Winning the Name Game

The age-old question, “What’s in a name?” takes on great importance when it’s time to bestow one upon a new product or brand. Although lovestruck Romeo concluded that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, try convincing consumers that a subwoofer christened Whisper will make buildings crumble in its wake. Because stakes are high when playing the Name Game, here are some important points to keep in mind:

An effective name establishes your strategic positioning. It must be integral to your long-term advertising/marketing campaign and work well with multichannel advertising. Toward that end, consider the name as part of your big picture strategy rather than as an afterthought. Will the name inspire a unique advertising campaign? Cohesive collateral materials? Logo clothing that people will be proud to wear (and thereby provide valuable free advertising)? A good name provides the consistency required to power your product/brand across platforms and onto the consumer’s radar.

The name should create a connection with your target market. Addressing an aspirational lifestyle based upon the tuner competition scene, extreme sports or hip-hop culture can create the desired link (as long as it’s consistent with the direction of your advertising and marketing efforts). However, keep in mind that there’s a fine line between “trendy” and “tired.” A name that sounds cuttingedge hip today could be hopelessly dated by next year. Worse yet is if your competition follows the same approach, and your product winds up sitting sideby- side on the retail shelf with its similarly named rival.

Basing a name upon a historical, classical or mythological reference can be successful if you’re sure the reference is well known among members of your target market and conveys the proper sense of strength and superiority. Avoid a name that has an obscure reference, unless explaining the story behind the reference is part of your product identity/branding plan. Caution: if this is the case, the tale better be intriguing – not about how your company’s founder traveled cross-country by donkey cart a century ago).

An effective name also is easy to pronounce. If in doubt, conduct an informal survey among your employees by showing them the name and asking them to say it. If anyone who is a member of your target demographic struggles with the name, go back and begin again. Getting the right name will ensure that it becomes an important part of the consumers’ vocabulary when they’re ready to buy what you’re selling.