What’s in a name? More than you think.

Still_ResearchingA recent court case got me thinking.

In Cocke County Tennessee, a judge recently ruled that a baby couldn’t be named Messiah.  Not sure if I’ve ever heard of a ruling like this before and am wondering where the judge was when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their child North West.

In an earlier post, I wrote about name recognition and customer service, but what about the names of the products and services your company offers?

What if the iPhone would have been named, High-Tech Phone?  Doesn’t have the same ring as the iPhone, but that is essentially what the iPhone started out as, a high-tech phone.

Can a Name Limit a Product

XBoxWhat if the XBox was named Extraordinary Gaming Console?

At the time of its release, the name would have made sense.  The XBox was released as a video gaming machine, but look at it now.  You can stream different types of media, share information on Social Media and watch movies with Netflix.  In fact, my wife now uses our XBox more than me and she doesn’t even play video games.

Would the XBox have this much success if its name solely focused on video gaming?  Probably not, but Microsoft had big plans for the XBox and knew the name needed to match their idea of what the XBox would become, a fully engaged entertainment system.

Does a Name Touch Your Audience

QuestionA name may sound great to you and your co-workers, but does will it jive well with your audience?  Working in the banking industry, this has often been a challenge.  Early on in my career I kept running into an issue; we would gather a team together to create a new product or service and end up naming the new product or service a bank jargon driven name.  To avoid this, I would either:

  • Ask the team to pitch the name to a new hire that were also new to the banking world
  • Have our commercial lenders or branch managers ask their customers about the potential new name

Sometimes the name passed the test, but usually we had to go back to the drawing board.

Is the name unique

BeersWill the name of your product compete with another name in your industry?  Here’s a real life example…

A few years ago, a brewery opened in Knoxville and, in a short period of time, established a brand name that most craft beer drinkers in Knoxville embraced.  The name tied to the history of Knoxville and the beer was good.  There was only one problem; another beer company had a very similar name.  The brewery tried to fight it, but eventually had to change the name of their company and brand.  Fortunately the brewery is still in business and producing great beer.

The moral of the story: It’s important to research the name.

  • Perform a Google search for the name
  • Search to see if the name is being used as a website’s domain name

Two easy ways to get started with research that can prevent a future headache.

Wrap it up

These are just three ways to get started with naming a product or service. There plenty of other steps and processes out there, some easier and some more complex.  The important thing is that you create a name that will help start a conversation that leads to a successful sale.

What steps have you used when selecting a name for a new product or service?

What advice would you give others when choosing a name?


About Jeremy M. Price
For twelve years, I had the pleasure of working in community banking. Starting in customer service, I worked my way up to a senior level marketing and human resources director. It was great leading teams that improved strategic initiatives including, but not limited to brand awareness, digital communication, employee development and product development. This experience has now led to an exciting role with CRS Data. As the Product Marketing Analyst, I am currently reviewing the company's banker suite product. This product is able to help community banks reach their fullest potential in real estate lending. I am extremely fortunate to share time with my son while enjoying life in East Tennessee. The two of us enjoy the views of the Smokey Mountains, eating good food and having fun. During my free time, I enjoy running races, traveling and listening to great live music.

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