April 28, 2006
By Brian D. Crecente
The name for Nintendo's revolutionary new gaming console, praised for its design and quirky controllers, is Wii.
And that has some experts asking why.
"It's interesting how bad it is," said Steve Manning, managing director of branding company Igor International, the company behind such names as MTV's Urge and The Signature at MGM Grand. "I don't know who's going to love it."
Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo of America's vice president of marketing and corporate affairs had an answer locked and loaded when the name hit the game sites.
"The name Wii works on several levels. It sounds like the word we, which emphasizes the all-inclusive nature of the system," she said Thursday in a statement.
"Graphically, the distinctive 'ii' spelling symbolizes both the two unique controllers and the human form. An unusual name sets us apart from the crowd, just as our distinctive machine is completely different from what our competitors are offering."
But Manning says that Wii doesn't really convey any of those things, adding that it's a bad sign when a company starts explaining its brand name.
"The biggest key to figuring out it's a bad name is when they explain it," he said. "You don't have to explain a good name; you have to explain a bad name."
Manning points out that Kaplan told CNN the name was released this week instead of at the upcoming E3 gaming convention because Nintendo wanted to give fans time to vent.
"They knew it was going to be unfavorably received," Manning said. "I don't know what the upside is for this name."
He said it's not uncommon for a product's code name - in this case, Nintendo called the system Revolution - to be sexier than the one that the product eventually gets tagged with.
The sentiment among fans on gaming sites seemed to vacillate mostly between disbelief and dislike for the name of the console, due out later this year.
"It's one of those names that is totally brilliant in a marketing sense and completely awful in an actual sense," wrote Joel Johnson on Kotaku.com.