Product & Service Naming
Product and service naming encompasses a range of naming initiatives. Beyond just individual products and services, you may need to name an ingredient brand, a family brand, a new platform, a solution suite, or even a concept for research. A savvy naming partner understands that every initiative is unique, every market distinct, and every naming objective different. At Catchword, we take the time to understand you, your project needs, and your unique naming goals.
Are you hoping to define a new category or simply distinguish your offering from competitors’?
Is it important to tie the new name to your portfolio, or does it need to stand apart?
Should the new name communicate a key brand message or create brand intrigue with an abstract concept?
Whatever your objectives, we’ll ensure we’re on the same page and deliver names that address your specific goals.
To ensure our clients clear the myriad hurdles they need to get over (trademark and domain availability, linguistic and cultural acceptability, consensus among multiple decision-makers, etc.), Catchword has developed a naming process of best practices at every step:
- Immersion: Our upfront meetings ensure immersive understanding of business objectives and elicit hard-to-articulate name preferences.
- Creative: During name development, we create a staggering number of candidates, covering every viable name message, construction, and tonality (because sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it).
- Screening: Our trademark and linguistic screening phases are equally comprehensive.
Recent product and service naming projects include Attain (the new mobile health application from Aetna), Atlas (the new SUV from Volkswagen), FitStation (3-D scanning and printing tech for apparel retailers from HP), and Ursa (an exciting new music streaming service). Check out our Full Portfolio of Product & Service Names for more examples of our work.
Product & Service Naming – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do I need to trademark my product name?
If your product name is anything other than generically descriptive, you should try to protect it. Registering your mark with the trademark office (as opposed to simply asserting trademark with a superscript ™), provides additional protection against imitators.
If your product has a generic name (Markers rather than the suggestive name SuperTips), you won’t be able to trademark it, though you might be able to secure a trademark for a descriptive name that has acquired secondary meaning through long-standing, exclusive use. Please consult a trademark attorney for more information.
How is product naming different from company naming?
Naming a product and naming a company require similar processes, but there are a few key differences. Company names must align with the company’s vision, personality, and culture, but product names aren’t limited in this way, particularly when the product is front and center and the company name operates more as a “house of brands” (a la P&G in relation to Tide, Pampers, Crest, etc.).
Although company names usually steer clear of high descriptivity in order to evolve and expand, product names can more explicitly say what the thing does. They can also be more playful, edgy, and bold.
Another important difference is that product names can be part of a product family or line; each name must make sense with respect to the others so that customers know what to buy. The first step in product naming, therefore, is strategic—identify how the product fits into the company’s offerings now and in the future.
A third difference is that product names can be localized to suit different geographies and cultures. It’s no problem for a beverage to be called Diet Coke in the US and Coca-Cola Light in Italy.
Lastly, many product names don’t require a corresponding exact .com and often don’t need a domain name at all.
Can or should my company and product name be the same?
There is no single right or wrong answer here. Many successful companies rely primarily on a strong company name (think Oracle or Cisco), with use of descriptors for most products. This approach is known as “branded house,” and a benefit is that marketing spend serves to reinforce the equity of the master/corporate brand.
A company like Procter & Gamble, on the other hand, relies on a “house of brands” approach, with strong product brands like Charmin, Olay, and Bounty. This approach allows for much more targeted messaging for each product name. And if any of these products fails, there is no impact on the parent brand.
The choice of branded house or house-of-brands—or something in-between—depends on many factors, including number of anticipated products, target markets, and marketing budget.
What is the difference between naming a product and a service?
In terms of process, there isn’t a difference between naming a product and naming a service. However, because services—including software as a service (SaaS)—are built on relationships, their names are more likely to highlight the emotional benefits to the customer, such as peace of mind, rather than the functional benefits, such as tracking health data.
What are the characteristics of good product names?
The hallmark of a great product name is engagement meets memorability. The two qualities go hand in hand: you are more likely to remember a name you can connect with, and you’re more likely to connect with a name you can remember. Great names may spark the imagination with timeless metaphor (like Vudu and Nest) or playfully telegraph what they offer (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter).
A new product name should make sense with your existing product line and company brand. Ford won’t be adding an SUV called X450 or Zippy to its lineup of Escape, Expedition, and Explorer.
Another important quality is distinctiveness (unless you’re naming a private-label product and want to strongly recall a more premium competitor). Great product names stand out from the competition. Consider the stylistic differences among the toothpaste brands Aim (very short English word), Colgate (family name), and Pepsodent (coinage of pepsin, an ingredient, + dent, “tooth” in Latin).
Like all names, product names should be succinct and easy to say and spell. For more on what makes a fantastic brand name, check out Catchword’s 10 Qualities of Great Brand Names.
Do I need a .com for my product name?
The short answer is: probably not. Most companies market their products via their own site or retailer sites. And these days, few people key in URL addresses directly, using search to find the sites they want. However, there are instances where products should have a .com (though that this doesn’t always mean the exact .com):
- When the product name rather than company name is how you expect customers to find you. Consider a consumer packaged good like Febreze (versus parent P&G), which uses febreze.com.
- When you plan significant social media, content advertising, or content marketing, customers may find it easier to share productname.com than a lengthy URL like manufacturer.com/productname.
- When your marketing plan includes direct-to-consumer sales, particularly through radio or TV advertising, a memorable .com is a big help.
How long does it take to name a product?
The product naming timeline varies depending on whether naming strategy is required, how crowded the marketspace is, which geographies are involved, naming style preferences, and trademark and domain-name needs. We recommend at least 4-6 weeks, not including formal legal vetting and, if needed, customer research or global linguistic/cultural screening.
What do product naming services cost?
Product naming fees depend on the scope and complexity of the project. There’s a huge difference between naming a new semiconductor for a global market, with multiple stakeholders and rounds of creative, versus providing a creative blast of names for a richer form of an existing ice cream brand.
In general, fees range from $15,000 for a quick and limited engagement to $65,000 or more for a multi-round name-development project.