How to Name a Brand or Product: Essential Market Research Steps

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Posted Sep 30, 2011

When businesses think about how to name a brand or product, they often don't consider the essential market research steps that should be done before, during, and after the naming process. Of course, it's possible to successfully choose a name without conducting any market research, but if you want to save time and money and ensure that the name you choose has a chance for success, then you really should conduct some research.

Market research helps you identify potential problems with a name and determine the likelihood that it will be accepted by consumers before you roll it out. The last thing you want is to invest in business cards, stationery, signage, advertising, packaging, and so on with your new brand or product name on them, and then learn that consumers don't believe it, don't understand it, or simply don't like it.

It doesn't matter if you like a name as much as it matters that consumers like it, can relate to it, and can buy into it. They're the ones who will purchase your branded items and products, so their opinions, emotional reactions, and visceral responses are most important in the naming process. Following are three types of market research you should do to set your brand or product name up for success for years to come.

1. Identify the Brand or Product Name

Before you create a name, you need to conduct some consumer research of both your existing customers and potential customers for the new brand or product. Research should focus on three primary areas:

  • Promise: Survey consumers to identify their wants and needs for a new brand or product like yours. Identify consumer expectations for it and use that information to develop your brand promise.
  • Position: Survey consumers to determine how they feel about existing competitor brand or product names in the market where you plan to do business. Use this data to identify gaps and opportunities. This research enables you to determine your position in the marketplace.
  • Perception: It doesn't matter what you think about your brand or product, it only matters what consumers think. Therefore, you need to understand their perception of other brands and products in your market, so you can align yours to fit into that market in a manner that does not confuse them.

2. Test the Brand or Product Name

When you have your short list of names, survey consumers to determine their reactions to those names. You need to make sure they understand your name and are willing to accept it within the market of competitor brands and products they're already familiar with.

For example, did you know that Amazon was originally called Cadabra? A phone call with an attorney whom Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was working with prompted a name change. The attorney mistakenly heard the name as "Cadaver," and Bezos feared that could be a common mistake. Cadabra got the axe and Amazon was born. This is just one example of the types of problems you can catch early in the brand or product naming process through research.

amazon cadaver

Next, you need to test the name through research. Develop your brand or product name creative and create prototypes of your logo, ads, packaging, and so on. Show them to consumers and gauge their reactions. Again, they need to be able to accept it and believe its promise or it will fail.

3. Monitor the Brand or Product Name

Market research should be conducted on an ongoing basis to monitor the health and performance of your name. Survey consumers to measure recognition, awareness, emotions, and perceptions of your product or brand. You won't get a second chance to make a first impression, but by monitoring your name, you can make the necessary adjustments to reduce confusion or negative reactions.

Furthermore, consumer opinions change frequently. You need to conduct continual research, so you can identify potential problems and adjust (or even rebrand) as necessary to stay competitive and successful.

Stay tuned for my upcoming follow-up post, which will focus on the various ways market research can help you name a brand or product. Be sure to read my other articles about naming to get all the insight and tips you need to successfully name your brand or product:

Images: hberends

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