How do you screw up a product name? Well let me count the ways.
The main offenders are usually: names that are too long (Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 2 Feature Pack 2007), ones that suffer from overconfidence (The HTC Droid Incredible), names that are hard to pronounce or try to be too clever with capitalization (The Casio G’zOne phone does both), or ones that are unintentionally crass (Wii, as in “I have to go Wee”).
It’s best to keep the name concise, unambiguous and catchy. Apple, with its “i” nomenclature and feline operating system names (Panther, Tiger, Leopard etc.) excels at this — with one recent exception. More on that later.
Microsoft, a notorious creator of long-winded and unimaginative product names, has improved its branding skills recently. Bing, Zune and Kin are quick and efficient names that stay in your head. Too bad they had to go and kill Kin. RIP.
But some recent product names are breaking the rules, either through lack of imagination, dubious pronunciation or unfortunate double meanings. Ahem … iPad … Ahem.
Is this Latin? The Cius is Cisco’s Android-based tablet PC for businesses, but it sounds like it should be part of an Ivy League school motto. Cius et Veritas, or something like that.
A big feature of the tablet and Cisco’s entire product line is video, so I get the whole “See Us” thing. But I didn’t see it right away because of the spelling, and I’d like to think I’m a reasonably intelligent person. This one breaks the unambiguous spelling and pronunciation rule.
The Palm Pixi is the second Palm phone to use its WebOS and is a solid multimedia smartphone and lower-cost alternative to the Palm Pre. But it has a name that’s a tad too light on its feet for this hombre.
Sorry to get all testosterone on you, but Pixi is practically pixie, and a pixie is a fairy. Now you have me thinking about tinker bell fluttering around leaving a trail of twinkling pixie dust.
No offense to pixies. They are smart and helpful creatures. But since Palm created the Pixi for adult users of both genders and not for 13-year old girls they could have given it a name with some more muscle.
Windows Phone 7 Series
“Windows 7 Mobile” would have been predictable, but would still be better than this clumsy mess. Windows Phone 7 Series doesn’t even make grammatical sense. Why does “7” come after the word Phone? Did Microsoft just take these four words, throw them up in the air, and this is how they landed?
Microsoft wised up and dropped the totally superfluous word “Series”, which helps … I guess … a little.
Motorola Droid X
Motorola has a smash success with its Android-based smartphone, the Droid X, but how about a little effort with the name? X? That’s it? The X name would sound majestic if this were the tenth version of the phone. But this is a new phone! Maybe they thought the Droid brand name was enough. Or maybe they put an X there as a marker for a name to be named later and forgot about it. This one lacks imagination.
It sounds too much like iPod. I find myself tripping over the two. I say iPod when I mean iPad and vice versa.
But the larger problem with the iPad name is … how do I say this delicately … it reminds one of a female hygiene product. Phew, I said it. I know that is juvenile but it does make the name a legitimate distraction. When the iPad name was announced the
puns and wince-inducing jokes lit up Twitter and the wisecracks haven’t stopped. It’s a rare misstep for the branding boys at Apple. Maybe next time they should hire some girls. Just sayin’.
Shane O’Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.