About the Challenge of Naming Products

5867265511_1e5c4368d6_mOne of the most daunting tasks of marketing a product is deciding on its name. A product name should both spark interest and inspire trust. Additionally, in today’s globalized market, product names also need cross-cultural appeal. In the attempt to strike this commercial-cultural balance, more than one company has fallen flat.

For example, two product names which might give some North American buyers reason to pause are (1) Pee, the moniker of a cola from Ghana and (2) Barf, a popular detergent from Iran.

While some company executives spend millions each year to avoid such potential onomastic gaffs, others have made humorous naming a part of their marketing mystique. IKEA, for example, has become famous for giving its products quirky, chuckle-inspiring names. In fact, the company has developed a strict internal onomastic system for naming all of its products:

  • Fabrics are given female personal names.
  • Chairs and desks male personal names.
  • Bathroom articles are named after Scandinavian lakes, rivers, and bays (hodonyms).
  • Carpets are named after Danish places (toponyms).

According to Business Insider, the name IKEA is an acronym based on the founder’s name (Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd) and the name of a Swedish village outside of his hometown (Agunnaryd).