Advancements to current product lines make up a giant part of corporate research and development activity, and with each improvement come the choice of how to brand it. Years back when Apple launched an upgrade to its iPad, experts and non-experts alike expected it to be dubbed “iPad 3,” a natural follow-on to the second-generation iPad 2. Instead, the company called the new iPad just that: “the new iPad. “Observers debated whether this was lazy branding or a very deliberate effort to market the iPad as a sibling to the Mac. Macs keep their names with each successive upgrade, analysts noted, while iPhones sport sequential numbers and letters to show developments.
“CONSUMERS DON‘T NECESSARILY READ SPECS TO LEARN ABOUT NEW FEATURES, BUT THEY’LL ALWAYS NOTICE A NEW NAME.”
Like Apple, most consumer-centric companies deal with the dilemma of how to brand the next-generation of an current product. Product upgrades make up the majority of corporate research and In one experiment, 78 participants considered a hypothetical scenario in which a well-known firm is preparing to launch a new version of its color printer. The participants, who were split into two groups, received a list of seven successive model names. For the first group, the entire series of printers was branded in a sequential fashion, from 2300W to 2900W. For the second group, the first four models were named sequentially—2300W to 2600W, but the last three models reflected a brand name change—MagiColor, MagiColor II, and MagiColor III. “With a name change, participants tended to expect features that were distinctly different or new,” Expert says. “With a name continuation, they just expected improved performance on existing features.”While these experiments focused on high-tech equipment, the expert note that the findings hold true across many industries. “Take the movies,” says. “In the Rocky series, you expect Rocky II to play off Rocky. But with James Bond movies, there’s no reason to expect that the last Bond movie [Sky Fall] has anything to do with the previous Bond movie [Quantum of Solace]. So it gives you added freedom. You can change who James Bond is—Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig—without terminating the franchise, whereas with Rocky, you’re pretty much stuck with Sylvester. Microsoft also shows us that if a company switches from a sequential naming approach to a name change approach, it’s perfectly OK to switch back. With its Windows operating system platform, the company succeeded Windows 98 and Windows 2000 with Windows XP and then the oft-criticized Windows Vista and then came Windows 7 and Windows 8. Expert says. “Microsoft learned that when you break from sequential names, people often overemphasize the risk of significant change”.