The Ultimate Guide to Naming Your Product: The Dos and Don’ts

The Dos and Don’ts

Get it right from the start with these essential tips for naming your product.

Let’s face it, coming up with a catchy product name is hard work, and not all of us are capable of it. For people to buy your products, they not only have to find them useful but also have the product names deeply seared into their brains. Think of Xerox and Google. These household names have become so ubiquitous that people use them to describe the act of photocopying or searching for information online. 

If you want your company to reach anywhere close to that level of notoriety, a good product name is absolutely essential to capture the essence of your brand and resonate with your target audience. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of product names, the pros and cons of each, and provide tips for creating a product name that will make your brand stand out.

Types of product names

When it comes to naming a product, there are a variety of strategies that companies can employ to make their brand stand out. There are four common naming conventions that you can pick from:

  • Descriptive names: These are names that clearly communicate what the product does. For instance, a name like Ring Video Doorbell tells you everything you need to know about the product.  
  • Suggestive names: These are names that hint at the product’s capabilities without being too explicit. A prime example of this would be the design tool Canva. The name suggests a connection to the word “canvas”, and, by extension, to art, but doesn’t give away exactly what you can do with it.
  • Arbitrary names: These names have nothing to do with the product but are rather a product of emotional reasoning. Think of Apple’s Lisa computer, for instance. The product’s name was in no way associated with technology, and yet, Apple decided to go that route simply because Lisa was the name of Steve Jobs’ daughter
  • Fanciful names: These are completely new words created by a company to name its products. There are a wide variety of products that fall under this category, such as Polaroid photographs, Pepsi soda and Kleenex wipes. 

Tip 1: Research your product market 

As with any aspect of product development, naming should also be backed by research. You need to get a sense of your audience base to see what kind of name would appeal to them. For instance, while the older age groups might find descriptive names better, the younger ones prefer more out-there names. It is also a good idea to look at what competing products are named and what your prospective customers think of them. 

Tip 2: Make the name memorable

Once you have all your research in place, it’s time to ideate. During the ideation process, you must consider a wide range of factors like how your product name looks written down and when spoken. If the name is hard to read or write, customers would struggle to look it up or pronounce it. At the same time, your product name shouldn’t be boring—it should be catchy and cool. For example, the exercise enhancement drink Gatorade’s name calls back to “alligator”, displaying the company’s unique attitude. 

Tip 3: Aim for scalability 

Another important part of naming a product is to make sure that the name is scalable. Sometimes, a name that sounds creative in one language doesn’t translate well to another‌. 

A good example of this is what happened with Ford’s subcompact car Pinto, which failed to do well in Brazil because the word means tiny male reproductive organs in Spanish. To avoid landing in the same situation as Ford, you should make sure a diverse team is involved in naming the product. 

Tip 4: Avoid people’s names

Naming your product after a famous person or your company’s founder may seem like a good idea, but it can backfire if that person has done something wrong (or does so in the future) or has a negative reputation. It can negatively affect your product’s market reputation. 

A good example of a product named after a person failing is Ford’s Edsel, which was a discontinued car division marketed by the company from 1958 to 1960. There were a lot of reasons why the car failed—including production problems and bad design—but the name definitely was one of them. Edsel had been named after the son of Ford’s founder Edsel Ford who (along with his father) is a known Nazi sympathizer

Tip 5: Get customer feedback

Finally, once you have come up with a couple of name options, you can give your customers a survey asking them to rate different name options on factors like creativity and trustworthiness. This survey will help you gauge the opinions and preferences of your target audience so that you can pick one that resonates the most with them. 

Once you have selected a name, it is crucial to ensure that it is legally available and does not infringe on any existing trademarks. This will prevent any legal issues and help you establish a strong brand identity in the long run. 

In today’s fast-paced and competitive market, naming your product right can make all the difference. By following these tips, you can create a name that stands out and resonates with your target audience. Remember to do your research, make it memorable, aim for scalability and avoid using people’s names. With a well-thought-out name, your product can make waves in the market and establish a strong brand identity.

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Header image courtesy of Envato.


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