Wherever they go, wireless routers inspire unmitigated hatred. We expect nothing less than perfection from these little boxes: setup should be painless, maintenance unnecessary, and signal strength perfect. Where most of us feel frustration, a company called Portal saw an open door. They reasoned that if their router performed perfectly — and did it with style — it’d sell like Girl Scout Cookies.
The name Portal didn’t work. First, there were trademark considerations: a line of massively popular video games used the same name. That meant the possibility of litigation, but also getting buried on Google Searches. Plus, Portal didn’t match the character of what they were building. It felt too technical. They wanted to stand apart from the Netgear-and Linksys-style routers that line Wal-Mart’s shelves, and the name Portal didn’t do that.
The router’s name had to stand out — that much was clear. Differentiation proved to be pretty simple: any name that avoided alphabet soup (like the Linksys WRT1900AC) or melodramatic, military-grade claims (like the Netgear Nighthawk Quad-Stream) would stand out. The tough part was finding which direction to move in. Should the name focus on ease-of-use? Signal strength? Industrial design?
Find the rarefied air
Connect to design instead of tech
Through two rounds of naming, we presented names that positioned the product differently. If we’re moving away from a technological feel, where do we go? A good router name might sound like a new best friend. It might feel like magic, or promise to create a new connection. The common thread across all names was a personable spirit, and a lack of the technical feel that dominates the industry.
In going over the names, we discussed not just which were favorites, but how they would work as positioning tools. That narrowed the field enough for us to sit down and flesh out each name to find its potential as a brand. What might its visual identity be? How could the name help start a conversation about the company’s mission?
Final selection took us back to the beginning. Portal’s biggest problems came from using a common word, so they chose an uncommon name: eero, a name that evokes the thoughtful, graceful design that architect Eero Saarinen brought to his projects.
As for the name? eero was named after Eero Saarinen, a famous Finnish American designer who’s responsible for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, and interestingly, Weaver’s elementary school. “Design is a really huge focus for us,” says Weaver. “From the name down to the design of the site, the product and the user experience. The sweeping form of the top of the device, the nice clean lines — it’s all influenced by Eero.”
Eero wifi! I'd buy it for the name only, but actually need it too. Old log walls bust signals. https://t.co/TSylxklv1x
— Koskenkorvan Jaakkoo (@jkoskenkorva) February 3, 2015
Americans make a great wifi router, name it Eero. I wish Finnish companies also used Finnish product names. http://t.co/bQzkKnwJlj
— Oskari Okko Ojala (@okko) February 3, 2015
This sounds too good to be true. And I love the name (which is a finnish male name) http://t.co/ZPIytf8ZN6
— Lauri Salovaara (@LauriSalovaara) February 3, 2015
Astute design history buffs will undoubtedly recognize the name attached to the device, named after Eero Saarinen, Finnish-American architect and designer of the iconic Tulip chair. His namesake and intended spirit of simplified modernity now graces a small electronic device the size of the Apple TV.
— Design Milk