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“… But Names Will Never Hurt Me!”

You know how the old rhyme goes — "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!".  Unfortunately not so in the world of marketing.   Wendy has a short post on naming products over on her blog.  Her rules:

1. Tell something about the product benefits,
2. Be easy to pronounce, spell, and remember,
3. Speak to the target audience (not what you like)
4. Be able to extend across future products (ie. so you can leverage the brand)
5. Be able to be legally protected.

One more thing to remember is that there is a difference between naming a product and naming a feature.  A product implies brand, and longevity.  It’s okay for a product name to be a little fanciful, and perhaps evocative of what the product does.  The exact opposite is true of a feature name.  A feature name needs to explicitly describe what the feature does in language that’s unambiguous enough for anybody to understand.  If it’s not, you’ll be investing in documentation writers and technical support people to explain to customers how your product works after they’ve purchased it.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Mike McDerment May 3, 2006, 9:33 am

    2ndSite learned this one the hard way…

    For the past four months we have been undergoing a re-brand. We are releasing it mid May along with a lengthy case study in hopes that we can spare other start-ups the pain of having to switch things around part way through the race.

    That said, your list is a great start. I might add that you want to be able to get you .COM domain name and that it should be fun to say. I'd also add my personal favourite truism of good names…it should be one or two syllables and use (ideally) two harsh consonants (i.e. the letter B, D, K, Q, etc)…

    For what it is worth, the more constraints you have during the naming process the better. Brainstorm without restriction, but when it comes time to choose, use the constraints to help you select the final name…constraints are a life saver at that point in the process. Also, budget more time than you think to come up with a name…it deserves the attention. One of our advisors explained to us the Proctor & Gamble will spend 10% of year one revenue designing the brand…bit of an eye opener…

  • Alec May 3, 2006, 2:38 pm

    All great suggestions Mike. And when you're done with all that, then test it with the people that you want to appeal to!

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