Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why Nondescriptive Naming?

I've mentioned several times that it's best to choose brand names that are not descriptive of the product. Besides citing an article on a scientific study, I haven't explained why descriptive names are generally inferior. The main reasons stem from a concept mentioned in the article: incongruency (also known as incongruity).

Consider an excerpt from the article:
"The researchers also wanted to examine the effect of these product names in connection with incongruency theory. This theory argues that people make judgments by evaluating new encounters against existing expectations. When encounters are incongruent with prior expectations, individuals put in more effort to resolve the incongruency."
When you choose a descriptive name for a product, you miss an opportunity to engage the customer when she is confronted with the name. If, on the other hand, your product's name has nothing to do with the product, you create incongruency in the customer's mind. The customer then must put forth effort to resolve the incongruity.

By spending time and mental effort on pondering the name, the customer:
1. Increases the chance she will remember it.
2. Finds ways of mentally differentiating your product from others.
3. Is more likely to mention the product to someone else, if only to remark about the name.
Ironically, if you choose a descriptive name in an attempt to make it easier for customers to remember it, you actually make it less likely they will go through the mental processes that foster memorization, differentiation, and word of mouth.

Unleash the power of your customers' own minds.

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