“What’s in a name? What we call a rose by any other name would smell so sweet. “
Sorry Shakespeare, but we must agree that we disagree on this point.
While the name of your product is not the be-all and end-all of your packaging design, it’s easy to see why the concept of naming has so much power. To name something means to give it an identity. Names create associations between cultures and individual experiences.
A consumer in France might hear the name “Gucci” and conjure up a completely different image than a consumer in the US, but most likely these two consumers will conjure up many similar traits as well. Luxury. Status. Wealth. These are core associations that the Gucci brand has burned into our culture over the years, so the name is now slang to younger people. (Trust us here. Go to your kids and tell them their style is so Gucci. You’ll enjoy watching them roll your eyes.)
In other words, names have power. You can bring ideas into the minds of consumers and let your brand values flow into the awareness of our culture.
If you allow us to ignore the poetic nuance of Shakespeare for a moment when you ask the question, “What’s in a name?” We’d answer, “Damn close to everything.”
Find the perfect name
The science of naming in marketing shows many researchers and psychologists delving into the nuances of the how every letter, every syllable and every tone can affect our perception. It’s big business – but from our point of view, product naming doesn’t have to be a scientific project. With our corporate branding expertise, you only need a few elements to design a product name that will stand out from the crowd.
- Names should have meaning
- Names should reflect common values
- Names should be visually different
Let’s dwell on these in more detail.
Product names should have meaning
The best product names are not just descriptors of the product itself. For many brands, product names are an opportunity to do so describe higher ideals or functions that you want to link to your brands:
- Cadillacs were named after the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who was designed to evoke a sense of adventure and pioneering spirit.
- LEGO is an abbreviation of the Danish term “leg god”, which means “play well”.
- The Pantene Pro-V line was named panthenol after its recently discovered special ingredient, vitamin B5.
Each of these examples reflect a different kind of common understanding between buyer and seller. The names Cadillac and LEGO evoke an emotion. The Pantene Pro-V approach emphasizes certain product features as selling points.
Regardless of how you approach it, you are sharing information about your brand and creating a sense of transparency regarding your brand goals. Research shows that 86% of consumers Agree that authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support. When consumers make associations between product names and their meanings, they understand your brand on a deeper level.
Product names should reflect brand values
Ideally, your product name will reflect one of the core values of your brand. Sustainability, environmental awareness, fair trade, self-confidence, diversity. Whatever the value, you will get more consumer attention by making a clear association between the product name and the value.
A good example of this is the Nike line Air Jordan sneakers. These simple basketball shoes became a global phenomenon in the late 80s and 90s thanks to the worldwide popularity of Michael Jordan himself.
But Air Jordan wasn’t about the shoes. Not really. The product itself hardly played a role; Kids didn’t line up around the block to get the latest Air Jordan sneakers because they were so comfortable or so well made.
They ranged in droves because of the Associations the product made in their minds. Sure they wouldn’t indeed Let yourself jump like MJ, but by referring to Jordan’s image floating through the air, kids and athletes alike believed that these sneakers could bring something special to their game. This was a core value of the Nike brand. Combined with the marketing genius of the Air Jordan name, the company created a line of products that have made hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.
Of course, finding the perfect brand name that reflects your company values is easier said than done. That is why it performs so well when done well. Additional research shows that 77% of consumers Better to buy from brands that share their values. This is a major selling point for marketing to Generation Z and other young audiences. Make these values clear in your product name and other packaging design elements.
Product names should be visually different
Of course, it’s better to have a name that stands out from the crowd than one that fits into a competitor’s existing line of products.
This has obvious advantages from a brand differentiation perspective. The more memorable your product is, the better off you’ll be – even if it means getting a little weird. Who would have thought the Smucker brand was as sticky as it is? A little originality can go a long way here.
But it is not straight about memorability. Think about how your new product name fits into your larger branding and marketing strategy.
Take SEO for example. The cosmetics-based Dove Beauty Bar doesn’t compete with the Dove Chocolate Bar on the shelf. However, if consumers go to Google and search for “Dove Bar”, the brand keywords will lock the horns. A brand will inevitably fall short and lose a higher rank in the SERPs that it could have earned with a unique product name.
Of course, don’t feel compelled to base your entire naming decision on these downstream marketing impacts. Remember to think long-term about your naming strategy. It affects more than what consumers see on the shelf.
Make connections with the perfect product name
Overall, great product names are about something bigger than the product itself. They can reflect your company’s values, its goals, or the product’s main selling points. It doesn’t matter which approach you take. The bottom line is that you create a common connection between your company and your target audience and use your product name to strengthen that relationship.
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