How to Name Your Loyalty Program
18 April 2024
Eli Maynard

A well-designed loyalty program fosters brand loyalty, drives repeat business, and provides valuable data on customer preferences and behaviors. However, a crucial step towards reaping these benefits for a business lies in crafting a compelling program name.

The name you choose for your loyalty program is more than just a label, it is a vital part of your brand identity and should reflect your overall company values and personality. A strong, memorable name can help your program stand out, resonate with your target audience, and convey the essence of what your program is offering. Conversely, a forgettable or confusing name can undermine your efforts and lead to low program engagement.

Selecting the perfect name

So, how do you select the perfect name for your loyalty program? Here are some key considerations:

Align with Your Brand Identity

Your loyalty program’s name should be a seamless extension of your company’s brand. The name should reinforce your core values, personality, and the customer experience you are aiming to deliver.

A successful example of this includes Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” which aligns perfectly with Sephora’s brand as a premium beauty retailer, conveying exclusivity and VIP access, while revolving around beauty products which is their core offering. Marriott’s “Bonvoy” whilst not as directly descriptive, is another example, as it captures Marriott’s brand of elevated travel experiences. The coined term has an upscale, aspirational feel that aligns with their positioning in the hotel space.

Keep It Simple and Memorable

The best loyalty program names are concise, easy to pronounce, and memorable. Brands should avoid anything too complex, cramped with acronyms, or hard to pronounce.

Concise and memorable program names, exemplified by Starbucks Rewards and Pret Perks (Pret A Manger), effectively communicate the program’s core proposition to potential participants. These titles readily convey the concept of reward acquisition through straightforward language and brevity. This emphasis on clarity ensures that consumers readily grasp the program’s primary benefit.

Convey Value and Benefits

A strong name should give customers a hint of the value and benefits they can expect from your loyalty program. Consider incorporating words or phrases that evoke feelings of exclusivity, rewards, elevated experiences, or recognition for their loyalty.

A great example is “Hilton Honors” by Hilton Hotels. “Honors” signals that members will be honoured and appreciated through exclusive perks and VIP treatment for their loyal patronage. It implies a premium experience that goes above and beyond for the customer. This differs from simply an on-brand name like “Hilton Rewards” which is more generic. By using “Honors” specifically, it elevates the perceived value and conveys that this is a top-tier program for Hilton’s most treasured guests.

Be Unique and Distinctive

While aligning with your brand, ensure your program name also stands apart from competitors. Conduct a thorough industry scan to identify any overlapping names you’ll want to avoid. Consider playing with prefixes, suffixes, rhymes, or made-up words for a truly unique identifier.

The Body Club’s “Love Your Body Club” is a great example of a brand having a unique and distinctive name, while still maintaining brand alignment. The catchy alliteration and unmistakable message of self-love makes it memorable and impactful. At the same time, incorporating “Body Club” reinforces their brand identity and gives members a sense of belonging to an exclusive community. Finding that balance between creativity and brand cohesion is key for making your program’s name distinctive in a crowded marketplace.

Consider Cultural Differences

If your business operates globally or targets diverse markets, it is crucial to ensure your loyalty program’s name resonates across cultures and does not have unintended negative connotations in different languages or regions.

Secure Trademarks and URLs

Before settling on a name, verify that you can secure the necessary trademarks and domain names to protect your brand and ensure a consistent online presence for your loyalty program. Ensure that your legal team verifies everything follows legal guidelines.

Account for Program Mechanics and Frameworks

Depending on how your loyalty program is structured, you may need to establish naming conventions for different components like rewards levels, spending currencies, or progress trackers. The names chosen should allow for clear differentiation and hierarchy.

If your program has ascending tiers or status levels with increasing benefits, using descriptors like “Premium,” “Elite,” “Plus,” or precious metals like “Gold” and “Platinum” can denote the hierarchy in a straightforward way.

For programs that use a spending currency or mechanism to unlock rewards, giving it a unique name other than just “points” can make it feel distinctive. Descriptive terms like “Stars,” “Miles,” “Crowns” or more abstract names like “Achievements” or “Badges” can reinforce the brand personality.

No matter which naming convention you choose, consistency is key. Having a cohesive system mapped to the experience helps set clear expectations for members. It is important to not try to be too clever if it may confuse your target audience.

The ideal naming strategy, whether innovative or conventional, comes down to what will resonate most with your brand’s sensibilities and customer base. Familiarity can breed trust and ease of use, while distinctive names can create differentiation. Lean on customer insights to guide your naming choices for program mechanics.

Leave Room for Evolution

While capturing the initial offering, your chosen name should not prohibit future program expansions or pivots. Aim for a versatile name that can accommodate added features, benefits, or audience segments over time without feeling outdated or inaccurate.

The naming process

A descriptive, on-brand name is crucial for inspiring customer engagement right out of the gate. However, the naming process does not have to be overly complicated or expensive. What it does require is a thoughtful, strategic process. Here are the key steps a company should follow:

Align on Program Goals and Value Proposition

Before ideating any names, it is critical to have full alignment across the organization on the core purpose, benefits, and target experience for the loyalty program itself. Clearly defining these anchors will ensure the name accurately captures what the program represents.

Assemble a Cross-Functional Naming Team

Do not leave naming up to just one department. Build a diverse team with representatives across marketing, operations, customer experience, and any other functions tied to the program. This inclusive group will unlock creative ideas from multiple perspectives.

Conduct a Naming Workshop and Ideation Session

Schedule a structured working session to brainstorm potential names. Use word association exercises, review brand guidelines, analyse the competition’s names, and draw inspiration from the defined program goals. Consider bringing in customers for input as well.

Develop Evaluation Criteria

Before ideating any potential names, it’s critical to establish specific criteria that all name options will need to meet. This upfront criteria acts as a filter to objectively assess the strongest contenders. Some example criteria to consider:

  • On-brand styling that aligns with your brand identity guidelines
  • Availability to trademark the name for legal protection
  • Ability to secure a matching .com domain name
  • Cultural inoffensiveness across all markets/regions you operate in
  • Differentiation from competitors’ program names

The criteria you set should reflect the key priorities for your brand and program structure.

Pressure Test Top Contenders

As ideas come together, vet the leading 3-5 name options against the pre-determined criteria. Try not to let an appealing frontrunner slip through without thorough vetting.

Test With Target Customers

Before making a final decision, the most critical step is validating the top name choices resonate with your target customers. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and user testing to gather real-world feedback directly from the people who will be engaging with the program.

Pay close attention to how customers interpret and respond to each name. Do the names effectively convey the intended brand personality and benefits? Are there any cultural implications or unintended negative connotations you missed internally? This voice-of-customer validation is invaluable.

In addition to opinions, observe how naturally the names resonate by rotating them into actual customer experience scenarios like enrolment flows, app interfaces, etc. Seeing them in context can expose potential naming friction points.

Secure Legal Protections

Once you’ve landed on the final name choice, work with legal teams to officially trademark it and secure applicable domain names to protect the brand identity.

Align Internal Stakeholders

Before finalising, confirm buy-in and approval from leadership and any other key stakeholders across the company that will need to activate the name.

Consider Professional Naming Firms Cautiously

Companies can absolutely develop a standout name in-house with the right approach. Be wary of expensive outside naming agencies – only engage professional help if getting stuck after exhausting internal efforts, there is not a need to hire a marketing agency if you have a suitable in-house team and have tested with customers.

The Name Game

Naming your loyalty program is a critical step that should not be taken lightly. It is an opportunity to create a lasting impression and set the tone for your customers’ experiences. By following these guidelines and putting careful thought into your program’s name, you will be well on your way to building a successful loyalty initiative that resonates with your target audience and drives long-term customer engagement.

Leveraging Loyalty Expertise

Whilst this blog is a guide on how to name your loyalty program – that is just one step to loyalty program success. At Loyalty & Reward Co, our experts have guided top brands through every phase of designing and optimising successful programs. Check out our full list of services here and get in touch if you’d like to explore how we can guide your loyalty program.

<a href="" target="_self">Eli Maynard</a>

Eli Maynard

Eli is a Strategy Consultant at Loyalty & Reward Co, the leading loyalty consulting firm. Loyalty & Reward Co design, implement, and operate the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands. Eli has previously worked in business development, customer service and marketing roles across various industries including technology, retail and sports. Eli applies his skills across all aspects of the business, including market research, loyalty program design, member engagement and lifecycle strategy.

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