Five Questions to Ask While Naming Your Product Category, and Three More for When You’re Almost Done

Five Questions to Ask While Naming Your Product Category, and Three More for When You’re Almost Done

Lately, I have been finding myself helping clients to come up with new names for their product categories. Their solutions may have unique pieces and parts that aren’t available from anyone else; they may want to deepen their differentiation; or they may want to change the emphasis of a product category that has evolved faster than its name has.
So when do you decide that your product is in a completely new product category instead of emphasizing how you fit (or differentiate) in existing category. For smaller companies, the trade-off is usually between standing out (differentiation) and getting found by potential customers (SEO).
Here are some questions you can ask as you get started:
1. To what extent do potential customers know that a product like yours exists?
2. If so, what terms would they use to find such a product?
3. If your product has multiple uses, are they more likely to look for something to solve a specific problem rather than the whole enchilada?
4. What do they want to accomplish with your product? Where’s the value?
5. What would they do to find substitute products? “Confusers” that masquerade as something that would solve the problem that you solve?
And once you have shortlist, consider the following:
1. Does the term connote the value you deliver?
2. Does it have any overlap with other product categories close to your market space?
3. What about abbreviations? Does the TLA spell DOG or something worse?
Do you have to have a name for your product category? No, but a good product category helps you explain what you do much faster. If you don’t have one, you should lead with the value you deliver and quickly move to the individual components of your solution.
If you do decide to introduce a new product category to the market, be sure to do the following:
* Invest in thought leadership
* Try to get at least one influencer or analyst on board with the new term
* Plan your web presence so that you can be found using your chosen product category but also based on individual product use cases
How well do you think companies put these tips into action? I’m curious to hear your best and worst examples.
Lately, I have been finding myself helping clients to come up with new names for their product categories. Their solutions may have unique pieces and parts that aren’t available from anyone else; they may want to deepen their differentiation; or they may want to change the emphasis of a product category that has evolved faster than its name has. So when do you decide that your product is in a completely new product category instead of emphasizing how you fit (or differentiate) in existing category? For smaller companies, the trade-off is usually between standing out (differentiation) and getting found by potential customers (SEO). Here are some questions you can ask as you get started:
  1. To what extent do potential customers know that a product like yours exists?
  2. If so, what terms would they use to find such a product?
  3. If your product has multiple uses, are they more likely to look for something to solve a specific problem rather than the whole enchilada?
  4. What do they want to accomplish with your product? Where’s the value?
  5. What would they do to find substitute products? “Confusers” that masquerade as something that would solve the problem that you solve?
And once you have shortlist, consider the following:
  1. Does the term connote the value you deliver?
  2. Does it have any overlap with other product categories close to your market space?
  3. What about abbreviations? Does the TLA spell DOG or something worse?
Do you have to have a name for your product category? No, but a good product category helps you explain what you do much faster. If you don’t have one, you should lead with the value you deliver and quickly move to the individual components of your solution. If you do decide to introduce a new product category to the market, be sure to do the following:
  • Invest in thought leadership
  • Try to get at least three influencers or analysts on board with the new term
  • Plan your web presence so that you can be found using your chosen product category but also based on individual product use cases
How well do you think companies put these tips into action? I’m curious to hear your best and worst examples. Here are some nice ones I have come across recently:
  • Clarizen: collaborative project execution software
  • Lithium: social customer experience software
  • Saba: people development platform
And not so much..
  • Almost everything with big data in it
  • Gigya: connected consumer management (they do social logins)
  • SuccessFactors: business execution software (I get the idea but I never liked it..)