Business Naming And Product Naming are Different Animals.

Company naming should be separate from product naming.

Let me explain what I mean with a true story about one of my first naming assignments.

This entrepreneur had named his business, and simultaneously named his first software product with the same name. The business name and the product name were inseparable. This worked for him for about a year. Then he was ready to introduce his second product.

He realized something wasn’t right. If he wished his company to proclaim ownership and authorship of the new product, he had to, in the minds of his market members, insist that his first product owned the second. And even though both products were to be sold to the same segments, they performed two distinct functions. The second product was not an extension of the first.

A typical system to establish a naming hierarchy and protocal.
A typical system to establish a naming hierarchy and protocal.

The answer was to rename the first product as well as naming the second. There was a requirement to show a family resemblance, so I suggested one be called TopChoice, and the other TopDrawer. We also established a naming system for future products as well as a consistent method of labeling new versions of older products.

In the trade it’s called developing a naming hierarchy, and it’s a function of name management and brand architecture – the positioning of products against other products in the product portfolio, as well as positioning them within their respective markets against competitive products.

The lesson is to consider as best you can what products and services you will be introducing over time and adopt a flexible naming hierarchy in the beginning so you won’t have to worry about false starts and confusion among your prospects and customers.

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