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bad product names

Sunday,  03/19/23  10:06 PM

Have you ever reflected upon bad product names?  We are surrounded by them.  Why is naming products so hard?

Especially bad are names associated with things that have variations.  Like models of cars.

The product people know too much, and they assume we know more than we do.  We barely recognize the name of the company, let alone the product, the model, or the latest variation on the model.  I get it; you need to have differentiation.  So do that, but don't hope that we are tracking every zig and zag of your development.

Take Lucid cars.  (Please!)  The "brand" is Lucid - and you can be forgiven if you've never heard of them.  They are an electric car company founded by engineers who used to work at Tesla.  Their car model is the Lucid Air.  They also have a Lucid Air Pure, a Lucid Air Grand Touring, and a Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.  And another model called Sapphire, which is a Lucid Air too. 

They all look more or less the same, and are distingushed from each other by various features like battery capacity, engine power, and of course price.  Lest you think the latter is a detail, the most expensive of these options is approximately double the cost of the least, even though they are for many purposes the same car.

From everything I've read, the Lucids are great cars and have a real shot at being Tesla competition.  But they're too young and too unknown to have so many different models and names.  Confusing.

Some companies give up on names and resort to numbers.  The Nimbus 2000!  I get it, names are hard, and numbers are easier.  Also, numbers have a sequence, so perhaps customers can figure out that a Nimbus 3000 is a better or newer model.

But where do you go from there?  You can add letters.  The Nimbus 2000LX!  The RX!  The LRX!  Not to mention the LRX+!  It all gets very confusing very fast.

Don't be afraid to keep the same name.  Just because it's new, just because it's got a new feature, if it's the same product - the same value proposition - the same name is okay.  In fact it's good, because it's stable, and people get to know it. 

Tesla has had a Model S since 2012 but the car you buy today is pretty far advanced from the Model S of then.  Yes, there have been a few variations, but Tesla have kept them to a minimum. 

Apple are another company which have kept names simple.  Macintosh.  iPod.  iPhone.  iPad.  Apple Watch.  Etc.  They have resisted the urge to rename with every new feature and version, and we their customers thank them.  (Yeah, they do do that "Pro" thing from time to time...) 

Concepts like "this is a product", "this is a new version of a product", and "this is a feature of a product" are helpful.  But the real thing is to keep your customers in mind.  Don't assume they know anything - they probably don't - and try to help them.