How to Name Products So Customers Want Them

Zusammenarbeit im Team im Konferenzraum vom Büro

What’s in a name? Basically everything.

I can remember sitting down with my husband, trying to pick out a name for our firstborn. Ones that he loved brought up bad memories of bratty elementary classmates. Others that I mentioned reminded him of annoying ex-girlfriends. Names trigger how we remember who, where, or what we encounter. And names are how we identify a brand.

Selecting the best name for a product, much like anything else, can be difficult. Names are associated with stories and histories, so ensuring your product is tied to a positive one is the first step in choosing a successful product tag.

Glenn White, VPE of Product Strategy at Brandwatch, lists these five rules when it comes to naming anything: “One, it should be readable and writeable. Two, it should be unique. Three, it should be short, punchy, and memorable. Four, it should look cool written down and sound cool to say. And five, it should evoke an emotion, feeling, or idea.”

White’s rules about product naming are basic. Names should be customer-friendly, easy, and memorable. But with so many companies already doing this, how does one rise above the competition and ensure their product is chosen over another, based on name alone? Here are a few tips to consider:

Use real words. When trying to stand out, the temptation is to misspell a word in some cutesy way, hoping for a playful spin. Often, this works against you. Instead, Mike Trigg, COO of HighTail, advises, “Don’t do it. You’re just making things harder for your potential customers to pronounce it, spell it, and remember it.” Trigg offers this suggestion instead, “By taking familiar words and applying them in unconventional ways, a name will stand out.”

Talk it out. When I finish writing an article, I read it through out loud. This helps me catch any sentences or phrases that just don’t make sense. The same should be done with a product name. Repeat it aloud. Use it in a sentence. See how it rolls off your tongue. If it’s not easy to pronounce, or if others don’t really understand what you’re saying, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

Think about appearance. How will your product name look not only on signs, but also on a website or catalog listing? Avoid using lengthy phrases. Things that cannot fit neatly within a sign or be skimmed while browsing a catalog are probably not the best for your next marketing tactic.

Consult the buyer persona. Ah, the ever-honored buyer persona. Once again, consulting the minds of those whom the product directly serves is critical—mandatory, even. If it’s not something your shoppers will gravitate toward, it may be time to nix that name. Not sure what your target market will say? Ask them. Before officially releasing something with a brand new name, make sure it will work by doing a few test runs and asking for feedback.

Let it go. Sometimes, as much as you’re attached to a specific idea or name, it’s just not working. No matter how you try to twist it, if it’s a bad name—walk away.

Now that you have the tools you need, what will your product’s name be?