8 Smart Ways to Name Your New Product or Service
As Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
I think one of the most overlooked aspects in your marketing is naming a product or service. There’s a lot to be said of coming up with the right name that helps propel your business forward instead of slogging along. And when I talk about new names here, keep in mind this applies to domain names and titles equally.
I mean, think about it: in Hollywood, actors have known this since the start. Do you know who Marion Morrisson was? Nope? That’s John Wayne’s real name. He adopted a stage name because Marion doesn’t exactly conjure up a tough guy image. Or Norma Jeane Baker changing her name to the more glamorous Marilyn Monroe.
Here are a few more examples…
Ever heard of a Patagonian Tooth Fish? Sounds delicious, right? Not quite – but when they went with “Chilean Sea Bass” sales soared. Or how about the “Chinese Gooseberry” – wouldn’t you like to have that for a snack? No? Oh, ok then maybe “Kiwi Fruit” is a better name.
Names are quite powerful. Here’s a historical example to prove my point. Originally, the U.S. was protected by its “Department of War”; later they changed to a more peaceful sounding “Department of Defense”. One name brings up the notion that the U.S. is constantly waging war on other countries and (without turning this into a political discussion) renaming it around ‘Defense’ is significantly more palatable – even if the function is the same.
Yes, there is a lot in a name, and I’ll share with you what I consider before I give a name to a new product, service or business. In a haphazard way I’ve known how powerful names can be, starting when I was 16 years old and working with my Father selling medical equipment. We created a private label X-ray film to be sold to our customers and my Dad tasked me with naming it. I came up with “Ultimate X-ray Film” and it turned into a major best-seller.
Now, I got to thinking of names the other day because Missy asked me to help her friend come up with a name for her new speaker management company. She was going to go with her last name i.e. “Sxxlor Management”. Yuck! Boring!
I started thinking about the ultimate benefit a speaker would want. To me, it would be something about moving up to a higher level of fees or being completely booked. So I came up with “Booked Solid Speaker Services”. I thought that was way better and included a serious benefit. I guess not. She went with her generic last name for the company name. In my opinion – big mistake! There’s no differentiation and no benefit.
Since I started really as a copywriter I know that words are incredibly important. Each one has a distinct difference. And if you get the name right you get “branding” as a by-product of powerful direct response advertising for your product or service.
Okay, so let me give you some of my ideas around naming, boiled down to 8 things to consider:
1) Alliteration – A name needs to sound good being said aloud. A lot of times I like alliteration, like “Maverick Mastermind” with the 2 M’s. A part of this is you need to say your product name aloud and make sure it can’t be screwed up on the radio or in conversation. Like does “Computers For You” have a number “4” or just a letter “U” in it? I see this mistake a lot for domain names (btw – all this advice holds true for domains.)
2) Benefit-oriented – Many times I like to use a name that has meaning to it. If you heard it you’d know right away what it is. For my first ‘real’ book, “Moonlighting on the Internet”, there’s an instant benefit with the term “Moonlighting” – it brings to mind a spare time venture and was perfect for my book which is all about 5 ways to make a couple hundred dollars extra online.
3) Beware of the Web 2.0 syndrome – For some reason after companies like Flickr or Delicio.us got big everybody wanted to create some sort of mildly dyslexic spelling for their company name that seemed cool. (I still don’t know if you spell Flickr with an ‘er’ or not. And I definitely have no idea how to spell delicio.us without looking it up.)
4) Beware Initials – Yes, some of the biggest companies like AT&T or IBM have gotten away with initials but I wouldn’t hold my breath thinking that’ll work for you too. And why would you – it’s so damn boring. And along the same lines, don’t use a generic name that doesn’t mean Jack. Hmm…was I supposed to call “Capital Paper Solutions” or was it “Senate Paper”?
5) Use Specifics – I like using numbers, days, etc. My buddy Tim Ferriss’ book has made quite a splash with the title “4 Hour Work Week”. It’s a pretty specific and compelling name. Other works that have sold well just from their ‘specific’ titles include “8-Minute Abs” and “5 Hour Energy”. Personally, one of my best selling eBooks has the title of “33 Days to Online Profits” – once again playing up the specifics here.
6) Who is the marketplace? The kind of name will help you define who is attracted to your product or service. You might remember years back when ‘Boston Chicken’ changed to ‘Boston Market’. I thought that was a bad idea because it was more generic – apparently others thought so too and it began losing sales. They changed the name back but the damage was done already. Personally, I think more people should embrace tight markets with their name and not try to be everything to everybody.
8) Bonus: Can your name help create unique language? This is a bit more advanced and much of this will come organically if your customers have a high affinity – but it’s something to consider. Look at TED, the conference for Tech, Education and Design. Now attendees call themselves ‘TEDsters’ and have been developing rituals and languaging around the event. (Read “Primal Branding” for more on this notion.) With Maverick Business Adventures® members use the term ‘Maverick Moments’ to talk about a funny incident or story that went on during a trip.
Let me share with you a few of the names I’ve created and give you the thinking behind them.
- InstantSales Letters: Uses the benefit-driven name with the prefix ‘Instant’ added to the generic item I was selling. This was my very fist $1M+ product and I think the name had a lot to do with it.
As a side note: I’m a big believer in using prefixes or suffixes to help you get the domain you really want. (i.e. Instant, Ultimate, Magic, Formula, System, etc. Names like Autoresponder Magic or UltimateDiscountDomains.com)
- Underground Online Seminar – The term “Underground” immediately brings to mind something secretive so it was a perfect name for our seminar series around real-world people teaching about how they make millions online. (Note: The very best discounts and bonuses expire January 20th so you don’t want to wait until the last minute to attend. www.UndergroundOnlineSeminar.com)
- Internet Lifestyle – I’ve liked the word “lifestyle” ever since I saw it featured in “Words That Work” by Frank Luntz. People can relate to a lifestyle because it’s different for everybody, and the ‘Internet Lifestyle’ embodies a lot of what I do.
- Maverick Business Adventures® – this was a name I’d worked on for a long time. Originally the name was going to be a “Millionaire Business Adventures” – I definitely didn’t think it had the same ring to it so I kept brainstorming. I liked the ‘MBA’ initials as a play on a real MBA – and that’s when the word ‘Maverick’ stuck.
I don’t think I’ve ever shown this before, but here’s the logo for Millionaire Business Adventures. We were going to have different adventure activities on cuff links but alas I scrubbed it.
Hopefully, you’ll agree ‘Maverick Business Adventures’ was the better choice. The word ‘Millionaire’ comes loaded with some interesting connotations around who millionaires are. I think it’s a good word for something that helps people achieve millionaire status – we own “Maverick Millionaires” and there’s been an ongoing program called “Maui Millionaires” that has done really well. Though for targeting a group of millionaires – I’m not so sure even though ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ seems to defy this.
The ultimate test of your name is your marketplace and you can always test different names using Google Ad Words. That’s what Tim Ferriss did for ‘4 Hour Work Week’ before releasing it. And I did the same for “Moonlighting on the Internet” vs. “Moonlighting Online” as the publisher wanted to call it for brevity.
Here’s an interesting case study – http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/domain-product-name-testing.html
One product name (StockScreener 5.0) performed 17% better than the next best name. They tested 22 different names and the worst performed at 300% worse – just by changing the name. Hmm…maybe you should you shouldn’t choose a domain name, product name or service without running some Google Ad Word tests?
What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know…