Thinking up product or brand names

Most businesses have to think up product or brand names at some stage, even if they’re just a distributor. It doesn’t get any easier, as more and more potential names get used, and there are more and more places they have to ‘work’. Online alone, we have to consider the availability of domain names, social media names and more.

Most engineering, scientific and other technical businesses just take the easy way out and use a part number. But this really doesn’t help customers. Just because manufacturers persevere with it in the domestic appliance sector, doesn’t mean it’s right. If someone recommends a refrigerator to me called a ‘Lion’ or even a ‘Freeze-Fast’, I might remember that in the showroom, or want to type in the name in a search engine or at an online store. But a BNW-XC45-223339/0000GBK? No chance.

The trend with business names in the last 20 years has been to use curious made-up names which sound vaguely classical. You can imagine Cicero wanting to buy insurance through Aviva. Look at all these ones where the domain name has been reserved for you!

I think the best approach for products now is to accept that whatever you come up with has been used by someone in a different context already, and so for search purposes, you’re always going to be relying on people to describe it too. In that case, it might be better to choose a name which people instinctively know wouldn’t turn up your product as a result unless they added a description. So calling your widget the ‘Leonardo’ or the ‘Rocket’ is actually a decent idea, because everybody would search for the ‘Leonardo widget’ from the outset. Calling it the ‘Jajah’ might not be so clever, because people might expect to find you without adding ‘widget’, and they’d be wrong.

Whatever you do, make sure you read around the subject first. Naming is big business, and there are hundreds of great articles about it.

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