Here’s the thing.

It’s an age-old tradition to run behind the best, easy-to-roll-off-the-tongue names for your product. 

What this ensures, or at least we think it does, is that the customers will catch on to the name quickly and cause a positive reception.

The reason for this is- if customers know the name, then they can easily say it, and chances are, they will choose that easy-to-recall product over others in the store, right?

And this seems pretty sensible.

Indeed, a darn good name should sell the product. It should capture the imagination of the typical buyer. It should fill younger children with a sense of awe or simply evoke the thought of something cool.

Usually, marketing teams run into overdrive.

Cool, cooleo , cool plus, cooler, coolundrum, coolfire , coolheat , cooluptus, cooltopia, coolantra , …. , are all to be expected in the decision boxes if the product is an engine coolant or perhaps talcum powder. 

However, when it comes to technology and automobiles, the requirement for a name to sound as stylish and as goosebumps-inducing as possible is unavoidable. And the cogs of the naming divisions churn to mix syllables with syllables trying to seamlessly synchronise a chord of letters to form beauty of a name.

Or, if it is a mobile device, the norm is to stick with market trends and slap a ‘Pro’ moniker with the version number.

However, my point from all of this is that, in marketing with fanciful wording, we forget the real and best way to make a product sell – the product itself.

Case in point:

I was in the market recently, looking for a nice pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. And boy, were there a lot of options! Most had great names to go with the feature set. Crushers, soundlink, studio pros, quiet comforts, life,…  and so much more- all of them being names trying really hard to convince the buyer that their sound profiles are the best.

But what stuck out like a sore thumb among all of these wonderful names, was very oddly, the best-seller. 

It was a pair of Sonys and, from what I could gather, the most popular and critically acclaimed headphones. 

Now you’d imagine that the market chart-topper’s name would be phenomenal—something written by true marketing gods.

But, well, the name just happens to be … wait for it (drumroll)

The Sony WH-1000XM4!

A name that includes a sequence of numbers that are not particularly easy to remember. 

So why was it chosen? 

Well, it’s simple, really. 

Sony didn’t exactly care about giving it a “good” name.  

The WH simply stands for ‘Wireless Headphones’, the ‘XM4’ stands for the type and iteration number (mark 4 in this case) and the 1000, for all intents and purposes, could be a number the intern decided to save the project as, on his computer.

But here’s the fun and odd part. 

Anyone and everyone who knows anything about headphones knows this alphanumeric mish-mash of a name by heart. And now, that includes me.

You’ll see reviewers bashing the parent company, Sony, for not giving these headphones a relevant name. But what they fail to realize is that none of them ever have skipped a beat when saying the sequence of numbers. 

It’s almost as if the product’s quality has sold the name better than any fancy name would have.

And that’s exactly what Sony was going for. 

By being good, the headphones were able to popularize their own name. And by having a different, odd and complicated name, the product has differentiated itself from its competitors too. 

A win-win, quite honestly.

Sure the name might sound like the copywriter smashed his head on the keyboard…but then again, Sony WH-1000XM4 is not a name I forget easily. 

So what’s the key takeaway here.

It is that the best marketing tactic is first to build a great product. 

Great products sell themselves. Bad products won’t. 

Secondly, it is essential to differentiate yourself. 

That’s what matters. Be it in a name or a campaign. It needn’t be the new in-thing – because chances are everybody is doing the new in-thing too. And if everybody is doing it, it’s no longer going to be a new in-thing, right?


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