Naming your tech product: Go human.


Full disclosure: I have been asked to help name tech products perhaps a dozen times. But I’ve never had one accepted.

Which means I’m apparently no good at picking names that engineers and product managers like.

But I stick by my approach anyway:

Name your product like humans have named things for eons.

Name your product like you would name a hill, a tree, a river, a town, an ailment, an animal, or even a child.

Name it for what it looks like. Name it for what it reminds you of. Name it for something people like.

In the real world we have delightful names for things:  Dogwood, springbok, scuppers. The Matterhorn, calliope, dung beetle.

Dragonfly, sunburn, flapjacks. Loon Lake, popcorn, rumble strip, and Havre de Grace.

Yet when naming tech products, most companies christen them with all the charm of  license plates or IRS forms.

1040 EZ.  1099. W-8BEN, XPS One 27, XPS13, S2340T, TP713, XPS 12,  XPS 10, Latitude 10 tablet, Latitude 6430u,  OptiPlex 9010, Inspiron 15z.

Can you think of any iconic product that was named like a serial number?  Like the UI89ms4200?

(Yes, I know, you can parse the digits and instantly tell its width, or capacity, or model year.  But no customer will ever do that. Save that stuff for bar codes and serial numbers.)

Even insects get better names.

Do you remember high school biology?  Those fruit flies?

They are officially called Drosophila melanogaster.

That’s Greek for “Black-bellied dew-lover”.

I remembered that name for decades.

How about common yeast. Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  “The sugar fungus that makes beer.”

Now that’s a product name.

I love how Italians name their pasta shapes: Belly buttons, little ears, bowties, chokers, and little worms.

You could theme your product names by Norse gods, types of rock, cloud formations, words that begin with Z. Or cities in the Netherlands.

When your product names are all of a theme, people will always recognize when a product is yours.

Better ‘branding’ as the gurus say.