What’s in a Name?

For reasons both profound and petty, what you name your product matters.

This article from Business Week goes into the latest status between the 2 competing hi-def disk formats (HD DVD, and Blu-ray). While this battle has been going on for two years, and while I have no idea what the exact technical merits are for each format, I’ll give my opinion on the branding winner, hands-down.

blu-ray-disc.jpgBlu-ray. Why? Because it’s a cool name. HD DVD is not cool – it’s boring. Petty? Yes indeed. But if I’d just purchased a new-fangled player, I’d feel a lot prouder to say to my friends, “Hey, come on over and see my new Blu-ray player and disks!”

So many companies, especially technology companies, don’t get this. Look, if you’re going to invest a boatload of money into developing a product, why would you launch it with a weak name? Would you launch the Queen Mary 2 by breaking a bottle of Sam’s Club cola over it and dubbing it the “QM 877 Ocean Transport System”?

(as an aside, I saw a Blu-ray disk showing on a large HD panel TV in a store last week, and the resolution and detail were absolutely out of this world. I’m sure that a HD DVD would have looked cool too. But it is easier to remember that I saw Blu-ray!)

(just noticed an article on the NY Times website, about the tendency of new web companies to use nonsense names. Worth a read.)

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2 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. Pingback: links for 2007-12-07 | The Marketing Technology Blog

  2. arnaudvare says:

    Hi Steve!

    Thank you for your article. I think that you pinpointed something right with your post. The (brand)name of a product is one of the influence factors in a standards compatitions such as Blu-ray vs. HD DVD. In one of my articles, I have also mentioned that the image of Blu-ray has relatively more impact on potential consumers than that of HD DVD.

    Furthermore, it is also quite common for companies such as Sony to put lots of efforts in the branding of their products, and likewise try to play with their image in order to sell their product at higher prices (if you’re interested, I could send you the link of a article directed towards top managers about corporate branding).

    This however tends to become less possible. In the case of the high-definition DVDs, it is completely crucial for consumers that the prices are low, whatever coolness the products can bring.

    I think therefore that having a nice name can help, but is not the major influence of such a standards war.

    With my best regards,
    Arnaud

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