Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Branding Fashions - Suffixes and Prefixes

If I asked you to name the time when everything had the suffix "matic" after it, you'd probably say the 1960s.  Everything from the Instamatic Camera to the "Veg-o-matic" vegetable peeler.   

If I asked you to name the time when everything had the word "Turbo" after it, you'd probably say the 1980s.  You had turbo pens, turbo cars, turbo razors, and even turbo hair-dryers.

The 1990s was XL, and Mach.  Some brands like Gillette Razors, mixed older suffixes together, creating the "Mach III Turbo".  Thankfully, they didn't go to "Mach III Turbo-matic", though that might well have been appropriate for the 1970s.   

In the early 2000s, the new suffix was XP.  You had Windows XP, and this gave rise to other things with XP in their name - like motorbikes, Ski-Doo's, and such.  

By the late 2000s, we had transformed everything into "HD".  Cameras, TV's, Vitamin tablets, Sunglasses, and my favourite - the ever so incorrectly named  "Pool Blaster Max HD" pool vacuum cleaner ("blaster" suggests it doesn't suck).  Competing with the "HD", you had the "i" prefix.  iPods, iPhones, i-Sight, and the Toyota i-Foot (which I incidentally saw in Tokyo at Mega-Web).

The question is what defines now?

To me, branding now is like what music was in the 2007-2008 period.  If you don't know what I mean by that, can you hum the tune to these songs:
* "Buy You A Drank" by T-Pain ft Yung Joc.
* "Apologize" by Timbaland ft OneRepublic.
* "Low" by Flo Rida ft T-Pain.

No?  Well, all three of the above are top 5 singles for those years.  For the bonus question, guess which one was number one in it's respective year?  (Answer below) 

Right now it feels like there's no real "mood" for want of a better word that defines the major branding. It's like it's gotten bland.  It feels like there's nothing to describe the zeitgeist.

But is that true?

No.  Here's what's going on.  Whilst there's no one clear wave that defines the moment, the water has a tinge to it that we haven't seen before.  Now, everything is branded "X with Y".  

So, you have this:
Some shampoo "with [insert berry you've never heard of] extract".
Yogurt "with lactobacilli strains that were there before, but now we're advertising it".
Washing Powder "with [insert superhero power of your choice]".

The million dollar question is what's next?  I honestly think that the "flair" has gone from the scene, so whoever makes the new big thing will have it adopted by everyone else that can't come up with their own.

Answer:  "Low" by Flo Rida ft T-Pain.  It was #1 in 2008.