Apple made the rules and can break them whenever it wants—even when it comes to a name

March 13, 2012

Allen Adamson
Managing Director,
based in Landor New York
What rule did Apple break? Not exactly anything hard and fast, but more like the conventional wisdom that says consumers want or need something sexy or more intergalactic to emphasize that they have the latest, greatest model of whatever.

This branding pundit wants to throw in his two cents on the new iPad. I am not going to weigh in on the technology. I'm not going to offer up my opinion on the pricing, either on this device or that of its predecessors. I’m not going to talk about how Wall Street reacted after Apple CEO Tim Cook took the podium to present his company’s latest iteration of the iconic tablet. Rather, as someone with experience in the naming of brands and brand offshoots, I want to share my thoughts on Apple’s decision to call this third iPad the, well, the iPad. In my view, the company can call it whatever it wants and calling it the iPad makes sense for a couple of reasons.

First of all, when you’re the leader, when you’re the leader by a long shot, you make the rules (and, in this case, the category), and you can break the rules. What rule did Apple break? Not exactly anything hard and fast, but more like the conventional wisdom that says consumers want or need something sexy or more intergalactic to emphasize that they have the latest, greatest model of whatever. With technological products, this usually means something alpha-numeric, like the XYZ-250, or the MT-33. It gives people the satisfaction of knowing they’ve not only got the “next one,” but that they’re one up on their friends and colleagues. Given that Apple owns the category, for the foreseeable future anyway, I say they don’t need any alpha-numeric nomenclature. Let the iPad become (stay?) synonymous with the general functionality, like Kleenex or Google or Xerox. When I want the new iPad, I’ll just go into the Apple store and ask for the new iPad. It’s that simple.

And that brings me to the second reason I think the company made a smart decision in not giving the newest iPad a new name. It makes it simpler for people. I want an iPad. How simple is that? I don’t have to explain which iPad, other than saying the newest model or the less expensive model. Despite the early jabs at the name, Apple stood its ground and let the buzz go from negative to positive. The name is what it is, and today everyone knows what it is and wants one.

Bottom line? I think not giving its new version of the iPad a new name was yet another in a long line of game changers on Apple’s part. What does it want people to think about when they think about tablets? It wants them to think iPad. They do.

From Forbes.com

Category: Naming & verbal branding
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