Naming your Weather Radar

Pinpoint Megadoppler 5000
Superdoppler 7000 Stormtracker Plus
First Alert Digital Forecaster 2x Radar

A quick test – look away from this page for a moment and quickly try to recall the three lines that are listed above.� You just can’t do it. If the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart were looking for great show material, he couldn’t do much better than television station radar names.� Most of them take hyperbole to a whole new level.

Unfortunately, embellishment is the central theme of most weather names.� Words like super, mega, hyper, titan and thousand pervade the doppler names.�� This weather naming game of chicken is often spawned during doppler rumbles between rival stations.� “They called their radar Whopper Doppler, well I’ll call mine Whopper Doppler Plus.�� That will show them!”

Last week I saw an image promo positioning a top ten station’s weather as “we won’t needlessly scare you.”� A forthright meteorologist squarely proclaimed that she “won’t hype the weather.”� However, she went on to call her weathercast “Live Mega Doppler 5000 Plus.”� This overstated bit of puffery made the whole spot ring hollow.� Just how authentic could you be with a name like that?

Sophisticated product managers learned long ago that ballyhooed names don’t work.� Amplified product monikers conjure up bad images of late night TV infomercials and cheap product advertising.� You will never see Proctor and Gamble call their new detergent “SuperMega CleansiMax.”

The advertising industry has made a science of naming products.� The primary goal is to create something memorable and simple that concisely conveys a product distinction.� When you analyze some of the most successful, their elegance and brain stickiness are obvious – Ipod, Taurus, Kleenex, Chex, Duracell, Oxiclean.� These names easily roll off the tongue yet still manage to convey an essential product feature.� They sell, but don’t hype.

Be on the lookout for long weather names.� Can you think of any nationally advertised product that has four or five words in the name?� The more complex the name, the less memorable it will be.� When doing station workshops, I ask the station staffers to write down the name of their doppler on a piece of paper.� About half of them can’t do it.� If the employees of the station can’t remember a long radar name, what chance does a distracted viewer have?

Also, these long names make for very forced delivery within the forecast.� I constantly see talent struggling to correctly convey long product names within their weather forecast.� These trade names are just hard to say and interrupt the presentation flow of the weathercast.

The same is true with the image and topical promotion.� I constantly hear producers complain that there is no time in their spots to promise the forecast because they are required to use one or more long clumsy names inside their topical promos.� The writers are so busy getting the names in there that they never actually promote any weather coverage. The best weather names will be one or two words.� They will be simple and convey a product difference:
Weather Lab
HD Radar
Distance Doppler
X-Ray Weather

Avoid adding any kind of amplifier to the term like super, mega or hyper.� Finally, make sure your station identifier is in there.� That could be your channel number, call letters or whatever you use.�� Again, avoid adding amplifiers like “thousand” or “million.”� When we use these numbers we assume viewers will make the mental leap that “Doppler 3000” is the weather forecast on “Channel 3.”� You know the difference in house, but a distracted viewer might not pick up on this.

Remember that product naming is all about a viciously simple message.� Most viewers don’t care about TV brands.� If you make the message complex, it will be more clutter in the advertising maelstrom viewers endure each day.� Make sure your message hits them like an ax in the middle of the forehead.� No thinking required.

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