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Complete Guide to Naming Your Product
Hey, I’m Ashley (Branding Expert) and I’m going to guide you through how to create the perfect product name.
Why is getting your product name right so important? The ideal product name should help increase sales, more than that though, it should develop and evolve your brand. It is an opportunity to inject creative and dynamic description that appeals and engages your target market, simultaneously grabbing attention and evoking a positive emotional response. A good product name is foremost informative and should in some way reflect the personality behind your brand identity.
A simple name though, misses out on a lot of potential for brand development. For example, a luxury chocolate company could name their chocolate something like, ‘Double Dark’, but wouldn’t it be much more enticing if they named it something like ‘Darker than Night’? This is still descriptive, but it holds more interesting connotations, it implies there is something different, mysterious, sensuous even about there product. Companies that do this well, who are engaging and creative with their product names find it easier to create a loyal returning customer base.
This Product naming guide will help you think about much more than just the name, we’ll look at your Brand Goals, Target Market, Demographic Interests, Analyze Competitors Names, Brainstorm Ideas and get Product Name inspiration.
What Makes a Great Product Name?
There are many aspects to consider when developing a great product name, below we’ve outlined everything you’ll want to know during the process.
Firstly, your main concern is that it sells your product. To understand whether your product name will do that you need to step into your target audiences shoes and ask yourself: Does the name stand out? If you are different, have a particular USP, you want your product to sound different, use the product name to focus on exactly what it is that makes it special.
Does it inform what the product is, does, or how it relates to previous products and your brand? A consumer is obviously much more likely to buy something when they know what it is. If you choose a completely random name then you have to rely on your brand identity to inform and persuade people to buy. If you’re a big brand that makes cars or computers, like Ford, or HP, then this isn’t so much a problem, but if you’re smaller, and people’s first exposure to your brand is going to be through the named product, then it benefits you to have an enticing, informative name.
Does it instil brand confidence? Your brand and product should work together synonymously to promote and build your brand identity, and in so doing ensure brand confidence and loyalty which will help your business grow and future products sell.
The Difference Between a Business Name and a Product Name
A business name and product name should work together with synergy, meaning both should help support and build the profile of the other.
There are a few interesting examples where this is done so effectively that the boundaries between the product and the brand are almost inseparable. Google for example. The brand, the business, is Google. Their main product is Google Chrome. However, Google do a whole lot more than just Chrome, they run a huge variety of other products: Google Adwords, Google Docs, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Gmail. These are all products functioning under the umbrella of the Google brand.
However, there are clear distinctions between a product name and a business name. A product name should be more informative, focused around selling the product, whilst adhering to and supporting the brand identity. A business name however is a brand built through consumer perceptions, expectations, and experiences with all products or services under a brand umbrella.
Google then is a short, brandable name. It has no real meaning, but relates to the idea of the brand, the name being derived from a googol, which is the second largest number. The product Maps, for example, describes the products function.
Changing a Product Name
As you develop your product you will release new versions and you have one of two basic strategies to choose from when naming these.
One, stick with the same name. Car companies do this fairly often, the Ford Focus for example comes in many different forms. It started life as a basic hatchback, but now prowls the streets as everything from sports car to sedan.
The second strategy is to come up with a completely new name for this new version. The Nintendo Wii is an excellent example of this with the N64 and GameCube coming before it.
When customers see the continuation of the name they expect the product to be quite similar to the previous model. The most recent Ford Focus comes with the following suffixes: SEL, Titanium, RS, Se Sedan. Each of these suffixes indicates minor changes and differences between the products. The continuation of the name is an assurance of quality. More than that though, customers expect the product to have improved features.
When a customer sees a new name they expect a brand new and different product, with brand new features. The product is perceived to be riskier than a next generation product, however, it may be more rewarding, for example be of a higher quality, or have a more satisfying user experience.
PlayStation for example, use brand name continuation. People expect a product that is largely the same, but better, with a few new features. Nintendo in comparison have released different consoles, with different names. The new names for each console, eg. N64 vs. Wii mean that people expect completely different user experiences, which they got. The name change signalled a complete and dramatic departure from the older generation consoles.
10 Top Tips on How to name a Product
In this section, I’ll go over a few tips and best practises for naming a product.
- 1. Describe the product: The easiest way to name a product is to give it a name that accurately describes what the product does. Some companies have done this so well that their names become synonymous with the product itself. For example, Bubble Wrap. Bubble wraps was invented by the Sealed Air Company, and is a product trademarked by them. Jet Ski is another one. This is actually the branded name, if it’s not made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, it’s actually just a personal watercraft.
- 2. Make it easy to spell and say: If a product is hard to spell it will be difficult to find online. A lot of the time people don’t buy products right away. They see something consider it, research, and then purchase. However, if they can’t remember how to spell the name they can’t look it up online, and they won’t buy it. Equally, if it’s hard to pronounce, they won’t be able to tell anybody about it, so you eliminate the possibility of your product growing by word of mouth.
- 3. Create a compound word: By combining two words relevant to your product you can create a creative unique compound word that is catchy and accurately represents your product. One great example of this is the Minipresso, by Wacaco. The Minipresso is a mini handheld espresso machine. The name combines the words mini, and espresso.
- 4. Make it Memorable: Longer names are harder to remember. A product that everyone forgets won’t sell as well as one that instantly grabs people’s attention and sticks in their minds. There are a few techniques to make a memorable name, like using alliteration. Paypal is a great example of this. The alliteration of the plosive sound ‘p’ sticks in your head. There are many different alternatives to Paypal, however, few of them stick in your mind like that one. It’s also a descriptive name, which helps you understand what the service is, it makes making payments easier, friendlier.
- 5. Think Metaphorically: Getting a unique name that describes your product can be difficult unless your product is completely unique. Think about how you could describe your product metaphorically. Ford Mustang for example. A Mustang is a fast free-roaming horse of the American west. By naming their car a Mustang, Ford are capturing the essence of that word and relating it to their product through metaphorical association.
- 6. Acronyms: An acronym can be a great way of getting a long descriptive product name down to a short memorable name. However, you have to be a little careful with this and ensure that by making it into an acronym you don’t make it impossible to remember. For example, no one’s going to remember an acronym like RDPEF. Keep its short, and preferably make it into a fun sounding non-word like ABBA.
- 7. Use a Verb: Using a verb to describe your product can help make it memorable. For example the iPod touch, or the iPod Shuffle. The verbs, to touch and to shuffle describe the USP of the products and make them easily memorable. You can also do the reverse, by making your product name into a verb, For example, Google, has become the verb for running an internet search. This works best with a product name that doesn’t already have meaning. Think Skype or Shazam.
- 8. Think about the Emotional Response: A good product name will create an emotional response in the consumer. Huggies for example. They are diapers, but the name suggests they are more than that. The name evokes a positive emotional response. Most people like hugs, people like hugging cute things, like babies. The name makes what is essentially quite a gross thing into a cute friendly product.
- 9. Think about your Target Markets: Who are your target audiences? Why are they buying your product? Think abot what your target market would want to purchase. If you’re making an intelligent piece of tech for a very specific demographic you should probably have a clever name that would appeal to them. For example, Neospectra is a microspectrometry product aimed at the scientific development sectors of large businesses. The name is scientific and relates to the USP. This product name would be very unlikely to appeal to a B2C audience. If you can, try getting feedback from potential customers on product name ideas.
- 10. Test the name: Put the name in context. What we mean by this is what does it look like in your catalogues, on your website. Does it fit with your branding or look strangely incongruous. Say it out loud in a sentence. Does it feel and sound right?
Product Name Inspiration
Still need help developing the perfect product name? Here are a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling.
Checking for Trademarks and How to Register
When you’ve decided on a name you are going to want to register a trademark for that product name. This will stop people from copying your idea and stealing your business.
The first thing you need to do is run a trademark check. This will search the web and check that someone hasn’t already registered that name.
If they have then unfortunately you’ll have to pick your second favorite product name idea.
You can check the trademark database, and register for yours if it’s free either here with USPTO if you’re in the US, or with EUIPO if you’re in Europe.
Online trademark registration costs between $275 and $325 and normally takes up to 6 months to get a response, registering as soon as possible is in your best interest. They ask for information such as the product category, date of first use and about any specific design components that you want to protect.
If you’re really unsure, or you think your trademark might be contested, you can talk to an appropriate lawyer beforehand to get advice on the process.
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