Branding and Naming Your Product: Human Names Can Stir Controversy

Zoe carRenault has stirred up some bad PR for naming their new car “Zoe.”  I guess for many people, it’s getting outside the range of fair play to call a new product by a human name.

As a marketing person, I know how difficult it can be to come up with name suggestions that reflect the “personality” of the product, are able to be trademarked, and pass the likeability test with all the stakeholders.

In fact, whenever someone mentions my name in reference to the car named Christine, I know I feel a little twinge of cringe inside.

Are you naming a new product? What resources do you use when you’re doing the naming?

  • Brainstorm- write down the adjectives and emotions you’d like to have your target audience feel about the new product
  • Mind map - let the ideas flow, don’t eliminate during the process
  • Research the trademark availablity -  after you’ve developed your short list - Although no replacement for a legal review, the USPTO search website can help help eliminate a registered name in the same category quickly.

As someone with the name of “Chris Brown”, I know how difficult it can be when your name is associated with a product much different than you. When I’m introduced to a group of young people, they often snicker and snort. “Punch anyone lately?” or a similar joke.

Reminds me of my father in law who when introduced to someone for the first time got the reply, “Oh yeah? And I’m Snoppy.” He claims he was going by Charlie long before the cartoon was created.

So, to all the Zoes out there: my advice is “Get used to it.”

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Photo courtesy creative commons Flickr: bindermichi

Author: Chris Brown

Business owner operating a marketing consulting firm. Online Publisher. Keynote Speaker.

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