In our continued conversation on technology and branding, we took a look at some of the tech names that emerged from this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Take the Samsung Galaxy S5, the latest in the company’s ever-evolving Galaxy S line of smartphones. Aside from updates to the actual interface, forget having to submerge your phone in a bowl of rice — it’s now waterproof. There’s also a fingerprint scanner and a sensor in the back that acts as a heart-rate monitor and tracks your vitals. But while the S5 is the latest extension of the Galaxy portfolio, for a product that seems to be heavily focused on new features, the name doesn’t capitalize on any new applications, and might get lost in the greater Milky Way of phones.
There’s also Samsung Gear, a line of watches and wearables. Last summer, Samsung dropped “Galaxy” from the product name. Why the change? In the latest revamp of the product, Tizen replaced Android as Samsung’s operating system of choice, and since “Galaxy” is reserved for Samsung’s Android-powered devices, the name change effectively signaled a strategic shift. “Gear” is a strong standalone name in that the product functions like a well-oiled machine. From emails, texts and calls, to even a pedometer, life is easier with everything directly at your wrist. With “Galaxy” now reserved for smartphones and tablets, Samsung’s overall portfolio is easier for consumers to navigate.
The flip side of these high-tech devices are budget-friendly smartphones, like the Nokia X, the LG F70 (by LG Electronics), or the BlackBerry Z3. They all have a price tag of $200 or below and are all named with letters or alphanumerics. It’s a particularly effective strategy to drive brand equity back to the masterbrand—think about the luxury automotive world, where alphanumerics have long since been used to define the class of a car. When a lower price point is driving your decision in buying a phone, consumers might be less focused on specific features, but more attuned to the reputation of the overall brand.
We’re seeing a difference in naming strategy based on price points and audiences, and we’re curious to see if this trend will stick or if new naming techniques will take hold. What do you think?
Eden White and Taylor Goddu are Associate Consultants in Interbrand New York’s Verbal Identity.