What, Me Worry About my Product Name?

In the most recent edition of Inc. magazine, which arrived in my mailbox this week, I noticed a review of new video projectors (the on-line article is here). Now I like technology and gadgets, but I simply do not understand what thought process – if any – goes into the naming of many of these products. In this case, all six of the models reviewed had clearly passed through the Alfred E. Neuman brand-naming process:

  • Sony VPL-FX40
  • Panasonic PT-DW10000U
  • NEC NP60
  • Sharp XR-30X
  • Toshiba TDP-FF1AU
  • Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080

Names only a product engineer could love, or come up with.

If I’m going to purchase a projector, I want to have a brand name that I can: 1) figure out, 2) pronounce, 3) remember, and 4) tell others about with pride. Every one of these flunks badly. And this Alfred Engineer Neuman naming process runs through a lot of other technology companies as well (think: camera models, phones, etc.)

Why can’t these companies name a projector something like TruVizion? And when you introduce a new model, make it the TruVizion E? Do I really want to be counting zeros when writing the Panasonic model’s “name”, simply because some techno-geek thought it would be cool to put the number 10,000 in there so that maybe someone might guess it has 10,000 lumens? That’s not branding that sticks. It’s just stupid.

What other industries practice Alfred E. naming? Nominate your favorites in the Comments!

(Alfred E. Neuman copyright Mad magazine)

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Author: Steve Woodruff (19 Articles)

Steve Woodruff launched his consulting practice (Impactiviti LLC) in 2006, working with clients to create branding that sticks. StickyFigure, a division of Impactiviti, specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses that are seeking to make greater impact in their marketplace, but do not have the internal resources to brand themselves effectively. We also partner with larger organizations that need to borrow a fresh creative perspective. Steve also actively consults in the training/communications field, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceuticals; and he serves as VP Communications on the Board of a local ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in NJ. LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/swoodruff

Comments

  1. Hmm, there’s different ways I would look at this. One, there is a focus on brand. You know you’re buying a Sony / Nec / whatever device and can show it off to your friends, saying just that. It’s much more cost-effective, marketing-wise, to put all your efforts into getting your name to be associated with quality, than re-educate the market every-time.

    Second, we are talking an entirely different market for video-projectors than, say, Apple’s iPhone branding-strategy. I would expect the first to be much more tech-savy and, shall I say, left-brained. Someone who knows about the nitty-gritty may actually appreciate naming products in increments, and even proudly show off to their friends that they have version XP211Pro, vs. the measly XP210.

    But you are correct, the industry is clearly changing, more complex machinery is being packaged in a consumer-friendly fashion, and I expect that naming things attractively to match will have to become the norm not too far from now.

  2. ha ha! Yes! Completely agree…it is a geek who names them and he’s been locked in a windowless room for a year before hand too! lol!
    Another industry that does it half and half is the car industry…at the lower end of the car market the likes of Ford, Crysler and Kia give their cars names like Focus,Neon, and Sedona. But get to the upper end and it’s all numbers and random letters again! Merc C class or an SL, Bentley GT, Porsche 356 or 911..I mean can they not be bothered to name the damn things? Nope? Oh ok, well just for fun, I’ll do it for them then…Merc C class can be a Merc Colin, Merc SL? Merc Sleeker (Lines),a Bentley, is a Garfield (or a fat cat’s car if you like!) Porsche 356 is a Button (as cute as!) and a Porsche 911 is the Porsche Richard!
    However even the car industry can get it seriously wrong…remember the Vauxhall Nova in Britain? A great name – Nova being linked with the stars and sky rocketing etc…but no… in Spain where Nova translates to “won’t go” – not the best name for a car on a cold winter’s morning! :-)
    Good post Steve!

  3. Just think, in 20 years time there brand names will be longer than the packaging their printed on,

    e.g. Sony xplrkf.2xplzfkfkrkzzxxxxxxxxxx x5

    Just imagine going into a store and ordering that.

    Chris
    http://www.threerooms.com

  4. Yea just like phone numbers and domain names. Everything will be high demand for those small or effective numbers and words.

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