This article was originally published as a contributor article on YoungUpstarts on October 10, 2018.
Coming up with a name for your business is an intimidating process. So much rests upon a few words that have to sum up your brand’s identity. If your name cannot support your brand, it will slow the trajectory of your business. Still, how can you ensure that the name you have chosen will perform well?
Once you have developed a bunch of names and whittled them down to a shortlist of your favorites, you can test those names to see how they perform. This is called audience testing, and it is a vital step in the business naming process. In this article, you will learn about how to best use Audience Testing to validate your business name ideas.
What is Audience Testing in Naming and Why is it Important?
Audience testing for brand, product or business names is essentially a survey that presents your business name to a targeted demographic with the purpose of gaining outside perspective to make a decision with confidence.
Audience testing is vital to the success of your naming project because it verifies that the names you like performs well with your target audience (and sometimes it doesn’t). Gaining an outside perspective before making your final name choice helps prevent you from choosing a name that will flop with your intended customers.
Names are the first point of connection for your audience, so no matter how much you like a name, it is best if the name appeals to your audience. If it fails to generate buzz with the target audience, your business name will not set a solid foundation for success and growth.
How Do I Set Up My Test?
Audience testing can be accomplished in many different way. When choosing your targeting, you must consider cost, depth, and quantity. Ideally, you’ll want to reach 1000 individuals who align perfectly with your target customer, asking a panel of questions about your name options. However, this size and depth of targeting can easily cost several thousand dollars. With this in mind, we often recommend targeting recipients by age, gender, and region so you can see how your name might perform within targeted groups. This provides extra validation when selecting your final business name without breaking the bank.
When constructing your test, begin with an open question. You want to put your targeted demographic in a relevant decision-making state of mind. As such, never ask anybody, especially friends and family, “Which one of these names do you like?”
Questions like this are not helpful because it means little to “like” a name. Do they like how the name looks on the page or how it sounds? Is the name descriptive of something they value or enjoy? Or do they simply like a name because it reminds them of their childhood pet? Your questions should avoid the subjective nature of “liking.”
Here are some examples of what your questions should look like:
Which one of these all-organic bread bakeries are you most interested in trying?
Which of these customer-focused banks do you want to learn more about?
These questions are strong because they force the target audience to slow down and consider your brand in a rooted context. They present each name as more than just a name, but as a fleshed-out business that the audience must make a decision about.
You can also try questions that are based around values. For example:
Which of these law firm names do you feel most embodies prestige and trust?
Which of these names best aligns with our mission to provide equal housing access?
Strong questions put your audience in a decision-making state of mind so they can compare the various business name ideas from your shortlist.
It is important to avoid testing names that are too similar. Presenting two similar names like “Avanta” and “Evanti” will skew your results – if only one of these options had been available, people who voted for “Avanta” may have liked “Evanti” best out of the list. For example, if Avanta received 15 of the 100 votes and Evanti received 22, it is likely that Avanta would have received 37 votes (15+22) if Evanti was not listed in the test. This results in misleading test data.
Additionally, when testing your audience, avoid comparing your new brand to pre-established brands, especially major established brands such as Gap, Audi, Adidas, or Ikea, even if you want to be associated with these brands. Established brand will always win in a poll. An unfamiliar word on a page will struggle to top a brand that people have encountered throughout their lives. Instead, focus on constructing credibility with your own name ideas so you don’t skew your results.
Once you have tailored your questions and targets, it is time to gather data and send your possible business names out to a targeted audience. You can collect responses using your peer network. You can run surveys through relevant forums, Facebook groups, and audience testing services to obtain relevant opinions on your business name ideas.
What Do I Do With My Results?
After collecting your responses, it is time to analyze your results. The data should give you an idea of what names will be more successful than others. Keep your mind open to new possibilities when analysing your data, because your favorite name may not line up with audience reaction.
Oftentimes, your favorite name idea may perform poorly. This could be due to an unfortunate hidden meaning that you did not catch, or it simply may rub the audience the wrong way. Regardless of what caused the poor performance, it is important to recognize that the name may not be the best fit.
However, the results don’t have to seal the fate of your name. Audience testing can give you an idea of what may or may not work.The results do not have to line up completely with your end decision, but they should allow you to make an informed decision.
Audience testing is a great way to see beyond your own mind and get an idea of how others respond to your ideas. It allows you to see which of your ideas aligns best with your target audience. This invaluable feedback can grant peace of mind and help you choose a business name with confidence.