How to Use Focus Groups to Help You Choose a Great Name


So, you’re considering using consumer research for your new name. Consumer research is a way to gather opinions about your brand from people in your target audience. While we seldom recommend that clients hire focus groups to evaluate name candidates, there are certain projects for which performing consumer research makes sense. So should you hire a focus group? Well it depends. To help you make a decision, it’s important to know which types questions consumer research is good for and which could lead you astray.

First, understand that consumer research should be one of the last steps in your name selection process. Limit the number of names to a small group of serious finalists.

Next, you should never go into a focus group hoping to have your consumers make decisions for you. Focus groups tend to gravitate towards the most obvious and least disruptive brand names. These names just feel more comfortable when applied to a new brand that nobody knows yet. However, these names, the ones that take the path of least resistance, are the ones that nobody will remember at the end of the day. So, when using consumer research, do not ask your consumers which name they like best. Instead, ask simpler, more quantitative questions. Is it easy to pronounce? Is it appropriate? Do you have any negative connotations with the name? With this method you can bring a short list of name finalists to a focus group and leave with useful data.

Alternatively, you can collect more qualitative information from consumers, but, again, just make sure to ask the right questions. Maybe you want to know what emotions a name evokes, if the name works in context, or gauge consumers’ reaction to a logo. A consistent emotional reaction could help you avoid choosing an inappropriate name or provide evidence that substantiates the choice of a good one. This data can be particularly useful for convincing stakeholders that certain name candidates are acceptable to your target audience.

Lastly, you should understand that consumer research can generate a lot of information that may prove difficult to evaluate holistically. Hiring a naming firm such as Catchword to analyze your data will allow you to arrive at the most tenable conclusions about what’s best for your brand. Check out this video to see Catchword’s own consumer research expert, Laurel Sutton, explain the ins and outs of focus groups.

Need help with a naming project? Contact us to learn more how we can find the perfect name for your company, produce or service.


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