The reliably clear-thinking Laura Ries goes off on a tear in her blog today over the positioning and naming blunders of the company that makes her favorite athletic shoe. MBT shoes are a classic example of a marketing myopia. It’s a condition found in clients who are far too close to their own product–and by close, I mean not only too immersed in the product’s most minute details, but also truly madly deeply in love with it.

As a result, they’re unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices in messaging that lead to a focused positioning. Positioning is the art of sacrifice. Effective positioning requires a crystal clear, single-minded, simple idea. MBT’s “Physiological footwear” ain’t it. Ries suggests, “Makes every walk a workout.” Much clearer, dontcha think?

Regardless of the complexities inherent in any product or service, its message needs to be simple. Creating a brand name is the acid test of the clarity of product’s positioning. If a positioning is too broad and/or complex, you will never get to a strong brand name.

The company that makes “physiological footwear” named itself Masai Barefoot Technology, which is so long and cryptic that it was shortened to MBT, effectively stripping away all meaning from the name.

As Ries says, it’s a great product. But between the brand’s ineffective positioning and terrible name, the loss of potential brand impact is incalculable.

All because they were too close and too in love.