4 reasons to avoid generic terms for product naming


In many business fields, choosing a generic term for naming a new product is the standard, not the exception. Really big companies prefer the comfort of relying on well established internal terms from the common language of their industry than finding more creative solutions. Why?

  • They prefer to know that the target audience understands from the name what the product does without investing in other more clarifications, taglines or USPs
  • Anyone can come up with a generic term and tell about it that is a product name. It’s a simple task to choose what every other competitor has already chosen before you
  • They are too afraid to risk their current position and they believe that standing into the crowd offers them a safer and more protected solution

As naming specialists, we perfectly understand those arguments. In some cases, these arguments even have a very logical point of view. For instance, if you are in the cloud business and you are launching a new type of cloud storage product, if you eliminate the word “cloud” from the product name, your potential customers will be a little bit confused and it will take some time maybe to imagine what your product really does. So yes, we agree with you in these cases. But…and it’s a very big BUT here: If you are working with a good naming agency or if you analyze more this situation, you will discover that there are ways to try a descriptive name which may become the new generic term of the industry. The difference is that this new name belongs to you.

Arguments for avoiding generic terms:

  1. They are almost impossible to register them as “stand-alone” product names

What does it mean? If you choose to name your new product “Pro Cloud” and you wish to market it as “Pro Cloud”, you have no chance to register this name as a stand-alone trademark. The only chance to do it is to register it in combination with the name of your company. So, if your company is called Softaris and your product is Pro Cloud, you will have to register the name as Softaris Pro Cloud. And we can’t tell you for sure neither in this case if you will receive an opposition from another company. Another problem is that if all your product names are generic terms, it means that all of them must be registered using in front of them as main first word the name of the company. And you will must promote them all in this form. If one of them fails in something, the brand prejudice will be for the entire products portfolio.

  1. Your competitors might have the same product names. Do you mind?

If everybody chooses generic terms and registers them as trademarks using the method explained above, that means the chances to have at least one competitor with the same product names is huge. So, you invest a lot of time, energy, financial resources in developing a new innovative product and after less than six months a competitor copies almost everything even the name. In the eyes of the target audience, there is no difference. Just two products which are doing the same thing and are called the same. “Maybe they are from the same company?”

  1. Standing into the comfort zone of the crowd, brings you the price war. Ready for this battle?

In most of the cases, generic named products are expected to cost less with 30% than branded products. The main customers who are choosing products named using generic terms, usually have expectations for quite lower prices. So, by simply naming your products, you have more chances to increase your prices. Today, we’ve had a very hilarious moment in a supermarket. A new shampoo was released on the market at a medium price. Its name? “Classic Shampoo”. Who would want to pay a medium level price for a “Classic Shampoo” and not paying the same amount for a shampoo which speaks more than that?

  1. Avoiding generic terms does not mean to choose metaphorical names

In many cases, people are scared to overcome the generic naming strategy just because a change is associated in their minds with naming their next software product “Pistachio”, name which will not have a relevance for their target audience. But we are not advising you to do that. We are just suggesting you explore some descriptive new names, starting with the exploration of the current descriptors existent in your field. And then, try to combine them or to compose a new descriptor which will be easy to connect with your product. Briefly said: Don’t choose an existent generic term. Be the one who brings the new generic term on the market!

If you are not ready to have the courage of finding just a little bit more creative naming solution, you will have to settle for the ordinary. But we are sure that after you have done a wonderful work with developing your new product, ordinary seems just too boring and common to you. Are we right? Write us more about your naming plans and we can try to find together a perfect descriptive name for your new product!

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