Since the big reveal of the Apple Watch last month, there has been some speculation on why the long-anticipated product ditched Apple’s famous ‘i’ prefix. We were expecting the ‘iWatch,’ but what we got was the Apple Watch—or rather, the Apple logo, followed simply by the word ‘Watch’.
Some have suggested the ‘i’ had begun to feel stale, or simply wasn’t ‘fashionable’ enough. But as yet, no one has come up with a really compelling answer as to why it’s been dropped.
And though of course, we can’t know the reason for sure—there may not be a single reason why. But there are some really strong branding reasons why Apple would make such a significant change to a successful naming trope.
1. Future proofing and flexibility
By referring to the ‘Apple Watch’, Apple is removing the Watch from the family of iPods and iPhones. Though it does some of the same things, it’s being marked as a separate product, or product line.
We know that Apple is branching out into other fields—we’ve now got Apple Pay, and Apple also recently purchased Beats by Dre Headphones. The iPrefix will simply not work for every item—not without creating some fairly clunky brand names.
2. Avoiding the generic
The ‘i’ prefix isn’t owned by Apple—and can often be used by companies wanting a bit of the Apple gloss, or to indicate connectedness. And that’s not to even consider those companies for whom the ‘i’ prefix is simply part of their name (ITV anyone?).
The Apple symbol is much simpler as a brand mark, and is less easy to mimic without it being a clear infringement (think of the Nike ‘tick’). Apple could continue to use the ‘I’ and enforce it using the lawsuit route – but when you have to resort to requesting that people not use your brand name generically, the battle has already been lost. Just ask Hoover.
In some ways, the move to make the Apple the central link between all products is a move back to the way things were. Though we now use ‘Mac’ and ‘iPad’ as shorthand, they are still Apple Macs and Apple iPads/iPods/iPhones. Reestablishing the Apple as the core (sorry) of the brand places the company on a more stable base for future brand development, in any products it chooses.
About the Author
Chris Lumsden is the Co-founder and managing partner at Good. He founded the agency along with business partner Keith, in 2004. As managing partner, Chris works with Keith on the running, development and growth of Good.
During his career, Chris has worked on brands as diverse as Coca Cola, Harper Collins and BT. Prior to founding Good, Chris worked with Keith at 999 Design Consultants, and prior to that, was at BD Network and Swordfish London.
Today Good is one of the UK’s most effective design consultancies, with client experience on brands including Bacardi, Ford, Scottish Power, Angostura, Land Securities and more.