What’s in a name? Aaron Hall discusses naming AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper

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Our latest Siegel+Gale naming credential, Ryzen™ Threadripper™ , is getting some impressive reviews (Fortune, Forbes, PC World, SegmentNext, Engadget). The new PC microprocessor is being billed as the highest-performance desktop processor ever. Check out our SMPL Q&A with Aaron Hall, director of naming, about our work with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), the second-largest supplier of microprocessors worldwide.

Why did AMD engage Siegel+Gale? 

AMD had two upcoming opportunities to take on their competition and signal to the industry that AMD was doing things differently. Poised to launch two new processors, a server chip and a desktop chip, each of which would catapult them ahead in the market, AMD decided to revisit their existing product names—Opteron and Athlon. Research had shown these names were associated with technologies of the past, so AMD sought new brand names that could stretch to encompass a new era of opportunities.

Read more: AMD Ryzen Threadripper Gets Great Reviews

What did we do for AMD?

The first thing we helped each group do was realize that the “–on” naming trend of their past (Duron, Opteron, Athlon, Sempron) had been exhausted and didn’t signal innovation. We proceeded to explore dozens of unique creative directions, pushing boundaries and sharing names that felt uncomfortable at first, but which signaled a new direction for AMD. Breaking with internal tradition and bucking industry standards is tough, but it’s often where the best brand names come from.

First, we helped the desktop processor team develop the name RYZEN, a combination of “horizon” and their codename “zen”. Months later, we helped the server processor team develop the stylistically related name EPYC—connoting a new epoch or era in server computing, and change of epic scale. Finally, we helped the original desktop team develop a version name for their RYZEN processor. Together we landed on Threadripper—a cool and edgy name unlike anything else on the market—which signals a new era of bigger and better things from AMD.

Read more: AMD Ryzen Threadripper: What Is The Story Behind The Name?

What made these projects successful?

The AMD team was ready to embrace change. Already making big changes in their product development, AMD recognized that they needed equally large changes to their branding. This extended up to AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, who blessed and subsequently launched both RYZEN and EPYC. Stepping away from the norm is uncomfortable; but whole-heartedly embracing change can deliver huge success, as AMD has proven twice over.

Aaron Hall is a director of naming at Siegel+Gale. Follow him on Twitter: @brainwoosh

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