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Naming in an innovative industry: electric vehicles

When you innovate, make sure you show it in your name. In a world full of “plug-in hybrid”, be a “Twin Engine”.

We are living times when everything changes so fast. From one year to another, all the technologies are advancing and there are so many innovative solutions, apps, products and features which make our life easier and improve our daily activities. One industry in which innovation happened a lot in the last years is the automotive industry which aims to electrify more and more vehicles. But how to create a name which stands out on the market, in an industry where everyone is adapting to the new norm?

Each new innovation needs a personalized name in order to quickly gain one of the most wanted things in this period of time: The target audience's attention.

Which is the most important naming advice in naming an innovative product or technology?

1. Avoid the generic terms of the industry

If you are planning to launch a new cloud app, try to avoid the integration of the word “cloud” into the name. If you are an automotive company which will launch a new electric model, do not use the word “electric” or “hybrid” in the name. If you have discovered a new technology for coffee machines, do not stick with words like “grind”. Why is that? Unfortunately, today’s innovative terms are tomorrow’s old-fashioned terms. Think about the era when every new online business had included in their brand names words like “internet”, “online” or “web”. Basically, using such generic terms will diminish the value of your innovation and your future brand will be seen as simply one more business similar to others.

2. Keep it short

In the past, it was a common thing that new technologies or innovations were using names which were longer than 12 characters. Now, shorter is a lot better. People do not have the patience to understand, pronounce and memorize such long brand names. A long term will create confusion, misspellings and you will quickly lose your potential customer’s attention.

3. Predict your future architecture

If your job is to bring new innovative products to the market, this means that you already are a step further than the crowd. You do not have to be a wizard in order to think about a naming structure which does not become too old-fashioned five years from now. It is a “must” to try predicting the future naming architecture even before the technology comes into the market. Why? Because you must build a naming convention which has the power of: consistency, homogeneity, logic and memorability. The key behind any huge innovation brand name is to be time neutral, to have a name which maybe is not today’s mainstream, but it becomes the iconic example studied even 50 years from now.

Let’s see some examples in the automotive industry and how companies adapted their naming strategy to the electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

The automotive industry faced a major naming challenge in its way to electrification: How to name the existing models which will be produced in hybrid and electric versions?

The general trend that car manufacturers followed was to use the name of their existing models and add the extensions “Hybrid / Plug-in Hybrid” or “Electric”. Some examples are: Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Ford Focus Electric, Hyundai Kona Electric. Do you see the pattern? Everyone is adding “Hybrid” or “Electric” generic terms in their naming structure.

Where is the uniqueness? Or is the innovation shown? Not above, but below:

Volvo found an extremely original way to name their hybrid models. Instead of adding “Hybrid/Plug-in Hybrid” generic term, they created the “Twin Engine” theme. Isn’t that unique and different? Still hybrid, but not named “hybrid”: XC90 T8 Twin Engine, S90 T8 Twin Engine etc.

So did Volkswagen with their “GTE” theme, when naming their existing models as Golf GTE, Passat GTE for their hybrid models or “e” theme for their electric models, a theme which they integrated in the names in an interesting way: e-up!, e-Golf!.

Innovation is not enough if you do not name it properly. In a world full of “plug-in hybrid”, be a “Twin Engine”.


By Marcela Sărmășan & Andra Guțui

Naming specialists and founders of Namzya naming agency. They worked for companies like: Tata Motors, MAN Truck&Bus Nespresso, Lavazza, Franke and others. Featured in Forbes 30 under 30 Romania.

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