A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet? (On naming products)

Do you remember the times when Nokia was the cell phone to have?

I do.

My first phone was Nokia, as was the second, third, fourth and so on. At some point I had a Siemens M55 for a while, but swapped pretty soon back to Nokia.

I loved my phones. My favourite was the “Kids communicator”, aka Nokia 5510. I could listen to music with it and yes, it had a full Qwerty-keyboard. (Could tell quite many stories about the quality of the keyboard – wasn’t unfortunately too good. And if you had even one beer it was almost impossible to use!)

Nokia 5510

By Manorainjan Holzapfel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

But the names, oh the names!

Probably the most popular Nokia phone ever, Nokia 2110 had and still has a lot of nicknames. And why? Well, because not all remember the numbers and/or like them…

After the Burning Platform memo and swapping to MS Platform, names were still based on numbers, although they had the “Lumia” at the beginning.(BTW: I think Lumia was actually a good name, although there was some controversy on it.)

Long intro, where’s the point?

Point? Yeah, sorry! The naming conventions.

I’m involved in few companies, namely Surveypal, Framery and Finnofy (also Vilkas, too, but let’s set that aside for today, shall we?).

Surveypal’s feedback management SaaS-software is, ta da, Surveypal.
Framery’s Phone Booth is named O (the letter O, based on the shape and so on).
Finnofy’s product is not that easy a case, but I’m pretty sure is named Finnofy. (Long story, can tell if someone is interested.)

All pretty solid names and don’t need that much explaining.

But Nokia with the numbers?

Just the other day I was thinking on product naming for some reason. Old announcement by Nokia popped in to mind (“We like numbers!”). They had some pretty good reasoning behind the naming:

“The first number is the relative price/feature point. So a Nokia 900* would be top dog and a Nokia 100* is the most accessible option. The second two numbers gives each device a unique identifier within that point. So we can release 99 phones at the 500 point before we have to recycle any names, for example.”
(Highlights by yours truly).

Solid reasoning and perhaps the best one:

Frankly, we like numbers. Because we aren’t afraid of experimenting, we tried something different. But at the end of the day, we learned that ‘numbers work’.
(Highlight mine.)

Yep, “we like numbers”. A good reason for a name?
Why not?

So, to sum things up:

  • products usually have a name
  • Nokia used numbers, which was imo a bit annoying and
  • they liked numbers
  • naming a product is not easy.

I tried and tried to find the announcement video for new naming conventions, but just didn’t. Sorry.
What I do remember that it had a Finnish guy showing the phone and telling about the new name, ending with “People are good with numbers. We like numbers”.

Sure. People are good with numbers – or not:) 

Anyway, Nokia had a system and it sort of worked.

Apple, yeah, Apple.  iPhone is shorter.
I remember laughing at the Nokia names back at the days, but do look at the iPhone-names now:

Makes you want to, hmm, do something? They have a naming convention, but in my opinion not too good one. And yes, the iEverything is sort of funny, too.

Easy? No.

Conclusion?

  • I still love my old Nokia phones
  • .. but the names were awful
  • Naming a product is not easy.
  • … and whatever the name is, someone is going to laugh.
  • … so name it the way you like, and if you “like numbers”, just numbers:)

(Just Google away, quite many links🙂