The Role of a Product Name in Overall Brand Identity
Product names: Something you’ve likely given little thought to, until you build your own product and realize it needs a name.
It sounds daunting; coming up with a product name. At Innovatemap, we’ve helped dozens of early stage startups come up with names, and no two process has ever been the same. However, despite sounding like a once-in-a-lifetime decision, names are truly only one of many levers to pull to shape your brand.
Product names are one of many levers you can pull to shape your brand.
It is easier for people to predict failure than success when it comes to product names, especially without any other brand equity to accompany it. Even the greatest product names are easy to attack if you take them at face value…
So if these multi-billion dollar brands are so easy to attack, why do they work? Because a name acquires the personality and traits you give it. No name can stand alone; branding and design put the name in the intended light. The “obvious flaws” that you can rattle off for product names are, in reality, a big part of why these names strike us as strong and different. People often want unforgettable names that are also easy to say, spell, secure as a URL, etc. Easy and evocative are natural enemies. If it takes no time to absorb, it will slip right past us.
People want unforgettable names that are also easy to say, spell, secure as a URL, etc. Easy and evocative are natural enemies. If it takes no time to absorb, it will slip right past us.
So, how do you name a product?
The first step is putting the name in its proper place.
Your name is one tool in the larger tool belt of your brand. Brand is made up of a variety of inputs, some that are even out of your control. Name, visual identity, tone of voice, user experience, customer service, and so much more are responsible for shaping your product’s brand. Names are one lever, but not the only lever to pull.
Finding the right name is tricky; there’s not a one size fits all approach. The important thing is that your name checks a lot of the important boxes but leaves room to grow. For example, if your startup’s story is important or unique, prioritize the names with rich backgrounds. Or, if sounding technical is the most important thing, go with the more literal option, or the name that sounds precise and measured.
When going through a naming brainstorm, it is crucial to identify these important checkboxes up front and set goals for your brand. Then, it’s time to “diverge” and let the brainstorm take you. Do a lot of research from different places, and write down every idea. After you have everything out on paper, you can converge and pick your winner.
Think of a product name like a pair of jeans: They might be a perfect fit, or they might need to be lived in for a little before they feel like yours. And remember that crafting a consistent, compelling, trustworthy brand will be more important than spinning your wheels in search for the perfect name. Your product name is just one lever, albeit an important lever, you can pull to influence your all-important product brand.