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5 Basic Rules To Consider Before Naming Your Product

I re-read the must-read marketing book Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind (#13 on my 20 Best Business Books Of All Time list) over the summer.

It inspired this simple list of naming tips (which I think is a good foll0w-up to 5 Tips On How To Name Your Brand To Be As Dominant As Kleenex).

How To Name A Product: 5 Basic Rules To Consider

1) Include Your Prospect’s Major Benefit  (Or Pain & Urgency)

Close-Up Toothpaste shows a clear benefit about making your teeth look better.

Shake ‘n Bake (for cooking chicken) tells you the two simple steps — you shake (the herbs) and you bake (the chicken) — to make tasty chicken.

You may also consider the pain or urgency that your customer has.

For example, if you have dandruff and you want to address the flakes on your shoulders as well as shampoo your hair, Head & Shoulders shampoo is a darn good name.

2) Be Almost, But Not Quite, Generic

Microsoft names its product because it focused on “micro”-computer “soft”ware.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is self-explanatory. People Magazine is pretty good too.

But don’t go too generic, warns the book Positioning: “Lite” beer from Miller was the industry leader but it lost its brand positioning when other beers co-opted the name (Bud Light, Coors Light, etc.).

The law sided with those competitors since “Lite” is generic and so similar to “Light” (as in opposite of heavy).

3) Irrelevant Words Are Ok, But Only If You’re First To Market

Positioning recommends that you can name your product whatever you want if your first-to-market.

eBay, Oracle, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Kleenex, Xerox and Yahoo aren’t descriptive of their functions, but they were afforded name flexibility because they had first leader advantage (in effect, they created the new market they ended up leading).

4) Steer Clear Of Acronyms (Unless You Are One Of These)

Naming your product with an acronym only tends to work only  after a product or business has made real traction — “GE” wasn’t called General Electric until it was a real market leader. Same with IBM (which stands for International Business Machines).

They simply didn’t come out of the gates being referred to as their acronym.

Positioning adds that acronyms tend to work best when the # of syllables of a name are much shorter than the syllables of the full name (e.g. “IBM” is just 3 syllables and thus is a much better name than In-ter–nat-ion-al Busi-ness Ma-chines (which is 9 syllables).

That’s why “FB” is not going to replace “Facebook” any time soon — since both have the same # of syllables.

5) Alliteration Is Incredibly Powerful

If you’ve read The Best Examples Of Alliteration In Brands, you can skip this part.

Have you heard of Google (“Goo-gul”), Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Tater-Tots, Captain Crunch, Mickey Mouse?

Sure you have…they all use alliteration and are easier to remember than competing names.