Hello Tim Cook, Naming is Critical in Branding!

Apple, moved 3 product outside the ‘i’ series because of trademark issues:

  • Apple Watch
  • Apple TV
  • Apple Pay

iPad had a similar issue but the late Steve Jobs paid off a Chinese company $60 million just to buy the name and to secure the continuity of ‘i’ series (smart move i would say)

Users admire the Apple Brand for its creations but love the ‘i’ series for its user experience. To most users, the ‘i’ series is very memorable and easily to associate to all Apple’s ‘i’ Products at the time of Purchase or during conversations. Today conversations are the best tool for Branding or as PR professionals like to call it “Word of Mouth”. The more different Products offered are associated through a name, like in the case of Apple’s ‘i’ series, the more the Brand becomes preferred and memorable for users. Simplifying the process narrows the search for users to get closer to the Brand. In this case, from Branding perspective, all ‘i’ Products by Apple (iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad) are from the same family and perfectly fit the Apple Brand Positioning which is ‘Digital Lifestyle’. The other strength of the ‘i’ series is that they are always remembered as a Family of Products in a conversation between Apple and non Apple users with a great potential to convert none ‘i’ users. So why Apple TV, Apple Pay or Apple Watch? Are they the second group of conversation as they are all related by name? Every time someone will mention Apple TV the association of Apple Watch and Apple pay will occur but not of the ‘i’ series. In this case, Apple created two groups of family names. The ‘i’ will be always remain memorable as Apple entered the world of Digital Lifestyle through its ‘i’ series while the Apple extended names will only appear in the mind of the users when they admire the Technology and not the Product, itself

I’m sure that the Apple Watch sales will appear impressive especially with early adapters but time will tell how things will unfold and if only iUsers are left alone to name it iWatch as they expected it before the launch. If I was in Tim Cook’s place, I would have not named the watch at the launch to avoid all sort of conversations on Social Media or otherwise

Apple name is a fad, while iSeries are users daily reality, “bring my iPhone” (instead of just phone), “I’ll email you from iPad” (instead of tablet), “I’m downloading from iTunes” (instead of ‘online music store’). “Where is my Apple Watch” or Watch doesn’t gel well with users’ psyche when most call it today even after launch as iWatch. If Apple management is smart enough they should not Brand the watch as Apple Watch, they should let the users call it iWatch. No law can prevent the users from associating the watch to the iFamily, this is very critical for Apple to block competitors

Apple’s legacy could easily be affected if Apple fails in naming its Products. Today, companies should distance their Corporate Name from categories or even when strategizing to own categories using their Corporate Name. As much as naming a new category is very important but naming a new category with an existing Corporate Name is very critical. What category is Apple TV? It worked for IBM, HP, Dell as Computer Companies but Apple is not a computer company it’s a Digital Lifestyle company

Let’s look at Microsoft and Windows, once Windows failed on mobile Microsoft was not affected as much on PC but it created a dent in the Corporate Name and the founder’s legacy. Today Steve jobs is much more admired than Bill Gates because Steve changed how people live and left them with the great iProducts unlike Tim. Naming is very critical in the Branding Process or even when analyzing as to how users create all sort of associations in their minds

The future might look bright but the risk is much higher for all Apple products if things went wrong with Apple Pay. Using your corporate name at a product level is very very very risky, you could witness a domino effect if something went wrong. Recently iCloud by Apple had security issues, the name ‘Cloud’ came under threat but not Apple

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 11th September, 2014

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