Four ways B2B product names get in the way of marketing


B2B firms, become quite delusional when it comes to naming their products. But without knowing it, the names they choose end up impeding customer engagement and slowing their growth. Here’s five common mistakes companies make

  1. Unpronounceable names: Why would you pick a name that customers don’t know how to pronounce? Referrals are the bedrock of strong brands so making it hard for customers to speak about you when you’re not there is dumb. Make sure names can be repeated, orally or in written form, accurately.
  2. Oblique language: Obscure product or brand names are useful to create differentiation but make it hard for customers. Inside organisations they make a lot of sense but outside, without the budgets to create awareness, all this does is impede customer understanding.
  3. Overly long names: We live in a world of text speak, where economy of letters is now mandatory. Anything longer than three or four  ‘shwah’s’ (syllable type stresses) is too long and customers will shorten it, even if you don’t. Think PWC not Price Waterhouse Coopers, BP not British Petroleum, IBM not International Business Machines and so on.
  4. Too many brand names: Unilever, one of the world’s largest brand owners finds managing 100 brands hard. However many smaller businesses feel the need to brand everything in the hope that it makes them seem bigger than they really are; many US firms trademark or service mark everything they do. In both situations, customers end up having to plough through long lists of names they’ve never heard of to try and find one that suits them. This creates an onerous burden on the company and confuses the hell out of customers.

Coming up with a brand and product naming system that makes sense to customers is not as straightforward as it seems. Organisations without the expertise to do this risk putting barriers between  them and their customers. But as a simple guide, product/service descriptors, under one brand name, using plain english, is much more practical route for smaller firms to pursue.


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