What’s in a name?

Nomenclature should be one of the most important decisions surrounding New Product Development, however, its importance can often be overlooked. A name is a key signature of a product’s identity; it creates expectation of what a customer will receive and how they should be relating to the product. As such, a name has to successfully imbue a product’s characteristics.

To ensure this is the case, whether a name is freshly coined or an existing word, it should be rigorously tested along 4 key performance indicators:

  • Engagement
  • Inherent attributes
  • In-context credibility
  • Stretch


Gauging how much a name captures customers’ imagination is crucial. Does it peak their interest? Does it create curiosity? Does it feel progressive? All these are important to ensure it cuts through the clutter, but also that it holds potential to stir emotion and therefore, in turn, association. A name customers feel cold or indifferent to may hinder a product’s immediate ability to resonate and embed.

Inherent attributes:

Most products will have a pyramid or bullseye which dictates its desired characteristics. Testing a name in different unrelated and related contexts will ensure that a name has – and can retain – inherent attributes that support these desired characteristics. To do this, the name becomes the name of different things like a shop, a pair of skis, a fast food meal or a film and customers have to describe its traits in this context. For example, if a name can remain friendly (easy to use) and fast (good performance) across all contexts, then it these are its inherent attributes.

In-context credibility:

While testing out of context is crucial to ascertain its inherent attributes, sometimes this can all come crashing down when the real context is revealed. A name must be able to retain its inherent attributes in-context, but also be credible and engaging in this context too.


A name must not have limited or very literal associations. It must also be free of being pigeon-holed to a certain time (e.g. an era or a season) or a particular place (e.g. a country or corporation). It must be expansive enough to take on different characteristics and progress to the future.

Sectors: Business Services and Communications
Topics: Advertising, Business Development, Getting Started, Insights & Statistics, Localisation, Product Development, Promotion, and Sales & Marketing
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