When we first saw Google’s announcement about its new Yelp-killer, we read the name of the service as “Hotspot.”
And we thought, yes, well, that’s a pretty boring and predictable name, but it makes sense, at least. And Google doesn’t have a problem with boring and predictable, as evidenced by its naming its location service “Places.”
But then we noticed that Google’s Yelp-killer wasn’t called “Hotspot”–it was called “Hotpot.”
And that made us ask again who it is at Google that comes up with these names.
Quick–free association–what do you think of when you hear the name “Hotpot”?
Here’s what we think of:
* HOTBOT (algorithm)
* HOT POT (boring kitchen implement)
* HOT POT (ouch), and, yes…
* HOT POT (the thing families eat out of)
Here’s what we don’t think of: Restaurant reviews. Friends. Trust. Fun.
And this reminds us again of Google’s biggest problem: An apparent lack of understanding of how brands and relationships and connotations matter to human beings.
Not algorithms. Not technology. Google understands those things in spades.
As Google watches itself losing the mantle of innovation and excitement and buzz to Facebook and Apple, it needs look deep in the mirror and recognise that this is its single biggest weakness as a consumer company (which, sorry, it is). Then it needs to hire a gifted product and brand expert who can help it do what Apple and Facebook often do when they invent and name things–win over hearts and minds.
Because “HotPot” sure isn’t going to do it.