Naming In The News

Cut Through The Hype

The tech world's branding barrage is meant to entice and distract. Your mission: ignore it.

By William Lozito, Founder and CEO of Strategic Name Development
December, 2007

Mens Health magazine coverWould you use a product called Ooma or iYiY (both real names)? Never. But a Rogue or an Avenger? Absolutely.

A product name has a big job to do. It needs to entice, explain, and stick in the mind. Our research shows that names starting with the letters X and Z suggest innovation, complexity, and masculinity. You can see this in the Nissan Xterra, Jaguar X-type, Microsoft Xbox, XM satellite radio, and Intel's Xenon processor. Consumers perceive names starting with B, C, and S as classic, with T, L, R and D close behind. And what could be more classic and old world that a Swiss watch? One by Tissot, perhaps. Or Rolex.

Almost any name has a memorability advantage over a number. Motorola's recent comeback began with the RAZR and continued thanks to the line of consistently named phones that followed: The SLVR says thin and sharp, and MotoRIZR suggests power and upward mobility.

It's almost impossible to trademark an existing word now: that's why most new products have coined names. Google is based on "googol," meaning a 1 with 100 zeroes after it. And flickr.com exists because flicker.com was taken.

What's an overwhelmed consumer to do? Know what you're buying. Compare product specs, read reviews, ask a disinterested expert's opinion. If the underlying technologies are a barrage of capital letters, CoolCaps, and the like, beware. The manufacturer may be trying to dupe you into paying more for something less.