Off the edge blog

Top 10 Product Naming Tips


Choosing a product name

I'm working with a client who is launching a new product next year. They know what it is, what it will do, who it's targeted at, etc. But they are having a devil of a job choosing a name for the thing.

The product does something they already do for big businesses but for a mass market. I can't say too much - secret squirrel and all that!

Obviously they've asked my opinion, and obviously I've given it to them, but I don't think they like it 'cause they are still chewing it over!

A very long shortlist

They have a long list of ideas developed through brainstorming sessions with the team. Everytime I speak to them the list seems to get longer rather than shorter.

Some of the names they've chosen include the function of the product which is not necessarily a bad thing. Some are Latin words that have unusual spellings, which is a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed.

Firstly, people will continually get the spelling wrong when they are trying to find it on-line and, secondly, it's too bloody clever by half!

My favourite was the first suggestion I heard because it's simple, short, says what it is, and reflects the proposition. Most of all I like it because I could immediately see the logo in my mind's eye and I could think of lots of ways the name could be used in marketing communications.

The client, though, hasn't warmed to it. I suspect that they think it's a bit twee. I think it's a mindset thing. They see themselves as a very sombre and professional organisation and think the name is a bit lightweight.

I think that when aiming for a mass market you can afford to loosen the corset a bit and be more relaxed.

We will see what happens!

I don't suppose they are the only people trying to name something so I thought it might make an interesting blog.

Top ten tips

So here goes, my top Ten Tips for naming a product/service or indeed business.

  1. Be distinctive - you want people to remember the name and not to confuse it with something else. Stand out from your competitors.
  2. Keep it short - people will remember and use short names. If it's too long it'll get abbreviated. 4 syllables max.
  3. Make it fit - choose a name that has some resonance with the product, the brand, the proposition.
  4. Keep it simple - is it easy to say and obvious to spell? You want people to know what it is when they hear it and easily find it when they Google it.
  5. Think comms - Can you think of lots of ways the name could be used in your marketing? Are there a range of treatments that spring to mind?
  6. Don't get sued - has it been used by someone else in a similar context or geography? Can you protect it?
  7. Don't expect love at first sight - it may not leap out at you, it might need to grow on you. Let your love grow!
  8. Expect evolution - the name, how it's communicated and what it means to the market will evolve over time. Be prepared for that.
  9. Google it - is the url available? What else comes up?
  10. Test it - When you have a shortlist, ask people in your target market what they think.

Finally, don't forget that while the name is important it doesn't define the brand. The brand is defined by a whole host of factors including how well the product works, how easy you are to buy from and deal with, how you act, what you say, how people feel about you, what they expect from you and many, many more factors. This is what defines the true identity of a brand. The name is just a shorthand.

Jim Hunt AuthorJim Hunt is a professional marketer with many years experience in building businesses large and small. As a speaker, trainer and practitioner he aims to explain marketing theory clearly and show how it can be applied in practice to deliver better results from your marketing investment. You can connect with Jim on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Google+.


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Jim what a really useful article. I think naming a product is harder than naming a child so your blog will really help. I think the worst thing is when a customer doest know how to say it - that means they wont talk about it. These days its all about the visuals that go with or are the name so I reckon you covered everthing.
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