Choosing a Great Product Name

nameOn my way home a couple nights ago, I spotted a gas station with the worst name for a gas station I’d ever seen: Firezone. Seriously, who names their product after the worst possible disaster it could produce? I’d swear their logo actual has a reference to an explosion in it as well. This led me to think: What are the elements of a name that define whether a product name will be great and what makes it fail miserably?

Types of names

  • Descriptive “ascribe to the product a characteristic, feature, ingredient, appearance or geographic location.”
  • Suggestive “suggest or hint at a product’s key features or benefits”
  • Arbitrary “do not describe a product or literally suggest a product meaning”
  • Fanciful “are built on descriptive or suggestive words that have meaning for the target market”

Quality factors

Several factors determine the quality of a product name, which apply in a different degree to each of the product name types listed above.

Is the name easy to read?

In some fonts or handwritten notes it is really hard to differentiate several characters. Examples are I (uppercase i) and l (lowercase L), 0 (zero) and O (uppercase o). Try avoiding the following characters in your product names to ensure maximum readability: 1 I i l 0 O o u v.

Is the name easy to pronounce?

Certain combinations of syllables are easier to pronounce than others. Especially when discussing your product with others (for example your support staff on the phone with your clients or as management in a meeting etc), it has clear benefits to have a name for your product that is easy to pronounce. Compare the following two names for an example: Bazoo and Nxyzqtler, which one would you prefer?

Is the name easy to remember?

Using techniques such as alliteration (Lazy Little Lions), assonation (More Core Shore) or abbrevations (3M instead of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) makes it easier for people to remember the name of your product. Remembering the name of your product make it easier for them to find the product again via a search engine or refer it to a friend.

Is the name easy to type?

Try to avoid using non-ascii characters such as ü, ó, â in your name because not all people know how to create them on their keyboards. Using special charaters such as the ampersand (&), small than (<) and greater than (>) is also advised against because of their special meaning in HTML code. When taking into account mobile phones, try to minimize the usage of numbers (1-9) in your name, as these often require the switching of keyboard to enter them (for example on the iPhone).

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