Superscript Me! Droid takes it to the “X” (that should be superscripted)

By Mark Skoultchi

July 2, 2010

X marks the proverbial spot.  It’s also the X factor, that special something that you just can’t define but that probably, if you’re willing to buy into it, makes all the difference.   It’s a kiss (hug, kiss, hug), where you place your Johnny Hancocky, and the WRONG answer.  It’s things taken to the Xtreme, the generation whacky and brilliant enough to marry TV and Music, and limitless, Xponential possibilities.  And, though “Ex” is more common, X could be a pseudenym for that nasty, trampy, how-could-you-do-this-to-me-after-all-I’ve-done-for-you-you-selfish-self-important-and-not-even-really-that-charming-son-of-a-b*tch.

There are probably a hundred more different uses of the letter X, but you get the point: X can stand for, and communicate a lot of things.  It’s a pretty darn versatile letter.  Go X.  So it’s funny that, upon reading about Motorola’s new Droid X cell phone (the follow-up to its totally awesome, iClone competitor, the Droid, which I proudly own) I should have such a singular association with the name.  In my defense, and getting closer to the point of this post, the intended association was lost in graphic translation!

That is, my only exposure to the brand name was in print, as the subject of an article or product review that included no image of the product and the manufacturer’s (or carrier’s) intended use of the X as an exponent to the word “Droid” (see picture of uber cool phone).  It was always just DROID X, with a big ol’ capital X.  Now, maybe my association with the name was unfairly and surprisingly limited (and btw, I was taken almost exclusively to the X factor, which as one of the now Android converted I WOULD actually buy into), but without the help of graphic support there would be no reason to necessarily think, oh right, X as in exponent, as in Droid to the X power.  As in DroidX.

And this underscores the point that I’m apparently taking forever to make.  Specifically, that names do not always receive the benefit of graphic illustration and need to “work” as communication vehicles independent of their brand identities.  Even if print really is dead and we all eventually have cell phones (or tablets or e-readers or whatever) surgically attached to our palms for anytime news access and useless apps (like that one that, as a joke, will automatically bombard your contacts with scores of costly text messages – WTF?!), brand names will not always be presented in all their graphic glory.  Sometimes names will be sportin’ their birthday suits, and sometimes superscripts may not be available or convenient to use.  Sometimes it won’t be DroidX , It will be Droid X.

Don’t get me wrong.  I actually like the DroidX name.  I like the simplicity of it, the association Motorola/Verizon wanted to draw to endless phone possibilities and being Droided to the max, and the way it modifies the Droid brand name rather than replaces or upstages it.  But I think it’s a good example of how a name (and in this case, a construction) can be too heavily dependent upon design in order to communicate its intended brand message.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

On a separate note, I’m inviting our readers to submit cool definitions for the term “Droidian Slip”?  The coolest definition will get, well, pretty much nothing except the title “The person who came up with that cool definition of Droidian Slip.”  And that’s something!

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