Coming up with a name for a new product can be a daunting process for any entrepreneur, especially if you don’t have a marketing expert or team on staff. Personally, I’ve never delegated or outsourced this process. I believe that product naming is extremely important. So important, that even when a company I own is doing tens of millions in revenue, I still manage and lead the process.
Product Names Can Be Assets or Liabilities
Too often I see bad product names that were decided in haste. Once, as a minority partner in a company (at the time, this particular company had $20 million in revenues), I was a bystander in a group meeting where a product name was chosen in as little as ten minutes. The topic was brought up, a couple possible names were tossed about, one was chosen, and that was that. Ten minutes. Not surprisingly, the result was a poor product name that customers had a hard time connecting with. Well, that ten minutes had years of consequences.
I’ve realized that most entrepreneurs just don’t understand the long term impact that every product name will have on their company. When you decide on a product name, whether it is good or not, the one certainty you can count on is that you will be tied to it for a long time. Marketing materials such as logos, brochures, web content, and more will be created, printed, and published with the name on it. Your customers will become familiar with the name. Once these balls are rolling, it becomes extremely difficult and costly to change a product name.
Therefore I urge you to take your time and really make sure you’ve got the right name for your product. It is my sincere hope that this article inspires you to seek out a product name that will become an asset, rather than a liability, for your company.
The First Step: Hold a “Discovery” Session
A discovery session can be defined as a very thorough, fact-finding process that will bring forward all sorts of raw data needed to come up with a specific decision. Most people don’t even realize that unconsciously we do discovery sessions almost every day. For example, suppose you need a hotel to stay at this weekend. In order to make this decision, you will think about where you are going (i.e. Phoenix or San Diego), where you would prefer to be located (i.e. close to city, or the beach?), then you might review photos (is the room big enough, nice enough?), local restaurants, what is in walking distance, etc. This process of sourcing the raw data needed to make a specific decision (what hotel to choose) is what we call “discovery”.
The first step is to hold a product name discovery session. To begin, you should first analyze all the critical elements about your product, your company, and your brand. Here are 3 sets of questions that will help you uncover these critical elements:
- How do you define your company, or your brand? For example, are you trying to portray an elite, expensive image? Or, are you trying to be young, hip, or fun?
- Tell me all about your product. What are the main benefits of your product? Who is your target customer for the product? Will the product be expensive relative to competitors, or cheaper?
- If you had to choose one single message that you want your product (or the name of your product) to send to your customer, what is it?
For a lot of entrepreneurs, these questions can be tough to nail down. NO WORRIES. Throughout the rest of this article, I’m going to take you backstage and give you an inside look at how one of my companies, Breathing Color, recently went through the process of creating a name for a new product. This name has proven to be a huge asset to our company. And I’m going to show you every step of how we came up with this name. Hopefully in turn you can use it as your own guide to come up with your own.
To give you some background, Breathing Color manufactures and distributes inkjet papers for the professional fine art and photo markets. Here, we needed to name a new inkjet printable canvas.
Here are the notes from our Discovery Session:
- Q: How do you define your company, or your brand?
A: We are a quality driven organization. We want our customers to experience the exceptional print quality that our products deliver. We are trying to portray an image that we are innovative, classy, and reliable.
- Q: Tell me all about your product.
A: We strongly feel that this product will become the flagship product of our company. Many people will come to know Breathing Color through this product. This product targets the highest quality artists, photographers, and print studios who demand the finest print quality. We have confirmed with a select focus group that this product is indeed as good as we think it is. We plan to price the product higher than our other canvas grades. This price will be higher than most of our competitors, but not all.
- Q: If you had to choose one single message that you want your product (or the name of your product) to send to your customer, what is it?
A: The one message we want to send to customers is this: when they see/experience the print quality of this canvas, they will be blown away. We want to be bold because the product is that good relative to the competition. Once they see it, they will believe.
The discovery session could take a couple minutes, hours, sometimes days. While you could do it alone, it’s best to include anyone who really understands your company and brand.
Next week we will publish Part 2 of this article (now posted here - Choosing a Killer Name for a New Product - Part Two), which will show you exactly how to utilize this discovery session and derive the perfect product name from it. Until then, it’s time for you to hold your first discovery session!