the product naming blog

March 12, 2012

Now Apple Dumps Product Naming For iPhone?

It had to happen. Apple seems to be responding to the outcry over the lack of an iPad name by not only suggesting that this is what Steve would have wanted but also suggesting that the next iPhone will be nameless as well.

This serves to streamline the identity of all the company's products, which is all well and good.

iPadiPhone.pngAnd there is a logic at work here, which is articulated by one blogger: "The fourth-generation iPod touch isn't called the iPod Touch 4. And, similarly, iMacs, MacBooks, and every Apple product besides the iPhone and iPad has just one name, regardless of which generation it falls into."

But this has an interesting ramification as AT&T currently offers many different iPhone incarnations, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. And in the future, think "the new iPhone" instead of "iPhone 5."

Consumers will "just see 'iPhone' and a bunch of different price points. If they dig down, they can see the exact specs. That's better for Apple's brand, and less confusing for buyers. Clever."

This is going to be hard to support this over the long term, but the fact is that we tend to consume Apple products one after the other. The older versions quietly die while we move our attention to whatever is new. Once the iPhone falls into line with the rest of the product naming, there will be less explaining to do.

But could this whole situation have something to do with the never-ending need to protect these brand names? Is Apple getting tired of the trademarking process and copyrighting of endless incarnations of these brand names?

Right now, some nefarious squatter is trying to grab every single possible future incarnation of the iPhone and iPad brand name. By simply saying that they are sticking with the name iPad and the name iPhone, Apple is doing an end run around these idiots.

Given Apple's woes in China over the iPad name, this might just be the case.

However, as I mentioned in my recent iPad product naming blog post, if you don't define yourself, someone else will. I think this is the risk that Apple runs.

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September 21, 2011

Hyatt Heads Home with Hyatt Home Brand Naming

Hyatt-House-logo.gifIt's interesting to note that Hyatt Hotels now has a new brand name called Hyatt House.

This new extended-stay offering renames and revamps their Summerfield Suites and Hotel Sierra acquisitions.

One look at the living spaces that the Hyatt House offers and we see why the name is relevant: we're talking about executive apartment living.

There is a great room, lobbies, areas for socializing, kitchen islands and breakfast bars. Add to this free Wi-Fi as well as an amazing assortment of electronic gadgetry and you have a truly home away from home experience.

However, the really interesting thing to note here is that the Hyatt House name was actually used for Hyatt's first hotel in 1957.

While the name is being revived, the logo is fresh and a little bit irreverent with a modified H. The press release describes it by saying, "The new logo, an iconic double lowercase/uppercase "H" with a curved square flag in a bold blue hue, was chosen as distinctive in the category but connected to the overall Hyatt brand."

The biggest question might be why that word "house" has not been used before in extended stay hotel brand naming when research shows that travelers want an experience that really does feel close to home. The kitchen, for instance, is the centerpiece of many of the living spaces and there are what they call "residents-like touches" that pepper the bedrooms.

Extended-stay offerings are now the most profitable of the Hyatt portfolio. The shedding of the Summerfield and Sierra brand names is to be expected because the Hyatt Masterbrand is just so strong: Hyatt is now the 14th largest US extended-stay chain with 54 properties, with Marriott is number one with 597 Residence Inn properties.

This gives Hyatt intriguing brand space. The word "home" is far more welcoming and intimate then the word "residence" and its alliterative pairing with Hyatt makes it more approachable as well as memorable. And as Hyatt states, "The name Hyatt House was selected as an identifier that signals a residential, welcoming, personal and hospitable experience."

It's clear that this is literally meant to be your home away from home, and that's what travelers want. A residence is simply just not enough anymore.

Bill Lozito

William Lozito

President and Chief Branding Officer

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August 31, 2011

Boeing Pushes Airplane Product Naming to the Max

With the recent announcement of the 737 Max, Boeing is continuing an airplane product naming convention that moves it away from the alphanumeric nomenclature typically on display in the airline industry.

Boeing-MAX.pngBack in the 1960's, airline passengers were riding around in 737-100 and 200 series jets, but with the 787 Dreamliner a few years ago, and now, the 737 MAX, we are seeing the use of more approachable product naming that reaches beyond B2B applications with names that are more relevant and engaging to passengers.

While the Dreamliner can be seen as metaphorical, the MAX is more direct with its benefits, by supporting the new product name with "MAX efficiency. MAX reliability. MAX passenger appeal."

The introduction of MAX also comes closely behind Airbus's debut of the A320neo, Boeing's main competition in this market.

Neo, from the Greek neos, actually means new, but Airbus has gone one step further by turning it into an acronym (New Engine Option), which may feel more comfortable for another aircraft family that is traditionally alphanumeric.

For sometime, its been clear that riding in a jet thousands of feet off the ground is more than just a means of transportation, its an experience. Perhaps the aircraft product naming is finally catching up to that notion.

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August 9, 2011

Nokia Embraces Numeric Product Naming

Smartphone product naming is getting easier and boring.

nokia-phone.gifNokia's plan to simplify its product naming scheme and make it strictly numerically based is partly to tell consumers what they are getting.

As Xbit points out:

Back in the good-old days Nokia used to have pretty clear number-based model numbering methodology that allowed to clearly distinguish between models and their positioning (3 - for mainstream users, 5/6 - for business users, 7 - experimental phones with new innovative technologies and/or in new form-factors, 8 - stylish and luxury handsets, 9 - communicators).

Then in the mid-2000s, the company added letters to their smartphone names and things became confused, not least because modern smartphones are so similar to one another. The new product naming scheme, however, simplified everything with a three digit number.

Nokia really says it best:

People understand the logic behind 'the bigger the number, the more you get' philosophy. Theoretically speaking, if we were announcing a Nokia 890, but it's a bit out of your price range, you'll know that the Nokia 790 might be a more affordable option. Also, used consistently over time, people learn to know roughly what to expect from a model using its number as a reference.

The short term effect of this may be to create a bit of confusion in the marketplace, but ultimately this seems like it brings clarity where there is confusion. Or does it?

GottaBeMobile wonders if this is "consumer enough," when they say, "In an age where we store numbers and contacts and speed-dial on our smartphones, numbers are forgettable, and it would be unfortunate if Nokia's excellent hardware don't gain more market traction in light of the company's recent change to Windows Phone 7 to become more aggressive in the smartphone sector."

They are, after all, going up against the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S with what is essentially BMW naming.

Numbers are not a brand. Numbers are not a product name.

Numbers are cold, emotionless and difficult to remember.

For B2B maybe. For B2C boring.

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August 31, 2010

Is the iPod Brand Name Ending Tomorrow?

Could the iPod name be on its way out?

It's hard to think of a brand name that has so much resonance could be abandoned, and yet there are some interesting reasons why Apple may drop it.

For one, Beatweek Magazine points out that the brand name is nine years old. Its not "hot" and trendy anymore.

ipod5g.pngThis might even spell the end of the click-wheel, which PC Mag predicts may only exist on the iPod Classic, which will hang on "until the day Flash memory is affordable enough to make a 128GB iPad touch."

Tomorrow, when Apple has its "special event" at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, we may see them addressing the iPod and it's naming.

If Apple is going to make the new iPods - which have not been redesigned for some time - with feature touch screens (leaked photos indicate this is so), then we may have to say good-bye to some really classic names.

But all that said, I still have trouble believing that the end of the iPod name is at hand.

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