Naming Your Product in B2B

The four most popular male baby names in the year I was born (let’s just say it precedes the nation’s bicentennial) were Michael, Jason, Christopher and David. Today not one of these names remains in the top 100.

What’s in a (product) name? Based on the software platforms, apps and technologies I’ve seen on the internet, B2B names largely consist of jumbled vowels, random consonants and inexplicable symbols. They are eye-catching. But are they catchy?

Yes, a distinctive name is essential in a sea of white noise, but can you really afford to give your product a name nobody can pronounce? If consumers can’t decipher your product’s name (let alone any purpose or benefits it’s meant to convey), will they demand it?

Hello My Name Is name tag

I’m not the first one to consider this. B2B International lays down the law:

  • Brand names should be simple so that they are easy to understand, pronounce and spell. Two words in the name should be considered the maximum. Brand names should be vivid in imagery so that the mnemonics present strong memory cues. For example, it is said that names beginning with the letter K are easier to remember.
  • Brand names should be familiar sounding so that much of the information to which the name relates is already stored in the mind.
  • Brand names should be distinctive so that the word attracts attention and does not become confused with other brands.

Delving deeper, I consulted with a certain local B2B marketing agency principal. He shared the guidelines he offers clients planning to name, brand and roll out new products:

Naming Best Practices

  • In a nutshell: keep names SHORT, UNIQUE and MEMORABLE.
  • Avoid initials. They are not memorable, unless your brand is so universally known that it is recognizable in shorthand, such as AT&T, IBM and BMW.
  • The shorter, the better
  • One-word brands are the most effective. Long names will inevitably be truncated by the market, which can cause you to lose control of your brand or trademark.

Pronounceable names matter. Psychology Today notes that people with hard-to-pronounce names tend to receive lower evaluations from their employers.

How does that relate to product names? Psychology Today continues, “It’s a finding consistent with previous research showing that the ease, or fluency, with which we perceive something changes our impressions of it.”

The New Yorker chimes in about simplicity:

“Words also differ according to how easy they are to pronounce. People generally prefer not to think more than necessary, and they tend to prefer objects, people, products, and words that are simple to pronounce and understand.”

Organizations spend a great deal of time, energy, research and internal resources into brainstorming and copyrighting product names that they feel will stand out and be noticed by consumers and potential customers. It’s not our job to question their methodology for naming products; it’s our job to market the named products.

However, would the average American more easily relate to the names Aventador, Huracán and Centenario or Prius, Camry and Mustang?

I’m not sure. Perhaps I’ll ask Asher, Atticus, Caden and Ezra. With the most popular boy’s names of 2017, they may know.