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15 Tips To Demystify Product Naming

So you’ve developed a new product for your technical industry - spent hundreds of hours and undergone multiple rounds of revisions and beta tests, figured out your pricing and distribution model – and now it’s time to bring it to market.

15 Tips to Demystifying Product Naming

The initial step towards launching your product is to name it. You’ve invested significant time creating it and it’s your baby -- not just any name will do. It needs to be memorable, findable on search engines, unique in your industry, and relevant to your target audience.

So where do you begin? First you need to collect ideas. Gather a cross-functional team from across your organization of at least 3, but no more than 10, to brainstorm name ideas. After the initial brainstorm, have a few decision makers come together and decide on the top 5-8 names. Then take those 5-8 names and create an online survey that you can distribute to your internal key decision makers. From there, you can reduce the options down to the top 3, and vet each one out and make final recommendations.

The following 7 tips will help guide you through items to discuss when narrowing down the choices to a final product name.

  1. Determine a naming strategy that you will follow for this and future product names. Two primary strategies exist in the realm of product naming: highly descriptive and suggestive. The former will roll under your company brand and will not be trademarked, the latter may be stand-alone brands or can be linked with your corporate brand and can be trademarked. An example of a descriptive naming strategy is Apple, with its iPod, iPhone, and iPad products. OXO is an example of a suggestive naming strategy with names like GoodGrips, Touchables, and SteeL. While less descriptive than Apple’s product names, the OXO product names still strongly suggest what distinguishes the different line.
  2. Use short, descriptive names that are generally three or fewer syllables.
  3. Make it easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. Italics and capitalization of different letters make it difficult for people unfamiliar with the product name to remember how to spell it correctly.
  4. If the product will be launched and used globally, consider the implications of the product’s name in other countries.
  5. Avoid naming a product by an acronym that has to be spelled out in order for the public to understand the mark.
  6. Research potential product names by performing online searches for third-party use of an identical or similar name, mark, or description used in connection with similar products
  7. If you plan to apply for a trademark, visit www.uspto.gov to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for third-party applications or registrations of a similar designation for a similar product. If the application or registration has been abandoned or listed as dead, know that the third party still may have rights, where you would want someone in the legal field to review.

Evaluate the potential names with specificity and objectivity. It’s not enough to say, “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” Use the following eight categories to understand why a name will or won’t work.

1. Appearance – Is it easy to spell? And how will the name look in a logo, ad, billboard, etc.

2. Distinctive – How different is the name from the relevant product competition?

3. Depth – Names with depth have layers of meaning and association, and keep surprising you with new ideas with each layer.

4. Energy – Does the name have life to it? Can it carry an ad campaign on its shoulders?

5. Positioning – How relevant is the name to the positioning of the product?

6. Sound – This is two-fold – how does the name sound and how easily is it spoken to the customer? Word of mouth is a big part of marketing, but if people aren’t comfortable saying the name, the word won’t get out.

7. Trademark – This is easy, is it available? It’s either likely available, may be available, or not available.

8. Web Domain Name – Again, this is easy, is the URL available? If so acquire it before someone else does. If not, determine if the URL is available for your option 2 or option 3 name; or find out who owns the URL and see if you can acquire it from them.

After you have chosen a name for your product. It’s time to launch it. Smart Product Launches for Engineers provides a framework for how to plan, position, and implement a marketing activity plan that generates buzz and drives leads for your new product.

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