How to Use a Focus Group for Brand Name Candidates


hi I’m Laurel Sutton project lead and linguistics director at catchword I’d like to talk to you about a topic that is on the minds of marketing experts everywhere focus groups the very word strike terror into the heart of even the most seasoned marketer and with good reason in a world where everything is subject to change based on public opinion from movie endings to popcorn flavors to logo colors focus groups can make or break a new idea but it doesn’t have to be that way a focus group or any kind of customer research is just a way to gather opinions in a more rigorous way than say asking some random guy on the street what he thinks about your cool product it can be extremely useful for figuring out for example if a new cereal tastes good to a lot of people or if a new mobile phone has features that are easy to use but should you use it to decide which name will work for you the results as they say are mixed naming research whether you do focus groups or online surveys can be an excellent disaster check for negative meanings in slang or regional varieties of English name research can also be really helpful in convincing a CEO that your name candidates are acceptable to your target audience and it can also be a good data point for whether or not your name communicates the messages you wanted to but that’s all it should be a data point letting a focus group pick your final name is a bad idea inevitably you’ll end up with a bland inoffensive name that no one hates but no one loves do you think names like Google or Twitter would have done well in research so if you have to do research here are some tips on how to do it right first you should decide if you need to do quantitative research in which you survey a lot of people for a short time or qualitative in which you interview a few people for a long time in either case there are many great research firms out there who specialize in naming research and can find exactly the audience with whom you need to test names because of the cost and effort involved most naming research is done on a small group of names that have passed legal screening and our case serious finalists now I need to tell you the first well maybe the only rule of naming research that rule is do not ask people which name they like best this might seem like the answer you’re looking for but you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that asking people if they like a name we’ll get you a lot of personal preferences especially for names that seem familiar innovative exciting and bold names the content of the center of strong brands are consistently rated at the bottom in naming research remember you’re dealing with humans and humans love to have opinions especially negative ones and there’s always that one guy in the back who hates everything and will totally skew all your data in quantitative research which is often done online you want to keep the questions simple and short usually with multiple choice answers you might ask if names are easy to pronounce or if they have any negative meaning if speed is an important message in the name you could ask which of several names seem fastest it’s best to test no more than five or six names at a time more than that and people tend to get bored or confused and finally you can reveal the product description or company mission and ask which name seems most appropriate but just don’t ask which one they like best qualitative research is usually better for digging deeper on messaging or tonality with a group of people in a room and a good moderator who knows how to ask the right questions you can gather quite a lot of information on what kinds of images or emotions each name calls up or whether a name works in the context of an ad or on a product the moderator can change direction quickly in response to the flow of conversation and continue to ask more questions that people in the group are being clear about why a name is appropriate or not but remember watch out for that guy in the back you can show names on their own or with logos or even on locked up websites or you can just show them as words on a page in black and white neither way is right or wrong after all you want the name to stand alone the way it might appear in the Wall Street Journal and you sure don’t want people to be influenced by the color or the shape of the font that you use but it is also true that a logo or product box can help people evaluate a name by placing it in its natural and the way you might encounter a name in the wild so you’ve now ask the questions you’ve gotten a pile of answers what do you do with them this can be the most difficult part of naming research and this is where a professional research firm or a naming firm can add the most value it’s no easy task to sift through the responses and figure out what’s relevant and what’s just complaining from the guy in the back of course if ninety percent of the people surveyed say that one of your names is the same as a street slang word for crack you should probably take that name out of consideration hopefully you’ll get some good feedback on messaging and appropriateness which you can factor into your final name choice again use naming research as a data point not a decision point as long as the name doesn’t have commonly shared negative associations and it adequately reflects your brand promise it doesn’t have to win any popularity contests with focus groups so to summarize decide if you actually need to conduct named research on your name as a disaster check or to make sure it resonates with the target choose the type of research best suited to your needs quantitative or qualitative design the questions carefully to get the best results and then evaluate the feedback and add it to your naming process or you could just hire a catchword to do it for you we’ll make sure you’re naming research helps and not hurts thanks for your time I’m Laurel Sutton from cash word and if you are that guy at the back who hates everything stop signing up for those focus groups you

3 Replies to “How to Use a Focus Group for Brand Name Candidates

  1. I like this post. I just find a company Informatics Outsourcing from Google search. They are Market Research service Company, Providing Qualitative Market Research-Brand Market Research with affordable price.

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