Friday, 4 April 2008


Hanging from a branch is Cocoon, O2's latest phone.


I like it for lots of reasons, one of them is that it's called Cocoon and not the RX400 or something similarly cold. Engineers should be allowed to design things, they should not be allowed to name them.

Like Apple's operating systems, imaginatively named products are better because they slice off the bland and replace it with a useful communication moment.

Writing in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Miller and Kahn (2005) found, at least in colour labels, more imaginative and unusual names beget more favourable perceptions and rates of purchase than functional ones. See their paper for why they think this happens.

Added to the various cognitive dynamics that bring about this effect, the nature of the label will cause a cognitive Litchenberg figure to branch out activating all sorts of potentially interesting and positive associations. There's something snug about a cocoon, something exciting about what's inside, and, of course, something natural.

Nature crops up again in a nice bit of 'ornimorphism' (attributing bird features to inanimate objects - yes, I made the word up), where the dock is called a nest, which lends it further cutesy charm.

More imaginative naming for bits in technology ecosystems please.


It's clearly white, but the design doesn't end up tripping over itself to imitate Jonathan Ive; it has a sleekness and freshness of its own. I particularly like the LED lights on the outer shell that spell out messages, callers and the time.


Anyway, that's the product; the marketing's is also good example of something done well because digital is used for digital, not as some lame TV follow up or place to stick JPEGs of posters.

VCCP discovered the 40 most influential bloggers, gave them a Cocoon and no formal instructions to do anything in particular. I believe similar blogger outreach was done with the Nokia N95.

The result of shirking the need to be perfect has payed off. According to Revolution, "72 per cent of the bloggers who took part said they would not have expected a brand such as O2 to do something like this, while 80 per cent would now recommend Cocoon/O2 to a friend." So impressive were the results on early sales that a TV spot was not commissioned, saving considerable money.

And engaging bloggers means a denser network of links that then exploits the algorithms of the Google ranking system to get higher within it. Such organic seeding obviates the need for specialists to artificially get it ranked higher, again saving money. All in all, good job O2 and VCCP.

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