The Naming Standoff

How to help the product development and marketing teams agree on what to name the next new thing.

When naming a new product, there is not infrequently a “product vs. marketing” clash. This “debate” stems from well intended, yet differing motivations. Those who developed the product or service see it as the next big thing – deserving of the greatest brand name since Nike and Apple. The marketing team, by contrast, views the new product as simply the next generation of an existing thing, therefore deserving of something more like a number or descriptive word.The root cause of a product vs. marketing debates usually lies in an ill-defined product architecture – and an objective means to evaluate new offerings relative to that architecture. When the criteria, outlining when and how an offering gets a name, is developed and embraced by all stakeholders, the subjectivity can be removed and the decision of when and how to name becomes a simple exercise of evaluating the new offering based on the criteria and letting it guide the decision.

Bottom line: it’s worth your time to establish a brand architecture. If you don’t, you’ll find that Every. Single. Product. Name. becomes a debate, and no one has time (or patience) for that.

It may seem counterintuitive to have such detailed criteria in a creative process. But it’s this resulting clear target – the creative brief – that allows the naming team to create great names and the selecting team to evaluate the names on their creative merits – knowing they meet the strategic needs. This is how you choose a “house” that will soon feel like a “home.”

Topics: guidance, naming