Perhaps the most important decision you make about your product or service is what to call it.

What’s in a name. (How to name your product).

Would Paradise Island in the Bahamas be a really successful holiday destination if they’d kept the original name, which was ‘Hog Island’. The decision to change the name in 1959 was as a result of the decision to build a resort on the island. Let’s be honest who’d want to go to Hog Island rather than Paradise Island?

Shakespeare was wrong when he wrote, “A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet”.  Not only do you see what you want to see but you smell what you want to smell, which is why the naming of perfumes and scents is really important.  What would have happened if Charles Revson had been called David, Revlon would probably not have had their best selling perfume “Charlie”.

So here are a few tips on naming.

1. Be Descriptive

The first place most people start when they have to name a product is to simply create a name that describes what the product does. Ronseal the wood stain and wood-dye manufacturer famously said “It does exactly what it says on the tin” and if you look at the names of their products they are called names such as “PERFECT FINISH INTERIOR VARNISH” or “ANTI-BACTERIAL WORKTOP OIL”. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer product is another example of a descriptive name. Consumers use it to explore the Internet. It can’t get more descriptive than that!

2. Use a Place or Person’s Name

The George Foreman Grill was named after its celebrity endorser the world heavyweight champion boxer George Foreman. Many businesses use their geographical location EYMS (East Yorkshire Motor Services) for example or Hull Trains is another. However, use caution when including a place or person’s name in your product name. The day will come when you want to expand out of that geographic area or the person whose name you used in the product name might leave to work for a competitor or in another industry. Make sure your product name can withstand these types of changes.

3. Use Real Words with a Twist

Words don’t have to be used literally in the product. They can be suggestive like Ford’s Mustang (it’s fast and sleek) or Ford’s Explorer (it’s built to and capable of exploring).

4. Add a Prefix or Suffix

You can turn a common word into a product name simply by adding a prefix or suffix to it. Apple uses this product naming technique all the time with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod offering perfect examples.

5. Create a Compound Word

Since so many brand and product names are already trademarked and the associated domain names have already been registered, it’s very common these days for product names to be compound words made by putting two words together to form an entirely new brand or product name. PhotoShop, TurboTax, and Stickups are great examples.

6. Make up a Word

One way to ensure your product name is unique is to make up a word. Gatorade, Fritos, Doritos, and Tostitos are popular examples.

7. Change Spellings

Products like Google, Trix, Kix, Fantastik, and Liquid-Plumr use real words that are misspelled. Google . The nameGoogle” originated from a misspelling of “googol”, which refers to the number represented by a 1 followed by one-hundred zeros. This was to represent how vast the data the search engine was capable of searching.  It’s creative and it helps when the name you want is already trademarked or the related domain names are already taken.

8. Tweak and Blend Words

When a single word or a compound word won’t do, you can tweak and blend words to create a brand or product name. For example, Nyquil is a tweak and blend of night and tranquil.  Pictionary is a tweak and blend of picture and dictionary.

9. Create an Acronym or Use Initials or Numbers

Acronyms and initials are short, but they don’t say much on their own. Therefore, you need to exercise caution when you use an acronym or initials in your product name. It almost always takes longer to develop brand recognition and comprehension with a name filled with numbers and letters that are difficult to remember. However, having said this, many companies have achieved great success in launching products with names that use numbers and letters. Honda’s CRV, Toyota’s Rav4, and even Formula 409 are examples of how this naming technique can work.

10. Use a Verb

You can use a verb as your product name (like Bounce dryer sheets or Apple’s iPod Shuffle) or you can turn a word used in your product name into a verb. For example, the Skype application name has turned into a verb over the years. Today, it’s common to say, “Skype me later and we’ll talk.” The Swiffer product name is also used as a verb sometimes. It’s not uncommon for a Swiffer user to say, “Look at that dust! I have to Swiffer that.”

Of course, the idea is to get your product or service name turned into a verb, a great example of this is Google, how many times do you think about googling something?

Choosing a name is like driving a racing car. To win you have to take chances.