You have an amazing idea for a new app, you just got your first prototype back on a product design, you’re excited to hit the market and your customers are ready… ah, the excitement of a startup. There is an almost tangible, electric buzz in the air when a brand is ready to launch. And there are a million decisions to make between when you hatch an idea and when it hits the streets. The most important decision a business can make is brand naming.
In the excitement of a launch, naming can either become an afterthought with too little strategy too late, or a gridlock of decision paralysis. That’s why it sometimes helps to call in a third-party point of view that can guide you through this process. Here are just a few of the things we encourage our clients to think about when it’s time to name their products and brand.
Do Your Homework:
As soon as you think you have a name that works, do a little research. When you put it into Google, what are the first search queries that populate? Are there social media hashtags, handles, or personalities associated with or similar to your proposed product name? What corresponding URLs exist? Your goal isn’t simply to ensure your brand name is free, but to evaluate any preexisting associations with words related to your budding business. As an example, in 2014 the frozen pizza company DiGiorno used the hashtag #WhyIStayed (presumably the pizza) in a product campaign. Only later did the organization find out that #WhyIStayed was hashtag often used by domestic abuse victims to share their stories. What was meant to be a lighthearted new product plug quickly became a public relations nightmare. Do your best to understand the ways in which your brand and product names can be interpreted before committing. You’ll thank yourself later.
Tell Your Story:
We are rolling our eyes just thinking about the number of startups that use obscure names and nonsensical words in their product and brand names. While this can be an effective way to infuse your company with a little mystery and marketing mystique (honestly, what does a fruit like a blackberry have anything to do with smart phones?), it isn’t a safe bet. You risk customers forgetting or misinterpreting your brand name, or seeming too obscure to matter. Your name is your customers’ first impression of you and should tell part of your brand story. When “ShoeSite” was founded in 1999, the owners knew they would need to come up with a better brand name to capture what they were selling – shoes. Can you guess what ShoeSite settled on? Zappos. Zappos plays off the Spanish word for shoes, zapatos, offering a playful way to explain what they do, while differentiating the brand from the competition. The brand name is straightforward, creative, but helps tell the Zappos story. In other words, it’s perfect. It sounds simple, until you try to do it yourself.
Consistency is Key:
No matter what you choose as your brand name, it should serve a keystone for all future releases and iterations. Whether you are versioning products, or releasing something entirely new, use your brand name as inspiration and an anchor for future decisions. For example, the Swedish furniture company IKEA has over 9,500 products, all of which have Scandanavian-inspired names paying tribute to the company’s roots (all the way in suburban America). While the Kivik, Karlstad, Klippan, and Vimle collections may not necessarily tell consumers what those brands look like, the underlying brand values of streamlined Nordic simplicity and price value echo within these categories. The company’s values are reinforced with each product iteration that adheres to these naming principles. Just think how out of place Restoration Hardware’s product categories would sound knowing their emphasis is on artisan craftsmanship and materials: Gramercy Metal, Weathered Oak, Printmakers Collection, to name a few. No matter how small these details may seem, your customers will subconsciously absorb them.
Let us work with your brand to craft the perfect naming strategy or refine the brand and product structure you have today. Like we said – no detail is too small for your customers. Check out our website to learn more about our services and contact information.
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