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  • Posted by: Katie Conneally on Friday, January 24 2014 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

    Today is the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, and as CES 2014 proves, we've come a long way since then. While this is the end of our CES naming wrap up, this is just the start of a conversation on technology and branding that we’ll continue in future blog posts.

    After taking a look at the names for trending and everyday technology that came out of CES 2014, it’s clear that companies are trying to pack in as much meaning as possible, favoring descriptive names that ensure clarity. Which begs the question: how do you name an emerging technology—those things that are less product, and more concept—if it’s something the world has not yet described?

    Take Edison, the latest, greatest miniature computer from Intel. It’s a 22 nanometer dual-core PC, a little bigger than a postage stamp, that has the potential to transform wearable technology into something much more powerful. But its exact purpose isn’t known yet, which is why Intel is offering developers over a million dollars in prize money in their “Make it Wearable” competition. 


    And the name? A nod to Thomas Edison, one of the great inventors who made much of the technology we have today possible. That’s a pretty big legacy to live up to in a name, but the product seems like it may be able to deliver. The name Edison also seems like a challenger to IBM’s Watson, the artificially intelligent computer who once bested humans at Jeopardy. Game on.

    There’s also Oculus Rift VR, an augmented reality headset that you wear while playing video games. The name sounds techy and cool, and alludes to the act of seeing through the goggles, while also conveying the idea of a rift between what’s real and what’s virtual. 

    But the product feels like so much more, and early uses for it are stepping outside of the gaming world. With a name so targeted toward a gaming audience, there’s a risk of alienating those who fall outside that space, and a chance that really interesting applications of the product may be overlooked.

    Auto-maker Ford got into the technology game at CES 2014, releasing a concept car called the C-Max Solar Energi Concept. It’s an electric car and a solar powered charging station all-in-one, with solar panels on the roof to charge the car’s batteries. 

    But while the car itself may be efficient, the name certainly is not. It’s an extension of their line of C-Max Hybrid cars, but the unnecessary coining of “Energi” makes it seem trite. Coining a name to say “cool” falls flat when it doesn’t have a broader purpose. Since this is a concept, there’s time to change the name and we hope Ford can find something that expresses just how amazing this product has the potential to be.

    As we wrap this year’s review of names from CES 2014, we’re excited to see what next year brings. Will the names suggest experiences beyond our wildest imagination? Or will companies stay with the trend of descriptive naming? All we know is that as technology gets more and more advanced, names will play a critical role in helping consumers understand and connect to the next big thing.

    Katie Conneally is a Consultant, Verbal Identity at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Katie Conneally on Friday, January 17 2014 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

    We’ve looked at how companies are naming some of the biggest trends in technology, but what about the names for everyday products? This year’s CES was a treasure trove of technology that stands could impact on our day-to-day lives. With many names leaning toward the descriptive, it’s clear that companies are prioritizing making it easy for their audience to get what they do, even if the product isn’t as simple.

    Our smart phones have almost become a part of us, so it’s no surprise that many companies launched products for mobile phones at CES. Take Prong, whose PocketPlug is a case for your iPhone that plugs directly into the wall for easy charging, no pesky USB cables needed. The name itself is descriptive and alliterative, making it fun to say and hard to forget.

    One of the more fun phone accessories launched this year was TYPO, a physical Blackberry-esque keyboard for your iPhone. As a play on “typing” the name speaks to the function of the product, and as a real word; TYPO suggests that it helps users avoid exactly what the name describes.

    The smart watch is at the crossroads between mobile accessories and wearable technology. The original Pebble launched at CES last year, and a new version was announced this year: the Pebble Steel. As the name promises, the Pebble Steel offers high-quality materials, enhanced durability, and more of a metallic look. We don’t often see companies name to materials in the tech space — it may be shortsighted with such a quick pace of innovation and changes in manufacturing — so we’re curious to see how long the Pebble Steel will last.

    Outside of the mobile space, everyday products for the home took the stage. Clio, from ClearView Audio, is an “invisible” speaker for the home. Like the design, its name has the ability to blend into your life with a very human and familiar tonality; it sounds identical to the human name “Cleo.” Clio also evokes clarity, both of the sound and of the device itself, and is a suggestive and coined name that works well for the product.

    And the craziest thing that has the potential to become a part of your daily routine? That’s PulseWallet from Fujitsu, a cash register that scans the veins in your hand to collect payment. Another real word composite name, it taps into everyday terminology to tell you what it does, and uses friendly language to make something futuristic seem not that far out.

    Knowing this, if we had to venture a guess at what Samsung executives might name their new 85-inch bendable TV, we’d lean toward the descriptive. It gives them a chance to define the product in their own terms, and can tell users what to expect from something they haven’t seen before.

    Katie Conneally is a Consultant, Verbal Identity at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Katie Conneally on Tuesday, January 14 2014 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

    The big news out of CES 2014 may have been the futuristic technology — everything from Samsung’s bendable TV to AT&T’s Drive, the connected car project, to personal drones that fit in your pocket. But here in Interbrand’s Verbal Identity department, we’re more interested in the product names that will be on everyone’s lips this year, starting with two of the biggest trends: the connected home and wearable technology.

    Connected Home

    Both Samsung and LG debuted connected home products with descriptive, real word names that have the potential to define the category. Samsung’s Smart Home platform lets you use your smart gadgets to manage home devices and appliances. And in case you’ve ever wanted to ask your fridge what’s for dinner, LG’s HomeChat allows users to communicate with their appliances via text message.

    On the other side of the naming spectrum, new company Sen.se launched Mother, a programmable home monitoring device that can track everything from movement to temperature, and “cares about you and loves you” just like your real mom would.

    Wearable Technology

    When it comes to the trend of wearable technology, the focus is on fitness. Names like LG’s Life Band Touch, which descriptively says it all, and Garmin’s Vivoki and Vivofit, which coin names off Latin roots, position wearable technology as a total lifestyle.

    Other wearable technology names highlight the “getting in shape” aspect of their devices. The Core from Sony speaks to everyone who’s ever gone to a pilates or yoga class, and Reign from JayBird, taps into the competitive side of fitness tracking where stats are king.

    There’s also wearable technology with a specific purpose. June is a sophisticated name for Netamo’s device that alerts you when you’ve been out in the sun too long. The name is an elegant nod to the month with the longest day of the year and start of summer, and complements the device’s fashion-forward design.

    Voyce, a fitness tracking collar for your dog, displays stats like heart rate that help you keep watch over the health of your pup. While it may sound generic, the name subtlety suggests the power of technology to help your pet communicate through more than just woofs, giving a voice to man’s best friend.

    Katie Conneally is a Consultant, Verbal Identity at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Lucas Piazza on Monday, January 13 2014 01:20 PM | Comments (0)
    DOT Image

    The new year kicked off in Las Vegas with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – an event that convenes the world’s leading technology brands for days of press conferences and product launches, providing insights into the future of the electronics industry. We watched with awe as Samsung unveiled its bendable TV, LG announced a service allowing users to text their home appliances and Pebble revealed Steel, its sleek new smartwatch.

    However, what we didn’t observe demands equal attention; that is, brands that promote truly sustainable, practical solutions for consumers and our environment, rather than just mere wonderment. Some brands continue to lead the conversation, such as auto brands, Toyota and Ford, who displayed fuel cell and solar powered vehicles, respectively, and Intel, whose CEO announced the brand’s commitment to conflict-free minerals in its processors and urged other tech giants to follow suit. But, these represented an exception rather than a rule.

    In Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2013 report, technology companies claimed six of the ten top spots, demonstrating this sector’s burgeoning importance in consumers’ everyday lives. It is time for these highly influential technology brands to capitalize on an amazing opportunity to introduce innovative products that offer consumers control and convenience, while protecting our planet, and advance the broader conversation around the environmental benefits of technology. The opportunity is too great not to.

    Machine-to-machine technology (M2M) connects appliances and infrastructure and allows them to communicate with one another in a growing connected ecosystem; the technology that took center stage at both last year’s and this year’s CES. With an estimated market potential of $19 trillion, this Internet of Things excites brands and investors alike. At the same time, this technology offers unimaginable environmental benefits, a fact that is often ignored in the current conversation.

    In a recent study, AT&T and the Carbon War Room found that global greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced 9.1 billion metric tons by 2020 through rapid deployment of M2M technologies. These innovations could touch the most energy intensive industries, including energy generation, heating and cooling systems, transportation and agriculture.

    Imagine a world where all the vehicles on the road can communicate with one another, allowing them to travel more closely together and reduce accidents. Such is the promise of automotive brand Nissan, who recently announced multiple autonomous vehicles ready for production by 2020. As this technology proliferates and safety increases, cars could travel in caravans and be made with lighter materials, both of which would improve efficiency.

    Or, in the future your fridge alerts you when your spinach is about to spoil and conveniently provides a recipe using that produce. Not only will you have a delicious meal, but you have also eliminated potential food waste.

    With these benefits so readily available, why aren’t brands touting their products’ environmental benefits? It deserves acknowledgement that CES is a tech nerd’s heaven. Attendees wish to see what is sparkly and new, not what is necessarily the most environmentally friendly. However, promoting environmental benefits is absent across all conferences and big tech reveals.

    It is a brand’s responsibility to use this global stage and their influence to educate consumers about these benefits and drive demand. In fact, a study even found that almost two thirds of consumers expect companies to lead solutions that improve the environment – an unrealized opportunity to promote technology products that already include these benefits.

    Some in industry could profess ignorance of these impacts altogether, but in the contemporary Information Age it is unimaginable that a brand wouldn’t understand the environmental benefits of their products when that same information is so readily available to consumers. Rather, it’s likely they are making a strategic decision not to promote these benefits for fear that doing so would make them more susceptible to criticisms of greenwashing – a criticism they are not prepared to defend against.

    What the world needs now are truly innovative products that offer solutions to one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century – protecting our planet in a time of unprecedented global growth.

    Companies must first embrace sustainability as a key component of their brand and challenge others to do the same. Today, brands that are rising leaders in sustainable practices, such as HP and their Living Progress platform, started with a sense of humility and admitted imperfection at the onset, which was greeted with encouragement rather than skepticism.

    These companies continue to demonstrate their commitment through transparency and clearly articulated future goals. This model can serve as a guide for technology brands as they seek to spark their own industry conversation around the environmental benefits of new technology.

    Lucas Piazza is an Associate Consultant, Strategy, at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Forest Young on Thursday, January 9 2014 07:44 PM | Comments (0)
    Alpine and Lamborghini

    An apt descriptor for CES 2014 might be “nothing new, but everything improved.” What was unveiled this year was more about needed product maturation than novel creation. We’ll explore some of the big takeaways and what they signify for the year ahead for brands in a series of blog posts. One of the most notable trends at CES came out of the evolution of last year’s focus on the Internet of Things and how this has forged competitive brand alliances presented in a new way this year.

    The star of the show at CES last year wasn’t a specific gadget, but the emergence of a new ecosystem of brands supporting the connected life in spaces such as the home, travel, education, the office and beyond via the emerging Internet of Things. A network of sensors and big data that aim to drive automation in our lives, the Internet of Things exists today more as a conceptual model than a realized network. The connected ecosystem reigned supreme once again. At this year’s event we saw brands celebrate the interdependencies within their respective ecosystems and their alliances in unprecedented ways.

    Brands have co-promoted in campaigns before. Remember the Alpine and Lamborghini ads from the 1980s? The merging of the Alpine brand’s sound system and the classic luxury car brand in these clever ad posters could be found on many audiophiles’ walls. This year, Monster partnered with Lamborghini to showcase their Pure Monster audio system inside $4.5 million Veneno, revisiting a time-tested ingredient brand strategy.


    The prominence of brands celebrating their ecosystem partners, however, signaled a shift. Never before have brands co-promoted to this degree — where allegiances are viewed as indicators of strength. Ford cars, for example, could be found in the Sony showroom and vice versa.

    In this hyper-connected world, a brand’s success will be reliant upon an ecosystem of partners, and for technology brands, defined as the coordinated effort between network provider, the hardware manufacturer, software developer and partner brands. This connectivity is ushering in a new wave of branding complexity.

    Simply put, who gets the credit when everyone is partnering?

    Established industry leaders may find themselves playing the role of an ingredient partner for the first time as they work to establish brand credibility in a new space. Some brands may choose to utilize white label strategies and mask their presence completely from the eyes of customers.

    The brands that will emerge as leaders in the increasingly interdependent and complex ecosystems will be those that can master the art of partnership. We were encouraged to see brands exploring promoting their partnerships this year on the CES showroom floors as a sign of things to come.

    Forest Young is a Creative Director in Interbrand’s New York office.

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