Whether you are a start-up business launching your first product, or an established brand launching a line extension, naming a new product is one of the most challenging marketing decisions you’ll have to make.
The importance of a great product name cannot be understated. It determines whether you will win the consumer’s attention and whether the name will linger in the minds of consumers, prompting them to re-buy. It is essential to find a title that ticks these boxes, but agreeing on a name within your company can prompt never-ending discussions.
Let’s discuss some of the important details when choosing a product name. You’ll get some insights on the product naming conventions to use, different naming strategies as well as various concepts you might consider implementing.
Why a great product name is so important?
Product names can increase value.
With a name, the generic becomes specific and gains meaning. Similarly, when a product has a name, it has value and identity. Marketing companies know the power of having the right product names, which explains why they pour millions of dollars into product branding.
If you get the title right, your brand will be on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and it will become part of their daily lives.
For instance, if your child wants a soft drink, they will tell you they want Coke. If they want a smartphone, they will refer to the iPhone.
Sometimes, a name ends up increasing the price of the product if it becomes popular. Consumers choosing a sought-after brand-named item are likely to pay up to more, despite similar (but lesser-known) products having the same ingredients and uses.
Product names help customers choose what’s best for them.
The right product name acts as a shortcut. A descriptive, to-the-point name especially helps your customer to understand what you offer quickly.
For instance, when you’re searching for movies on Netflix, knowing the category of film you want, such as drama, romance, action, or thriller, helps you find something you will enjoy. If your product name describes the product’s uses or benefits, it will probably attract more customers.
Great product names build confidence in your brand.
Great product names help you create consistency in your brand image and name. The more consistent your company is, the more likely customers will trust you.
Product names help to create excitement for the product.
When your product has a name that sticks in people’s minds, they begin to talk about it. If you get the name right, your product will be on the tip of people’s tongues. Word of mouth is a potent tool in marketing because people trust the opinion of their friends and relatives compared to that of marketers and salespersons.
What is in a Product Name?
The most challenging decision when it comes to product naming is not what the name should be, but what type of name you should use. There are four main categories of product names to choose from:
Descriptive product name
Descriptive names describe what the product does. For instance, the app Messenger describes what it does, as it is used to send messages mostly. Descriptive names are easy to understand and also don’t require a lot of marketing investment to launch. Marketing a product with a descriptive name only requires you to promote it. You don’t have to educate your prospective clients about the product’s function.
An ideal descriptive name is self-evident and straightforward. The name can’t be a long sentence or paragraph. It needs to tell the purpose as simply and concisely as possible.
The team behind the name should ensure that when they share it with the target market, people will understand what the product does. This isn’t always easy to achieve, especially with complex products. You may be able to name your product after what it’ll be used for by the customer. An excellent example of this is Adobe Media Optimizer – this title describes what the product is used for.
Creative product name
Creative names are the opposite of descriptive names. They might have some relationship to what the product does, but they are not especially self-explanatory. For instance, if you heard the name Microsoft Xbox, without seeing the product, you wouldn’t at first know that it’s a video game console.
Creative names allow for so much flexibility. They can be used to convey an emotive response linked to the product, an attribute, or a differentiator. They can also be a cornerstone of a brand or sub-brand you want to create.
Creative names can be just about anything. Just ensure that they haven’t been taken by someone else on the market and aren’t offensive in any way.
If you’re looking to associate your brand name to a specific emotion or value, you can test it to see if they elicit the response you want. Never assume that the name will be perfect straight off the bat, check it with your audience first.
Arbitrary/Deviant product name
These are names made of words that have an emotional connection to the product but don’t describe it. For example, the tech giant Apple’s name isn’t related to the fruit in any way, but now when we hear it, we instantly know when people are referring to the tech company’s products.
Fanciful/Neologistic product name
These are made-up words that are designed to describe a product without using an existing language. The brand names Xerox and Kodak are both actually made up, and sometimes referred to as “synthetic” titles.
Does the Type of Product Name Matter?
The answer to this is yes and no.
Some successful brand names don’t match the products they offer. One of the most popular computer companies in the world is called “Apple.” People associate the product to the value it delivers.
On the other hand, your team will end up in endless discussions if you can’t agree on a product name. If you’re faced with such a problem, remember to first focus on the type of name you want and the attributes of an ideal name rather than the specific names themselves.
Remember, the name is not as important as the product.
Golden rules when choosing a product name
Here are a few rules you should follow when naming a product.
It should be unique
In an era where new businesses and products are launched every day, it’s challenging to get a unique name. However, the product name you choose should at least be unique to your industry. This will mean that when someone mentions the name of your product, others will know that they mean your business and nothing else. Since there are so many products already on the market in thousands of industries, fanciful or neologistic names are on the rise.
It’s also essential to check whether the name you want is not already trademarked. You do this by looking in the yellow pages of your phone directory. You should also go through online databases of registered names or call the concerned business registration offices.
Differentiation is significant in the market because it also makes your marketing easier.
For more information on protecting your brand name, please read How to Trademark Your Brand or Logo in Australia
It should be short and memorable.
The longer the title, the harder it is for people to remember. It’s also likely that people will resort to choosing abbreviations for longer names, which you don’t control. This might work against your marketing strategy.
It should be readable.
A product name that is hard to pronounce means people won’t talk about it. If the name is also hard to spell, they will find it hard to search it on the internet. Keep the name simple, and don’t go with uncommon spellings.
It should be cool to say and look good on paper.
You want a product name that stands out around all the boring names around it. When you mention it in a sentence, it should stand out, so the audience pays attention.
It should evoke an emotion or idea.
Your name should tell what product it is or the feeling it will give the users. You should inspire something in the minds of your consumer.
It should have meaning.
Product names have a meaning, lest their spark fades. You don’t want a name that will leave your customers wondering why you chose it. You can be creative with the meaning, as long as the customer can understand it.
If you have a name that isn’t too common or doesn’t have a meaning, you can pair it with a word everyone understands. You can also choose synonyms to terms that are common or add a suffix or prefix to make the name more interesting.
Step-By-Step Guide on how to choose a great product name
One common problem that companies face when selecting a product name is not having a suitable plan or strategy in place.
It’s common for companies to simply grab a notebook and start brainstorming, expecting that they will come up with great product names. If you want to come up with the right product names, you need to do the exercise right.
Here are a few tips you can follow:
1) Choose the right team
You don’t need your entire organization to work on choosing the title for your project. A large team is not necessary, but it should be diverse with representation from various departments in the company. Be sure to include representatives from product development, marketing, and legal as well as the commercial department.
There are some essential questions that the team needs to ask themselves. What position do they want the product to have in the customer’s mind? How does the product fit into the market? Is the product a new standard or the first of its kind? What are the benefits of the product? What qualities of the product correspond to the perspective you want to give your customers?
While answering these questions, you will understand the main concepts you want to bring out, and you should begin building your ideas around these concepts. The team should come up with names, messages, as well as images that fit into this concept. Record all these ideas because they will be valuable in name generation.
2) Discuss the different types of product names
We have already discussed the different types of product names that exist. Some of the naming conventions work better than others in some situations. It’s therefore essential to settle on the category that has worked for you before.
The best brand strategy is to select the naming idea that is closest to your product. For instance, technological companies are expected to use a descriptive name, while those in the entertainment industry may use a fanciful word.
3) Do your research
Your choice of brand name should be founded on research. First, you need to find out what kind of brand naming strategies your competitors use. If brands in your industry have used creative names, you might want to learn from them and use an original title as well. You might also decide to use a different name so that your brand can stand out.
You should also research your target audience and find out which languages they speak – make sure your potential name doesn’t mean something entirely different in another language. In some instances, you might want to use Latin or Greek translations of a name. Also, research various animal and plant names and find out what they symbolize. Research can lead you to find multiple unexpected names that might suit your brand.
4) Look for feedback on the names you have compiled
After you have gathered a list of potential names, review them and seek feedback. Members should have a discussion, which can also produce additional names. The process isn’t exactly linear, so you shouldn’t be surprised by a few backs and forth.
The process should continue until the team feels that the deliberation is complete. All possible names should then be voted on by each member.
It’s also as important to seek feedback from potential customers. Your clients should give views on their favorite concept, preferred names under this concept, as well as the top three names in all categories.
You might find out that the name chosen by the potential customers is not the most popular among your team members. The team should make its decision, but the opinion of the customer should be given more weight.
Tips for Improving Your Product Naming Strategy
Here are a few tips you can use to optimize your product naming exercise:
Give the name enough time to grow on you
One of the most common mistakes companies make is expecting that they will instantly fall in love with the name. The title you settle for could be unexpected, which is why you should be patient with it.
Remember that the name will evolve, and you’ll start acquiring other associations that give it meaning and depth. For example, the naming of Google seemed odd at first but has now evolved to stand as a household name. The only thing that should matter so much is whether the name is going to have the right kind of impact on your audience.
Choose a name that people can use
The most significant success for a product title is to become integrated into everyday language that your customers use. If you want your naming to be iconic, you need to choose a word that fits well in a sentence and is easy to remember.
Avoid unnecessarily long words, and if you have to use them, try to use abbreviations. For instance, KFC sits naturally in a sentence compared to Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Choose a name that reflects your business
Your product name should mesh with your business branding so that you can build recognition.
Also, even if you’re just building a small local brand, make sure the name translates well in every country. You never know how far the company can grow, and you wouldn’t want a name that is controversial in another language. Save yourself the embarrassment and the time you’d spend rebranding by thoroughly checking this.
Expect the product to evolve
Don’t get too attached to the product name you select, because the name is one of the things in business that evolve quite often. You’re likely to learn more about the company you are creating or the experience the product gives users sometime after you launch it. You might even find out in the future that your product can reach a broader market if you change the name. This is why you need to become flexible and expect change.
The process of selecting the right product brand name might seem challenging. The above tips will equip you with knowledge on how to choose the best title for your brand. If you follow the right naming conventions, you’ll most likely end up with a list of titles that will be on people’s lips.
Additionally, you’ll find out that after you have already named a product or two, you’ll find it easier to come up with more names in the future. Give the process the time it deserves. Be patient, brainstorm, and gather opinions from different avenues to come up with the most ideal title.