9 Nuances of Naming

December 4, 2012by Jeane Kropp

An estimated 750,000 words are in the English language. Okay, well, actually that’s nearly impossible to determine – do you include regional terms, slang, abbreviations, text-terms, etc. Regardless of what the real number actually is, we have a seemingly infinite number of word possibilities at our disposal when organizing life around us.

Naming products is hard. If you find yourself choked up while searching to find the perfect fit, chances are there are just too many words and ideas to choose from. As marketers, it’s crucial to understand which words create an effective brand or product name, and how we can use the everyday language around us to achieve powerful names that balance personality with profit.

So just how do you find a powerful name in the midst of all these factors, you ask? What makes a good name in the increasingly convoluted world of products, brands and services? Great questions. Over the years and after much successful naming work, we’ve developed a few helpful tips and tricks that enable us to uncover powerful connections through naming. And because you’re a friend of Hiebing, we thought we’d share them with you:

  1. Identify the different types of names that will work for the situation. Does it need to be functional, fantastical, descriptive or some combination of these? Much of this may depend on the marketing support you plan to ultimately deploy against the product and/or brand.
  2. Engage with, and thoroughly experience, whatever it is you’re trying to name. Be curious about sights, sounds and textures and then use the sensory cues to inspire.
  3. Start broad and narrow in. Ideate interesting, even unrelated, words to drive exploration.
  4. Generate a lot of names, and then come up with a bunch more. Variety is the spice of… naming.
  5. Spend more time on unexpected names or words. Sometimes they can lead to interesting new spaces. And interesting new spaces sometimes lead to powerful and creative names.
  6. Consider combing words, and try some sound-alikes.
  7. Experiment with product/brand benefits as names.
  8. Seek names that ultimately align with, and advance, the brand experience.
  9. Have fun! But, you probably saw that one coming.

Whether you use some or all of these strategies, always know that the words and names are out there – over 750,000 of them to be not so exact ­– to help name your product or brand. You just gotta know how to work with ’em.

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