There are many reasons for companies to seek help with naming. One issue that confounds a number of growing businesses who have yet to make a splash is how to name their brand, company, and products. Granted, at an early inflection point they may only have one product, which actually plays to their advantage. In such cases, it’s best to keep a naming strategy simple for several reasons.
Brand is Company is Product: so you’ve built that first minimum viable storefront, widget, or prototype that will represent the sum total of your hard work and point of view. Now, it’s important to keep naming architecture to a minimum, or even to one name—to keep brand equity as undiluted as possible. Launching with one name for people to remember is better than two at this fragile stage. Your product is the avenue by which customers will interact with your company and brand, so why not have its name echo the exact same name you’ve given your business? It’s simple, it’s direct, and all of the brand equity that results from your product feeds directly back to the company name.
A Bad Time for Complex Hierarchies: assuming the following was your given name, would you introduce yourself as “John” or “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”? Probably the former, right? Because the latter is providing too much information for an initial introduction. It’s the same for brands. You might already have a vision for a robust set of products with dozens of proprietary features that you’re eager to acknowledge, but for now you have just one. So let’s focus there. If you say to a potential customer “My company is called Theseus, our M.V.P. is called Athens, and soon it’s going to have these unique features called Acropolis and Attica,” it’s reasonable to expect that they will confuse the company for the product or a feature, and vice versa. They may also feel completely overwhelmed and disengage with the entire interaction, you, and your business. There’s no need to distract from your singular vision, by over-naming and building unnecessary hierarchies that may never get fleshed out.
A Quick Case Study—Build Out Naming as Needed: when a team of San Francisco-based mesh wifi engineers approached A Hundred Monkeys for help naming their company, they had one mission (“fast, reliable WiFi”) and one product. Eero launched in 2014 and referred to both their company and product as just that, “eero.” No modifiers, no flashy feature names, no confusion—a singular name to get the company moving. Of course, tech journalists would tack on the word “device” when referring to the product for clarity, but that’s par for the course. Eero built on its early success—including an acquisition by Amazon—and has since released multiple generations of products, which have some requisite hierarchy. Now, they use generational naming (eero 6), professional-tier modifiers (eero Pro 6), clarifying suffixes (eero 6 Extender, eero Beacon), and ingredient-branding (TrueMesh technology), but still offer an entry-level version of the product under the name “eero.” They wisely kept their naming to a minimum at launch, then carried momentum into a broader product line and deeper naming. Sounds like they got some solid advice over the years. 😉
Every naming situation is different. There can be a host of opinions, tons of company history, critical nuance of vision, or other technical considerations that lead to important branding and naming decisions. It’s important to keep in mind that people only have fleeting, flickering moments with the company that you think about most hours of most days. Especially when your product line offers only one item, the best way to get their attention and keep it is to cultivate a holistic approach to naming that focuses brand equity at a singular source.
Thanks to Ben Weis and Patrick Keenan.
Photos courtesy of Iza Gawrych, Ioana Cristiana, and Praveen kumar Mathivanan on Unsplash.