking momentarily about how important names really are. My wife and I are expecting our first baby next month and, naturally, we are keen to come up with suitable names. The natural concern is to be sure our choices will match the baby’s character, but of course it’s probably more a case of the person growing up to suit the name.

Without wanting to stretch the analogy too far, I think that’s also the case with fresh produce brands. During my week-long stay in the Bay of Plenty, I was aware of how important the Zespri trademark has become to the New Zealand kiwifruit trade. Here is a name the industry has grown accustomed to over time: since the industry’s new single-desk marketer was christened back in 1996, it has come to represent quality, care and commitment to providing the best possible service to growers and customers. The brand carries that promise and secures that reputation.

Like everyone, myself and Mike have sought to build reputations by providing people with the right level of service and quality, and our names are the personal brands that represent those values. Of course, should my reputation as a journalist ever slip, I now have the added option of being able to send Mike into early retirement and start doing his job…