Tuesday, April 12, 2011

XT-2000, VIO-4000 and DRX-9000 all SUX 6000

Last week I got yet another follow up email from a show I attended sent by yet another unprepared sales rep.  He was touting their VIO-4000 appliance.  Later that day, while driving to my chiropractor, I heard an ad for a pest control company  extolling the virtues of XT-2000.  My chiropractor started discussing the possibility of using the DRX-9000 for treatment.  I thought the Robocop movies permanently skewered this naming nonsense with the SUX-6000 and SUX-7000 cars.

I think back in the 60's someone did a study and found that product names that used letters deep in the alphabet sounded somehow more, I dunno, manly or strong or impressive.  The car industry jumped on this.  Who hasn't lusted after a ZR1 or GT250 or 350Z at sometime in their lives?  It's successful because they built a brand and aura around the cars as they go through updates and design changes over the years, etc. 

Maybe they should run that study again to see if it's still valid and for what types of products.  I suspect the findings will have changed.

For non-automotive products, the use of letters and numbers as product names strikes me as silly.  How do you build a brand around a chemical that any pest control company can use?  Or a datacenter appliance - with a three year lifecycle - that only one person sees and only then when he opens the shipping box right before he slaps it into a rack?  The silliest is that back therapy contraption - do you switch providers when the chiro across the street buys the DRX-10000?

If your consumer product has a long lifecycle, like a car, then you can build an aura around it with the right marketing.  In the world of technology, where devices have a short lifetime and go through rapid technological changes, consider a name over a number instead.  It's less confusing and easier to describe what they do or convey a message.  Dell does it right with their Inspiron, Lattitude and Precision model lines. 

Anything else just SUX-6000.

Next Up: What Product Marketers Can Learn From Columbo


  1. Great post. My old company had a product line call the NTxxxx where the xxxx was a coded generation/version number.

    You guessed it, NT stood for NT software, as in Windows NT 4.0. Sigh.

    Repeat after me:
    Never let engineers name products.

  2. Geoff,

    Thanks for the laugh. Agreed. Engineers should never name products just like marketeers shouldn't write code - proper separation of church and state.