Why “Roger”?

How a good idea was replaced by a better one. The story behind the name of our wireless microphone technology.

It was Thursday, February 9, 2012. A small lakeside restaurant in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Two gentlemen and me, over strong coffee, fresh croissants and a diet coke with ice. I spoke for four hours, without interruption. The guys listened and took notes. Many notes. They were smart. Very smart.

For many years, our R&D department had been working on a new wireless technology, defined from scratch, for listeners with hearing aids. It was going to be huge. It was going to replace FM, up to then the global gold standard. This new technology was digital, based on a new chip, at 2.4 GHz, with new levels of performance and ease of use. We had invested millions in the technology. I just needed a marketing concept.

The name for the new technology was already decided — “DM”, Digital Modulation. After all, audio signals were still modulated, but now in a digital way, no longer an analogue way. I thought DM as a name would be okay – the step for the market from FM to DM would not be too big, just one letter difference, and we would have products with both FM and DM technology inside, to make the transition to the new standard easier, especially for schools. DM seemed a logical and safe choice. I was wrong. Very wrong.

In the restaurant, I briefed the two guys. Their task was to help us with the creative concept. That is, the story and visuals, and ideas for tools like videos and animations. Instead of producing a large document reviewed by way too many stakeholders, I thought I would just tell them all I know about DM. The technological details, the anecdotes, the new products we were going to launch, the research data we had collected with prototypes, the ambition we had. They listened. They were from Scandinavia. Did I tell you they were smart?

So after my long monologue, the first question they asked me was, ‘Do we have to call it DM?’

Bang. Right in my face. They did not like my idea of DM as a name. I never expected that. I hesitated for one moment. But only one. Of course we do not have to call it DM. I am always delighted to get better ideas than my own. So I said, no, it does not have to be called DM. That was smart as well. But I had no idea what I was going to get for our money.

Sometimes you see the beauty in an idea immediately. If it is so good, it does not need any further explanation or sanity checking. That afternoon the two men worked hard. The next morning, a group of colleagues from the marketing department joined me to listen to what the two men came up with. Did I mention they were smart?

They coined the name “Roger” for the new technology.  Message received and understood.

That is what it is all about. Roger has that meaning in more than 15 languages. I saw smiles around the room. All agreed. This was it; we looked no further. This idea was sheer beauty.

So, that day, Roger was born. Not Roger Federer, not Roger Moore, not Roger Rabbit. Roger by Phonak. Now 5 years later, Roger is a well-established brand for wireless microphone technology, with its own logo, and alive and kicking, like never before.

To learn more about Roger go to www.phonakpro.com.

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4 thoughts on “Why “Roger”?

  1. The brand name for this DM technology doesn’t really work in English. Roger is just a name, like John or Hans – people don’t use the word in everyday speech, as least not in the sense that you’ve intended it. It’s been confusing me ever since I first heard of these devices and the fact that you’ve had to do a webpage / blog to explain how the name came about suggests I’m not the only one to be confused. Your Swiss marketing guys got this one wrong.

    1. Hi Richard,
      I respectively disagree. Although there is the male name “Roger”, I think the article very well describes the other meaning of the same combination of letters, please refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Dodger_(phrase), especially the last paragraph. I quote: “The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) officially defines the word “Roger” to mean “I have received all of your transmission”.

      We are all entitled to our opinions, however. All the best to you.

  2. Very useful. Much appreciated information. Provides a logical reason for name and the objectives of the technology. Well done.

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