Wii really is a great name

Okay, I have your attention, and probably your ire. I've done marketing work before, and I know whereof I speak when I tell you this. When you're naming a new product there are really only two approaches: 1) Pick a word or words that have meaning you want to be identified with. 2) Create a word or words that are currently meaningless, and assign them the meaning you want to be identified with. The devil is in the details, of course, but ultimately the decision between #1 and #2 is the first one you need to make. And unless you're already a billion-dollar business, or you're the first entrant in a brand-new field, #2 is off-limits. Why? Because you don't have the capital required to create a new word in the minds of millions of people. News flash: Nintendo can create a new word, and have the word and its meaning stick. We could argue all day about whether "Wii" sounds like a next-generation game console, or whether the word itself looks like a next-generation console. Ultimately our opinions here in May of 2006 are irrelevant. And that is what Nintendo very deliberately did NOT tell us when they explained what THEY thought "Wii" meant. You see, they know full well that by May of 2007 "Wii" will mean what they want it to. Maybe it's "that cool Nintendo console with the nunchuck controller." Perhaps it'll be "the thing I'm playing Super Mario Galaxy on." Mark my words. Your opinion of the word "Wii" today has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not that word will stick. Nintendo has the clout, the money, and the mindshare to add stuff to the dictionary, and you and I do not. Moving on... Wii has something going for it that very few other brand-name words have. Or rather, it LACKS something that lots of other brand-name words are saddled with. Multiple syllables. Consider... you're never going to forget how to spell it. You're never going to mispronounce it after you've heard it once. It's like the royalty in Banks' Against a Dark Background, where the shorter your name was the more important you were. Nintendo's "Wii" joins an elite group of single-syllable, high price-point successes:
  • Apple's "Mac"
  • Volkswagen's "Bug"
  • Jeep's... um... "Jeep"
  • America Online's "AIM"
  • Lotus "Notes"
There are others. All of the examples above have dominated in their market segments, sectors, or niches. Some are on the upswing (Macs are back in fashion in a big way) and some are being crowded out by the rising generation (Sorry, Lotus.) But ALL of them enjoyed dominance for at least a little while, and their marketing campaigns were a big part of it.You may think you're too cool to say "Wii." You may think "Revolution" was a better, more sensible word. That's fine. That's a challenge Nintendo is up for. The folks at Nintendo already know they need to clear these kinds of opinion hurdles. I bet they clear them with style. Perhaps even panache. The Wii "revolution" will likely be won without them doing anything besides continuing to use their imminently trademarkable, globally recognizable, syllabically blunt word. I giggled the first time I heard it. I thought it was absurd, and I felt silly using it in conversation. But I want one in the worst way, and referring to it as "the Wii" is going to reduce verbal clutter in my household the same way using it to play N64 games cordlessly is going to reduce cord clutter. And if I don't like the word "Wii," I can at least savor the word "nunchuck."
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