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Your product is in development, everyone on your team is on the edge of his or her seat and you’ve managed to motivate a large group of people to “wait for it”. Everything would be perfect except for the fact that you have no idea how to call this “thing you’re building.”

Naming can be a hassle for teams because we feel that it somehow dictates our product’s future. And in a way, it does. But that doesn’t mean that it is efficient to spend a perpetual amount of time coming up with a suitable name.

An effective process to follow when selecting a name for your product is the following:


1. Listen – Go outside: Figure out what words are already in your audience’s collective imaginary. You can either ask them to communicate these words directly or simply listen to their conversations as they try to solve the problem your product is here to solve (ethnographic observation). You can also use online social networks to research word associations.

2. Brainstorm – Come back inside: Sit down with your team and conduct an ideation session where you brainstorm potential names based on what you just heard from your audience and your own creative input. Write down these possibilities on Post-it notes and use a wall to display them in no particular order.

3. Synthesize – Narrow down: Now is the time to start organizing these ideas based on how they associate to one another. Find affinities between the Post-it notes and group them visually.

4. Decide – Take a vote: Select 2-3 final choices by taking a vote or, if your team is small enough, finding some level of consensus.

5. Test – Go back outside: Show these 2-3 choices to potential customers and have them rate them based on the features that you wish to associate with your product. Make sure that every name is typed down in the same font and size, and that no other imagery is added. This makes sure that subjects are only looking at what we care about: your name. Ask, for instance:

  1. According to you, which of these names conveys more “safety”?

  2. If you were to buy XYZ, which of these products would you trust and select? (Based solely on the name)

  3.  Which do you think is most efficient at solving (your value offer here), product A or B? 

Here are 14 tools that will make each of these steps easier:


Tools for Listening


1.    Surveymonkey: Create a survey question that lists some of the benefits, features and categories related to your product and asks subjects: “What other words do you associate with the following ones? For each word, write the first two or three free associations that come to your mind ( nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)”


2.    A notebook: Go outside and write out some of the words you hear while potential customers are facing the problem that you are trying to solve.


3.    A voice recorder: Most smartphones offer voice recording capabilities. Go outside and record some of the conversations that your potential customers hold as they try to solve the problem your product targets.


4.    Deeperweb: This search engine add-on allows you to visualize results as a cloud where word size represents how much it is used in relation to what you searched for.


5.    Topsy: Search for your product category and see what consumers and brands are saying in social media. Write down the most frequent terms that could make good names (or parts of them). 


Tools for Brainstorming


6.    Paper Mindmap: Before everyone starts pitching in ideas, allow some time for individual brainstorming. Each member can use a paper-based mind map to visualize word associations that derive from your product’s core promise and function. There is no right or wrong way to do this.



7.    Mindmeister: Same principle as the paper-based Mindmap, but easier to share when working at a distance.


8.    A wall or pinboard: Have everyone record their ideas on Post-it notes and pin them onto a large vertical surface in no specific order.

Source: Oranaozchi


9. This tool works just like a physical wall, but it will allow you to conduct this ideation session at a distance. Share your Murals with other users to collaborate.


Tools for Synthesizing


10. Affinity diagram: Use the same pinboard or wall (in Tool 7) to start moving Post-its around according to how related each name idea is to one another. This act of creating groups out of seemingly unrelated name ideas is also known as “finding affinities.”

Source: Sam Lavery


Tools for Deciding


11. Google Forms: Take a group vote on the best name ideas by creating a form and sharing it via email. A moderator must create a question and a set of options based on what you’ve discussed as a team.


12. Tricider: This tool facilitates decision-making by allowing you to vote on crowdsourced ideas for a name (or anything else, really). Unlike other voting tools, you can reach a “tricision” based on ideas suggested by anyone – not just the moderator. Therefore, it’s more of a brainstorming + deciding tool. Because tricisions can be public, you can even ask customers to pitch in!


Tools for Testing


13. Pickfu: Test your name in minutes by creating a short online poll that you can share with potential customers. Here’s how it works: you ask a question like “Which potential name do you like better?”, Pickfu finds responders to pick and option and explain why, and you get instant feedback complete with explanations and demographic information.


14. Crowdpicker: Very similar to Pickfu. The first, however, collects “why” explanations that can give you more insight as to why consumers chose a given name.