iStop with the iNames in your Brand, iPlease

As a brand consultant and designer, it’s my job to identify and break down trends in branding. Trends in branding have their place but at the core of what corporate identity and branding accomplish, an air of uniqueness is key.

Here is a segment of truth for any prospective clients who want to “get a brand”. You already have a brand.

What company’s like mine do is manage and grow brands. When you are in the business of design and brand management you have to be aware of business place climates and brand culture. How people are perceiving your brand, your competitors brands and how those perceptions are changing on a day-to-day basis are key to understanding your company’s growth in this area.

Stop Piggy-backing

Far too many of my clients approach me and suggest what I call piggy-backing. This is where your naming, design, tactics and overall strategy borrow too heavily from a competitor. There are 2 problems with this. One: It’s not unique. You are not engineering or creating a story that is uniquely “you” by doing this. Two: It puts your brand, product or service in a position of 2nd place at best.

Where Does Apple’s “i” Come From?

Let’s take Apple’s iMac, iPod, and iPhone products. The lowercase “i” branded product line from Apple was introduced in 1998 when Steve Jobs presented the first iMac. This was then lent to the iPod and so on. Breaking down why they did this at the time is pretty clear. The “i” of the moment in 1998 was the “e”. The “e” in marketing and branding of the time stood for electronic and Steve makes a clear case for why they shifted to the “i” which was the Internet. It also made their product’s name more unique. Fast-forward over a decade and it’s safe to say that Apple now owns the “i”.
Steve Jobs presents iMac

The “i” for Internet is no more a novel selling point at this point than the “e” for electronic was in 1998. These conventions don’t add anything to the brand or the customer’s perceptions because they’re assumed.

So, please, stop naming things with an “i” and certainly don’t piggy-back off of Apple by breaking grammatical rules and lowercasing the first letter of the title as well. It is irrelevant, and starts your brand off in perpetual 2nd place or worse while doing nothing to distinguish you from your competitors.

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