Saturday, January 28, 2006

wondering: awful software product names

When the techy types are running the shop, as they often do at software companies, it sometimes translates into how the company describes products and their value, and how those values are symbolized in the marketplace.

(Curiously, I don't see the same bias at CPG companies, which are, as far as I can tell, not run by soap scientists.)

The most obvious manifestation of this is the woeful state of product naming across the software industry. There seems to be an unwritten rule that software products must be named for what they do. You don't see as many fanciful brands in the software market as you do in. . .say. . .CPG.

And you certainly don't get made-up names like you see in the cosmetics space. What I wouldn't give to see a software product described as "Now with SupraSplectinoids and Revitalin!"

Perhaps it has something to do with building software brands. Brands are expensive, they take time to create, and they require a committment on the part of the creator to sustain it.

I've enjoyed the benefits of working with a super-strong brand, and I've experienced the angst of working with brand-free products festooned with long, declarative names that engineers love, but which are as sterile as the surface of the moon.

We've all done the exercise of trying to describe a brand in a few words and seeing if folks can recognize it. Say "car" and "safety" and most folks would say "Volvo". Can you do the same for a single software product? The names may be recognizable, but what do they stand for?

Here's an exercise - name for me any well-known software company with a recognizable brand promise and I'll put your name in lights in my next post.

(And no, you can't use Oracle, because everyone knows that "Oracle Corporation provides the software that powers the Internet" is their brand promise. Try harder. Microsoft is off-limits too.)

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