Here's how to tell if your product name sucks

Read time: 2 min

Be very careful of the names you choose for products. 

What is  it?

The product is Mtn Dew's Spiked Lemonade. 

Why  is  it bad?

If this is the first time that you've seen this product, you may already be confused (and already see what is wrong with the name.) 

Lets look at a definition of  spiked.

SPIKED:   used to describe when an alcoholic beverage is mixed in with another, non-alcoholic  drink.

Herein lies the confusion. At first glance customers could think this is an alcoholic beverage, instantly turning away many potential customers who are either turned off by preference, or by them being under the legal drinking age.

Granted, "spiked" as referenced here is a slang term and the definition comes from the  anything-but-official But the fact remains that the word is part of our vernacular. Even if some aren't confused or turned off, many others will be.

Due to nothing other than the name of the product, the marketers have alienated, or  at least confused much of their audience.

Of course some of you have already noticed that the Mtn Dew packaging designer smartly  put a "non-alcoholic" disclaimer at the bottom. But even this leads to the bottom line of why this is bad design:


If your product name needs an explanation, that's a good sign you've chosen the wrong one.

How could it be improved?

It's obvious that the marketing team here wanted to choose a name that was edgy and appealed to t he young audience of Mtn. Dew. They surely also wanted it to reinforce the theme of it being "spiked" with cactus juice. The intentions are clear, but the effects are potentially detrimental.  The team should have pushed themselves harder to come up with something better that met the criteria but did not lead to confusion.


To drive home the point of why this is a good principle to live by, observe this product:

The product of course suffers from the same symptoms, but the opposite problem. Whereas the Mtn. Dew lemonade sounded alcoholic but wasn't, Mike's Lemonade here could be confused as simple lemonade but is of course an  alcoholic beverage.


I have personally heard of a story where a mother at  grocery store bought a case of this to give to her children and didn't discover her error until she was home.


I know of another anecdotal story wherein a cashier was part of a sting operation testing whether a cashier would sell alcohol to a minor. The cashier failed to notice the packaging of a certain beverage stated that it was alcoholic. Unfortunately this very innocent and unsuspecting cashier was slapped with a misdemeanor. Bad design affects lives!