The iPad: context is everything, ladies

Is a legal pad an item of personal hygiene for female lawyers? How about a launch pad – is that a contraption for applying Maxipads? What about ink pad? Or mouse pad…

Pardon the puerile analogies. Of course you know what these kind of ‘pads’ are. So, to force such interpretation of their meaning through association with a feminine hygiene pad would be perverse. But that’s no worse than what happened this week with Apple’s iPad.

Within seconds of the unveiling of the iPad by Steve Jobs, Twitter lit up with women complaining and/or joking that the name immediately made them think of …iTampon.

Experts who should know better fanned the flames. “It’s an unfortunate name choice,” contended Michael Silverstein, senior vice president at Boston Consulting Group and author of “Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market.”

“They needed to do a research protocol and testing for a product that would offend no one while making clear its technical, functional and emotional benefits,” he said in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Are you experienced?

That may be the way they think in the literal world of management consulting. What he clearly does not understand is that, when it comes to names and naming, experiential context is everything. Just is we do not suppose a cell phone is for making calls in jail, that Virgin Atlantic is an airline for the sexually inexperienced, or indeed Apple is a company that manages orchards, the iPad will create its own context and it will be become just as familiar and accepted as iPod.

The trap to guard against with new names is the natural tendency of people to associate an unfamiliar name with something that it is familiar. The statement that begins, “It reminds me of…” has led to the premature dismissal of many a good name candidate.  Associations are important, but focus should be on whether the the product or company that is being named could create new, positive meaning around the word, rather than rear-view association.

There’s nothing that can be done with plain bad names, such as the Ford Probe. But just imagine if iPad had been called the iTablet, which some bets were on before the launch. Would alarmed physicians be advising us not to use one more than a twice day, and then only after meals with a glass of water? Of course not. They know what hypochondriasis is.

What was that name again, Steve?
What was that name again, Steve?

 

4 thoughts on “The iPad: context is everything, ladies

  1. Alot of bloggers aren’t too pleased with the new iPad.There was just too much hype about it and lots of blogers got turned off.Quite frankly, I actually see great deal of the awesome potential uses of this gizmo. Third-party apps for composing music, games, papers and magazine and FFS books, all sorts of awesome stuff, but they just didn’t really sell it right (excluding the books). It smells kinda not finished

  2. Apple’s new innovation will rapidly gain some steam after the pumped up time during it’s unveiling. The lack of keyboard and Apple’s potential to fix issues will help to make the iTablet a monster in the time ahead.

  3. I’ve loved Apple products for some time, they produce gadgets that is aesthetically beautiful while working like a each and every time. I can’t say that about alot of companies, it’s typically one or the other. Companies don’t usually take aesthetics seriously like Apple. With me stating that I’ve got to say that I’m very excited about the new iSlate. One thing I question though, is it too soon? I think that this may be ahead of its time. What do you think?

  4. Tim Bode

    Alan,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I think in a short time no one will remember the silly associations with the name iPad that were tossed about after its announcement, and that the name will be – as you said – as accepted and familiar as iPod.

    Tim

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