Business Thoughts

Build Product Names You Can Be Proud Of.


Allow me to start with a question.

What is the first thing that prospective customers, contributors or investors of your product will encounter, and what is that one thing that they will keep using to identify your product?

That thing is invariably the product name, and it is one of the easiest and inexpensive ways to control the perception of your product.

Because the product name serves as the first touch point, as well as a the mental pointer to the product, deciding on a great product name is one of best investments of your time.

Try to count the number of times throughout the day that you speak or think about Excel spreadsheets, or GitHub repos, or RedHat instances.  My guess is that you gave up on this exercise after just a few seconds, but I think you get the point.  We use product names ALL THE TIME.

A name connects the idea of The  product to its’ physical form.

I don’t know how attached you are to the current name of the product.  If you are very attached, or have some concrete reasons for sticking with the current name, please ignore everything I have to say here.

However, if you are not 100% certain if the current name is the right name to go forward with, you might want to consider the following bits of information.

An incorrectly chosen product name can be a long-term (self created) obstacle preventing you from hitting the growth curve that you had in mind.  This doesn’t just apply to startups and new products.

YouTube Red has recently changed its’ name to YouTube Premium.  This meant walking away from an investment of millions of advertising and brand building dollars.

According to AdWeek they just couldn’t overcome the negative associations of the name.  YouTube Red simply sounded too much like a porn site.

YouTube Red simply sounded too much like a porn site.

So what is a better way forward?  How can we create a template for producing clear, convincing, and memorable product names?

Direct marketing expert Eben Pagan has created and sold tens of millions worth of information product in mid 2000’s.  He has coined the following formula for creating strong product names.

Eben suggests that product names should:
1. Be Hard To Forget
2. Use Repetitive Sounds
3. Use Rhythm

Let’s see how this formula applies to some current examples, and examine the use of repeating sounds, and rhythm structures.

MongoDB
“Mon Goh Dee Bee
One -Two-Three-Four

Excel
Eks El”
One-Two

Twitter
Twi Ter”
One-Two

Mercedes-Benz
“Mur sey deez benz
One Two Three Four

Now you may be saying to yourself “But what about the other mainstay products and brand names such as iPhone, Oracle, BMW, Beats by Dr.Dre, as well as countless others that don’t fit that formula?”

And you would be 100% correct.  Those names do not fit our template.  However, armed with this template you now have a repeatable process for coming up with brand names that at the very least will not be a roadblock to your marketing efforts.

Give this formula a try, and let me know about how you like the results.   Chances are it will improve how you think about product (or even project) naming at a fundamental level.

All The Best,
Andrey


Andrey writes on business development, startups and technology.