This blog walks through the 4-step process to create a product naming architecture and framework for technology companies.
On the PMA Slack channel (a leading community with over 30,000 product marketers), a question came up about product architecture and naming. Through my various roles, I’ve organically created a presentation that I’ve used to provide structure to product naming at several companies. This presentation had two purposes:
Depending on your organization and complexity, this process can be done in a few weeks or even take months and years.
Please note, I will walk you through a sample company as a way to highlight the process. As such, you can determine the best way to leverage the presentation based on your company and needs.
Don’t have time to read the entire blog? Download the Product Architecture and Naming Framework.
The company had purchased several single-product companies and merged them under a single entity. Each company had a solution that addressed a specific segment of the industry and buyer. The intent was not to merge these disparate products into one mega platform but rather to create a taxonomy so we could communicate our offerings to the market simply.
Think of your product structure as a pyramid, with the top as the umbrella for all the underlying products, modules, features, and functionality. In most instances we looked at platform vs solution. According to Webopedia, an online tech dictionary for IT professionals, here is the definition of each:
For example, if your company is not creating a single system or platform for customers to access, but rather grouping software under a common umbrella; then you would start with solutions.
Pro Tip: With SaaS companies, the use of “Cloud” is popular to describe a company’s offerings. Heck, I’ve used it. In this case, I view Cloud as an alternative to Solution in product naming.
The next step was understanding how to group the specific features and functionalities into what was sold to the market. We considered three options of Product, Software or Application, defined by Wikipedia as:
Since our offerings were designed to be sold either individually or packaged together, we opted to refer to our go-to-market offerings as products. “Software” or “application” implied that our prospects purchased all of the offerings as one.
Whether you have a solution or platform, you may expand your offerings to have several products. In this case, how do you refer to several products under a solution or platform?
We looked at definitions for family, set or suite (Source: Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster) and aligned on using family or set - The [Solution] consists of a family/set of products, all designed to help organizations manage their events.
In my experience, there is confusion regarding product, module and features. Here’s how we thought about it:
In our example, the products sold a group of features and functionality under specific categories (e.g. mobile app, meeting inventory, etc.). As such, module was the best term to describe the unique group of features that could be sold separately to customers.
While there is a whole industry dedicated to naming, I’m presenting an abbreviated version to guide you through the key things to consider when looking at how to name your solution, product, modules, and features.
Assuming you have a larger portfolio, you have to consider what type of brand architecture you want to implement.
When it comes to product naming, there are 4 types to consider (Source: Naming Architecture: A Blueprint for Portfolio Simplicity):
The more “generic” the name, the less likely you're able to trademark the name, while “arbitrary” names have stronger trademark opportunities. The trade-off is the time and investment to educate and market your names to your audiences.
Pro Tip - If your company likes to abbreviate solution and product names, make sure to review all potential abbreviations. The last thing you want is a NSFW or embarrassing name used by your employees and customers!
Congratulations - you’ve spent time figuring out your product architecture and naming framework and secured buy-in from all your stakeholders. Once everyone has aligned, this provides a blueprint for product naming in your organization today and tomorrow.
When you get questions (or requests) to name a feature or how to structure a product name, you can turn to your product naming framework as the single source of truth.
Download your complimentary copy of the Product Architecture and Naming Framework presentation.
Designed with buyers in mind, Enable Us is redefining digital buying experiences for sellers and buyers. With our versatile seller and buyer enablement platform, our mission is to make the buying experience more efficient, transparent and personal.
From a product marketing perspective, our sales content management software provides insights into how to develop and optimize sales content to boost seller and buyer engagement. Learn how Enable Us can help your teams quickly find, access, and share the most effective content at every point in the buyer’s journey.