Friday, June 29, 2007

Product Naming: Yaz Takes on a Whole New Meaning

I will admit that, when it coms to product naming, I'm not particulary good, usually ending up going the route of "the name should tell us what it does". I've veered of this a few times, and have actually come up with an occasional name or two that's not half bad, only to be brought back (by techies) who wanted to name the product after what it does. Thus, the Automated Test Facility - dah-dah - facilitated automated testing. (I actually didn't name this sucker personally, but it illustrates the point.)

Product naming in the B2B/T2T world actually doesn't matter all that much, since people invariably use the company name when they're asked what they use for "x". Our database is Oracle. I use Linksys. Branding at the product level is costly and not worth it for most B2B/T2T goods and services.

But consumer products can clearly benefit from clever or interesting names. I've never tasted it, but Red Bull sure sounds like a kick-ass drink.

And speaking of products that I have no call to use any longer, my ears pricked up when I heard a TV ad for a new birth control product. What caught my attention was the product's name: Yaz.

Yaz?  Yaz?  YAZ?

For anyone who grew up in Red Sox Nation, which includes anyone in the New England states, with the exception of the NYC suburban commuter counties, as well as our members of our vast and loyal diaspora, Yaz can only mean one thing, and one thing alone.

And that one thing is Carl Yastrzemski, Captain Carl, Number 8, Hall of Famer, and the last player to win the Triple Crown (leading the league in batting average, homers, and runs batted in). Lest you think that the Which Yaz did in 1967 - also a year in which the Red Sox won the pennant and completely revitalized interest in baseball in Boston. (In my family, it didn't take 1967 to get us interested. We were already Red Sox fans, even in those completely gloomy and rotten years when they were cellar-dwellers.)

After the 1967 pennant win ("we" lost the World Series in a seventh game heart-breaker, which I refused to watch), New England went Yaz Mad.

Not that my mother would ever buy it, but there was even something called Yaz Bread, large loaves of that tasteless white bread we all grew up on.

And few families in The Nation were without the Impossible Dream record album tribute to the 1967 Red Sox, which had as one of it's biggest hits, with its immortal lyric:

Carl Yastrzemski,Carl Yastrzemski, Carl Yastrzemski
The man they call Yaz, we love him!

He played for the Red Sox from 1963-1981, so there are still women out there with a) an interest in birth control pills; and b) memories of Yaz.

Yaz (the pill, not the ballplayer) is a relatively recent import from Germany, and they either they just didn't bother to check things out; or they really didn't want to change the name; or they decided that Carl Yastrzemnski, the man they call Yaz, is so yesterday, so irrelevant to birth control pill consumers, that the fact that the word Yaz remains on the lips of the Fenway Faithful does not matter at all.

Of course, Captain Carl Yaz aside, the name Yaz is probably not too bad. It sounds kind of kicky, light, and young - it sounds jazzy.  It could be a softdrink, a candy bar, a deodorant. It's nothing like the mad (or boring) scientist names that birth control pills used to have.

In any case, between remembering the 1967 Red Sox, and remembering Ortho-Novum, this Yaz thing is making me feel very, very old. Sigh!

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