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Nook Turns Up the Heat on Kindle

By Beth Gerber

October 21, 2009

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Barnes & Noble is launching Nook, their new e-book reader this week. Will the Nook unseat Amazon’s Kindle? Only time will tell. What we do know is that the Nook has a color touch screen and allows customers to share their e-books, both major competitive advantages over the Kindle.

But what about the name? We here at Catchword are pretty big fans of Nook. The brand name, of course, refers to a sheltered and secluded place, specifically a reading nook or book nook in this case. The connotations are of a small, personalized, private book reading experience. All good things for an e-book reader.

Also, in contrast to Kindle, the name is shorter (one syllable) and keys on a more personal experience of book reading. Kindle is about the general fervor of reading, whereas Nook is about that unique personal connection book lovers have with their books.

There were obviously other possible messages to explore when naming this product. Naturally, the luminosity, colorfulness, sharing capabilities are all key differentiating features worthy of naming exploration. However, these are also all features that will quickly be adopted by the competitive set. Naming a product after a short-term differentiator is okay when you plan on changing the name when version 2.0 comes out, or if you only plan on a 2-year product life cycle. But, we’re guessing Barnes & Noble is in this game for the long haul. This might be their last best chance to compete with Amazon. Thus, Barnes & Noble appropriately picked a lasting brand name that speaks to the meta concept of books and book lovers.

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Photo of Ambrosia Rose by Brian Adamson

The only pronunciation or negative connotations we could come up with seemed minor in comparison to the positive features of the name. Some folks might pronounce the name “nuke” as in nuclear. Not too much worry there. And, it’s possible some folks might extrapolate to “nookie.” Again, this isn’t likely. And even if “nookie” does get popular, is there anything wrong with making books a little sexier? (I’m reminded of the common sexy librarian fantasy.)

Overall, we like this new name a lot. We’d love to claim that we created this name, but alas, we cannot. We just hope it doesn’t show up on Lexicon’s portfolio page on Friday. Don’t they have enough famous brand names already? Here’s hoping that one of our other competitors came up with this great new name.

Name Grade: A-

Grade:
A-
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