How to name a product for success in 5 steps
If you’re stumped on what to name your next product, look no further than our guide. We show you exactly how to name a product for success and profitability.
Naming a new product is like naming a new human.
Get it right, and they’re destined for greatness.
Get it wrong, and they’re headed for the center of everyone’s jokes.
To help you brainstorm winning product names for your new products that you can be proud of, we’ll show you how to use an effective product naming process.
Using our five product naming tips, you can attract your target audience to your new products while earning brand recognition.
Here’s how to come up with a new name with the right messaging for profitable digital products.
5 steps to ace your product name
#1. Start by asking key USP questions
You might think nailing your product naming means striving for a catch-all name that’s clever, memorable, unique, catchy, relevant, self-explanatory, and so on -- not to mention, a great name that falls within your brand identity and messaging.
Of course, one great name can’t be all these wonderful things rolled into one. Not easily, anyway.
So, what’s the best way to capture the essence of your new product and brand identity in one new product name?
Ask similar questions that you’d ask when coming up with a unique selling proposition (USP).
In case you’re unfamiliar, your USP is a statement that makes your products and brand stand out from the rest.
Put another way, your USP is a crossroads between what your target audience wants and what your brand does well.
To align your new product name with your USP, start by answering some questions that crystalize your uniqueness, like:
- Who’s the target audience for your product?
- What problem does your product solve?
- What does your product offer that your competition’s product doesn’t?
- How can this strength be included in your product name and messaging?
This will help you think in terms of your unique brand, products, and strengths -- and, ultimately, in terms of a unique name.
This is more than likely how Stitch Fix came up with their “Your perfect style, your perfect fit” USP, for instance.
And how Nerd Wallet landed on their USP, “Make all the right money moves,” as another example.
The same concept applies to your product naming process.
The main takeaway here is to go back to the foundational roots of your unique brand. Put your target audience at the forefront of your brainstorming session before jotting down any name ideas.
There’s one more step before you -- turn the focus from your brand to your competition.
#2. Research product names that top competitors and brand names use
Your second step is to scope out your competition and make note of their product names.
- Who are your competitors?
- What similar products are they offering?
- What are the names of similar products?
Then, write down any notable traits that pop out.
For instance, is there a naming convention they follow?
Like Apple’s “i” series -- iPad, iPhone, and iPod (that last one may be a bit retro, but the name idea still applies) -- or its “Mac” series -- MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.
On top of naming conventions, consider the different product name types that other brands use, like:
- Abstract names - Starbucks, Google
- Suggestive names - Grubhub, Netflix
- Descriptive names - Whole Foods, The Container Store
These are considered different naming approaches. There are also different naming constructs to consider, like:
- Real word names - Amazon, Twitter
- Compound names - JetBlue, Microsoft
- Coined names - Kleenex, Google
And here’s a graphic perspective, so you can see how brand names intersect at various naming approach and naming construct types:
Another tip is to check out how product names change across niches.
Let’s say you’re in the SEO niche, and you’d like to name your new online course that provides SEO tips.
After a thorough search of other successful SEO entrepreneurs also offering online courses, you may stumble upon the likes of SEO For Photographers: How To Show Up #1 On Google Search!, an online course by Signature Edits.
Or Fraser McCulloch’s First 1,000 Visits SEO online course.
As you can see, both SEO courses tackle different naming styles.
Signature Edit’s product name is more descriptive and uses real words. Fraser McCulloch’s product name also uses real words, but is more suggestive.
The point of all this competitive research isn’t to overwhelm your brain with naming types and styles, though. Nor is it to cheaply snatch name ideas from your competitors.
Like our first tip, it’s simply to get your mind brewing on ideas that will marinate in your subconscious.
Then, most likely, when you least expect it, a great name that suits your specific brand and product will surface.
In fact, your subconscious is where your most brilliant and creative ideas will come from after you’ve switched off your thinking brain for a breather.
Neurons aside, though, the point is to research your competitors and consider the wide range of naming ideas and styles they use to name their products.
The slew of name ideas will help your brainstorming session -- which is our next step.
#3. Dive into a brainstorming session for potential names
As you jot down potential names for your new product, don’t hold back or get too analytical.
Instead, start your brainstorming session by thinking and writing in rapid-fire mode and letting all your name ideas spill out onto the page.
You should brainstorm by following a few helpful tips like:
- Focus on quantity - not quality at this point
- Withhold criticism - don’t judge what comes out
- Welcome unusual ideas - weird may end up being good
And while being consistent across your entire brand is an important branding tip, don’t worry too much about your name fitting in exactly with your brand.
Research reveals that new products associated with moderately incongruent names are preferred over those that are congruent or extremely incongruent.
Plus, overanalyzing whether or not a new product name fits in with your brand identity could block your creativity at the brainstorming stage.
Once you’ve completed a first round of brain dumping, walk away and take a break. Let your name ideas stew and move on to something else.
You may find this will spur more creativity.
In fact, research tells us taking a break to broaden your attention can stimulate your creativity.
When you’re ready to come back from a second brainstorming session, consider a few naming tips to mix it up.
For instance, to make your new product name memorable, try alliteration.
PayPal is a solid example of alliteration.
Or try putting together your own compound word, like GoPro.
Or you can make up your own words. Sure it has a definition now, but what did Google mean before its beeline to the mainstream?
If making up your own words for your new product name sounds silly, consider the fact that 72% of the best brand names are made-up words or acronyms.
Even if you’re not coming up with a new brand name, you can still play around with made-up words for your new product name.
As for inspiration, the list of name ideas goes on and on. Just like your brainstormed list of new product names should.
Once you have all your name ideas laid out, it’s time to whittle it down.
#4. Categorize your name ideas and select the best name
To narrow your list down to your best name, your next step is to categorize and prioritize winning name ideas over product names you want to toss.
One way to do this is to simply go through your list and cross out any glaring “no’s”.
After your list is sized down, you can try plotting your top names on a naming quadrant graph.
Successful entrepreneur Nick Kolenda analyzed eight naming factors and came up with a naming scatterplot graph that shows where the biggest opportunities lay, which is in the darker green overlap regions.
By the way, in case you’re interested in what makes up Nick’s eight naming factors, they include a mix of branding goals and business goals:
- Legal Protection
You can follow Nick’s framework and plot your name ideas on his graph to see where the best name lands.
Or you can come up with your own quadrant graph to weigh your own naming factors and qualities.
For instance, blogger Erik Heiberg came up with his Minimum Viable Name Framework based on four naming factors:
While this step might seem simple, slimming down your list of brainstormed name ideas to a single best name is likely difficult.
But not to worry, there’s one more tip you can follow to make sure you’re landing the best name for your new product -- testing.
#5. Test your new product name
There are a few parts to this final step of testing your new product names, the first being a legal test. It’s important to clear your new product name with any legal or trademark red flags.
It goes without saying the last thing you want to do is publish what you think is a unique name and find out you fell short after it’s too late.
While your initial research will open a window to the product names your top competitors are using, you want to cover your bases and avoid launching a product name that’s too similar or the same as another in the market overall.
To pass a trademark test, first run a general Google search to find out what shows up within the first pages of the search engine.
Back to our SEO example, for instance, let’s say I want to name my online course “Sky high SEO sessions”.
A quick query into Google’s search engine shows no competing product names and only similarly named agencies, SkyHigh Agency and Sky High Webs, but nothing too close.
It’s also worth checking out social media platforms to see if search queries turn up anything too similar to your new product name.
To continue our example, I came across the SkyHigh Agency’s page on Pinterest, which reads more closely to the potential new product name -- Sky High SEO.
Seeing that one of the agency’s Pinterest page names is so similar to the new product name, I’d probably reconsider the new product name to avoid any potential legal or marketing messaging battles.
On top of the legal test, it’s also wise to do an “ease of use” test. More specifically, make sure your new product name is easy to spell and say.
Chances are, if your product name is too difficult to say or spell, your customers won’t go out of their way to look it up or purchase it online.
Then, test your new product name in your marketing messaging.
Craft a few sentences that you’d write to promote your new product and see how it fits (or doesn’t fit) in.
If it sticks out like a sore thumb, reconsider. If your new product name seamlessly falls into place and conjures up the right gut feeling that your overall brand does, it’s a keeper.
According to a Vertical Response article, certain words “sing”. Especially those that are:
And certain words “stink” -- those that are:
All this to say, make sure your new product name fits into your overall messaging in a way that sings.
Finally, there’s one more round of testing your new product name needs to pass, which is to conduct some customer research.
Needless to say, your most accurate source for any feedback is your target audience.
Even if it’s a quick social media poll, you can still gain valuable feedback from your target audience.
Check out Moose My Shirt’s Facebook post asking its audience to participate in a group naming poll.
Alternatively, you can send out a quick survey link to your most engaged customers and ask them for feedback using just your email marketing tool and free survey tool, like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or Typeform.
The gist of it is to test your new product name:
- Against any similar names in the market
- Within your marketing messaging
- Among your audience
Phew -- if you’ve made it this far, congrats on your shiny new product name.
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May you land a winning product name
With a bit of research, brainstorming power, and testing, you can come up with the right name for your new product -- one that will fit right into the heart of your unique brand identity.
Here’s how to name your new product in five steps:
- Step #1. Start by focusing on your target customer and unique brand. Think of how your USP makes your brand identity stick out in the market.
- Step #2. Conduct market research and study how top brand names and competitors are naming their products.
- Step #3. Dive into a deep brainstorming session and let your ideas flow. Take a break and let your name ideas simmer before brainstorming again.
- Step #4. Categorize and prioritize your name ideas using a quadrant graph to plot your ideas. Then whittle your new product name ideas down to your best name.
- Step #5. Test your new product name for duplication, ease of use, and audience preference.
Here’s to successfully naming your next best product and exponentially growing your business.
(By the way, as your business takes off, streamline your time and energy using the all-in-one platform on the other side of this free 14-day trial. You’ll be glad you did.)