Five Cute Ways to Find a Winning Name

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

If you have had a new baby or new pet, you might have spent many agonising hours thinking of new names.  The challenge can be even harder for innovation teams looking to come up with a unique and compelling name for their new baby, whether it's the name of new product that is about to launch around the world, or the name of a new and clever technology upgrade.  And no pressure.....getting the name right can have a huge impact on the product's market success.

When faced with the challenge, probably a good place to start before you run a brainstorming Ideas Hothouse™ workshop, is what is the definition for a strong and market winning product name?  Ask this question to various members of your innovation team, and might get the following answers: "a name that provides reassurance that the technology works"; "a name that is catchy, memorable and distinctive"; "a name that infers how the product will work"; "a name that communicates the product's point of difference and is line with the personality of the brand".

When we run naming innovation projects, we like to use the following definition: "A name that supports and reinforces the core promise of your product or technology, in language that is appealing and relevant to your target audience, while being consistent with the personality and values of your brand."   And when it comes to generating new names, apart from getting some good final legal advice, there are broadly five name generating strategies that we follow. 

1. Names Inspired by Compelling Claims

Our preferred route is to generate names that are inspired by the core benefit and claim of your product.  A great example of this approach is Adidas® Boost™ and how a name can reinforce and own the core promise of the product. However, this approach does require you to have a very clear understanding of what is the core benefit and claim you are making....and whether the promise is sustainable going forward.  Clearly the downside of this approach is that a certain name can "block you in" for future innovations.  But the upside is that it helps you stand out and own a territory for your brand. Check out one of our older blog posts on how to develop winning claims.

2. Names Inspired by Technology Features

Option two is to focused on the technology, and to develop names that could reinforce the unique features of the technology, or how it works both rationally and emotionally.  This is clearly a favourite route of scientists, but beware of developing a name that might mean absolutely nothing at all unless you have a relevant PHD!  Although the person who named Gortex® or Teflon® might have a different point of view. But unless you have a huge advertising budget to promote the name, we recommend that you keep it simple like Sensodyne's Advanced Novomin™ formula, a technology name and language that supports the core claims with a reassuring reason to believe.

3. Names Inspired by Creative Metaphors

Another route is to look for names inspired by creative metaphors related to either the product’s core benefit or how the technology works.  If you are working on a PC, there might be a great example right next to your key pad.....Intel® is probably the best example of a technology name inspired by intelligence inside the machine. Different creative thinking games can help with this exercise including role play games and story telling.  For example, if you are launching a new baby nappy product with a technology that locks in more fluids and offers more protection.  Simply explore metaphors linked to protection such as security of a motor car or an insurance policy.  Check out a recent blog posts of our best creative thinking techniques.

4. Names Inspired By Disruptive Thinking

Keep the brainstorming running and use more creative thinking techniques to come up with some disruptor names, random names that can help your product completely stand out within the category.  In the last 12 months the financial services sector is awash with product names that have tried to disrupt, including Monzo, Revoult, Straling and Kroo.  Sounds fun in a brainstorming session, but unless you are going to spend big on advertising, we probably recommend route 1, 2 or 3.   

5. Names Inspired by Fun Thinking  

And finally, do have some fun thinking and see what you can come up with using naming routes based on exercises such as a “word play”, alliteration or rhyming linked to the benefits or features of any new technology. And do consider some copy writers or even some poets, to help play with words.  And when you have a range of potential new names, look to screen and test new names with tools such as Zip-Zap Ideas®.  

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments - we'd love to hear from you.