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Generational Naming: A Marketer’s Perspective

Posted in Marketing

Dan wrote an interesting post last week about operating system numerical naming and, essentially, the lack of branding.

I ran across information today that Microsoft is coming out with a new operating system this fall:  Windows 8.  8?  What goes into that branding decision?

Technology hardware seems to be one of those industries in which their products are purchased no matter the name of the product. You’re really either a PC or Mac user, like those Mac commercials. Personally, I barely notice the name when I’m forced to upgrade any of my tech products—my desktop computer, laptop, Kindle, Android, and now iPod. This point was alluded to by James Mahoney in a comment (guestblogger here on Duets), who also stated “If you’re a Windows user, a snappy name for the operating system iteration isn’t going to motivate you to run out and buy it.” And while I agree, there’s also part of me that finds branding operating systems intriguing…and newsworthy.

Think about when Apple renamed the latest generation of the iPad, the “new iPad.” Wait, what? That doesn’t sound like a solid branding move. And technically, if I’m not mistaken, “new” isn’t protected (and no, that’s not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer). But, despite the apparent lack of creativity (shame on you, Apple), it created a lot of buzz. Buzz because they deviated from the norm, which may appeal to potential consumers who have yet to decide what side they’re on (PC v. Mac).

I’m generalizing here, but in today’s world, any kind of publicity is “good” publicity. Buzz is equal to exposure, and exposure can sometimes lead to an increase in sales. Maybe Microsoft & Apple could stand for some new naming scheme for their operating systems and technology products.

If Microsoft suddenly decided to rebrand its operating system, I would most definitely take notice. And since they haven’t rebranded their products in, oh…since the beginning, I would assume this would be major news (and by “major,” I mean major tech-news). Granted, I’m already a Microsoft user, and that wouldn’t result in sales. But with my interesting in technology, I would most likely tell my friends, and perhaps spark debate about which system we like better.

Sales can never really be associated or tracked to the naming and branding of a product. But free press? Who’s going to argue with that?