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The ultimate guide to product naming

Last updated

18 April 2024

Author

Claire Bonneau

Reviewed by

Mary Mikhail

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Calling all product managers! It’s time to get serious about your product naming process.

Having a compelling and clear product name—one of the first things a potential customer learns about your brand—is essential for fostering customer loyalty, building brand authority, and connecting with your target audience.

Choose right, and you can build a cult following and make your marketing efforts significantly easier. Choose wrong, and your product’s impact and value will struggle.

As a result, it’s best to avoid AI product name generators and invest time and effort into picking the right name for your new product. The extra effort will be worth its weight in gold later on!

Why your product name is important

Do you think the iPhone would have been as much of an instant hit if Apple had called it “Hand-Held Rectangle Computer”? Definitely not. While this might be an intentionally horrible example, the point still stands.

Your product name is so much more than just a title. In many cases, it’s the first thing a consumer will learn about your brand. It’s a powerful first impression that can sway the potential customer toward making a purchase.

Choosing the right product name helps your brand do the following things:

  • Highlight its perks and benefits

  • Articulate its value and mission

  • Draw attention and intrigue

  • Connect and resonate with your core audience

  • Stand out from competitors

The correct product name will make marketing, selling, and promoting your brand and offerings easier than ever, while the wrong name will doom your product from the very start.

Types of product names

You can try several different styles of product names to find the perfect match, depending on the type of product your brand is launching.

Here are a few of the most popular types of product names:

Descriptive names

Descriptive names clearly articulate what your product does. They are an excellent option for brands looking to reduce consumer confusion by helping them understand the product’s value and use cases.

Examples of well-known descriptive product names include Post-It notes, Breathe Right strips, and Big Gulp fountain sodas from 7-Eleven. It’s all in the name; what you see is what you get!

Invented word names

In some cases, creating a new word is the best way to differentiate your product. You can do this by completely inventing a new word or by combining two or more existing words.

This is a powerful way to forge a strong sense of brand identity and gives your team the advantage of uniqueness.

Examples of products that created new words for their name include Kleenex tissues, Jeep (a car brand by Chrysler), and Ziploc plastic bags.

Misspelled word names

Misspelled word names are a good option for brands looking to infuse a sense of whimsy and fun into their product name. It’s an effective way to enhance brand messaging.

This technique is often used in the tech industry or children’s marketing.

Examples of misspelled words that are successful product names include Kool-Aid Jammers (from Kraft Heinz), Lyft, and Trix cereal (from General Mills).

Acronym names

Want to take a more creative approach? Try creating a compelling acronym, a new word made from the first letters of a phrase.

Examples of popular acronym product names include Adidas, which is believed to be an acronym for “All Day I Dream About Sports,” BMW cars, which stands for “Bayerische Motoren Werke,” and SPAM, which stands for “Shoulder Of Pork And Ham” or “Specially Produced American Meat,” depending on who you ask!

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How to name a product: A four-step process

Like any other part of the product design and launch process, you’ll get the best results by investing time in researching, testing, and adjusting your product’s potential name before putting it on the market.

Follow these steps, ideally months before the planned launch, to create a powerful and impactful name for your newest product:

Step 1: Assess your product and niche

Start by getting your team on the same page about the core essentials of what your product does, who it serves, and its key marketable points.

Aligning on the core basics of your product will make the naming process significantly more efficient, especially for teams in the early stages of product development.

To achieve this goal, start by calling a product team meeting to do a complete overview of your product and launch plan. This might sound rudimentary, but getting clarity on this early will save a lot of pain and frustration later.

By the end of this meeting, every member of your product team should be able to answer the following questions about your new product:

  • What is the product’s intended function?

  • What key features will this product include?

  • What problem or pain point does this product solve?

  • Who does this product serve?

  • What are the core needs or concerns of the product’s intended user?

As part of this process, place extra emphasis on getting a deeper understanding of your target audience and niche. Their preferences, opinions, and vocabulary will heavily influence the name you choose. Collecting this information will ensure your product name and marketing resonate.

Use this meeting to discuss how you will collect and use customer information in your naming process. Here are some options to achieve this goal:

  • Conducting social listening campaigns

  • Analyzing competitor offerings and marketing tactics

  • Surveying target customers

  • Assessing new names based on the names of your existing products

Step 2: Get creative and brainstorm

With everyone on the same page, it’s now time to get creative and have fun!

Brainstorming meetings with product, development, marketing, and C-Suite teams can be incredibly productive for finding the perfect name for your new product. They are also a great way to bring multiple different areas of your brand together for broad insights.

Using customer insights, competitor research, and your team’s knowledge, brainstorming aims to create multiple ideas that you can workshop and filter through. You’ll eventually land on a small number of compelling, strong options.

Examples of productive brainstorming techniques that your team can use to facilitate this process include the following:

  • Brain dumping: using a collaborative document or whiteboard, have your team “dump” all the name options they can come up with.

  • Word association: ask your team to list words or phrases associated with your target audience or product to use as inspiration for product names.

  • Mind mapping: start with a core word or phrase and draw connections with words or ideas to inspire creativity or connection to the topic.

  • Concept rating: using a list of possible product names, have your team rank and order the concepts by preference to finalize the top contenders.

Remember that your company needs to create a safe and inviting space for everyone to participate openly if you want to get the best results from this effort. Laughing at or demeaning people’s ideas is a surefire way to limit your team’s creativity, so maintain an encouraging and exploratory energy.

Step 3: Check for availability

Once your team has a few solid options lined up, you need to ensure they are available.

As a super quick and easy part of the process, do an online search to see if other brands (especially those within your niche) use the same or a similar name for their products. Ideally, you want a product name that is unique to your brand.

To make this process easier, here are a few rules of thumb to consider when picking the right name:

  • Do NOT choose names that are trademarked by other companiesDo NOT pick names similar to large, successful products that will overshadow your brand.

  • Do NOT use names based on misspelling the name of a largely popular product.

  • Do NOT opt for a name or spelling that is unclear or hard to understand.

Step 4: Feel it out with targeted feedback

Once you have selected a few viable product name options, you need to collect data about their performance with your target audience.

You can collect important information about the options using several different ranking and opinion-based questions. Use close-ended and open-ended questions to collect helpful insights to inform your final decision.

This is a great opportunity to collect information about the individual names and the group of name options as a whole.

Here are a few example questions we recommend considering:

  • Which product name is the most interesting to you?

  • Rank the product names from best to worst.

  • Which product name best matches our existing branding?

  • Which product name conveys [X trait] the most?

  • In your own words, why do you think this name is the best option?

Examples of product names we love (and why)

Still stuck and unsure about what product name best matches your new product?

Get some extra product name inspiration by checking out this list of our favorite product names:

G-Fuel

G-Fuel is a sports drink and powder marketed for esports athletes and gamers.

As a product serving a very specific target audience, we love how the G-Fuel branding uses a language and tonality that resonates with its core niche.

This product name connects with its customers’ powerful and bold energy. It has become a cult classic with teens and young adults participating in video game culture as a result.

e.l.f.

Standing for “eyes, lips, and face,” e.l.f is an acronym-based brand name. The company sells a range of makeup tools and cosmetics.

While this isn’t a product name, we like “e.l.f.” because not only is it a fun and comprehensive acronym for the wide range of products the brand creates, but it’s also fun, whimsical, and inviting.

e.l.f. is a great example of how to make an acronym name repeatable and memorable.

Froot Loops

Froot Loops is a well-known favorite cereal for kids and adults alike, with colorful, fruity, ring-shaped pieces.

We love how the Froot Loops product name leans into silliness and fun with its creative spelling. As a product of the parent company Kellogg’s, the Froot Loops name helps set it apart while creating a whimsical energy that connects with its younger target audience.

BeReal

BeReal is a social media platform that encourages users to post a “real” photo of themselves at random times during the day.

The name perfectly encapsulates the product’s mission: encouraging users to be more authentic with their social media by posting “slice of life” photos instead of the curated content they might post on other platforms.

We like how the name is immediately clear, easy to understand, and has fun spelling by combining two words.

Your product name matters

Your product’s name could make all the difference with its overall success and longevity. Is your team doing enough early work to set your next launch up for success?

All businesses want to create impactful, well-loved products that their customers love. Picking a compelling name for your new offering is an essential part of long-term branding success.

Choosing a name that resonates with your target audience while accurately describing or labeling your product helps make your product more marketable and approachable.

If you are in the process of naming a new product, have fun and follow the tips in this article to get the best results.

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