how do you name a product, and name it well?
Create some panic. Bring your deadlines forward. Brag about how, in two days, you’ll have a product name that you can live and die by, that will be broadcast into space, that will be written into the first post-apocalyptic scrolls while the wind howls across the nuclear wastelands formerly known as Kent. That will get you to the subspace known as “Monkey Tennis”. Where you are almost always guaranteed genius.
So arbitrary deadlines dutifully broadcast, we got our war room “no-one leaves until we have an agreement” mentality on, and we gleefully dived into the depths of the bizarre (i.e. the deep well of thesaurus.com).
The upshot of this is, despite best efforts, it is invariably easier to figure out what you don’t want. Therefore, here are 4 things we unanimously agreed to avoid when naming our products:
Classic Acronym Abuse (CAA) is a common problem in ad tech. Acronyms are acceptable, if not essential, for comprehending difficult to pronounce medical terms (deoxyribonucleic acid?) or for convenience of directions to your driver when you are hungry (KFC! Go!). But neither convenience or comprehension solely are required in building product brand or personality. Especially when establishing yourself in an overcrowded market. You could, and should, also argue that it also promotes ‘insider knowledge’ — sadly driving home the fact that adtech is deeply protective of its smoke and mirrors.
- Colloquial Slang
If you are a global company, the last thing you would ever want is have your enthusiastic young sales team pick up the phone to clients in emerging markets, say Delhi, only to have the phone unequivocally slammed down whilst they are trying their hardest to flog your latest product: Lodu (It’s okay, you’re a grown up. You can google it if you want.) Especially after all your hard research that it meant something super cool in Polish.
- Missing Vowels, misspelling and exotification
There’s a fine line here. Depending on your domain requirements and domain-buying budget, you might find that your killer idea to call your adtech company “Advertising”, results in a lot of wasted time trying to wrestle the name and domain rights to advertising.com. You might even be tempted to go for the (available) advrtsng.com. But that would be a mistake. AOL will likely sue you anyway.
You are not Georges Perec. Vowels are not the enemy, your lack of market research and original creativity is.
Perhaps the most crucial point of all. Even if you dodge all of the easy and trendy traps above, there’s still the chance that you’ll end up with something like, “Wabi-Sabi”. Which means (in Japanese) that there is beauty in the imperfect and the finite — whether tea bowls or human life. As beautiful a sentiment as that is, there is still a sense that, for a technology product, you have completely over-engineered your name-finding problem. Don’t forget there is also beauty in simplicity, in structure, and in not spending the first 30 minutes of your 40 minute presentation to a client explaining the subtleties of Buddhist existentialism.
And so we return to Monkey Tennis. Classic, enduring names that are the pineapple centrepiece to your inspired technical problem-solving and clever product building. And crucially evoke an immediate feeling of trust and simplicity for the user.
Which is why we called our individual user-facing products: Create, Distribute and Analyse. Which together sit on our awarding winning platform: The Rig. And all our years of ad serving and tracking experience are poured into intelligent tag technology: Sentinel.
P.S. It’s important to note that whilst Monkey Tennis never got made (per se, a dog did win Britain’s got Talent…) and Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubanks was never picked up (although, Rivers with Griff Rhys Jones?), Cooking in Prison did. With Gordon Ramsey. You see, genius!