Naming 2.0: Why “The new iPad” is much much better than “The iPad3″.

Harvard Business School’s report,  How to Brand a Next-Generation Product — HBS Working Knowledge , looked into the subtle connotations of ‘brand name continuation’ versus ‘brand name change’.

In short, it said that if you just keep increasing the brand number by one each time you introduce the latest  model, people instinctively feel that the new product is essentially the same as the old, but with a few improvements to pre-existing functions. So brand name continuation is good for a brand with huge loyalty, selling to people who want safety and familiarity (and there are more of us these days, now that nothing comes with an instruction manual).

But what do you do if you want to suggest that your new product is a giant leap forward, with a greater range of all-new functions? A whole new brand name is the way to go (e.g. Ninentdo 64 ->GameCube ->Wii).

So, why “The new iPad” rather than “iPad3″?

My feeling is that Apple realised there were many people who loved the iPad but hadn’t yet bought one. They were holding off purchasing because they felt that very soon, Apple would launch a ‘functionally-mature’ version of the iPad, significantly different to the ‘innovative but not quite all there’ launch model.

(And don’t forget, iPad 2 was announced less than 12 months after iPad 1 had started shipping, so there was a diminished base of people who’d be willing to pay £300 for something that would could go from ‘shiny and new’ to ‘still shiny but old’ in less than a year.)

Did it work? 3Million New iPads were sold in the first weekend, so it wasn’t a failure.

So what will be the long term consequences?  My son picked up the new iPad and dismissed it 30 seconds later, saying, “New iPad? It doesn’t even have voice recognition.”

Tip of the hat to Profs Gourville and Ofek, and Caspar (aged 6 ).