What’s in a name?

The Nintendo “Revolution” is now the “Wii” and as you can imagine, the world wide web is abuzz about it. Abuzz with purile jokes, mostly, which says more about the core gamer demographic than about Nintendo’s branding decisions. That central group is one that Nintendo wants to seperate itself from anyway.

The name is getting a lot of flak for being unconventional, but that’s exactly what they need to convey. They are no longer in the same game as Microsoft and Sony. They are going a different route — less focused on hard specs — and want a name to break free of the molds of the current generation. Molds that, really, from a branding standpoint are really stale. Here you have five, six consoles, devices meant to be enjoyed and played with, named after “boxes” and “stations” and “cubes”. These sterile nouns are more suitable for shipping terminals than play.

The thing about “Wii”, apart from being a nonsense word, is that (because it is a nonsense word) it is more universal than “Revolution” and it is better suited for design. The word itself, as in the arrangement of letters, is something that can be played around with a lot. Nintendo already does. There’s a lot more that goes into choosing a name like this than “can it be used in dick jokes?”.

“Wii” is weird in the context of other game consoles, but if it were a Web 2.0 company or application, it’d be right at home. Personally, I like the direction of the name but I’m not yet sold on the final decision. That will take time to determine, and it’s one of those things that might make more sense and look better in hindsight — like Google or Yahoo. In the end, it’s not the name that will determine the success of Nintendo’s device, it’s Nintendo’s device that will determine the success of the name.

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