5 Things to Consider When Naming a Product


There’s a lot to think about when you’re picking a name for a product. As well as finding a word or phrase that’s memorable and appealing for your brand’s audience, you’ve also got to consider a lot of practical issues.

Clearly, there’s more to the task than brainstorming a long list of catchy words and phrases and picking out your favourite.

So what else do you need to take into account? Here’s my round up.

1. Who are your audience?

To find the right name for your product, you’ve got to know your audience, and what appeals to them.

Personally, I like to gather this info together in short ‘pen portraits’ of my target customers that include:

  • Demographics - their age, gender, location, income, profession, family

  • Their values and priorities - what’s most important to them?

  • How they spend their time

  • What brands they already have relationships with (include your own brands, competitors’, and other totally different products you know they like)

  • What media they watch, read and listen to

  • Who their heroes are

  • Any needs, wants or problems that they have (the ones that your product will meet or solve)

2. How do you want them to feel about your product?

This is about the emotions, images and associations your product name will conjure up.

Make a list of the top three to five qualities or associations you’d like the name to carry. For example:

  • Energy and dynamism

  • Association with night time

  • A cosmopolitan feel

(TIP: After brainstorming your title ideas later, you can use this list to help you shortlist ideas by giving each potential name a score for how well it reflects each quality.)

3. What is your key message?

Ask yourself what the most important thing your audience needs to feel, think or know about your product is.

Write it down in one phrase or sentence.

(TIP: Highlight the two or three key words in this sentence. Later you can come up with a list of synonyms and associated words for each, which will give you a whole load of ‘starter’ words to play around with when you’re brainstorming title ideas)

4. How (and where) will you use the name?

List out all the ways you might use the name in your marketing.

Now note down anything you you might need to consider to pre-empt any problems on each channel. For example:

  • How does your proposed name look next to your company name/ strapline/ subheading/ sub-brand names? Any repeated words or conflicting messages?

  • How does it look without spaces (as it might appear in a web domain, social handle or hashtag)? Does this create any unintentional new phrases? Any awkward double letters butting up against each other?

  • What comes up if you google it? Will you get a lot of site bounces from people looking for something very different?

  • Does it use words that people often misspell, or confuse the meaning of?

  • Does it contain special characters or punctuation that might get left out, or cause problems in any software/online channels that your company uses?

  • Does it have any other meanings or unfortunate associations? (Urban Dictionary can be a very useful tool for checking this)

  • Are there any trademarks that might stop you using it in your target markets? (Check Naming Matters or Gov.uk’s trademark search)

  • Are the related web domains and/or social media handles available? (Check social media sites, plus 2 or 3 domain registration services like 123-reg, Name.com or Squarespace)

  • What about hashtags? Could there be conflicts with any that exist already?

  • Are the related company names available? Check the Companies House database.

5. How are you going to try it out?

What’s your process for deciding on a name? It’s best to figure that out before you start brainstorming. You might want to:

  • Present your shortlisted names to clients/colleagues/trusted associate(s) to get their thoughts

  • Test them out with your audience in some market research surveys, online polls, user testing sessions or focus groups

Got all those answers? Then it’s time for the fun part: get brainstorming!

To talk more about how to find the perfect name for your product, or find out more about my branding and naming services, drop me a line.