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Build your B2B brand with better names

Naming is hard. The trick for B2B is to make your names meaningful, sort out a system and ask for help

Everyone sees your names.  You plaster them across your advertising and marketing. And they’re short enough to be really memorable, if you want them to be.

All of which means that the names you choose for products and services are one of your biggest opportunities to show off your brand.

But all too often it’s a missed opportunity.

We get it. Naming is tricky. Everyone has an opinion. People get attached to names you can’t trademark. And you need to strike the right balance between making things clear, and making things interesting. Here are our three tips to make it work.

Make your names meaningful for your customers

It’s really easy to fall foul of the curse of knowledge, where you assume everyone knows what you know. That’s a problem in naming because you’re probably not just selling your products and services to experts. You’re selling to procurement, and other teams most likely.

So when Talk Talk market a Business Grade MPLS IPVPN, it doesn’t exactly gladden the heart or get the pulse racing. They’re missing a trick.

Thinking about the benefits can help. Mitie are a good example. They recently rebranded their cleaning services from Environmental Plus to Clean Environments. The original name feels like an internal shorthand. The new version gets you much closer to the benefit, much more quickly.

We’re not saying you have to put a benefit in the name - Apple have done pretty well without it. But at least try to think from a customer point of view when you’re coming up with and deciding on your names.

Sort out a system

One good name isn’t enough. If you want to build your brand, you need consistency. And that means thinking of a naming system for all your products and services.  It means answering questions like: how descriptive do you need to be? How do you treat groups of names?  What do you even need to name?

Take IBM. A quick glance at their software reveals a wildly fluctuating approach to naming products. A ‘Cloud Security Enforcer’ doesn’t feel like it belongs to the same business as ‘Cognos’ or ‘SPSS’.

Ask for help

When Mondo bank realised they couldn’t keep their name because of trademark issues, they decided to throw it open to the public for suggestions. In 48 hours they got over 12,500 submissions from almost 10,000 people across the world. They’re still working out the winning name. But whatever the result, most businesses can only dream of that level of engagement.

Of course, it doesn’t always run smoothly. When the Natural Environment Research Council asked the public to name their polar research vessel, they didn’t anticipate the most popular suggestion would be Boaty McBoatface. Things got a bit tricky. But the organisation found an elegant compromise:  the boat was named after David Attenborough, and they called one of its sub-sea vehicles Boaty McBoatface instead.  

There’s yet to be a B2B crowdsourced naming campaign, as far as we know. Maybe you could be the first?