There’s plenty of good advice around about naming product. Brand managers tell us that a product name should clearly distinguish the product from its competitors, hold appeal for the target audience and convey an implied benefit. It should be short, easy to pronounce and to remember. It’s sensible to keep these ideas in mind as guidelines when trying to come up with the name for a product, but what happens when names just won’t come or the only ones that do just don’t sound right? How do you get the creative juices flowing in the first place? No doubt about it, naming is not easy. There’s no ‘right’ process for coming up with a name but there is an approach that can help.

Start with a brainstorming session: Focus your brainstorming by creating a list of questions related to the product. What does this product do? What are the characteristics of the target customer group? How will the customer benefit? What makes it special? This exercise should supply you with plenty of relevant words and phrases. Now, what to do with all those words? Here are some ways you can get creative with them.

Explore synonyms: If your particular words seem a bit flat and just don’t have that special ring to them, try looking for different words with the same or similar meaning – synonyms. Here a thesaurus is a handy tool to have. You can purchase one from a bookstore or use one of the excellent, and free, online versions such as Thesaurus.com. A variation of this method is to write down what your business does and come up with other things in life that do the same thing. For example, if the product is a pool cleaner then another gadget that does the same job is a vacuum cleaner and the product might be named PoolVac; if it’s a battery that just never gives out – won’t die – then … Die Hard.

Combine words: Create one word from two or more so that at least one part is a portion of a recognisable word rather than the whole word. Revlon’s Fabulash mascara speaks to any woman who wants fabulous eyelashes. When they work, word blends can be short, meaningful and elegant. When they don’t work, blends can be awkward, obscure meanings or plain unfortunate. ‘Beneful (‘beneficial’ + ‘wonderful’) dog food isn’t just bland, it unfortunately brings to mind the term ‘bennifer’.

Consider the names of things that relate to your product: Plenty of great product names gain meaning and suggestive power from proper names that conjure up a specific image, particularly if there is a link of some sort between them. Depending on the product the name of an explorer (Magellan GPS), an animal (Cheetah Printing), a dinosaur (Tyrannosaurus Red, a red wine), or a mythological figure (Venus swimwear) could add some poetic overtones that also get the message across.

Look for related figures of speech: Some figures of speech, like 'forty winks' or 'bed of roses’ can seem like a made-to-fit product name. Many figures of speech have become so common as to achieve cliché status and should be avoided.

Create a deliberate misspelling: In an age very forgiving of spelling errors the deliberate mistake is being used creatively to come up with descriptive, short, and easy to remember product names – Solahart (a water heating system) and netflix use this technique.

Play with puns: These are product names based on words or phrases that have been modified slightly to evoke an appropriate second meaning. Nero software for recording (burning) optical media plays on the association of the Roman emperor Nero, implicated in the burning of Rome.