Corporate Eye

Segway PUMA – Missed Branding Opportunity

pumaWhat do you think of when you hear the brand name PUMA?  Most people respond to that question by saying, “shoes”. 

Yes, there is already a PUMA, and while it’s in a very different market than the new Segway PUMA, and it’s unlikely the products will be confused with one another, the problem is that the name is already taken and consumers already associate it with another product.  PUMA already communicates a brand message, image and promise. 

So why did Segway choose PUMA as the brand name for its new ultra-small, eco-friendly car?  Because companies can’t get away from their love of acronyms!  There are acronyms for everything.  It’s the cool thing to do.  PUMA stands for Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility.  Dull huh?  I guess Segway felt the same way.  Acronym to the rescue, and PUMA was born.

This seems like such a missed opportunity.  Does anyone really care that PUMA stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility?  Isn’t that obvious just by looking at it?  Segway had a rare opportunity to choose a creative, innovative brand name.  Instead, they chose a brand name that’s already taken.  It takes some of the mystique out of the product.  Instead of Segway’s PUMA being perceived as “next generation” and “futuristic”, it becomes boring and the opposite of unique. 

Therein lies the problem.  It’s a unique product.  Why not give it a unique name?

Your thoughts?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

Definitely agree. Whenever I create a new product, I first research my potential name to verify it’s not already taken….wonder why Segway failed that opportunity?

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