Now we’re talkin’! Name review of Abbott Lingo

Abbott's new line of biowearables takes fitness tracking further by calculating glucose, lactate, and even alcohol in the blood. But does the name add up?

Biowearable technology is nothing new. Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) have been helping people manage their diabetes for almost 20 years, and 1 in 5 Americans track their heart rate, sleep, or physical activity with a wearable fitness monitor.

There is an undeniable desire to tap in to what our bodies are saying to us, and Abbott proposes to translate these messages into better athletic performance and general health. The company has applied the technology behind its CGM, FreeStyle Libre, to a new category of biosensing wearables, Abbott’s chair and CEO Robert Ford announced during his keynote at last month’s CES.

Not intended for medical use (that is, not for disease monitoring, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention), these products are designed for wellness- or fitness-minded folks to track key biomarkers, such as glucose and ketosis, and use them as actionable intel for health and performance, all via a sensor inserted into the back of their arm.

What speaks to us

Its name, Lingo, deftly plays into Abbott’s brand positioning: “It’s amazing what our bodies can tell us, and with Lingo, it’s expected that you’ll understand what your body really needs, and what’s good for you. Your body is constantly talking to you, and now it’s time to listen,” Ford exhorted.

The meaning is clear—lingo is the vocabulary or jargon of a particular subject or group. When two parties in a conversation speak the same language, communication toward a common goal becomes possible. Not coincidentally, Abbott’s literature for this product line often references “your body’s unique language”—biometric signals with the potential to inform better decisions if you could only translate them. The lingo metaphor works here, instantly connecting to the concept of translation, of building mutual understanding.

Lingo’s tone is casual, slightly playful, and well-suited to a consumer brand. Yet it’s got the strong, action-oriented final syllable go, serving up the idea of biowearable use by elite athletes and weekend warriors who are likely to adopt the lactate- and glucose-sensing products. And go is precisely what marathoner Eliud Kipchoge did when he used Abbott’s glucose biosensor to optimize training prior to turning in his sub-two-hour time. Can you say “world record”?

What’s more, Lingo is short, memorable, and easily pronounced. It’s a legit English word, familiar and meaningful. Some might say the word is old-fashioned, but we believe that 40s noir or 50s beatnik vibe is part of its charm.

The last cool play to be coaxed out of Lingo’s construction is the final o that mirrors the shape of the biosensor itself. In the Lingo promo video, the o from the logo zooms front and center and morphs to a shot of the biosensor, a small white disc that gets affixed to the upper arm. Clever use of typography and imagery creates a visual that helps cement the brand.

All the brand names we’ve run across with Lingo relate to language education or translation products. Most widely known is Duolingo, a free language-learning app with a cute mascot and strong reviews as PC Mag’s Editors’ Choice. No negative associations to be seen there.

Creating a short name with broad applicability is smart naming strategy for the line. Simply append a short descriptive name for each product. Trademark applications have been filed for the first two products, Lingo Keto and Lingo Sport. This sensible naming convention will keep the product family tight.

In sum, Lingo is a short, real English word that expresses a meaningful metaphor for the brand, and it was available for US (and likely international) trademark in the healthcare space. That’s a really heavy lift, so kudos to the Abbott naming team.

What might not translate

The only small hurdle we see for the name Lingo is possible confusion with Libre (part of the FreeStyle line)—both names are short, they share the same first two letters, and the sensors look alike. The only differentiator appears to be that FreeStyle Libre products are medical devices. They are marketed to physicians for patients to monitor their blood sugar to control diabetes. The Lingo line is not for medical use and will be marketed to consumers, like Fitbit and other wearable fitness trackers.

Image courtesy of Abbott

FreeStyle Libre (introduced in 2014) has tremendous brand equity, so it’s unlikely Abbott would change the Libre name for its CGM products. Abbott will need to be disciplined, therefore, in maintaining the distinction between Libre and Lingo products. The use of the name Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor for the high-performance device introduced in 2020 muddies that distinction (though the Lingo naming strategy might not have even been a twinkle in the branding team’s eye two years ago). Like the Lingo Sport, the 2020 product is a non-medical device for athletic performance marketed directly to users, not physicians. It’s likely Abbott will eventually shift this product over to a Lingo name or drop it completely when the Lingo Sport is released.

Final Grade:



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