Upgrades to existing product lines make up a huge part of corporate research and development activity, and with every upgrade comes the decision of how to brand it. Harvard Business School marketing professors John T. Gourville and Elie Ofek teamed up with London Business School's Marco Bertini to suss out the best practices for naming next-generation products. Key concepts include: Companies often take one of two tacks in naming a next-generation product—the sequential naming approach or the complete name change approach. Experimental research showed that each naming approach affects customer expectations. With a name change, research participants expected features that were distinctly different or new. With a name continuation, they just expected improved performance on existing features. Companies must assess risk versus reward when branding a product upgrade, weighing the excitement generated by a new name against the danger of scaring away customers who worry that new features pose the threat of new glitches and a steep learning curve.
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There had not been an innovative breakthrough in alarm clock design since the snooze button until entrepreneur Gauri Nanda created Clocky. Her runaway hit has been the inspiration for several cases written by Professor Elie Ofek.
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