Naming your product or service should never be a light-hearted decision, even though it might seem like the most fun part of any development process. Sure, don’t deny yourself the fun, but it’s serious business – so serious that entrepreneur, naming strategist and visual artist, Katarina Nilsson, founded the full-service naming agency Eqvarium. Her work has taken her across the globe for brands such as Sony Ericsson, Electrolux and H&M. Katarina is also a facilitator for Joy of Business, an online community supporting businesses and leaders. For those who have a new product or service in the pipeline, here’s Nilsson’s best tips to give you the best chance of nailing that all important customer appeal.


Create the road map

Nilsson advises to start with a ‘road map’ to come up with the naming strategy. Ask what you’re going to name, identify your markets, your competition, what the naming landscape is like in your kind of business, how you’d like your name to sound, investigate intellectual property and trademarks and how many languages do the names need to work in.

“It’s not just witty or fun names. It’s really a strategic business decision and the responsibility for making these decisions has moved to top management, not just in branding and marketing. The name needs to live during the product or service’s lifestyle,” she says.

If your product or service will generate revenue in 10 to 15 years’ time, the name should mean something over that time rather than be too descriptive and risk becoming obsolete. No name will satisfy everyone, but it’s best to avoid words with negative connotations or “with associations that go in the wrong direction.”

Nilsson suggests going for as simple and as few levels as possible. For mobile phones, for example, the trend has been to go from main brand to an alphanumeric model description (ie. Samsung Galaxy 7, iPhone 7) choosing real names or sub-brand names for the different phone or device models. But alphanumeric model descriptors don’t really “evoke something in the consumer or the customer”.

“These are two different strategies, naming each product differently or going for alphanumeric model descriptor. Will one of them give you more business, is it worth it? You need to know what you’re choosing,” says Nilsson.

“When you choose something that’s really easy to accept or it’s not controversial right now, it will be completely uninteresting in a few years’ time. Be braver – be bold, choose something that’s really unique and interesting now as it needs to be interesting in five to 15 years’ time.”

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Katarina Nilsson is a coach with an ICF diploma, a certified Access Consciousness facilitator and a certified Joy of Business facilitator. She is an entrepreneur with 15 years’ experience as a naming expert and strategist. Through her business, Eqvarium, she has helped create names for some of the world’s most recognisable brands such as Sony Ericsson, H&M, Toyota, Electrolux and BabyBjörn. Katarina is also an artist and offers her paintings, creative workshops, lectures and coaching to clients all over the world. Visit Katarina Nilsson Artwork to view her art and for more information.


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