Microsoft looks to improve its name game

Link: Microsoft looks to improve its name game

"The group also put several dozen posters around campus with a box of Band-Aids and the caption: ‘You wouldn’t call it Wound Healer 2.0.’

The company has a rich history of products with names that are excessively wordy. Arguably one of the most convoluted monikers announced by Redmond (though thankfully later shortened) was its appellation for the mainstream 64-bit version of Windows XP: Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems.

Its woes in product naming and packaging are legendary both within and outside the company. A popular video has made the rounds on YouTube outlining what Microsoft might have done if it had been tasked with designing the iPod’s box. Instead of the minimalist carton that Apple came up with, the video ends up with a text laden container for the ‘iPod Pro 2005 XP Human Ear Professional Edition with Subscription.’
It later emerged that the video was done by people inside Microsoft."

Funny piece, but the underlying problem is very serious and certainly not limited to Microsoft.

It’s important to remember that a "product" is a totally subjective construct. Products are principally comprised of two things: feature functionality and information about that feature functionality. If you don’t have both of these, then you don’t really have a product.

If you aren’t good at describing what your products are, then you’re missing out on what may be the one and only opportunity to convey its value to a customer. This is what I was talking about back in December 2005 when Microsoft released something called Windows Live Local and my first reaction was "I will never remember the name of this product, and therefore I am very unlikely to use it." (I’ve been hearing murmurs that they’re getting ready to rebrand the whole "Live" line which should be interesting. We’ll know they’re serious if the word "Windows" gets dropped from the brand.)

When I was at Yahoo, I felt it was important to cast the Developer Network organization as a product organization because Yahoo hadn’t really done a lot with developer products before then. I think we were pretty successful in that regard — when I was running that team, we released about one new developer product each month and we spent very little time having to explain our products to confused customers.

One common thing I see in my consultancy today is companies that don’t treat developer products as real products. As a result, their products commonly don’t get good names, their benefits aren’t articulated very well, and in many cases they aren’t even officially announced to customers at all — they just sort of slide out the door with the implicit understanding that the smart dorks will figure out what to do with them. With this attitude, it’s no wonder that techies hate marketers.