What’s in a Name: How to Name a New Product

When it comes to determining what you should name a new product, service, brand, etc., there are many things to contemplate. Does the name sound similar to any existing products?  Is there a negative connotation people associate with the name?  If you plan to take the name global, will it translate into other languages?  How well does it roll off the tongue when used in audio soundbites for commercials and radio? Do you want it to evoke a certain emotion among consumers?

There is so much to consider when choosing a name and it shouldn’t be a decision that is made in a vacuum.  It is always a good idea to conduct a survey among your target market to get unbiased feedback before you invest in trademark fees, creative assets, packaging and everything else that goes into establishing a moniker.

Tips for Conducting a Name Survey

Once you have written the prequalification questions to ensure you have the right people taking your name survey, start by describing the “thing” you are seeking to name.  If you have visual stimuli of the product itself, these should be included.  If you don’t have visual stimuli, provide a text description with enough detail so that the respondents have a good understanding of what it is that needs to be named.

You have many different criteria (some universal and some unique) to consider when asking questions in a name survey, from the fit with the product, fit with the brand/company, uniqueness, sound, memorability, association, etc. Once you have decided which are relevant to you, you can construct the questions in a myriad of ways depending on the number of names and criteria you are testing. Some examples are below.

How much do you agree with the following statements for the name “NAME 1”?

[scale 1-5 with 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree]

  • I like the way the name sounds
  • It fits the product description
  • It is unique compared to other names in the market
  • It seems like something the company would sell
  • It sounds like something of high quality

Which of the following names best fits the product description?

  • Name 1
  • Name 2
  • Name 3
  • Name 4

Which of the following names is the most unique?

  • Name 1
  • Name 2
  • Name 3
  • Name 4

 

If you are trying to evoke certain emotions or attributes with the name of your product, you can ask the respondent to think about the potential names and select those attributes that come to mind.

When you think about each potential name below, which, if any, of these attributes come to mind?

The above approaches work well if you have a small list of names to test, perhaps 5-10.  If you have a longer list of names, you may consider using a MaxDiff test.  You can have respondents rank the names on one criteria, such as level of appeal or purchase interest.

It is a good idea to include open-ended questions as well; not only to make sure you didn’t miss any good names, but also to get a read on how memorable the names were that you presented. Some open-ended question examples are below.

Of the several possible names we’ve shown, please type in your favorite name here. We’d like to see how easy it is to remember and spell.

Are there any other names you would suggest for the product we described?

If you plan to launch the product or brand into various international markets, you should conduct the survey in those countries in their native language. Much can be misconstrued when translating names into other languages and different cultures.

Key Takeaway

Choosing a name for your product, brand, service, restaurant, or company can play a big part in its fate.  Did you know Dreyer’s and Edy’s ice cream are identical products, just with different names? When Dreyer’s expanded into regions where Breyer’s was also popular, they decided to use the name Edy’s instead to eliminate any confusion with Breyer’s. Keeping on the topic of ice cream, Häagen-Dasz is a completely made-up name.  One of the cofounders, Reuben Mattus admired Denmark for their treatment of the Danish during WWII so he created a name he liked that also sounded Danish; it is not Danish nor any other language.  Whether your name stems from a strategic tactic or play on words, conducting a quick survey with your target consumer can help you avoid a naming snafu and improve overall success in market.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cori Sheperis
With a persistent appetite for learning and curious nature, Cori finds herself at home in the world of market research. She holds an MBA and has enjoyed over 15 years in various marketing, product development and consumer research roles. Her inquisitive nature flows into her personal life where she can be found venturing into as many new countries and cultures as possible.