October 2

John Carlton Marketing Tips: How to Name Your Product


CWSS2-John_CarltonNaming products is a function of lining up your benefits and your features. It is kind of like that way you come down on headlines.

John’s comments:

You have to decide what is going to work in your market. I brought up things like “kiss your face” and “gee, your hair smells terrific”, and also making book titles more like headlines, rather than being cute.

The worst thing you can do is something like..typically it is the nail salon or the hair salon that comes up with a cute phrase about cutting hair that has nothing to do with actually being a hair salon. Supercuts is an example of how to do it right.

A wrong way would be something like “Little Pony Scissors”. You can be too clever. You want to stay away from clever…you want to be informative. If you have something specific to say, you want to have that as part of it.

Or, you have the name of the thing…we were talking about Dr Frank’s Juicy Herbs, or whatever. You have to eliminate all of the wrong kinds of titles, the ones that bring up all kinds of baggage, or those that would be inappropriate for the market…Happy Time ADD Center, or something like that.

So, you have to work within that. If the title is not so important, then you have a lot of leeway to do things, but then you can always explain things underneath. There is the kind of title with an explanatory sub-head, so you would use the title as a kind of shorthand. You might use “ADD Central”. Then, underneath, “the one stop resource for parents of children with ADD and educators who need to deal with…(blah, blah,blah)”.
For a book, I highly recommend using the “How to”, or any of the other advertising ways of delivering benefits in the title. Don’t get confused with the idea of trying to be clever…trying to make a pun. Puns are horrible. That’s what I was trying to get to. Hair salons use a lot of puns, like “Curl Up and Dye”. Or, I saw another one… “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”. They go out of business soon.

You are not trying to fool people…you are trying to deliver as much information in a compact phrase or whatever as you can. Short titles, like “ADD Central”, would be like a URL (www.ADDCentral.com), then let it be known in words that it is “the site for parents who have children with ADD, educators…” So, you get a lot of leeway under that.
Often you need a short way to refer to your product. Tide Detergent is short and to the point. You could have just said “Detergent”, but they wanted to name it to separate it from Ajax and all the others. But, then, what do they put after “Tide Detergent”? “Improved, Super Concentrated, Use Less, Get More”…all that kind of stuff.

David, did you have something to say on naming products?

David Deutsch: I think that it is like headlines, in a way. What you said is a good way of thinking about it. I think that the actual doing it is just to come up with a list of 100 names. Just keep going and eventually the right one will come.

John: And run them by people and have your own little focus group. Focus groups generally don’t work, because they try to get too much information out of it. But, little focus groups can work if you just ask “How’s this?” or “How does this feel to you?”

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