Of all the decisions made when starting a new project, probably one of the most important is selecting the right name for it: The right name can make it the talk of the web. The wrong one can doom it to obscurity and failure.
The name is memory linkage to your product and service and is an identifier that distinguishes it from all others. The product and service name needs to be readily recognized by the target consumers and instantly related to their preferences and also related to the benefits they see in the product and service. It is most important to avoid a bad brand name – a name no one can remember, a name that does not fit the product and service, or a name that reminds consumers of some other product and service. That’s why research is so vital.
The starting point for developing a new name is qualitative research. Questions that you will be looking to answer include:
- What consumer motivations related to the product and service category are most important?
- What motives and perceptions drive the decision process?
- How are each of the major competitive product names perceived?
- What do competitive names communicate?
Based on this qualitative understanding, you will learn what the communication objectives should be for the name. Qualitative research is somewhat useful in screening large numbers of possible names, and helpful in refining and developing new name possibilities.
The product-naming process typically begins with the creation of a large number of potential names. Name screening allows you to identify the best options. You want to will research each potential name’s availability on social media channels, domain name availability, trademark potential and issues, existing associations, and search engine optimization (SEO) value. The resulting 3 to 5 highest-rated names are recommended for further development and testing.
The final testing would involve placing a mockup of the new product with its potential new name in a marketing material mockup, to measure which of several possible names is most effective in stimulating interest in purchasing/adoption and using the new product amongst an internal focus group. This can also be accomplished through concept testing, where the only difference between different samples is the name. By holding all of the other variables constant, the effect of the name itself can be measured.
If you are fortunate, you will end up with two to three names that pass all the tests. Once one or more names have been selected for final evaluation, you will need to secure each option across as many channels as possible. Even if you don’t intend to be an active user of a social media platform, it is better that you own your brand name there just in case, rather than risk someone else taking it. By doing this early on, you will save yourself from having to revisit naming a second time.