Finding and choosing the right name for your new product can be a daunting task. You don’t want it to be something forgettable, but on the other hand, you also don’t want it to be something so bizarre that people will shy away from it simply because of its name. Striking the right balance is therefore absolutely essential. The question then is how to start? Where do you even begin?
There’s no one right answer, but I’ve assembled several methodologies below that you can put into practice immediately.
Get a brainstorm meeting started, and pass the bag with the scrabble letters around. Everybody comes up with names that begin with the letter they pulled out of the bag. No right or wrong answers here, just a free flow of ideas. You can cull the list later, but right now what you’re interested in are possibilities.
Have someone start making a list of all the words that describe your new product. Then have people begin searching those terms on the online thesaurus of their choice, using their laptops and phones. Make a list of all the words found, cull out the duplicates, and use that as a starting point.
Assign a role to each of the members of your brain storming team. Everybody plays the role of somebody else. Maybe Mike from Accounting is Oprah. Maybe Bob from IT is Tim Allen. Give everybody the name of some famous person they’re familiar with and ask that person, “If you were in charge of naming my product, what name would you give it?” Not only is this a lot of fun, you come up with some truly great, offbeat ideas.
Linguistic Demolition Derby
Building on one or more of the other ideas on this list, once you’ve gathered together a list of descriptors or possible names, consider smashing two or more of the words together. An example of this in the real world is the website “Trivago” which is a meta search engine for hotel room rates around the world. It seems to be a mash up of the words “trip,” “vacation,” and “go,” which is fun because of course, that’s exactly what you will be planning to do when you visit their site.
Be careful with this one. A little of this goes a long way, and you can easily overdo it. A subset of the alternate spelling idea would be a prefix or suffix. Think, for example, iPad. Even though this isn’t a traditional prefix, it makes this particular Apple product strangely unforgettable.
Ask everyone to come up with an animal, tree, bush, or flower that would be the symbol of your product. Once you’ve assembled the list of your product’s “totems,” consider using them to generate ideas for your product’s name.
The best name results will come when using several of the ideas listed above in tandem. Don’t content yourself with just one, time permitting, use them all. Also, don’t be in a hurry. The ideas will come when the come. Your product doesn’t have to have a name in order for you to begin prototyping. That can happen later. Build the thing. Play with it. Put it in the hands of your employees, and keep revisiting the name issue iteratively. It might not happen during your first meeting, but it’ll happen in the end.