Business, Politics, & Society

How to Name Your Product: Step-by-Step Guide

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 7, 2019 • 4 min read

What’s in a name? When you’re trying to sell a product, everything. Product naming is one of the earliest stages of starting a business. It’s one of the first things Sara Blakely did when she came up with an idea for a women’s undergarment that she decided to call Spanx.

Save

Share


Sara Blakely Teaches Self-Made EntrepreneurshipSara Blakely Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

Learn More

Why Is Product Naming Important?

Spanx. Apple. Nike. Virgin. Short, catchy, memorable. The name of a product is what leads to brand recognition. Product naming may require considerable thought and marketing savvy, or the perfect name may just pop into your head. Either way, a brand name is a unique identifier that sets a product apart from its competitors, elevates its standing in the marketplace, and emotionally connects to its target audience in order to sell the product.

How to Name Your Product: Step-by-Step Guide

You have a great product idea and now it needs a name. Dedicate time to a naming process to make sure your final name is brandable and perfect. Write down all of the potential names you come up with. Here are some ideas to kick off the brainstorming and ensure that your name is unique and memorable:

  1. Describe the function. Think of colorful words that describe what your product does. Consider incorporating one into your product’s name.
  2. Modify a real word. For example, Spanks was changed to Spanx.
  3. Invent vocabulary. Make up words or smash a few words together.
  4. Go with fun and catchy. Ensure that your name is fun and catchy. Try alliteration or a play on words.
  5. Evoke emotion. Consider words that evoke particular feelings. A great name will establish an emotional connection with the target market.
  6. Say words out loud. Write the name down and say it out loud. Test it out on others.
  7. Don’t forget to Google it. Use search engines to see if there are any other products with that name on the market. Tailor the name of your product to be easily searchable, and check to see if the domain name is available.
Sara Blakely Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship
David Axelrod and Karl Rove Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging
Paul Krugman Teaches Economics and Society
Bob Woodward Teaches Investigative Journalism

How to Create an Unforgettable Product Name

Since Sara Blakely didn’t have much money for marketing when she first launched Spanx, the product’s catchy name was her calling card. Sara names her ideas early in the development stage because, as she says, “It gives them energy.” A memorable name can create a lasting impression in the minds of investors and consumers.

An excellent product name has the potential to help cement market dominance. What would you call those sticky strips you put on your cuts if not “Band-Aids”? And how often have you called a tissue a “Kleenex” when a box from the Kleenex brand was nowhere in sight? Sometimes a brand name transcends the product it belongs to and becomes a generic, catchall word.

There is a whole slew of brand names like this. You probably didn’t even realize that most of them were brand names. In fact, the first employee at Blue Ribbon Sports, Jeff Johnson, got the idea for the company’s new name from these types of brands. While perusing an in-flight magazine in 1971, Johnson came across an article that highlighted popular brand identities like Xerox and Kleenex. His main takeaway? The best brand names had at most two syllables and at least one “exotic” letter, like an “X” or a “K.”

And thus, the brand “Nike” was born.

You can be the judge as to whether these other brand names fit the Nike rule. Here’s a short list of successful brand names to give you some inspiration as you think about your company name. Some may surprise you:

  • Kleenex
  • Xerox
  • Dumpster
  • Escalator
  • Frisbee
  • Jumbotron
  • Laundromat
  • Thermos
  • Kerosene
  • Taser
  • Jacuzzi
  • Aspirin
  • Ping-pong
  • Rollerblade
  • Pogo Stick
  • Post-It Note
  • Spanx

MasterClass

Suggested for You

Online classes taught by the world’s greatest minds. Extend your knowledge in these categories.

Sara Blakely

Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship

Learn More
David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging

Learn More
Paul Krugman

Teaches Economics and Society

Learn More
Bob Woodward

Teaches Investigative Journalism

Learn More

Two Strategies for Crafting the Perfect Product Name

Think Like a Pro

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

View Class

Here are two simple ways to get creative and think of the perfect name for your product:

  1. Find out where you do your best thinking. For one week, spend 20 minutes brainstorming in a different place each day. Once you find the place where you’re most creative, spend another week thinking in that space for at least 20 minutes per day. If you realize that you rarely find yourself in your best thinking space, make a manageable change in your routine to put you there more regularly. Maybe that means fabricating a commute, or maybe it means foregoing your favorite podcast while you shower so you can brainstorm instead. Sara Blakely came up with the name Spanks while in her car. She later switched out the “ks” for an “x,” having read that made-up words do better as brand names than real ones.
  2. Try playing a word association game. Without thinking too hard, focus on your product or service and quickly write down the first five to ten words that come to mind. Now play around with those words—combine them, change a letter or two (remember how Sara found that fake-word brand names tend to do better than real-word names). Remember that the Internet will play a role in people finding your product. If you hit on some names you like the sound of, check the availability of URLs you can fit that name into—you may not be able to get the exact URL for your brand name, so try adding an intuitive word or two (for example: getspanx.com).

Learn More About Entrepreneurship

Sara Blakely had no fashion, retail, or business leadership experience when she invented Spanx in the late 1990s. All she had was $5,000 and an idea. Which means you can start your own billion-dollar business, too. Learn more about finding your purpose, making prototypes, building awareness, and selling your product in Sara Blakely’s MasterClass.

Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass for exclusive access to video lessons taught by business luminaries, including Sara Blakely, Howard Schultz, Anna Wintour, and more.

Save

Share