How to Name Your Product

June 27, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
-William Shakespeare’s (1595) Romeo and Juliet,

“Shakespeare was wrong. A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet . . . which is why the single most important decision in the marketing of perfume is the name.”
– Al Ries and Jack Trout

Research from the business world and from the scientific community gives evidence towards the fact that a name of a product is very important. It is important in the decision making process of the consumers. The best product names are so effective they become the standard (an eponym) by which all similar products are named.

So how do you name a product:

Framing: Researchers have found that if they take a generic product, and “frame” it towards the positive or the negative by simply changing the words on how they describe the product to the consumer it changed the behavior of the consumer. Based solely on words the consumer chose one over the other. The one that was chose most was framed in a positive way. The consumer felt a sense of gain from this.

Categories: A product name can also invoke the emotions of the consumer. Consumers typically categorize everything internally based on their previous experiences. If your product name has a positive association with it, it will be put into the positive category in the consumers mind. If it carries a negative name, it will automatically be classified in the negative category. Taking the time to test the responses from consumers will give you an idea of how it is categorized by the target consumers.

Color: Color has been found to influence people, consciously and unconsciously. Colors can elicit different moods and affect responses. It has also been found that when a name is generic is it less effective than if it is fancy, such that “mocha colored cake” would be more appealing than “brown cake”.

When you name your product, it would benefit to test the above factors.

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8 responses to “How to Name Your Product

  1. Vera Devera Reply

    I moonlight for Ghetto Gourmet ( just published an article that delves deeper than the WSJ, LA Times and Time did – check it out); a social dining experience that started in Oakland and has outposts as far as NYC. Our logo is a skull topped with a chef’s hat and crossbones of spoon and fork. It looks like the GG logo is “poison”, but quite frankly it’s fun and has even been pirated by other underground restaurants. The logo is white on black but often, it’s reversed to make printing business cards easier. The name has evoked hate mail but the word of mouth has made us media darlings. I think we passed the naming test in the beginning, but now that we’re less subversive, less ghetto and more visible, is it time we retool the name?

  2. John Diep Reply

    Very insightful information Noah. Naming is marketing. Naming is branding. It’s not an easy task when it comes to naming a product or even a website (especially when the majority of the name you like (domain) is taken). Take gadget reviews for example, a pretty generic topic. Gadget reviews are everywhere online. For some reason, we are tune into these two gadget review blogs the most – Gizmodo and Engadget. I am not sure if the naming invokes emotion, but the naming itself is enough to peak my interest to want to read about it. Naming is everything.

    Kevin Rose’s new web services called Honestly, I think the idea is great. But, I am NOT convinced on the naming of it.


  3. Andre Nosalsky Reply

    Vera, you bring on a good point. (nice write up too) This is a very delicate matter, because you don’t want to change too much and alienate your existing clients. It’s a multistep process that should start with the perception of the brand that currently exists in the minds of the clients. One strategy that works for companies, such as rock bands, that need to maintain a “rebel” type of brand is to systemize the business, but maintain the current image. This allows customers/clients to have a consistent experience. Once you do systemize, you might want to franchise. Franchising will allow the idea to spread with win/win for everybody.

    Good luck with it, it looks like an awesome idea.

  4. R Tolar Reply

    Noah that is an interesting slant on how to name a ‘Site’ , ‘Product’, or anything for that matter. It gives me something to work with. I have a terrible time coming up with a name that fits just about anything I’m trying to name.

    Here’s an example; I named my son “Junior”. How’s that for original. :^}

    Anyhow, you have an excellent approach.