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Poor, Poor Press Release

As a former publicist, I carry an equal appreciation and disdain for the PR professionals who keep my phone ringing and inbox full every day. Since venturing to the other side (editorial, that is) I’ve discovered a solid handful of really smart publicists who have a deep understanding of the companies they represent as well as the magazine theyre pitching (they realize that no, we’re not a tech magazine and we won’t run executive announcements about their new VP of Marketing).

As a former publicist, I carry an equal appreciation and disdain for the PR professionals who keep my phone ringing and inbox full every day. Since venturing to the other side (editorial, that is) I’ve discovered a solid handful of really smart publicists who have a deep understanding of the companies they represent as well as the magazine theyre pitching (they realize that no, we’re not a tech magazine and we won’t run executive announcements about their new VP of Marketing).

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Then there are those other poor souls who still haven’t figured it out. They write the informationless press releases, the superfluous ones, the jargon saturated ones, and the self-important ones. Then there’s an entirely different genre: the press release that makes absolutely no sense.

Take Seagate Technology. “Sometimes it pays to simplify things,” they state in the press release they sent me today. That’s why they’ve rebranded their disk drive architecture as Seagate NL35 Series 7200.1 500GB FC (the further you read, the more absurd it gets). Of course – that makes perfect sense!

Was there anyone at Seagate who possibly thought this was a nonsensical announcement? Did they all buy into a bad idea, or was it that no one had the courage to go against the grain and put the kibosh on it? I’m still trying to figure it out:

New Product Naming System Protects Brand, Communicates Seagate Value

In a world where multiple brands are competing for increasingly smaller slices of attention, sometimes it pays to simplify things. Disc drive maker Seagate Technology, for example, is adopting a new product-naming system to better communicate the companys value proposition to customers, the media and other stakeholders.

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Seagate, the world’s largest disc drive manufacturer, hopes its new naming convention will drive sales and build its brand equity. This new architecture emphasizes the Seagate brand first, with supporting product-descriptive information.

An alphanumeric structure for its OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) products, for example, is aimed at driving brand consistency for Seagate and creating a faster and easier way to identify its products. Here is one example of the new naming system for OEM customers.

Seagate NL35 Series 7200.1 500GB FC

The name breaks down as follows:
NL:Specific target application (near-line servers).
35:A 3.5-inch form factor.
7200.1:The drives spin speed and product generation.
500GB:The drives storage capacity.
FC:The drives data interface (Fibre Channel).

“It’s important that we protect the investments we’ve made in our brand,” says Brian Dexheimer, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Seagate. “Our brand is one of the most valuable assets we have as a company. At the same time, we must do a better job articulating the many benefits and features of our products.”

This is particularly important as Seagate expands its presence in consumer electronics and retail markets, where quality, reliability and innovation are essential attributes for long-term success. Although Seagate has a number of legacy products that will continue, such as “Cheetah,” “Barracuda,” and “Momentus,” all new products will follow this approach.

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“Since our strategy is to be a technology leader through vertical integration, building our brand, with the associated improvements in awareness and preference, is critical to our long-term success” says Jeff Loebbaka, vice president of marketing at Seagate. “Everything we do should reinforce Seagate’ and it doesn’t make sense to spend time and money on product names that don’t add value to our customers. Simplicity and clarity carry far more weight with them.”

Seagate’s product-naming system meets these requirements, says Nick Wreden, a brand expert and author of “FusionBranding: How to Forge Your Brand for the Future.”

“It’s much easier to remember and refer brands whose names provide a shorthand description of capabilities, benefits or emotional appeal,” says Wreden.

About the author

Danielle Sacks is an award-winning journalist and a former senior writer at Fast Company magazine. She's chronicled some of the most provocative people in business, with seven cover stories that included profiles on J.Crew's Jenna Lyons, Malcolm Gladwell, and Chelsea Clinton.

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