Sometimes, naming a product is as easy as putting pen to paper and writing down the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes naming a product or company is agony. After all, having a brand name become household terminology is really the holy grail for every advertiser. Everyone wants to name the next “Onesie,” “Chapstick,” or “Kleenex.” Unfortunately, coming up with the perfect brand name can be a real challenge.
Fortunately, when it comes to naming complex products, particularly those derived from highly scientific fields, there are rules that one can follow to help make the process simpler. Pharmaceutical companies have the ordeal refined to a basic process, but still spend millions naming products. Here are a few tips you can follow for making a complex product name palatable to your target audience.
AICAR Is an Acronym
An acronym is an abbreviation made by taking the first letters of most of the words in a more complex term. The peptide 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboximide ribonucleotide is being investigated for its ability to boost healing and improve immune function in animal models. Someday, it may form the basis of advanced immune treatments for a number of human conditions. You can learn more about AICAR research here; Unfortunately, the word 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboximide ribonucleotide is nearly impossible to say and, despite the peptide’s many positive effects, elicits images of sterile lab environments and boring organic chemistry courses. These aren’t exactly emotions an advertiser would want to elicit.
When 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboximide ribonucleotide is turned into an acronym, however, it becomes AICAR. AICAR is easy to say and, because of its spelling, creates connections in many consumer brains with other well-perceived brands and product categories. Other examples of great acronyms that turn complex product names into palatable household words include TASER (Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle), IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad ElmtarydAgunnardy), and CVS (Consumer Value Stores). If you are struggling to name a complex product or company, consider how an acronym might boost your brand.
Alternative Nametags Boost Brand Value
The pharmaceutical industry is famous for giving products more than one name. In fact, most drugs have a minimum of three names. The first name assigned is the drugs chemical name, which is used almost exclusively in reference materials and is so complex as to be avoided by all but the most specialized of experts. The second name is the generic name. A drug’s generic name is determined by an expert committee and is not under the control of the company producing the product. This name generally reflects how the drug relates to other known medications or to certain physiological processes.
In general, neither a drug’s chemical name nor its generic name is palatable to a lay audience. This is problematic because companies want patients to remember their products and ask for them by name. People never do that if they can’t remember or pronounce the name of the product. This is why pharmaceutical companies spends millions naming blockbuster drugs and guard those trademarked names jealously. Many times, these names are meaningless words created to convey certain feelings about the product or make people think about it a certain way. One way to name your product is to think about how you want your target audience to perceive it and then work backwards to develop words, even nonsense words, that convey that perception. Consider words like Vioxx and Xeljanz, they are completely meaningless, but they sound good and are easy to remember.
Idioms and Wordplay in Product Naming
Idioms are phrases that mean something other than what they convey on the surface. For instance, “nest egg” generally does not refer to the chick you are attempting to hatch in a pile of straw, but rather to your retirement savings. Idioms in marketing are highly effective when they attract a customer’s attention and maintain interest in the message being delivered.
To make the most of wordplay in your marketing, it needs to entice the reader into a kind of confidence with you, one in which the double meaning is a sort of puzzle that, once solved, creates a feeling of gratification. That feeling will then be associated with your product. Use idioms and wordplay to make subtle hints about the efficacy, quality, or desirability of your brand. Getting to your advertising indirectly is almost always more effective than going at it straight on.
The Big Leagues
When it comes to product branding and naming, companies can spend millions to come up with the perfect word, slogan, or advertising message. You can do the same, even if you don’t have millions to spend, simply by keeping your target audience in mind and being clever about word choice, phrasing, and grammar.