What Next? 2016 Predictions for Naming and Writing

February 16, 2016 — Jennifer Vasilache

In our last post, we looked back on naming and verbal trends for 2015. Now it’s time to look forward. In this first piece of a series of four blog posts, we share our predictions for what naming and verbal trends we can expect to see more of in 2016.

In this edition, technophile meets word-nerd. This is where CBX Verbal Strategy experts track the latest, most advanced, I-can’t-live-without-it devices and technologies unveiled by industry insiders in the New Year. We are excited and inspired by these cooler than cool innovations, and we are decoding their names to find out what’s hot in technology naming trends this year. Here is what we’ve seen, and what we would love to see going forward.

Super. Human. Technology: Show Your Human Side
Move along Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic this year. AI is the graceful technology that gives computer systems human-like capabilities such as visual as speech recognition. AI is fast-moving into the mainstream and our everyday experiences, which we see reflected in the names. Say hi to some friendly new faces in AI: Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, Arlo Q the connected home camera, and Lily the drone. So cute. These have nothing to do with the intimidating robot-sounding names science fiction scared us with (e.g., C-3PO, R2D2, Tron, HAL 9000. Even Rocky IV had a SICO robot). These are ordinary, approachable, human names that are less about the artificial, and more about intellectual and emotional role these machines are already playing in our lives. Even Mark Zuckerberg says the AI he’s building for his home (and eventually for Facebook) is “like Jarvis in Iron Man”. Hey Mark, if you need a name, we can help (we’re on Facebook!).

Worlds Apart: Don’t Scare Us Away
Here is the reaction you’ll probably have the first time you experience Virtual Reality (VR): “oh my god, the future is here.” Bonus effect: “oh my god, this is only the beginning.” VR is about opposites: real and virtual, present and future, here and there, prelude and progress. Names created for the newest VR devices evoke these dichotomies. Oculus Rift keeps the perception of the real and virtual worlds apart. HTC’s Vive Pre plays with the notion of time, it says “stay with us, you’re just about to really live it.” To be honest, we would love to see more engaging names that make the category feel less scary. Magic Leap, a great example, one of the most advanced startups in Augmented Reality and 3D imagery, has a name that feels fun and inviting. It’s about meaningful connections and exciting experiences. Isn’t that what technology is all about?

Man > Machine: Put People First
The machines might always become more powerful and more intelligent; we found a lot of names that give the power back to consumers by focusing on end benefits. Some brands (e.g., Kia Drive Wise, CleverPet, Samsung Family Hub Fridge) choose clarity over creativity with a descriptive approach to help consumers understand what these innovations will do for them. Other brands (e.g., TempTraq, Freefly VR) get a little more creative and suggestive, keeping up with the excitement for great innovations by creating ownable meaning around emotional benefits. Cutting-edge technology doesn’t mean the benefit shouldn’t be clearly communicated. In such a crowded and prolific environment, sometimes it’s nice to find simple, clear descriptions.

2006 Called, They Want Their Names Back: Move on and Have Fun
Come on, it’s 2016. Nobody wants to see names with over-used category markers like “e”, “i”, or “smart” anymore. They have long become obsolete and fall short in communicating what’s really innovative and differentiating. After all, isn’t everything supposed to be smart now? The Daqri Smart Helmet is described as “the most powerful augmented reality device on the market.” The name, however, doesn’t help explain what it actually means. Similarly, Zeiss Smart Lenses (a Google Glass challenger) offers seamless technology and stylish glasses that you can wear without looking like a dork – a unique point of differentiation that could have influenced the name. Volkswagen’s long-distance electric car has a great story to tell about emotional connection, but the name they chose, BUDD-e, is a little disappointing. A name can only say so much – but the name that you choose is the springboard for a great story to tell. So don’t be scared to break out of the usual industrial language with unexpected and metaphorical names. How fun and disruptive do Disco, Parrot’s new drone, and Toucan, Kuna’s latest security camera, sound? Very. And we want more of that. Everything is as possible with naming as it is with technology.

If technology is about connecting people and creating seamless experiences for a better and easier life, names should live up to that. An approachable tone will get you closer to consumers; a unique yet simple construct will spark interest; and a differentiating message will make your innovation stand out.

Photo courtesy of New Statesman.


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