Product Naming: May 2010 Archives

Oh, how complicated the iPad has made naming and branding.

I have already written about how people insist on calling iPad competitors "tablets," but sometimes, a tablet is not a tablet.
Lance Ulanoff at PC Magazine has written a great article about the new Dell Streak. He thinks it has a "nice name," but he queries whether or not or not it deserves to be called a "tablet."

Before I get started, I'd like to say that I think the name is OK but it sounds more like a fraternity initiation prank, than a high-powered computer.

Anyhow, Ulanoff says that this device, which was formerly known as the Dell Mini 5 (bad name), may be larger than your average phone, but it is not large enough to be called a tablet. It only has a 5" screen, as compared to the 7" screen of the HP Slate. Yes, Slate is definitely a tablet.

However, neither is as large as an iPad, which is largely considered the gold-standard of tablets. It has a 9.7" screen.

Ulanoff admits that he is not the "Supreme Court of tablets" but asks the almost metaphysical question: "Where does a phone end and a tablet begin?" seven inches is OK, he says, but five inches is just too small.

His idea? If it can ft in your pocket, it's probably not a tablet.

Dell, however, does not think this is a smartphone. According to Wired, they see it as a "mini tablet."

So I suppose it's a phone that thinks its a tablet.

PC World is not having it. They say it "misses the tablet mark" and insists it's, "Just another Android smartphone."

Zack Whittaker of ZDNet says it's actually a bridge between the smartphone and the iPad, making it a "phone slash tablet come smart-device."

Dell, I'm reminded of the saying, "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck." It's a smartphone, not a tablet!

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Behold the Seiko Ananta.

This is a spring drive chronograph watch that is set to compete head on with Rolex with a price range to match.

That's right, it's a Seiko. But therein lies a naming and branding story worthy of careful study.

First of all, Seiko has long been associated in the American consumer's mind with cheap and cheerful quartz watches, even though their watches have been to the ocean floor, the moon, the Olympics and in numerous James Bond films. As Zero Hedge says, this is their Lexus.

The entire brand is getting an overhaul and they are using this brand as a means of providing a unique experience for their consumers and to prove to the world that they can create top quality watches with real brand equity.

Already seen as a premium brand in Asia, Seiko is redefining itself to the rest of the world as the minutes tick by.

This month The Fashion Watches for Women blog announced that Seiko was the "new hip name in watches." With brand name timepieces like "Orange Monster, Black Samurai, White Knight" that are revered in Asia, it's easy to see the watches booming worldwide.

Peter Farrar, a fashionable watch guru states that Seiko and Armani are now two of the most popular names in timepieces.
The Ananta is really something special. gave it a very high ranking, stating that it is the men's watch to own in 2010.

The timepiece also received much attention at Baselworld 2010, the watch industry's annual trade fair.

Seiko is pushing their brand name into the stratosphere using a smart branding strategy. The name "Ananta" is Sanskrit for "the infinite" and it references the ancient craftsmanship of the orient very nicely. Although some say that people at Baselworld thought the watch was curiously called "the banana.'

More important is the art of "Katana", which they have linked beautifully to the Ananta. Katana is the centuries old trade of sword making. This is referenced in the design of the watch as well as the polish of the case and bracelet.

The Antana website features a video of a sword being made before it splashes into the watch itself. The introduction of this world has caught the imagination of the entire blogosphere. What do swords have to do with watches? It's a forced association, of course, but a massively effective one.

The Swiss may have the reputation for making good watches sealed, but the Japanese have always been able to produce beautiful swords and associated craftsmanship. It's brilliant, really.

This is a case of a brand taking its weakness, association with Japanese watchmaking which is seen as cheap but dependable, and turning it on its head.

I want one.

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I have already posted my thoughts on Starbucks' move to revamp and repurpose the Seattle's Best™ brand name. Their new initiative, however, has me scratching my head.
They are offering us flavored coffee in the supermarkets via their "Natural Fusions" line, and, amazingly, the Starbucks brand name will be front and center.

Sixty percent of Starbucks customers buy the flavored stuff, and eighty percent of American coffee drinkers buy flavored coffees, so this is a great way to reach a bigger market. It is also a shot across the bow of Maxwell House and Folgers.

The flavored coffee market is a $265 million business, and Starbucks will offer Vanilla, Caramel and Cinnamon flavors.

The only thing is that flavored coffee is to real brewed coffee as, say, the canned mixed drinks sector are to single malt scotch. This is a move that is "way down market" as 24/7 puts it. They go on to say that:

The Seattle's Best move can be defended because it does not carry the Starbucks name and the parent company can wall off the effects that the new product will have on the Starbucks image. The new flavored coffees carry the Starbucks brand, a sign to both the investment community and consumers that the firm is willing to risk sales at its flagship retail stores in the hopes that it could quickly pick up market share and profits in the grocery store business.
Other bloggers are not as circumspect: Sandbox tells us this is the turning point for the company.
They compare Starbucks coffee to "Boardwalk" on the monopoly board and flavored coffee to the low-end, "Mediterranean Avenue." Saying, "It doesn't matter if you're making the premium quality product. You could make the best quality, gourmet, all-natural, organic, fried pork rinds in the world, but, you're still selling fried pork rinds."


I just cannot understand why Starbucks did not put the Seattle's Best brand name on this new coffee.

Needless to say, I am surprised by this move.

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I think the CEO of the Decade, mush be having a rough week down in Cupertino.sadjobs.jpg

First off, Yahoo asks, "When did Apple become uncool?" The article cites Steve Jobs's jealous protection of the iPad trademark, his G-rated apps for the iPhone and iPad, his rough treatment of a blogger who found a fourth generation iPhone and his snarky emails to Apple loyalists as evidence that he might be turning into the Grinch of Cupertino.

Now comes the news that a company in Germany was forced to rename their "WePad" product to avoid a naming and branding hassle with Apple.

The new name will be "WeTab" and yes, it will play Adobe Flash. Sorry Mr. Jobs, but Flash isn't going away anytime soon.

So, the company is going to call it the WeTab, eh? As in, tablet, I suppose. I would imagine that the word "Tablet" is a naughty word around Jobs. He must be reading, with some fury, that Google and Verizon want to make their own tablet computers.

Yes, there's that pesky word again, tablet.

Remember how Verizon has been patiently waiting for access to the iPhone, but Jobs has extnded the exclusive agreement with At&T for six months? Verizon does. So teh carrier has turned to another really big, cool brand name. Google.

And Google want to sell tablets. Not pads.

Some say we need an "iPad Killer" but doubt this collusion will produce it.
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Others say this is in fact the "iPad Killer" and you can bet it will use Android.

Google Android smartphones, by the way, are outselling iPhones now, can't be making Jobs too happy with Google, either. But the point is, these guys are building tablets, and Jobs calls his product a "pad."

Since the iPad name just does not stick with consumers, I wonder, if it might be possible to outbrand the iPad.

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Energy Drink naming and branding is a recurring interest for me, primarily because this is a field where traditional rules do not apply. Energy drinks make anything they touch weird.

An article on Fox News points out that the trend towards energy drinks and alcohol has of course created a whole bevvy of strange beverage names. "Liquid Viagra", for instance, is a drink mad from Red Bull and Jagermeister.

You can also actually order pre mixed drinks, like A:M White Citrus for those early morning drinking urges you get, or late night urges at 2 AM, just in time for the after-party.

Fruit Blast is "fruit punch liqueur" while Dragon Joose is another crazy-named flavored malt beverage.

Then there's Four Loko Watermelon, which one blogger says is "the pinnacle of Bad Caffeinated Malt Liquors, the drinks that the government wants to keep you from, your momma warns you about and your fellow idiot drinkers give you High Fives for chugging."
Energy drinks and alcohol are a match made in hell, but of course the Coca-Cola knock offs keep coming. Enter Coca Colla, which is sold in Bolivia and is made from Coca leaves favored by the Colla people. Yes, the Colla people, that was not a typo. I'd almost say that the red and white label looks like that of the Coke we all know, but it is just too primitive.

I am sure that the people at Coke are trembling when they hear a government source in Bolivia say, "Soon, people will stop talking about 'God, Country and Coca-Cola'; they'll be talking of '[Andean Goddess] Mother Earth, Bolivia and Coca Colla.'"

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Last week we learned that Starbucks is planning to cash in on the equity of the Frappuccino brand name this summer. The recent drop in sales for the drink that represents 15-20% of sales at Starbucks stores has called for drastic action. The plan is to:frappuccino1.png

  • Customize Frappuccinos.

  • Sell Frappuccino ice cream.

  • Offer more bottled versions.

  • Test wacky ingredients.

  • Devise more products for the brand

The idea is to push the name as far as it will go. Interestingly, the Frappucino name is not a Starbucks creation. It is a holdover from The Coffee Connection, a Boston chain that Starbucks acquired in the 1990s.

The biggest change in the name will be the advent of the "However-you-want-it-Frappuccino" which rolls out today. The Lemonade Stand puts it this way: there are 87,000 ways to create your Frappuccino. And sometimes you don't even need to put coffee in it.

We may also being seeing the rise of vegan Frappuccinos.

Not all Frappuccino lovers are happy about this. Some feel that changing the classic Frappuccino recipe is a case of fixing something that isn't broken.

Others, who have been given a sneak tatse, say that the However-You-Want-it-Frappuccino is a "change for the better."

I am a major believer in the idea that a tried and tested brand can be marketed to a new target market. Starbucks is on to something here, and their recent profits prove it.

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