How to create intriguing and meaningful product names

Strategic word games

When you create an interesting, unique, or powerful product, the last thing you want to do is slap a boring, unoriginal name on it. Your product needs a name that stands out, differentiates it from your competitors’ offerings, and represents your brand.

Don’t haphazardly or lazily pull a name from a hat. Take some time to go through this process and uncover the perfect name that shows your product for what it’s really worth.

Brainstorm before you get started

In the beginning stage, be specific about your brand, audience and product but broad about your terminology and creativity. During each prompt, write down ideas and words that come to mind.

Imagine your audience. Picture your target customers and think about how they speak. What do they want and need? What language do they use to describe their problems? How would they describe your product to their friends?

Define the purpose of the product. Don’t stop at surface material. Dig deeper to find the real purpose of the product. Why does it exists? Why is it valuable and essential? What change does it make in someone’s life?

Create a list of related buzzwords. Consider slang and synonyms that also describe your product, audience, unique selling proposition and mission.

Go off the path. Brainstorm terms and names that aren’t directly related to your product or brand. Get ideas by using this great tip from Marketing Profs and search for “list of ______.” Fill in the blank with interesting categories such as botanical names, astronomical names, zoological names, geologic periods, Latin or Greek roots, etc.

Now, you have a long list of interesting, meaningful words and terms to work from.

Consider your options

Think about the style of product names that you like and dislike.

Do you like existing or new words? Do you want to stick with a real word that you can find in the dictionary (Galaxy)? Or do you want to create your own term (Cheetos)?

Do you prefer something descriptive, suggestive, or abstract? Consider how much you want the name to directly connect with the purpose of the product or your brand.

  • A descriptive name will say exactly what the product is or does (PlayStation).
  • A suggestive name will hint at what the product is or does (Post-it).
  • An abstract name represents the concept, idea, emotion, theme, or what the product is or does (Wii).

Do you want to use a single or compound word? Would you like the name to be a single word that stands alone (Munchkins)? Or could you combine two words to make a compound word (Popchips)? Or would you like to add a prefix (iPhone) or suffix (Bitly)?

There are so many options when it comes to naming your products that you may feel overwhelmed. Use these strategies to box in your ideas and carve out a path to your product name.

Play with your words

Now you can start to have fun with your words. See if you can make your name more original using one of these concepts.

  • Alliteration — Use the same letters or sounds (Cocoa Krispies).
  • Rhyme — Use words that have the same sounds and syllables (Fitbit).
  • Onomatopoeia — Form words that are pronounced the way something sounds (Flip Flop).
  • Metaphor — Create an analogy or concept that describes your brand or product then pull a word from the metaphor (Whopper).
  • Portmanteau — Combine two words at the point where they share similar sounds (Triscuit, Tri + Biscuit).

It can be fun to play these word games. But don’t get so caught up in playing with your words that you forget your primary goal — to develop one intriguing and meaningful product name.

Bonus Tip: Save all of your work. If you are creating names for an entire product line or will be in the future, you might be able to pull from these ideas.

Plus, product names that have similar characteristics, styles, themes and/or voice are an ideal way to build your product line. It creates cohesive brand messaging and helps consumers immediately identify your new products as yours. For example, if you saw a new iPack was coming out, you would certainly have an idea of what brand was producing the product.

Research before you close the deal

If you finally land on a name that hits your heart and sits just right in your gut, you can’t stop just yet. You need to do your research before sealing the deal.

  • Does the product name mean something else (something negative) in another language?
  • Is there a product with a similar or exact name that will confuse things?
  • Is the name already copyrighted or trademarked?
  • How does the name look in your branded font and colors?
  • What do other people think?

Asking for feedback is an important element of naming your product. What makes sense or sounds right to you might not resonate with the people who matter most — your customers.

When naming your product, always keep your customer in the forefront of your mind and gather their opinion if possible.

Your next product needs a name that packs power and meaning. Don’t sell it short by piecing together an ordinary, old name that no one will notice. Use this process and give your next big thing the name it deserves.