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How to Name a Software Product
The art of naming software
Contrary to Shakespeare's belief that That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, the answer to the question "What's in a name?" does not apply here. In the case of software products almost everything depends on the name its producers have chosen for it. You cannot promote a product and expect it to bring you huge benefits if its name bears no relevance to the target market, or, even worse, its name is offensive or has negative connotations.
The importance of choosing the right name for software is not to be taken lightly. The name of your software is an important part of its "business card". It is the hand that reaches out to a prospective customer, and it is up to (metaphorically speaking) this handshake and how the prospect feels about it that purchases will be made and the "ka-ching" sound will ring joyfully in your ears.
Choosing a good name is particularly important for a number of reasons, such as:
- Your software will act as your spokesperson, introducing you to various people;
- May be the first thing prospective customers find out about you (from magazines, SERPs, etc.)
- It is a good way to differentiate yourself from your competition;
- It is the name that your product will carry for a number of years, so you have to make the right decision in order to avoid more costs with re-branding, letting your established customers know about it, etc.;
- It is a good means of making your business's name appear in the SERPs, and thus attract prospects.
Tips for Choosing the Right Name for Your Software Product
The best solution would be, if your budget allows it, to contact a specialized company to choose the name for you, based on the information that you provide about the software (target market, features, usability, functionalities, etc.). A company that has experience with such activities will have the human resources, the technology and the brainpower necessary to provide you with the best solution for your needs. Of course, there is a downside for this, which is cost, but it may save you quite a lot of money on the long run.
The other solution would be to come up with the name yourself. Naturally, this is not something that you will ask just any of your employees to do during lunch. You will have to select only those people whom you think have the greatest creative power and have them dedicate a large amount of time to this task. In order to complete it, some aspects must be considered, such as:
- Brainstorming: The right name will not pop up right away. It will take some time until you come up with a name that you like, so all ideas should be written down. Make sure you take into consideration even more "exotic" names and that you do not reject from the start names that you would regard as inappropriate. Any suggestions should be put down. Once the list is done, start brushing it up. Experts say that words that start with consonants are the best for such issues. Also, the shorter the words, the better.
- Use various linguistic tools: Don't neglect thesauruses, dictionaries. Look for synonyms of the words that most appeal to you.
- Invent: Be as creative as possible. Make use of your imagination (and of that of your team members) to come up with original names. One way to draw creativity is to show them pictures from any domain and to ask them to suggest names in accordance with the theme of that picture.
- Create word pairs: Use the list that you have come up with earlier in the process, and try to see which words look good in conjunction with others. Anyway, the general opinion is that one-word names are the best.
- Stay legal: Perform a search to see if any of the names you came up with (and you really like) is already taken and registered as a trademark. You wouldn't want to be dragged through courts in endless, costly lawsuits.
- Search for competition: Perform a search via search engines (use as many search engines as possible, not just Google and Yahoo) to see what competition you have for your selected names. Discard those that might cause confusion.
- Easy to pronounce, easy to remember: Make sure that most people can pronounce the name you choose easily. If they can pronounce it, they will be able to recommend it to others as well. Word of mouth is as important as ever in such cases too.
- Mind the translation: If you plan to distribute your software on particular foreign markets and you choose to translate its name, make sure it sounds right in the target language as well. Try to avoid terms that might cause confusion or have offensive meanings in other languages.
- Select the name of the software's web site carefully: If you decide that you're going to create a separate site for your software, then make sure you reserve the right domain. Make sure that it does not sound awkward, that it will not be misread, and that it doesn't have an obscure ending (the most common extension for sites is ".com").
- Don't alienate customers: It is very important to check if the name of your software (or part of it) may be considered offensive for certain people (your software might imply political orientation, race, religious orientation, gender negative connotations).
- Analyze: When you think you've reached the end of the naming process, don't just stop and attach the name to your software. Test it on employees, on friends, on reliable customers. See what feedback you get. Also, check that the name you've chosen really says what you wanted it to say.
It will be easy to see that the name that you choose for your software product will have an impact on your sales, and thus on your ROI. Take into account the above-mentioned tips which stand only for the most important aspects. I warmly recommend a free ebook that I have recently encountered - Building the Perfect Beast. Keep in mind the following rule of thumb about the name of the software: it has to be easy to understand, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember; it must be short and dynamic; must be usable for a number of years and must be legal.
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