Naming Products and the Chevy Volt

General Motors is getting ready for their IPO next week. They’ve made a lot of progress in their turnaround over the past two years with some solid new models.  They are putting a lot of emphasis in their advertising on their new Volt.  They aren’t planning for huge initial sales of the Volt, but it’s a tentpole vehicle for them.  I have one major problem with the Volt, OK two problems one being that the price is $41k, but the other problem is the name.  “Volt,” puts the focus on the fact that the car is electrically powered (it’s a hybrid with an electric only range of about 40 miles and gas-assist range of about 350) as opposed to being focused on it being a good car, or some other promise.

I don’t think people want to buy an “electric car,” they want to buy a solid, efficient car that does what they need it to do.  I think Chevy wants to be able to say they sell an electric car.  Hey look we have electric car!  It’s name is even electric sounding!

The Prius was the first really successful hybrid, and in my opinion part of the allure was that the name didn’t focus on what it was.  The name was secondary to the fact that this was a very efficient car.

So, when you’re thinking about naming a product, think about what your customers want to buy, not what you want to sell them.

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