Blog & Company News

Feb 15, 2011

Name It Like It’s a Person

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Name it"][/caption] Hold on to your bladders! The Starbucks “trenta” cup should be infiltrating stores in 14 states through May 2011, according to NPR. Trenta is Italian for “thirty,” though the cup has a 31-ounce beverage capacity. Perhaps the Italian phrase for “thirty-one” was too much for American mouths to pronounce. One of the challenges of naming a product or business is determining whether a name translates into something offensive in another language. Brand-name hilarity abounds on the internet. According to, for example, there’s an Iranian laundry detergent named “Barf.” Cross-cultural offensiveness and copyright infringement aside, what else do you consider when selecting a name for your business or product? How do you pick a name that will engage your customers? Make it emotionally relevant. Try these steps: 1. Decipher what your customers want at the core emotional level. 2. Identify a person who would meet those emotional needs. Personification adds warmth to your product or business name. 3. Determine how your business or product is like that person. 4. Reduce it to a word or phrase. 5. Check your name. Let’s try it. Say you’re launching a line of Teddy bears. What do you think your potential customers want? Your customers most likely want to feel special and loved. Great. Now, if your Teddy bears were people who made your customers feel special and loved, who would they be? New Kids on the Block. That’s right. Back in the day, these PG-rated ruffians convinced the world’s preteens that they would love them forever. The New Kids crooned, “Please don’t go girl,” and preteens squealed and bought more than 70 million albums, according to You want your Teddy bears to have that appeal. So, get a licensing agreement and call them “Please Don’t Go Girl” bears, or “Baby, I Believe in You” bears. Now, let’s say you manufacture propane tanks for camping. What are your customers’ emotional needs? Maybe they want to feel adventurous and self-reliant. Wonderful. Now, if your propane tanks were people who made your customers feel adventurous and self-reliant, who would they be? How about the Ingalls family? These wholesome homesteaders pioneered their way to Kansas Territory, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, then to De Smet in the Dakota Territory. Today, you can visit their De Smet homestead and buy a bonnet. You want your propane tanks to have that appeal. So, get a thesaurus. Look up “homestead,” “pioneer,” “frontier settler,” and related words. How about “Frontier Settler” propane tanks? Or “Cold Winter” propane tanks? Next, you’ll want to check your name. First, see how often it was searched in the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Did your name average a bazillion global monthly searches? Great. Then, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and check your name on the Trademark Electronic Search System. You’ll also want to review your respective secretary-of-state website for information on how to register a business name. Now you try it. Ask yourself what your customers want emotionally. Think of a person who could give your customers what they want. Finally, name your business or product like it’s that person.