Monday, May 01, 2006
How Wii will grow
On the NSider forums, a great deal of people still don´t understand the genius behind the name ´Wii´. That´s why I have pasted a few comments from posts I wrote there, to summarize my position and, hopefully, convince some critics ahead of E3 next week.
For a start, most people wrongly believe that a console´s name should somehow hint at the system´s ability. Names like PlayStation, Xbox or even Gizmondo might do that (although only to a very limited extent if you think about it). But this kind of name is meaningless to the vast blue ocean of people out there that haven´t followed console gaming for years or even decades. Those people will be totally unimpressed by consoles whose names conjure up connotations of MegaHertz powerhouses. Wii is a great name for a console that is being marketed to those kind of people (as well as to current gamers, of course), because it comes across as unique and as a lifestyle kind of gadget.
Seriously, people, why did Google manage to rise to the top when Altavista was obviously the professional´s weapon of choice (Google allows no and.t searches or even wildcards)? Name and logo went a long way to making this site unique and stand out among the vast array of good search engines out there. Similarly, Wii might become this kind of appealing and unique name that indicates an appealing and unique lifestyle product.
Most critics say the name sounds ridiculous. But what is so ridiculous or silly about the name Wii? And please don´t give me all this talk about it sounding like Wee because by now we should all have risen above that. Phonetically, it sounds like Wee, but do you still use that word? I don´t. I use the word We in almost every other sentence, though. This is the connotation that is being invoked in my head and this is the reason why I love that name now. It took me some time to get to this point, I admit. But you will get there, too.
A great example (albeit from a very different domain) is the childrens book and franchise Winnie the Pooh. When you hear the name, do you get distracted by fecal connotations? I am sure you don´t. I certainly don´t. A lot of the critics here fail to take into account that a brand name soon takes on a life of its own. And if the word Pooh doesn´t make people think of feces, then why in the world should Wii?
Consider that a big marketing campaign has the power to make people remember this console every time they say sentences like "What are we going to do now?" or "Shall we play a game together?" You should realise that it´s pure genius to opt for a name that is graphemically unique but phonetically prolific. This has great marketing potential.
So why shouldn´t Wii be a cool name? I am sure it will be, Nintendo´s marketing campaign will certainly throw its full weight behind this task. And Wii will become as unique a brand name as Google or Napster. Napster is another good example, by the way, because I myself used to be reminded of the words nappies or nap. It certainly didn´t sound cool when I first heard it. But through both marketing and hearsay, product and name symbiotically evolve. And so will Wii.
EDIT There are two other great editorials you may want to read. One is by CrazyOtto and one is by Matt Behrens of N-Sider.com.
Source: NSider forums