What's in a name?
For startups, a lot more than "cool."
They need a proper name, something that can be branded and take on meaning. Red Bull means energy drink. Coca Cola means cola drink. Your startup needs to do the same, begin with a proper name and work to brand it with words that consumers immediately think of when they read the name of your product.
Al Ries, the godfather of marketing positioning, wrote about this in a provocative article in Advertising Age that I recommend you read. In it he gives example of good and poor proper names for products. And makes suggestions you can follow to pick a name for your new product.
4 Names for Startups
Actually your startup needs four names:
- Company Name: Proctor & Gamble Inc. (Names of co-founders)
- Product Name: Pamperss (And many more)
- Category Name: Disposable Diapers
- Technology Name: none used (Here is the creation story of Pampers from the inventor).
Or try this for a high tech company:
- Company Name: Intel Corporation
- Product Name: Pentium
- Category Name: Microprocessor
- Technology Name: P5 microarchitecture
I think you can see what I mean.
A couple of tips when creating names:
- Product name is most sensitive, most important to get right. Suggestive, clear, simple are what you need. "I get it!" is the response you want from the consumer.
- Company name can be anything. It will take on its own meaning over time (Intel, Google, Amazon). If your product and company have the same name, in the future you many be stuck, limited when you branch into new product categories (e.g. What will Twitter do when it moves beyond tweets?).
- If your category is not new (computer pad), it is a warning: you are about to enter a very crowded market, already dominated by a gorilla, two chimpanzees and a dozen starving monkeys. Better to stop and turn to find an uncontested territory an a fresh market category (hardware app = smartphone breathalyser = use your smart phone to see if you are too drunk to drive).
- Every product is created with technology, so use if to differentiate your product. Give it a name and add it to your marketing communications. It is easy to use, to help you be different if your product's benefit to the consumer is boosted by your technology.
BOTTOM LINE: Picking a proper name is putting power into your product marketing. That is central to positioning a product in the mind of the consumer. So spend time working on picking names. Then stick to them so they become part of your branding plan. That's how great brands grow and dominate new market categories. It is central to how serial entrepreneurs build unfair advantages.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!