Most previous research has focussed on finding attractive names rather than communicating clearly.
Especially in the case of “experience” products like music and films which customers can’t assess before buying, product names convey important information and create powerful associations that influence purchases. This paper proposes that product naming should therefore be treated as a communications strategy and develops a two-step framework for choosing names. The theory is based on a study of film titles, as this a category where naming has a measurable impact on consumer behaviour.
The authors examined in detail the intentions involved in film naming, the components and strategies used in a random sample of titles and the varying impact these had on viewers. Their analysis suggests that brands need to answer two sequential questions to arrive at the most effective names. The first is “What information to provide via a product name?” so that consumers learn about the product. The second is “How to express the information via a product name?” to maximise consumer awareness.
The empirical findings discussed are specific to the film industry. But the approach of splitting naming into two strategic decisions - the “information choice” strategy and the “expression” strategy - could have wider applications, provided they are informed by an understanding of the category and its consumers.
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[40 minute read; article may be behind a paywall]