Recently, and much to my dismay, I discovered an actual product called Soylent.
Now, I don't know much about the product other than it is marketed as a nutritional drink that is targeted at people -- like coders and gamers -- who either don't have time or don't want to take the time to eat actual food. The creator of the product has also indicated his desire to use Soylent as a way to help alleviate nutritional deficiencies in third world countries with food supply challenges.
In and of itself, I have no problem with the product. The problem I have is with the NAME of the product. If you're a certain age, you remember a 1973 film called Soylent Green that starred Charleston Heston and Edward G. Robinson. In the film, Soylent Green is also a nutritional product that Heston discovers is made from PEOPLE. The film wasn't terribly well received at the time and the "Soylent Green is PEOPLE" line from Heston has become, for better or worse, a classic.
Don't misunderstand, I don't think the current version of Soylent is made from human remains. I do, however, think it's a good lesson in branding.
When I originally saw this product advertised in my Facebook feed, I thought it was a viral ad for a remake of the film. I did a bit of research and discovered that this was indeed a real product that you can purchase and consume. This, then, turned on my marketing spider senses.
Is Soylent a good name for this product? Do people take it seriously? Do people of a certain age stay away from it because of the connotations associated with the film? Did the manufacturer of this product consider all of these things before setting on this name?
Well, according to Rob Rhinehart, the creator of Soylent, he named it after the movie because he like the name and it seemed to fit the product. It definitely has people talking, and he has genuinely created a brand around it.
What say you, marketing gurus and observers? Is Soylent a brilliant name or a marketing liability? Weigh in below in the comments!