I had to chuckle yesterday while reading a piece written by Alice Rawsthorn in the New York Times entitled The Power, or Folly, of a Product's Name.
She makes a few good points about some of the infuriatingly bad brand names, many of which I have commented on previously.
Rawsthron goes after techie products, laying waste to the Nikon Coolpix and the Sony Cyber-shot. She adds that she did not buy the Nikon Coolpix stating, "I had no intention of buying anything permanently emblazoned with 'Coolpix,' I passed."
This made me pause. She actually turned down the product because the product name was offensive? Really? "Coolpix" was just not cool?
This is certainly one of Nikon's most successful brand names and I have to wonder why, exactly, it is so awful. Puerile, maybe, but certainly no worse than "Instamatic", a real camera classic.
Rawsthron doesn't like it when companies add symbols to the letters, like Toys "R'" Us has done. She slates Aol, and then moves on to the Th!nk in Norway and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which she says is impossible to pronounce.
Okay, I'm with her on the Mitsubishi observation (and can write these off easily as culturally untransferable), but Aol? Toys "R" Us? These are fairly established brands, not victims of a "trend."
Maybe she is saying that this trend started badly and has only become worse. Close to the end of the piece, she says, "So what does the current fad for adding unpronounceable symbols to names mean? That our perceptions of language have been transformed by the abbreviations we use in texts and e-mails? And that we are so screen-dependent that we tend to type words, rather than write them by hand? Probably."
I'd say "definitely." But I would reword that to say that we type many words that we rarely have to say; that a good part of our branding input comes on a screen.
But, that said, alphanumeric branding is prevalent in the car industry. Many brands, like BMW and Mercedes, have simply always used it.
As far as cars go, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has nothing on the "Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard" or the "Toyota Estima Lucida G Luxury Joyful Canopy."