What’s in a Name?

Naming your product may be one of the toughest things you ever do. It will certainly be a complex undertaking and if there are more than a few people involved it will probably be challenging. Done right though, a strong brand name can pay huge dividends for years to come.


The printing, publishing and media industries have been challenged for some time with the proliferation of brand names that sound the same. The same holds true for corporate and nonprofit organizations seeking a unique name. Perhaps that’s because choosing a unique name has become increasingly more difficult. Just try and find a decent URL (domain name) and you will soon see how difficult choosing a new name can be. Go to www.godaddy.com and you will find a simple registry tool that allows you to search endlessly for a new name.

This means, as never before, choosing the correct name for a product is essential. Simply placing a model number after a company’s initials—like “Spectrum 2000”—although easy, may not be an effective way to introduce a new product given how many other names with 2000 already exist.

Knowing these difficulties, here are five suggestions for how to approach brand naming:

Step #1: Your name should reflect true “market realities”
Of all the steps, this first one is probably the most critical because if you start out in the wrong direction you will never get to your final destination! A brand new product with little or no competition in its market needs a name that immediately takes leadership, whereas a crowded market demands an innovative name. iPod is a good example of a new name for a new market. Can you imagine Apple introducing the iPod as its new “MP3 Music Player?” Good grief! Rather, it needed a name that would define a new brand category so selecting a name that was completely unique was a terrific solution.

Tom Marin is the president of MarketCues, a national consulting firm. Tom serves as a senior advisor and change-management consultant with 35 years of experience. He has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations, as well as middle-market firms. Tom's focus is to plan and drive strategy shifts and strategic growth programs in the printing industry and a diverse range of market areas.
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  • http://Caitlin-Randolph Caitlin – Randolph

    Love love love your iPod example. You need a catchy name to catch on. Notice Zune or whatever it is called didn’t catch on?