The Game of the Name
How to Effectively name your Product or Business for Maximum Impact.
When it comes to marketing, one of the most important decisions you can make involves branding and naming your product. Regardless of the industry, this is an absolute essential for companies looking to maximize their success with customers. No matter how innovative and appealing a product may be – getting customers engaged starts with something as simple yet powerful as its name. By unlocking the potential within creative naming techniques combined with strategic conventions and best practices, CMO’s, marketing professionals, and executives involved in commercialization teams can experience exponential growth in lead generation and customer acquisition. In this blog post we will dive into the why's behind understanding what goes into effective product naming so that businesses can begin improving their bottom line tomorrow!
Many "naming companies" will ask you about the characteristics of your company, product, or service and pop those into an AI "name generator" that will pop out dozens if not hundreds of names. That’s a wonderful tool if you’re looking for quantity of options over quality, but it’s not creative and it doesn't take into account the necessary steps to securing your name choice. Frankly, it can be overkill. The naming process is a skill that entails understanding the whole branding process.
A true naming exercise isn't as easy as it sounds. There are several steps that, we, as product name developers need to follow:
Names need to be trademark defensible. Names should research thoroughly - among your competitors, in search engines, and within the UPTO website and should be able to withstand translation (more on that below.)
Names should be memorable and concise.
Names, if tied to online brands, should be freely available for URL domain purchases and social media pages.
Naming conventions are an important part of any business or product development. By having a clear and consistent naming convention, it will be easier to communicate clearly with customers and stakeholders about your products. Here are seven common naming categories and methods that may be used as a guide for developing product names:
1. Names based on Product or Service Characteristics: This is the most straightforward way of giving something a name. It involves choosing a name that accurately reflects what the product is and its unique features. For instance, naming a finance app “Finance Manager” makes perfect sense given the app’s purpose. It’s an obvious choice and one that doesn’t require a lot of explanation or guesswork from potential customers.
When thinking of a product or service name, consider what the product looks like and how is it built (physical properties) or how it serves your customers. How does it work, move, feel, perform, benefit the end user, support the environment? Does it fix something? Enhance something? Taste good? What is it made from? Is it organic? Synthetic? These are some of the questions you want to consider and when trying to describe your product.
Is it easy to use? What is the expected outcome? Is it considered ‘best in class’?
Names that are derived by characteristics may often take on variations including hybrids of two distinct characteristics, or hybrids of part characteristic/part arbitrary conventions-- or even from linguistic roots of foreign languages. It’s a creative and research process that goes hand-in-hand to open up limitless possibilities.
Many categories and their respective trademark SIC classifications have become saturated with similar sounding names for comparable products, e.g., a company may name their device, Better Stent while a competitor calls their device, Best Better. It is crucial for TM searches be conducted both on the USPTO.gov web site and among major search engines to check potential product name conflicts even before having legal counsel begin their own deeper dive, in case usually anything commercially existing in the market, shows up. However, only a trademark attorney with proper access to protected databases can do a more thorough search to absolutely determine the legal rights and availability of a product.
2. Names based on your Product's outcome: A great strategy is to think of the outcome users would gain from using your product or service, and then create a name that reflects that result. Examples include names like “Money Saver” or “Time Saver” which clearly indicate to potential consumers what kind of benefit they can expect from using the product in question.
3. Arbitrary Names: Get crazy! Make up a nonsensical moniker that can be easily trademarked and are not related to the product at all! This seems like the simplest way but can oftentimes be the most difficult method of product naming. Picking a word or combination of words out of the air that have no meaning or no relevance to your product seems easy but like the purpose of this naming convention, it is just that… arbitrary. The selection and decision-making process of these types of words is very selective and difficult to arrive if your naming process includes decision-by-committee.
One may even be surprised that your creative, random name cannot even exist. Wrong… try googling it even the most arbitrary name. It happens. You just may find that some 17-year-old gaming developer/genius on the other side of the world thought of the same name and attached it to a violent, blood-curdling video game. Your CEO will Google that name and down it goes... into a ball of X-Box M-Rated glory. Bottom line. Test and research every name on your list before submission to your decision team.
To make sure you protect your brand identity, create an arbitrary name for your product or service which has little to no relation to what you are really offering, but is still memorable enough for customers to remember it easily – this can also be trademarked so others won’t be able to use it without permission from you first! Think of names like Instagram, Yahoo!, Google - these all mean something completely different than their actual operations but are still recognizable by people around the world due to their timeliness and distinctiveness!
4. Vanity Names: Is your product or service based on its owner, developer, or inventor: If you want your product name to have personal meaning behind it as well as being memorable among potential buyers, try naming it after yourself or someone involved in creating it! This helps build brand loyalty, recognition among customers making them feel special knowing they bought something made by someone they know personally! Examples include Johnson & Johnson, Ford Motor Cars, Graham Crackers, and Jacuzzi.
5. Non-offensive Names: When going through your naming exercise, it is imperative that you check the foreign translation of your list of considerations. What may mean something wonderful in English, may mean something completely offensive or negative in another language.
6. The Hybrid Name: Don't be afraid to mix and mingle suffixes and prefixes to other descriptive/vanity words that might create a genuinely great name. Consider putting words together that might now mean anything to anyone but could be memorable and catch on quickly. Example like his include Thunderdome and QuickPass.
7. Acronyms: You might consider an acronym for your product or service. This is a popular naming convention for many technical or complicated products when you need memorable name but also want your customers to know exactly what your product is or what it represents. If the acronym is memorable, easy to trademark, it's a smart philosophy that can enhance your branding strategy and earn customer loyalty. Notable examples of this are: Geico (The Government Employees Insurance Company), BMW (Bavarian Motor Works), and 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.)
Now that we understand some of the reasoning and methods behind product naming, it's time to start putting them into practice! If you find yourself still struggling to come up with the perfect name for your product, service or company, remember OUR name and reach out to us.
Brand Device specializes in helping businesses overcome these types of obstacles so that they can succeed. We would love to chat with you about your unique situation and see how we can help take your brand or business to the next level. Contact us today to get started!
About Brand Device, LLC:
Brand Device merges intelligent, strategic branding solutions with powerful, imaginative and interactive creative driven by a team of leading healthcare marketing veterans with a rich history in promoting medical devices, hospital products, nutrition, health institutions, pharmaceuticals, direct-to-patient and physician practices.