Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Your Branded Newb Post

Was taking a bite of my whole-grain, fiber-enhanced, vitamin-enriched, termite-resistant english muffin this morning when I came across this NY Times article about the trend of naming your product offering with a "my" as in MySpace, MyCoke, or MyYahoo. Marketers are aware that customers really want to feel like the boss and in control. There's no easier way to establish your customers' ownership of your product than to just name it as "theirs".

Does naming something really empower the consumer? Do you, as a consumer, really feel any way more connected to something because it's called "my ____"? In the case of Yahoo, it was used to describe a feature that let you customize things, which does empower you. However, when taken to a product that really has absolutely no customization or personalization (other than the fact that you've selected it instead of someone else), it's just insulting.

Let's take this to the extreme, I can think of a few other items that wouldn't work.

  • MyJeans - By The Gap, comes in S, L, XL, XXL. (Because you can never find a damn medium in the entire store!)
  • MyCoffee - Brought to you by Folgers (This name might work for Starbucks to describe an empty cup that you then fill with your most pretentious coffee order ever.)
  • MyFruit Loops - The Toucan is now MyFavoritePet, creating a serious hole in password security.
  • MyBallPoint - Because writing is personal...
You get the picture. I understand why these products are getting this treatment though. Consumers are hungry for power. They demand to be able to personalize everything and if you recognize and can cater to that need, you're going to make some money.

My favorite example is the dating industry. It used to be: you filled out a short blurb about yourself, "SAM, blogger, likes to read, makes the occasional social faux pas", then post it on some newsletter type thing. You described what you were, someone else did the same and it was a matter of choosing what seemed to fit.

Well today, that's not enough. We have eHarmony's method, which is surprisingly like the Dell method. Let's analyze what you need and customize the solution (read: mate) for you based on 436 questions and 29 dimensions.

Which will inevitably lead to awkward moments of pillow talk:
"Why do you love me?"
"Because I decided not to emphasize the humor dimension and instead went for the looks"

And so goes the same for almost everything we consume. I can't blame these marketers for naming their products this way but I think it's just a sad attempt at something that's much more complicated than slapping a "my" in front of the name.

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