1 Feb 17

Marketing: What’s in a name?

Put another way: What image appears in the minds of your customers at the mention of your name?

As a marketing amateur, it strikes me that reputations are invariably tied to product and company names, and at least in the gun business, confusion is the rule, rather than the exception. And, much confusion is avoided when gunmakers are understandable and consistent with product titles, and unfailingly follow-up with dynamite customer service.

Glock is the best example! “Glock” means only one thing. Glock makes only pistols. No Glock pistol has ever had a manual safety, nor a manual decocking lever/button, nor a magazine safety, nor has been hammer-fired. All Glock pistols, no matter the size, are striker-fired, polymer-frmed, and have pretty much the same profile.

Thus, when someone says “Glock,” you won’t hear “Which style?,” nor “Is that the variant with the decocking button?” etc. Everyone knows what “Glock” means! While Glock has been criticized for never offering “variants,” the reward has been that the name “Glock” is seldom a source of confusion in the minds of consumers.

Envying Glock’s spectacular marketing success over the past thirty years, nearly every other gunmaker in the world is currently producing “Glock-like” pistols. The foregoing is no secret! All are striker-fired, polymer-framed, and have no manual decocking lever/button. Nearly all (including Glock) now feature VGG (variable grip geometry). And, they’re all doing their best to capitalize on what they see as ways in which the Glock pattern can be improved. From positioning of controls, to profile, to take-down procedure, sights, accessories, additional “features,” etc, manufacturers are doing their best to produce worthy competitors to the Glock pattern.

The SA/XD and XD/M, S&W M&P, Walther PPQ, FNS, Kahr, Ruger All American, SIG/320, H&K VP9, and now the Century Arms Cenik (TP9SF), and the CZ P10C are all worthy and acceptable examples. I just heard of a new one, from Europe, called the BBTech. Remington’s candidate, the RP9, has also just hit the market (and, by all reports, is getting off to Remington’s customary rocky start). Beretta’s long-awaited “APX” has yet to rear its head! Colt apparently has no plans, and no clue!

As an Operator, the addition of “features” like manual safeties, magazine safeties, “ambidextrous controls,” extended/enlarged levers and buttons, ad nauseam, represents going backwards! Serious Operators have scant use for all that junk, and Glock, to their everlasting credit, has steadfastly refused to put any of that trash on their guns. Magazine safeties, for example, are far worse that a mere annoyance. Magazine safeties are a death-trap and thus not recommended on any serious pistol. Not all agree, however.

In my view, all this is healthy (albeit confusing), both in terms of the viability of our gunmaking industry, and in terms of the advancement of our Art. Good competition makes good products. It’s yet another miracle of capitalism!

Getting back to the point:

In this business, names are important. Reputations are even more important. Gunmakers need to know what they represent in the minds of their customers.

For example:

“BBTech” pistols, in the American market, will be immediately confused with “BB guns.” Potential gun buyers will quickly pass them by and look no closer!

“Canik” pistols are what? Do they work like a Glock, or do they have a decocking button? The term, “Canik” has been applied by Century Arms to several different variants. That’s a mistake! The Canik TP9SF/Elite is what you want, but that’s a lot of letters and numbers to remember!

My advice to gunmaker’s marketing departments is to come up with a name that is simple to pronounce and easy to remember, and then stick with it, so that over time we all become accustomed to what that name means. Don’t give it a “number.” Give it a name!

Be reluctant to load-up your otherwise excellent weapon with glib, trendy, glamorous junk, designed only to appeal only to the fearful, careless, shallow and self-centered.

We aging Operators, and the next generation of young Operators we’re training-up, are depending on you to provide us with superior weapons- simple, quick, slick, fast, reliable, durable, and lethal.

Don’t fail us!

“I felt as only a man can feel who is roaming over prairies of the far West, well armed, and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed.”

Bill Cody