Branding Technology: iCloud Case Study
iCloud is a confusing name for what it actually does, especially considering the confusion and different meanings in the marketplace. We may have come up with a better name…
Confusion. I see companies starting to brand it, like it’s a good thing. And yet, as normal people, we still have this twinge of uneasiness in our guts. Rather, branding should be about bringing what’s positive at the core to the surface. And yet, nearly every technology company and even Apple have taken this approach with the “cloud”, whatever the hell that is.
A real cloud is made of water vapor. Normal people’s understanding of the technological “cloud” is also rather vaporous. I guess that’s where they got the name.
For Apple, iCloud functionally means something that auto-magically syncs your photos, music, and documents between your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and the web without you having to do a thing. It also serves as a backup of your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook’s settings and content in case something bad happens.
So, Apple’s iCloud = syncing + safety.
But for Amazon, and their Web Services (AWS) categories of products, it means entirely different things, such as mass data storage, elastic computing, payments, deployment, etc. Whew, talk about a mouthful.
Here, Amazon’s cloud = IT infrastructure.
So that’s two consumer-focused companies, targeting two very different markets, but throwing around the same word. Now expand that to the boatload of other enterprise and startup companies targeting both business and consumers and you can start to imagine the confusion that normal people will start to feel when they hear the word cloud and it doesn’t refer to the sky.
Let’s go back to Apple, and see if we can’t propose a better name/brand for their iCloud concept.
At it’s core, it’s really about managing all your content without you having to lift a finger. Truly what I call invisible software.
The features? “Take a picture here, it shows up there. Make a change on this, it updates on that.” Pretty elegant when described like that.
The benefit? “So you always have the things you want, when you want them.” The biggest benefit is really about you not having to do a darn thing. No work, it just works.
That doesn’t really sound like what a cloud does, functionally at least, unless you’re talking about the water cycle and the circle of life. But this ain’t no Lion King, homie.
We know our naming constraints. It has to start with ‘i’ so the next letter must be a consonant (and even better if it’s a ‘p’), and the main word shouldn’t be more than 1 syllable. For example, iPhone, iPod, iPad.
Brainstorming some words that might work:
I think that’s good enough. Let’s break each one down:
- pile - alludes to haphazardness, not what we want when it comes to safety
- port - too techy, sounds like something you have to plug in
- pump - the opposite of what we want, it makes you think of work
- patch - what needs to be fixed? Nope.
- put - not bad actually, it does put your content where you want it
- pull - again, this makes you think of work
- push - same, only opposite
- pack - what, are we shoving something somewhere with no space?
- pop - this one is interesting, but sounds a bit too caffeinated and also reminds me of a balloon exploding. It’s a maybe.
- pair - I like this, but there’s one problem: it makes you think it creates a copy and is going to take up more space on your devices than it does. That kills it right there.
- place - I really like this one actually. It “places” your content onto your different devices, it’s also a “place” where things are stored for safe keeping, and it’s a gentle, friendly word
- post - too much like blogging
- pool - this is sort of interesting for a few reasons but is too associated with a body of water in your backyard only available in the summer
- park - double meaning, park your content and play in the park, but doesn’t quite nail it.
So we’ve whittled it down to a handful of words:
Place, put, and park sort of all feel like they’re in the same family, and I would argue that place is the best of the three. Then, there’s pop, which doesn’t feel quite right compared to place.
So there we have it. In about 15 minutes of thinking about this stuff, we may have come up with a better name for iCloud: