One of the most important steps in making a successful product is coming up with a name for it. Naming is also one place where a lot of people get stuck. They want the perfect name, and coming up with it isn’t straightforward. Here are some suggestions for getting started with the naming process.
1. Make it memorable
One of the hardest parts of naming is coming up with something that will stick in people’s minds.
In Made to Stick, Dan and Chip Heath created an acronym for making your ideas stickier, aka more memorable. These concepts can also be applied to naming. The acronym is SUCCESS, which stands for simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and story.
How simple can you make your brand or product name? Can you limit it to one to two words? Many of the most memorable brands have very short names. Take the name Chipotle for the fast and healthy Mexican food restaurant chain. It conveys the spiciness of salsa and the origin of Mexico in just one memorable word.
There are many ways to make an unexpected name. Can you surprise your customers by putting unusual things together? You could even make a fake word that’s fun to say. Look to different languages and combine words together to make something new. For example, Etsy comes from the Latin word for “and if” and the Italian word for “yes.”
A concrete name brings up sensory memories. You can hold it in your hand or easily imagine what it looks like. For example, Creme de Mint, the name of my design company, is something you can almost taste.
There are so many outlandish product names you may not think credibility matters. But it’s still important that your name be tied to your product in some way – even if they just have the same overall feel.
Take Apple, for example. At first glance, you may wonder, what does a fruit have to do with electronics? But if you look deeper, you will see the connections – apples are simple and so are Apple products. Apples are easy to eat and Apple products are easy to use. As long as your name is truly connected to your product, it will feel credible to your customers.
Before you begin brainstorming a name for your product, think about how you want potential customers to feel when they hear your product name. Do you want them to feel inspired? Excited? Comforted? Identifying the primary emotion of your brand will help guide your naming in the right direction.
Think about your favorite brands and products. What stories do you associate with their names? Take juice company Tropicana. Their name tells a story of freshness and tropical places. Even if you’re living in a cold place, when you drink a glass of Tropicana orange juice, you get a taste of warm places full of orange groves.
2. Use empathy
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of empathy in creating a product and packaging. The same principle applies to naming your product. Make sure that you understand your customers so that you can come up with a name that resonates with them.
For example, Mark Zuckerberg originally made Facebook for college students. He named it after the sheets that college freshmen received with photos and details about other students and professors. He knew they would instantly understand what Facebook was because of that association.
3. Break the rules
Often, the first name ideas that come to mind are ones that directly describe your product or service. But those are usually the most boring names. Don’t be afraid to do something different and come up with a name that doesn’t make sense at first.
For example, Zynga, the popular app company that made Words With Friends, was named after the founder’s bulldog. It has nothing to do with gaming or apps, but it is memorable.
4. Say it out loud
Hopefully, many people will be saying the name of your product as they spread the word about how great it is. Keep that in mind and make sure to think about how your name sounds when you say it out loud. Is it easy to say? Does it have a natural rhythm?
You can use writing techniques like rhyme or alliteration to help it pop. The more fun your product name it is to say, the more your future customers will want to talk about it.
5. Brainstorm lots of ideas
Be patient with yourself as you name your product. Many companies undertake long brainstorming sessions in order to come up with names that work.
Keep your brand story, feelings, and values in mind, and then write down different names until one feels right. It’s best to do this with others, so if you’re a solo business owner, find some friends to sit down with you to help you come up with a good name.
6. Narrow it down
Once you’ve brainstormed a lot of names (think 20 or more), it’s time to narrow it down. Nick Kolenda outlined a very detailed approach to the narrowing process in his blog.
He suggests you take the following into account when weeding out names:
- How many spelling variations are there? The less, the better.
- Is the URL available?
- What are possible abbreviations for your name?
- What does your name mean in other languages? Make sure it’s not something that will turn people off.
- Is the name being used elsewhere? Be certain that no one else is using your name so that potential customers don’t get confused. (Check out this post about the Trademarking process. LINK)
7. Get feedback
Once you’ve come up with a name that feels right, put it out there and get feedback. Ask people who will tell you their honest opinion about your name idea (or ideas). If people don’t “get” it or if you get negative feedback, keep brainstorming names. You will eventually hit on the right one.
8. Don’t overthink it
Don’t let difficulty in choosing a name hold you back from taking the next steps in your business. Worse case scenario, you’ll have to change your name later. But if you do, you’ll be in good company. Google was originally called BackRub. They changed their name a year later. If Google can change their name, so can you. So just choose the best name you can think of right now.
Do you have a new product you want to get out into the world? I can help you create a labeling and packaging design that helps you stand out. Contact me for more information.