The “Same But Different” Naming Strategy Strikes Again

Jeep Exploits This Strategy To Make Its Plug-In Hybrid More Accessible

Last month I wrote a full debrief of the “Same But Different” naming strategy that McDonaldsTM is using with its CosMc’s beverage-focused chain. I provided the science behind use of this strategy (and it is plentiful), but the TL; DR summary is familiarity breeds comfort when it comes to names of new ventures.

Recently JeepTM used the “Same But Different” strategy to launch its plug-in hybrid line “4 X e.” Even the clever logo design reinforces the plug-in aspect.

What Jeep is leveraging is decades of “4 X 4” communication. The public is so very comfortable with “4 X 4” as a moniker that putting a slight twist to it causes some people to notice the change. The replacement of the second “4” with “e” is a way to leverage that level of comfort into plug-in hybrids.

Even though I identified the “Same But Different” naming strategy in action, I am not a fan of its application here. “4 X 4” communicates a very specific quality of the vehicle. “4 X 4” indicates a system in which a vehicle’s engine powers all 4 wheels evenly with the end benefit of being able to get traction in messy situations like snow or off-road. “4 X e” twists that into something different.

Are these new Jeeps no longer 4 X 4? Have they reduced the effectiveness of the “4 X 4” capability of the plug-in hybrid Jeep? In other words, are “4 X e” vehicles less capable than regular Jeeps? If that creeps into the minds of consumers, this innovation is doomed!

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