Saturday, September 10, 2011

Product Naming - Do's and Don'ts

When choosing the name for a product Tom Blackett, Deputy Chairman of the Interbrand Group explains in his article on Brandchannel: "Your first duty is to the customer, because if you look after the customer, as the saying goes, the business will look after itself. This means that you must strike the right balance between explaining what the new product is about, and creating differentiation to secure future purchaser loyalty. It is the role of advertising to explain features and benefits as the first phase in any new product launch; it is the role of the name to capture this information and to provide the platform for developing brand personality. Perhaps,

April Dunford
, on Rocket Watcher, Product marketing for Startups advises that there are largely three types of names:
  1. Descriptive Names – if you have a naming convention in your company this is probably the way they are forcing you to go. The good news is that these names are easily trademarked, Google-able and people will know what your product is all about when they find you. The bad news is that “The Apple Personal Music Player” isn’t nearly as memorable or interesting as “iPod”. They are also stupidly long.
  2. Made-up Word Names – Did I mention that all of the great names are already trademarked? I recently did a brainstorming session where we came up with over 100 names and only a handful were available. This is why you get so many new companies with made up word names like Accenture and Avaya.
  3. Something in the Middle – Personally I like the middle-ground between descriptive and made up. Twitter is a great name. It gives you an idea what it’s all about without calling it ‘Short Message Group Chatting” or something else lame like that. The best names in this category are somewhat descriptive but still memorable and interesting. Therefore, you might be better served by an abstract name?"

So the product name should tell me something about the product but also be different enough so as to stand out from other products. Those who really want to go to town with understanding the steps to create the perfect product name can consult the The Igor Naming Guide which was created in order to demystify the naming process. In it you will learn what makes a product or company name great. The best thinking of Igor's experts is explained in a clear and actionable way. Igor's own naming process is presented in excruciating detail. The guide is available in two different lengths: soul-crushing (122 pages) and moderately-irritating (28 pages).

So the balance has to be maintained between, on the one hand, a made-up nam
e which requires marketing funds to educate the customer about what the product is and does, and on the other, a more descriptive name which may lack possibilities to trade-mark and could run the risk of disappearing under a plethora of look-alikes.

Now the reason I started this quest is due to catching glimpse of an advert on Polish TV for a product to treat infections in the urinary tract. It is produced from cranberries and comes in three variations: Walmark, Intensiv and Hot Drink. The product is aimed at the Eastern European market and is produced by a Czech company. For some reason best known to Walmark (does that sound a bit like Walmart?) they chose the product name of Urinal for the treatment. The product is marketed in a box and the variation 'Hot Drink' needless to say is called "Urinal Hot Drink". I'm wondering if this will sell in a market where English is the mother tongue? The company probably could not believe their luck when they managed also to secure the web-site

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