- PMM Camp
- #55: How to Name a Product
#55: How to Name a Product
The 6-step guide to naming your next product or feature
Well, it’s happened. 2024 has arrived, and we’re officially into the third (calendar year) of this newsletter.
Let’s kick off the year with one of my favorite topics: product naming.
It’s heated. It’s stressful. It’s contentious. It’s arbitrary. But, it’s necessary. A good product/feature name can make or break a launch.
No, I did not pay him to set up this topic. But, now that he’s put it out into the universe, I’m happy to respond.
In today’s edition, we’re going to cover how to take an intentional approach to naming your new product or feature. And, spoiler alert, sticking your finger in the air is not answer.
Let’s get into it 👇🏻
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How to Name a Product
More often than not, naming a new product is an afterthought. Names are decided ad hoc without much consideration for the larger product or brand strategy, or how the product might scale.
It doesn’t need to be this way. I actually enjoy the process of naming new products as it’s a great opportunity to collaborate and be creative.
There are two things that need to be considered here. First, the process to ideate and decide on a name. Second, the criteria by which the decision will be made.
Let’s start with the first.
I have a fairly simple 6-step process that I follow for product naming. It’s effective and covers all the bases.
Here are the 6 steps:
Prepare a strategic brief
Assemble a stakeholder team
Run a brainstorm workshop
Synthesize ideas and shortlist names
Complete customer and market research
First, I start by preparing a strategic brief that outlines the key information all stakeholders will need in order to participate. Clearly outline the goals for the new product/feature and what the name should convey. Include any competitive or market intel that’s important to know (such as terms to avoid, etc).
Next, I assemble a small stakeholder team. Include individuals from various departments like marketing, product and customer success. Everyone will have a unique perspective to bring to the table.
As a stakeholder group, run a brainstorm workshop. Each stakeholder should read the strategic brief ahead of time and be fully up to speed on the product, it’s capabilities and it’s value. Use mind maps, word association, or ideation workshops - anything to get those ideas out of heads and onto paper! Record all suggestions without filtering during the session to capture a wide array of possibilities.
At this point, it’s time for PMM to run point again. I synthesize all of the ideas and cluster into themes. Usually, a short list starts to emerge (I like to narrow it down to less than 3).
From here, I conduct more thorough market and customer research. I want to verify that the names don’t infringe on trademarks, there aren’t any cultural implications, and that it isn’t already “owned” by a competitor. I google the names to see what search results come up, and I even put it in front of customers to understand what comes to mind when they hear the name.
I’ll make a final recommendation, bring it back to the stakeholder team for buy-in, and then get executive sign-off.
Now, let’s discuss the criteria for making this final decision.
Here’s the distinct criteria I’m evaluating as I move through the process above. There are 5 categories I like to consider:
Easy to Understand: Is the capability and value of the product clear? I always prefer clarity over cleverness.
Distinctive: Is the name unique enough from your competitors? I like to confirm that there aren’t any open trademarks, at a minimum. If you use a term the market already knows, they may make their own assumptions and connotations.
Ownable: Is this a term that you can own? Meaning, can you optimize SEO to deliver top results in the SERP and can you earn the mindshare of your market. If someone heard this term at a conference, would they know it came from you? This criteria isn’t 100% required, but it’s a good consideration.
Memorable: Is it easy to remember and pronounce? Will customers remember the name on a support call? Will prospects search for it in google after seeing it on your site?
Scalable: How does this fit into the broader product hierarchy? Will this limit your options to name future products?
It’s important to remember that not every criteria may be weighed the same. I like to align ahead of time on the importance of each criteria so everyone’s on the same page.
One final tip: before you ship it, try using the name for a week or two internally. If it’s awkward, you’ll know almost immediately.
📚 Reading List: I’ve had this step-by-step brand naming guide from Nick Kolenda bookmarked for years.
🛠️ Tools: Last month, Jason Oakley shipped the PMM Files website - the largest database of product marketing examples. It’s sortable by category which makes it’s super easy to find the right inspiration at the right time.
Until next week,
P.S. Are you an experienced product marketer looking for a dedicated space to learn and grow?
Grab your spot on the waitlist for the PMM Camp Community, the only community built for (and by) product marketing leaders. New spots open in March, but I’ll be sharing free goodies with waitlisters soon.