How to Name your Product-
6 test questions, 12 successful examples

Unless your product is a human baby or a robot, don’t name it after one.

In businesses and design portfolios, we commonly come across names which are:

– Unpronounceable without stammering
– Have hidden meanings- just like Indian baby names
– Not re-spellable
– From a different language

A wrong name is potentially an obstacle in a product’s success.

How?

  • People feel stupid when they can’t pronounce your product in front of others
  • Everyone calls the product differently
  • People forget the name and don’t make an effort to Google it. They leave it ‘for another time’.
  • Or, they forget the name and actually make the effort to Google it. Then they fail, and say, ‘Forget it, I don’t need it anyway’.
  • They forget. Simple.

What does this mean, for YOUR BUSINESS?

  • No sales
  • Not showing up on Google
  • Not getting followed on social media
  • Not being talked about
  • Ineffective branding
  • Losing marketshare
  • Losing audience in certain geographies

So, how to name your product?

Some questions to test names are: 

  • Do people say, “huh?” when they first hear it? Do they ask you to repeat or spell it out?
  • Do people identify the product’s category / function, when they HEAR the name?
  • Do people identify the product’s category / function, when they SEE the name on paper with and without the logo?
  • Are they able to pronounce it?
  • Are they able to re-pronounce it after 2 days?
  • Are they able to independently type it on Google search or social media, without feeling lost?

Here is a list of 12 successful Shark Tank products.

“Shark Tank is the critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy® Award-winning reality show that has reinvigorated entrepreneurship in America.”

Notice the product names below.

They are ALL self-explanatory, memorable, and in tune with their business segments & functions.

  • Scrub Daddy– A dish-scrub that is the ‘daddy’ of all sponges
  • Simply Fit Board– An exercise board that promotes fitness
  • Squatty Potty– A footstool for the WC, helping the user squat to poop better
  • Tipsy Elves– Fun celebratory Christmas apparel and holiday fashion
  • Drop Stop– A car seat add-on that stops thing from dropping down to the floormat of the car. 
  • ReadeREST Clip– A magnet that holds your reading glasses to prevent them from falling
  • LovePop– Pop-up greeting cards
  • Phone Soap– A device which cleans bacteria off your phone
  • Cup Board Pro– A cutting board which holds (cups) the peels and makes it easy to put the vegetable into the pan
  • LuminAid– Providing illumination in emergencies
  • Wine & Design– An event where guests bring wine and spend time creating designs
  • The Bouqs– Online bouquet delivery service

For all these products, at least ONE shark complimented the name.

On any website, these products are listed as some of the highest-grossing products of all time.

Of course, the products have their own merits, but the fact that ALL of them are at the TOP, and they all have easy names related to the business segment, is not a mere coincidence.

But,

Often times, the Sharks have also commented on potentially difficult names. Here is one from a pitch I saw recently:

Baobab

-A company selling polo shirts with longer-than-average lifespan. 

The comment attacked the pronunciation of the name and pointed out how differently people would pronounce it:

Bay-O-Bub 

v/s 

Baa-O-Bub

The entrepreneurs tried explaining what the significance of the name Baobab was, and how it was related to Baobab- The Tree of Life… but their explanation was sadly, cut short by the Sharks, probably as it didn’t add much value to the pitch or the sales record of the product.

In conclusion, 

A name does not define a product’s success or failure, but it certainly does help to have a good name. 

The 6 test questions that help to evaluate the aptness of a name are:

  • Can it be pronounced without thinking twice about whether it’s the right way?
  • Is it re-pronounced by someone accurately, 10 days after first hearing it?
  • Is it easy for a 12 year old to spell out?
  • Does it come to memory upon thinking of the function of the product, or performing an activity?
  • Is it enough by itself, to identify the product it’s for, without looking at the logo?
  • Do you feel the need to justify to most people, why you are choosing this name for your product? (Hint: A ‘yes’ to this question, is usually a negative indicator for your product name, and it may be wise to choose something more self-explanatory.)

Remember,

  • You won’t buy your product, your audience will.

  • You won’t search your social media page or website, your audience will.

  • You won’t be there to explain your product, your product’s name and packaging will.

  • You won’t be there to remind your audience of their product when they need it, your product name & tagline will.

  • You won’t see your marketing ads, your audience will.

So,

After working hard on your product itself, work a little bit on the name and get indirect feedback. Read between the lines, and see how people:

  • React,

  • Remember

  • Repronounce,

  • and Retype the name for someone else.

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