Getting a product or company name and description right is hard. I’ve written about this before, but recent frustration in trying to categorize products made me think it was a topic worth revisiting.
What’s in a Name?
I have simple rules for naming a product or company: Find a name that is easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and doesn’t mean something derogatory in another language. If you can get the URL and social media handles for the name, you’re done.
Simple, right? Apparently not. I see so many companies trying to be too clever — taking simple names or words and then reconstructing them in a way that no one will ever remember or be able to spell. Random name generators and online branding sites that sell names and logos can be useful but also add to the problem. If a prospect can’t spell the name of your company when typing in a search bar or recognize it when they see it because of a strange pronunciation, you are putting up barriers to discovery.
Here are some company names currently up for sale. How many of these do you think you would spell correctly if you just heard the name? If you want to have some fun, jump on a call with a friend, read them the list and see how many they can spell (assuming you can figure out how to pronounce them). I pulled these from SquadHelp and in all fairness, they also have some fabulous names for sale if you want to pursue that route.
Related Article: B2B Customer Experience Fundamentals: Your Product Description
And Now for the Product and Company Description …
Writing a product or company description isn’t that hard. Your prospect wants to know what you do, where you fit in the bigger picture, what they can do with your product, and the benefits they’ll receive using your product.
My approach to product and company descriptions is a short “MadLibs” exercise which I’ve shared before in this column:
Get started by filling in the blanks in this paragraph:
The [COMPANY] [PRODUCT NAME] is a [PRODUCT CATEGORY] that [ADD VERB e.g. enables] [CUSTOMER DESCRIPTION] to [DO WHAT]. Using [PRODUCT NAME], customers can [LIST KEY THINGS CUSTOMERS CAN DO]. The benefits of using [PRODUCT NAME] include: [LIST BENEFITS].
Again, you would think this is simple, no? And again you would be wrong. Let’s start with the product category. Most products fit neatly into an already defined product category. The first thing a potential customer is going to do when looking for a product is to type the product category into a search bar. So why is it that so many companies neglect to define their product category in the opening sentence of their product and company description or try to wordsmith something new and creative?
Below are some head scratching examples. I’m pretty sure no one is typing these labels into search:
- COMPANY A “is a people-based insights platform that makes market research easy.”
- COMPANY B “is a single integrated platform of intelligent data services that enables organizations to proactively simplify and manage the complexity of enterprise data, accelerating growth and helping ensure the fundamental integrity of their business.”
- COMPANY C “is a single, secure cloud-native platform that enables companies to bring together all of their experience data — what their customers and employees are telling them about their company and brand — analyze it, and easily take action.”
- COMPANY D “is a direct interaction and monetization toolbox that allows users to humanize digital events, visualize the audience and hear the noise of the crowd.”
Contrast those with the simple and clear examples below:
- “PurePredict is a predictive analytics solution that aggregates and analyzes three layers of intent data — contact-level intent, domain-level consumption trends, and company-level social media intent triggers, to provide users with more accurate in-market buying predictions.”
- “Postal Virtual Events is a virtual event planning platform where customers can book talent from hundreds of options, manage the invite and registration process, and trigger the automatic sending of attendee event kits.”
- “TeamSuccess B2B customer success software enables teams to easily monitor, automate, and streamline customer lifecycles, create more upsell opportunities, reduce the risk of churn, and ensure that as customer relationships grow, profits do, too.”
- “Privacy Lens is a privacy measurement and analytics tool for digital advertising.”
- “BasicOps is a productivity platform that allows you to start a project, build a task list, assign team members, view your schedule, and check your feed. This all-in-one teamwork tool improves communication and productivity by shedding excess apps, emails, and meetings. Spend less time managing and more time doing.”
- “Glow is a podcast monetization platform that enables podcasters to build membership programs and generate listener-supported revenue.”
- “Piktostory is a video editing platform that enables users to turn long-form videos into bite-sized clips ready to be shared on social media channels.”
Related Article: Forget VoC: Where Is Your Brand’s Voice?
Beware the Marketing Jargon-Speak
Next up is a tendency to add the latest jargon. At the moment the most overused terms are “cloud-based” and “AI.” Trust me. At the point of discovery your prospect doesn’t care about how you deliver the magic, they just want to know what the magic is.
Some examples where eliminating AI wouldn’t negatively impact the description and, in most cases, would improve the description:
- COMPANY 1 “is a pre-configured, AI-powered offering that helps colleges and universities reach, engage, and listen to their communities across digital channels.” — Not a category to be found here.
- COMPANY 2 “is a smart AI transcription and captioning site that provides solutions tailored to your industry’s needs.” — Elimination of smart AI and better focus on the end of the sentence would improve this greatly.
- COMPANY 3 “is a suite of AI-powered customer support solutions that simplifies self-service and streamlines the resolution journey not just for customers who search for information on a business’s website, but also for customer support agents who look for information in their internal portals while guiding customers through troubleshooting.” — Personally, I’d call this a knowledge base optimization platform.
- COMPANY 4 “AI Customer Service Automation solution enables support teams to achieve fully automated ticket resolution from end to end through the combined power of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.” — Is automation really the value prop here? This says nothing about benefits of having an automated system.
Finally, after someone in marketing has written a description, group-think tends to take over. When this happens, it results in word stuffing where possible to “strengthen” (a.k.a. confuse) the description.
For example: “Company.ai is a fully-automated, AI-powered conversational marketing platform that enables meaningful and intelligent conversations between businesses and their customers.” I’d make the case that a simpler description would be more powerful: “Company.ai is a conversational marketing platform that enables meaningful and intelligent conversations between businesses and their customers.”
Another example: “Company Consent Manager is an easy-to-use tool that lets you take control of user and cookie consent on your website while giving visitors an accessible, trustworthy and user-friendly experience.” An alternative: “Company Consent Manager is a Consent Management tool that lets you take control of user and cookie consent on your website while giving visitors an accessible, trustworthy and user-friendly experience.”
And another: “Product is a data-rich webinar software platform that helps users create and deliver engaging audience experiences with live, simulive or on-demand webinars that captivate digital and in-person audiences and accelerate content consumption and buying journeys.” Eliminating data-rich (do you miss it?): “Product is a webinar software platform that helps users create and deliver engaging audience experiences with live, simulive or on-demand webinars that captivate digital and in-person audiences and accelerate content consumption and buying journeys.”
The examples above may appear nitpicky but it’s so easy to veer off into the unintelligible. I’d challenge you to tell me what this company does: “Digital marketing software platform offers a suite of white label marketing tools that can help you add a new offering to your toolkit, expand your services, or help your internal team reach a new audience.”
Related Article: A Recipe for Building Brand Value in an Era of Disruption
When You Get It Right!
His company: Wasabi
His category: Cloud Storage
Without a simple product description this would never have been possible. What a win for increasing brand awareness! Oh, and I’ll give him a pass for using “world’s hottest” because it is after all, Jeopardy.
Anita Brearton is Founder/CEO and Co-CMO of CabinetM, a marketing technology discovery and management platform that helps marketing teams manage the technology they have, and find the technology they need. Anita is a long time tech start-up marketer and has had the great fortune of driving marketing programs through the early stages of a startup all the way to IPO and acquisition.