Branding and Naming

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How do I name a product?

Branding and Naming

One of the most pivotal decisions to make about a product is its name. Some brand managers and creative marketing professionals even make a full-time specialty out of product and company naming.

The best product names are those that show an image rather than telling people what they're supposed to think. The San Francisco agency Igor has a blog entry contrasting the names of two electric utilities: Integrys and Spark. Which one would you rather see on your bills?

A simple product-naming process includes these steps:

  1. Gather all the information you can about the product itself, its target market, their needs and desires, the brands they already buy, and the music, movies, and ideas that mean something to them.
  2. Make a list of appealing but accurate terms that describe the product.
  3. Indulge in a playful session in which you allow your mind to free-associate around those adjectives and the things you know about your audience. It might be beneficial to do this as a group brainstorming session, which should include everyone who's going to have a say in the naming decision. For this session, turn off your inner critic and record every idea, no matter how silly-sounding.
  4. Take all your lists and winnow the candidates down to four or five.
  5. Look up the candidates on the Internet to get a quick sense of what is already being used and what connotations the word or words might have. (Be sure to also check the meaning in languages other than English, if people who speak those languages are part of your target market. The classic horror story is that of Chevrolet, which marketed the Nova in Spanish-speaking countries, not realizing the name meant "doesn't go.")
  6. You may need to repeat earlier steps to try to come up with the perfect idea.
  7. Once you have a final candidate or two, use a trademark attorney to research whether trademarks already exist for them.



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Patricia Walters-Fischer