Wednesday, 01 September 2010 09:50

What's in a name? Featured

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News_RUBY5_lrgWilliam Shakespeare once wrote, “A Rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”.  Now this is a very true statement but it does not apply to marketing and the human perception of brand recognition. The global PR machine has done such an excellent job of making the brand the thing we buy that shifts in name or logos can have massive impacts on the way we purchase things. Let me give you a funny example; Back when it was first released the Chevy Nova was considered a market success in the US. People were buying it at an acceptable rate and of course Chevy was making money. Then they tried to market it to South America. It failed and I mean epic failed. The reason for this fail? The name; you see in Spanish (and its derivatives) Nova sounds like the phrase “No Va” which is apparently short for “No Go” as you can imagine that name killed the sales rather nicely.  Now car manufacturers make sure their product names are acceptable in the countries they plan to sell them in far in advance.

Let me give you another example; this one again is rather funny.  Back in the late-60s the television group The Monkees  had a very popular song that was written by drummer Mickey Dolenz. In the US this song was titled “Randy Scouse Git” Now for those of you from across the pond you know that this is not the nicest of things to say. In the 60s it was certainly out in UK. (After all who would like a song called “horny jackass from Liverpool?” as that is what that slang phrase means to most in the UK.) It was retitled “Alternate Title” and made it to number 5 on the UK charts.

Where am I going with all of this? Well it is all related to AMD’s decision to kill off the ATi brand.  ATi is a known and respected brand in the world of high performance graphics. AMD is a name known for value. If you were to do a polling of general computer consumers they would be able to tell you a little about both. In a recent visit to a local box store I lingered around the electronics area and listened to what was being said to the “average” consumer. The sales people were referring to AMD as the cheaper way to go, but they were not as good as Intel. I even heard the comment “you do not want AMD if you want to play games” oddly enough that same clerk then recommended an ATi 5870 GPU for its gaming performance.  This type of information puts a whole new light on AMD’s decision to kill off the ATi brand.

Now, there is an argument that the enthusiast market knows already that ATI is AMD and will not care if that changes. This is true to a certain extent. There is still a psychological factor to be thought about. Think about it like this; Jaguar was owned by The Ford Motor Company (they are now owned by TATA motors of India). What would happen for Jaguar sales if Ford had killed that brand name and started releasing the Ford XJ-12? I doubt many car enthusiasts would buy that one.  There are tons of examples of good and bad marketing decisions where naming has an impact.  But even more than that, there is a subtle effect of, how many Intel Fanboys will want to drop an AMD GPU into their system. I know they already are, but once that ATi name is gone that thin demarcation line will vanish.

So we can see that a brand name is important and even to people that know what is going on there is an important attachment to those names. The PR and Marketing people of the world have done their jobs well by ingraining the ATi name into our heads. AMD’s decision to remove this now will cost them in the short term while they rebuild the brand name. To the average consumer the “new” AMD GPUs will be all about value and not performance while to the enthusiasts you will be split. The old ATi fans will be upset at AMD for killing of their beloved brand name and the Intel fans will possibly shy away from putting something tagged with AMD in their system.

The question now is, “when is a good time for AMD to drop the ATI name”? The answer is simple, never. Sorry AMD, this is a bad marketing move. The issue goes all the way back to the original buy out of ATi by AMD. AMD intended to assimilate ATi all along. They knew that at some point they would be getting rid of the ATi brand and name and sticking in their own name. This was just wrong, and pointless. ATi is known for graphics, they helped bring DirectX to us all those years ago. They fought toe to toe with 3dfx and nVidia at the dawn of the GPU wars. AMD is wrong to try and kill off this name that has so much history. It was not like AMD bought a failing company and revitalized it. They bought a company that still had value and momentum. Let’s be honest AMD bought ATi to shore themselves up (adding in a chipset and GPU business), not the other way around.  Maybe AMD should consider killing of the AMD brand and replacing it with ATi. After all ATi is known for performance, AMD is known to most consumers as the “cheaper alternative”.

Read 2507 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 September 2010 23:00

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