Finding a suitable name for your latest product design, might turn out to be the hardest part of the whole creative process. Finding a perfect name for your product is almost as challenging as naming your child – or sometimes even more challenging. The process is similar: you create something in an innovative flow, maybe have a working title for it but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really look like the name you had in mind. After all, the name is crucial for the success of any product (maybe also of the child). Nomen est omen, they say and they are correct. After all, whatever you choose is for forever (not entirely true, but for the sake of the story let’s pretend that rebranding doesn’t exist).
There are many ways to start the quest for a perfect name. But first we need to understand a few things: A) what is your product B) what market area are we interested in C) who are our competitors. Whether a product is technology item or design artifact, defines a little what kind of a name we can consider in the first place. With design artifacts names can be more symbolic for example naming a wedding ring “Eternal flame” (tacky, I know) is ok but you surely wouldn’t buy a computer called “Rainbow unicorns magic box”. Well maybe some of you still would. Also knowing which market areas your product will be sold at, can help you to know which name to choose or at least which not to choose. For global markets the name has to be international and easy to pronounce in every language, so it’s not like “Jäätelötötterö” (it’s an actual word in Finnish). Also keep in mind that not all words mean the same in every language. There are many funny mistakes made in this area of name innovating and suitable examples are just two clicks in Google away. To find ideas for naming your products you might want to spy on your competitors and get ideas of the style that they use. While some use a descriptive name for their products, others choose to go on a totally different direction and choose something totally unrelated such as Apple. Seeing an apple didn’t use to mean high tech brand, but it does now.
So how to choose the right name? Elina Mäntylä the CEO of Valona design only just had to name her latest design, a chain necklace made of laser cut birch plywood (picture below). The process of name creation was long and making a final decision took a while. However she finally reached a decision and meanwhile learned a few things about the process. Her tips are as follows:
1. Choose an international name, most preferably one in English language. Sooner or later your company will go global and the name has to be easy enough for anyone to pronounce. Unless your goal is to stay in a market area dedicated to only one language, use English.
2. Choose between symbolism and description. With a design product like jewellery symbolism is justified, for technology a descriptive name might be more professional (exceptions exist).
3. Know your customers. It is important to understand what kind of name will appeal to your key demographic. Try asking them for a suitable name for your product. You might be surprised – even positively.
4. Spy on your competitors. Knowing what you are up against never hurts and seeing what kind of style your competitors use might give you a better understanding what works. But don’t copy what they do, be original!
5. Be consistent. From purely marketing perspective it is recommendable to have similar type of names for all your products. Especially with technology having a name that can be updated with every new model might save you a buck or two in marketing. Even with design products having a similar genre for product names can assist your marketing efforts. At least stay loyal to your style of naming.
The success of naming ones product (or child) can be measured only after a reasonable amount of time has passed. If you choose wisely, you may blaze in the glory of your excellency but if you made a poor decision, renaming might be in order. All though it is not impossible to do, anyone stuck with an unflattering nickname from your school years knows, that getting rid of the old name is a lot harder than finding a new name. Launching a new product is like sending your child to the world. You take a leap of faith and hope you made the right choices with them – name and all.
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p.s. The name chosen for the new chain necklace was Halo, which means the circle of light around the sun and the moon. The name of the company Valona means light as well, so the name was not only beautiful but well-suited. Also it is easy to pronounce in many languages and easy enough to remember, so in other words – just perfect!
Text: Maria Korpiniemi