Joel Byron Barker

A writer with a toolbox chock full of pegs both square and round.

Wordage of The New

by joel - April 10th, 2009.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Modern language is moving pretty fast.  A new product (FaceBook) becomes a verb (FaceBooking) before the Modern Language Association has an opportunity to write a well worded memo.  Sometimes, these organic language shifts are fun.  People create “fanboy” by quite naturally combining fan and boy to quite appropriately describe certain pop culture enthusiasts.  However, when there is a corporate brand involved, weird things happen.

A company’s branding guideline can run up against the needs of the public.  Are people “Twittering” or “Tweeting?”

Now, I am fascinated with the obsession with branding in the marketing world.  Not that brand identity is not an important issue for a company, but it so quickly goes too far.  I mean, before marketing theory used the gerund (the “-ing”) version of “brand,”  branding was the painful process of burning your mark on the flesh of your cattle.  I am not a true blue branding expert, but I wonder why the brand must be so ferociously protected.   Why not release them to the public and allow them to use your brand as they need to?  Has anyone tried Open Source Branding?

I bring this up because sometimes brand names are very unsatisfying when we try to use them in our normal life.  The greatest burr in my side is Apple’s “i-” construction.  Since there is already a specific noun stuck on the damn thing, how do we explain when someone owns an idevice?

I do not own an iphone, so I sometimes find myself asking, “can I see your iphone?”  Ouch.  It hurts so bad to say “your I.”  And that is nothing.  When I want to play someone the new song by Augie March, I say, “It is right here on my iPod.”  Say it out loud: “My iPod” — not only a contortion of grammar and syntax, but crippling to the tongue.

I have designed a forward thinking solution:  Keep conjugating!  Use the following conjugations for Apple products:

My iPod: minePod

Your iPhone: thinePhone

This approach also works for Myspace.  My apologies to Steve Job’s brand police for open sourcing their identity.

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