When something has a name, it has value and an identity.
A baby becomes ‘Jonathan,’ a cat becomes ‘Fluffy’… Friday night with the kids at grandma’s becomes ‘date night.’
With a name, the generic becomes specific. Filled with meaning.
Marketing companies know the power of creating the right product names, which is why millions of dollars are poured into branding.
Get the name and image right and your product is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and they slip into your everyday life. Your wife doesn’t ask you to get tissues from the store, she asks for Kleenex, your son doesn’t ask for acetaminophen, he wants Tylenol.
And sometimes a name skyrockets the price.
In the UK, common painkillers such as acetaminophen cost around 16 pence from the supermarket.
Choose a ‘famous’ product with the same ingredients (and effects) and you can be paying 1000% more.
How product names increase value (ethically)
I want to make it clear that taking time to create a name for your products or services isn’t about ‘selling the sizzle’ when there’s no steak. It’s not about dressing up a mediocre product to look like it’s something better (what we British refer to as “all fur coat and no knickers…”)
It’s for your customer’s benefit as well.
1. It helps your customer choose what’s right for them.
A name acts as a shortcut. When you’re browsing for a film on Netflix, knowing if the film is an action, drama, or thriller helps you choose something you will enjoy for your preferences.
Weight Watchers name their different meal plans to help people choose which one they’re most likely to enjoy for example: Filling and Healthy, Lower Carb, or Mediterranean.
A descriptive, vivid name helps your customer understand quickly just what it is you have to offer.
2. It builds confidence in your brand.
Let’s say you want to improve the energy efficiency of your home so you’re looking into insulation and other energy-saving methods. You approach 2 different companies.
Company One tells you on the phone:
“One of our guys will come round and see what you need doing and we’ll send you a quote.”
Company Two takes a different approach:
“A technician will visit and do a full Home Energy Audit. It’s completely free and it assesses where you may be losing money based on a 25-point checklist.”
Which one builds more trust?
I want to reiterate, this isn’t just about giving fancy names to something. It’s not like changing your resumé from “Shopping-Cart Pusher” to “Logistical Shopping Receptacle Technician”
People will see through that in an instant.
In the above example Company One and Two may even have the same process, but Company Two communicate it better:
- It’s specific (an audit)
- It contains a benefit (identifying ways to stop losing money)
- It’s thorough (25 points in the checklist)
Creating product names that sell
Coming up with a product name is a creative process and as with any type of creativity, there are many different ways to get to the end results.
You might find the perfect product name comes to you in the shower, or while walking in the country. There are no definitive rules for creating a product name, but I can give you a framework to make it easier to come up with names that are not only creative, but importantly, communicate the value of what you offer.
The following is a simple process that lets you pull those creative, naming ideas out of your head and onto the paper. I love to turn the writing process into something practical and easy to apply.
It starts with a very simple table like the one below:
To illustrate the process, let’s walk through a simple example. Say you’re a business providing IT and network services to businesses. You make sure that your client’s computers and networks are all running as they should, that they’re secure and that there are no bugs in the system.
We start by filling in the simple details of the first column.
In this first column, try to be as matter-of-fact as possible.
Don’t be tempted to ‘marketing-ize’ your language. Use straight-forward terms and imagine that you’re not trying to sell anything at this stage, you’re just trying to describe it in its most simple terms.
Now we move onto the next column and this is where you can start to be less literal and more creative, while still working closely to what you do.
A useful tool to use here is Thesaurus.com. Think of a word and then go hunting for synonyms.
Populate this box with as many different words you can think of and highlight any that stand out to you.
Next we take a move a little further away from the literal and more into the creative sphere by looking for parallels.
I mentioned before that your product name can act as a powerful hook if you use something your customer is already familiar with.
So for column 3 I want you to ask yourself
What else is [insert words from column 2]?
This is where you want to start thinking outside that proverbial box.
For example, let’s look at the top row,
What else is SECURE?
A padlock? A vault? Barbed wire? A bodyguard?
At this stage, don’t throw anything out.
Don’t assume anything is too outlandish. It’s much better to have lots of ideas to whittle down than not enough to play with.
In this example we might already start putting names together for our service:
Your Business Bodyguard: Complete IT and Network Support
Safety Lock Systems: Protecting All your IT and Network Needs
The final column is to expand our creativity even more with some guided focus.
I want you to go think of even more imagery around the words expand in column 2, but instead of just free-thinking, think about other industries and environments.
There are many different ones you can think about, but here are a handful for this exercise:
- Entertainment and leisure
- The animal kingdom
- The environment and landscapes
- The military
The fitness industry has long used the military term ‘bootcamp’ and no longer is the word ‘blueprint’ owned only by architects and engineers.
So step into another world and think about any other imagery or characters that spring to mind. For example:
Now as I mentioned, this grid isn’t meant to give you a definitive title for your product, but it will give you a guided process for creating a rich variety of terms that are:
- Communication shortcuts
- Familiar to your customer
Which gives you a strong starting point to think about naming your product or service.
So what might we have in this instance?
Stronghold Systems: Secure Protection for Your Business IT
Lion Tech Support: The Power and Speed Behind Your Business IT Network
Combat Quicksand: Replacing Sluggish and Problem-Prone IT Systems
Tech Concierge: Your 24 Hour Business IT Support
We could have easily used words and ideas from columns 2 and 3 as well. The idea is to help you see at-a-glance creative titles and labels to help you communicate the value of your product … and make it irresistible to your prospects and customers.
Editor’s note: Looking for a business name? Take a look at the posts here: