Lunch with the guy who named “WiFi”

Yesterday I had a fun lunch with Edward Saenz, principal of Gravity Branding. He’s done naming for Nissan Xtera, Wifi, among others.

It’s not so much that he’s come up with the names, but that he works committees through a process so that they feel comfortable with a name.

At one point he noted “if you ask 10 people to design a meal you’ll end up with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.”

A great name, he says, is the antithesis of something that won’t piss anyone off.

Some other things I remember from yesterday? A great name should be easy to tell other people. It should evoke emotion.

He explained how they do market research. They do in depth stuff with 15 hand-picked people then do more qualitative research with a wider group to justify their theories.

This is an example of a guy that you just can’t get to know through ASCII text. His many stories have to be told on video because most of his technique is visual (he showed me some of the ways they test various names and positioning — basically they have to create stuff that looks like advertising to see how people react to it).

Anyway, I came away with a lot more respect for folks who come up with names of products and learned a lot of sales strategy in the process, since that’s really what he’s doing.

Vista looking like it’s gonna ship within days

I was just preparing my link blog and noticed lots of Windows Vista launch date news.

Normal people like me and you won’t be able to get it until end of January but looks like the final bits are going to be done within days. Engadget says the launch date is January 30th (looks like CES is gonna be a real big one for Microsoft this year, are you going?) I wonder what the Superbowl ad will be for Vista?

I had dinner with an exec on the Windows Vista team last week and he said their bug list was getting pretty short. Bugs being defined as stuff that would hold up launch.

I liked this demo over on Long Zheng’s blog about one of the small things that’ll make a difference for users.

It’s been a long road. Hopefully the beta testers don’t find a showstopper.