Do you remember a few years ago there was a lot of buzz about a new mode of personal transportation (code-named IT or Ginger) that was going to change the world?
Dan Kamen, who also invented the first portable insulin pump, proudly premeired his creation in December of 2001. What did he call his gyroscope-based electric scooter?
I can only guess this was intended to be a play on the word “segue” which means “leads to what’s next.”
Kamen had high hopes that people would use this two-wheeled, stand-up human transporter to get around town, lessening the need for and dependence on cars which would lead to reduced pollution, traffic congestion, etc.
The problem? Many people aren’t familiar with the word “segue.” They don’t use it, much less know how to spell it. Uh oh. A prescription for disaster. This pioneering product was given a name that elicited the deadly “huh?” response.
That’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when you fail to give your product an easy-to-understand name. This invention never really caught on, except as a novelty. I think it’s partially due to the fact it doesn’t have a fun-to-say, easy-to-remember name such as Google, Yahoo or Roomba.
There’s an interesting twist to this story. An entrepreneur in Washington DC realized that tourists visiting the national monuments, U.S. Capitol Building and Smithsonian got tired of walking from place to place.
Hmmm. Why not offer tours with Segways so people could visit more places in less time?
What to call this business? By playing off the title of a popular TV sitcom, he come up with a clever name that’s generated tons of free press and earned him a spot on my 2007 POP! Hall of Fame.
The winning brand? Segs in the City.
Do people “get” the name of your business, brand, or book? Do they look at you with blank eyes or do their eyes light up? If their eyebrows go up, congratulations! It means you got your idea’s foot in their mental door. If their eyebrows knit or furrow, it’s back to the drawing board.
Want to learn how to create a brand that people get and want? Go to http://www.SamHorn.com to purchase a copy of POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd. Edelman Sr. VP Marilynn Mobley says, “If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll love Sam Horn’s POP!”
Or, attend my POP! presentation at the INC Grow Your Business conference in Savannah, Georgia on March 11.