February 16, 2006
Product Naming: A Powerful Positioning Tool
As a naming firm, from time to time, we are asked why is a name important? Sometimes this question is asked in jest, and other times seriously.
Regardless, we answer not surprisingly, that a name is very important. So are other elements of the marketing mix - product, price, promotion, and place.
But let me focus on naming. You may have noticed recently that the medical device industry is lobbying the FDA to drop the word "recall" in place of "field corrective action." Why should the medical device industry be treated any differently that other product recalls for food products, toys, household or outdoor products, or autos? It shouldn't.
At its core, what the medical device industry is attempting to do is to re-position recalls in the minds of the public, especially the target market of patients who have implanted devices such as pacemakers.
This effort reminds me of another classic case of the industry positioning a product line for the opposite of what it is. If you think about it, life insurance is really death insurance.
A Medtronic representative, Susan Alpert, is quoted saying that the word "recall" "gets in the way". In my opinion the only thing that gets in the way is not telling it as it is. A recall is a recall is a recall.
Back to naming. If we look closely at these two instances, we can see that the name of an activity has the potential to redefine how we perceive the situation. That is exactly the function of a brand name. And that's why I feel a name is a very important element of the marketing mix.
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