Is Your Product Name Turning People Off?

Every company wants customers talking about their products. But before they can sing your praises on social media or evangelize to their friends, they need to remember your product’s name. It seems obvious, but many companies – especially in the technology sector – overlook this easy way to connect with their audience. That’s the thesis of Alex Goldfayn, former Chicago Tribune technology columnist and author of Evangelist Marketing: What Apple, Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn’t).

In a recent podcast interview, Goldfayn noted how “the tech industry is literally preventing consumers from talking to each other about their products because they name them so horribly. If it wasn’t costing them billions as a result of the error, it would be funny – but it ends up being a really expensive problem.”

Goldfayn cites the example of his own Samsung flat panel television, which has a model number so long and complex, even he – a tech aficionado – couldn’t possibly remember it. Companies frequently choose names that are “way too long and too complicated, which makes them impossible to remember. It doesn’t allow consumers to reference your product, and doesn’t allow the media to reference it.”

The chief problem, he says, is that companies will often name products based on their own internal needs – distinguishing between model years or other small subtleties. No problem, says Goldfayn – but keep those designations internal, because they simply don’t matter to customers. Instead, he advises, the best product names are “short, quick, memorable and sticky.” No one can forget the Mac, the iPod, the Walkman, or the TiVo. So if you’re naming a new product, aim for the iconic – but at a minimum, stay away from alphanumeric insanity.

This post originally appeared on the Forbes website.

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.