Product naming is something we find often find very fun and a lot of work. While flashes of inspiration do happen, the more common case is that arriving at a good name is a tough slog that happens by degrees.
Last year we created a technique that’s become part of our standard toolkit for facilitating naming sessions, and it’s worth sharing. We call it Introducing….
How it Works
Introducing… asks that participants take 5 minutes to write a short introduction to the product as if it were a real person, using the name they think it should have. Introductions are any degree of formality, though we encourage acting as if one were introducing the product as a personal friend.
After writing, each person stands up and makes their introduction. They’re about 30 seconds each, and usually involve a statement that summarizes product benefits or novelties, a bit of an elevator pitch.
Why It Works
The important part is that a candidate name gets a test drive, both in one’s head as they write an introduction, and in use as it’s spoken aloud.
It’s a lot different from saying the name in the abstract. In use, names that seemed great can suddenly look ill-fitting. Names that felt a bit weak can rise to the occasion and feel natural, memorable and fitting. Being good at introductions can skew things, but it can’t make a bad name acceptable as far as we’ve seen.
When to Use It
Introducing is best used where you want to boil down a long list of brainstormed candidates into a shortlist, typically towards the end.
This technique is also helpful when a group is having a hard time agreeing. Watching a name performed, and performing it yourself, helps move an idea out of a proponent’s hands and into the room at large. It takes on a life of its own where it might flourish or fail more gracefully, and a few steps apart from the people who were cheering for it.
Hey you made it to the end of the post, so you get a pro tip. Encourage applause after each and every introduction, and when you applaud as facilitator be enthusiastic. The appreciation helps melt tension and keeps things light for those who have any trepidation about even micro-public speaking.