Creative naming from A to Z
- What should you pay attention to when inventing a product name and what does the naming process look like?
- What methods can save the day when you lack creativity?
- Why are algorithms and new technologies the last resort?
Deciding on a product name is a bit like choosing a name for a baby. It is incredibly important and difficult at the same time. What should you do when faced with the challenge of naming your product? There are even more options than when looking for a name for a baby. How do you come up with a name that can be easily remembered? How to find this one and only…. perfect name?
The more products on the market, the harder it is to invent an original and unique name for a product or service. Consequently, the naming process is becoming more and more challenging for both product creators and marketers responsible for this area. The basis is a well-thought-out naming process and creativity generated using various methods.
What should you pay attention to when creating a name?
Nike, Coca-Cola, or Apple – what distinguishes these names and makes them memorable? Obviously, there is a product with its history, quality, customer service, and many other factors behind each name, but ultimately it is the name that makes the customer notice a product or move on.
Figure 1 The elements to consider when creating a name Source: own work
There is no accounting for tastes. This is where we could close the topic of choosing a name. After all, the name does not have to appeal to everyone. It is the gospel truth but it should at least appeal to the target group to which a product or service is addressed. The name should catch their attention so that they make purchasing decisions that are favorable for your business.
Nivea and Castorama – two completely different names. The former evokes associations with something soft and pleasant, the latter sounds more hard and sharp. The name Nivea is over 100 years old and originates in Latin, where the word niveus/nivea/niveum means snow-white. Castorama, on the other hand, can be translated as “beaver world” as it comes from two French words: castor – beaver and rama – environment. Both names perfectly reflect the character of the brand and the product itself.
Product development strategy
Name creators often face the dilemma of which language to choose. The name can be coined in the native language, which will be more understandable locally, or it may be global, e.g. in English. It all depends on the strategy you choose for a product. If you are planning on expanding into foreign markets in the foreseeable future, you should go for a universal name to avoid having to promote a product called Dickmann’s or a company called Analtech in a country where it evokes peculiar associations.
The naming process step by step
The best names are those created at the intersection of emotion and reason. Creativity helps us get the right emotional charge and create names that we simply like. However, let’s not forget that the name is supposed to serve a specific purpose – it should be a well-thought-out element of the brand strategy. This explains why a consistent naming process is so important. What does it look like in practice?
1. Analyze the brand strategy carefully
It often happens that a new business starts with the creation of a name. In such a case, there is no mission and vision or a comprehensive strategy. Therefore, it is very important to take a holistic look at the business while crafting the name. It should reflect the nature of the business and be consistent with the vision of the company’s development in the years to come. It is a good idea to first determine the WHY of the company and create a name that resonates with it.
If you are designing a name for your client, be sure to ask about their brand strategy and, if there is one, review it carefully. There is nothing worse than a name that is completely detached from what you want to present to the world.
2. Create a set of features the name should have
What should the name be like?
- Easy to pronounce If the name is supposed to be international, you have to think about the way other nations might pronounce it. For instance, Leroy Merlin is not my favorite.
- Easy to write down Repetition of letters or characters can make it hard to write down the name correctly, so before you make the final decision – make a test on a group of several people to see if they can write the name down without mistakes.
- Unique Now, that’s quite a challenge. Finding a vacant domain for a short and “sexy” name borders on the miraculous, so you have to work hard not to duplicate someone else’s concept. It is worth checking the availability of the domain in the search engine, stores (e.g. Google Play or App Store), or in the Patent Office.
- Compatible with the strategy Do not forget that a name is an important element of the first contact with a brand. The name should do justice to the brand.
- Short Long names are not recommended for one simple reason – they are difficult to remember. If you decide on a longer name or a name composed of several words, check if consumers can memorize it quickly and accurately.
- Timeless Many of us were given a name we hate. Don’t do that to yourself – create a name that will suit your brand for years to come, not one that will become obsolete when the fashion changes.
3. Let the power of creation carry you away
And now comes the hardest part – creating the perfect name.
Here are 5 methods you can use to create a name with your team.
Stage I – searching for inspiration
Golden Circle is a method created by Simon Sinek who claims that whatever we do, we should first answer three important questions: what – what we do, how – how we do it, why – why we do it. The last question is the most important one. You can approach naming the same way.
Organize a brainstorming session with your team to answer the questions about a product, service, or company. Next, try to combine these words. You will find the list of word combinations in the description of stage II.
Virgin is a great example of a name based on the story of the brand’s founders who were taking their first steps in business. They figured they would encapsulate their story as a “virgin in business” in the name.
Naming based on storytelling is one of the methods that allow us to invent well-thought-out yet creative names. Additionally, a story that inspires the name can be later used as the basis for a slogan or the entire brand communication.
It has probably happened to you more than once to look at the sky and notice a cloud that reminded you of something. This is your brain constantly being on the lookout for similarities – it is connecting the dots. Associations are another method that can help us forge a good name.
Consider the examples of BlackBerry and Mitsubishi. BlackBerry is the name invented by Lexicon Branding marketing agency, which associated the keys of the keyboard with blackberry drupelets.
The name Mitsubishi is a combination of the words mitsu (Japanese for “three”) and hishi (Japanese for “chestnut”). The Japanese also used the word hishi to refer to the rhombus shape. This name is not accidental. There is a history of two families behind it. The logo resembles three stacked rhombuses from the coat of arms of the Yataro Iwasaki family – the founder of Mitsubishi, and the three-leaf coat of arms of the Tosa clan – Iwasaki’s first employer.
Thought mapping is good practice for creating a name based on associations. Make a list of all the words that are somehow related to the product/brand and use them to create a name.
An archetype is the original pattern of a character, event, motif, symbol, or concept (from Greek arche – beginning, typos – type ). We can distinguish several archetypes depending on the field of culture. In literature, there are such archetypes as mother, father, sage, hero, adventurer, warrior, magician, etc.
How can they be used in the naming process?
The name Nike has its origin in the archetype of the goddess of victory.
If you find it impossible to come up with the perfect name, take advantage of online algorithm-based tools that generate word combinations, for instance Namelix. The software provides up to several hundred name suggestions. You can narrow the scope by specifying the style or length of the name.
Figure 2 Several name propositions generated by Namelix for the word car.
Stage II – name creation
Once you have made a set of different associations using a Golden Circle method or based on archetypes, it is time to create a name. Below are 6 linguistic tricks that will help you create an innovative name.
Word + ending
Add one of the popular endings to the word, e.g.: -ly, -ive, -er, -up, -on, -ty, -fy.
Airly, Brainly, Spotify
Merging two words
Combine two words into one name.
Facebook, Hollywood, Schwarzkopf
First or last name or first + last name
Pierre Cardin, Chanel, Swarovski, Cafe Havelka
Adding a prefix
Use a prefix at the beginning of a word e.g. i-, e-, on-, in-, x-.
eTutor, InPost, x-kom
Create a name from the first letters of several words
HSBC, UBS, ING
Word combinations using a conjunction
Procter and Gamble, Peek & Cloppenburg, Head & Shoulders
SubHub, FireWire, OtoMoto
After the creation phase, you will end up with a list of different possible names. It is time to eliminate some of them. The easiest method is a team voting for the best name. If you have more time, you can perform an online test e.g. a survey or a Facebook post.
5) Check availability
Euphoria – you have some great options. Unfortunately, I have to tone this enthusiasm down a bit. Before you start celebrating, be sure to check:
- availability of the domain name
- availability of the name in Play Store and App Store
- the meaning of the name (the word or words it consists of) in other languages.
If your name has passed this validation, there’s nothing left but to proceed to step 6.
6) Choosing the best name
Is the naming process easy? This is a question you have to answer for yourself. After all, everything depends on your creativity, knowledge of methods, or team support. I can’t promise that by following these steps you will create a perfect name, but I can assure you that they will guide you through the process, which is easy for some and full of tears and sweat for others.
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