Koehn, the Harvard marketing professor, adds that a lot of the hype behind names has to do with ego. "There have been a lot of products with enormous amounts of attention put on the name, and less attention put on the other parts that make the offering a success," she says. "It's like the entrepreneur is in love with what they're doing, and the name is a Valentine to themselves."
Still, she adds, a good name can boost sales when the product is worthwhile.
Of course, a product sometimes succeeds despite its name. Experts are surprisingly in agreement on the Android phone operating system launched by Google.
"It sounds like a mutant," Koehn says. "Or otherworldly but not in a magnificent way."
There is less consensus about the name for Google's new phone, Nexus One. Family members of science fiction author Philip K. Dick are claiming that the phone's name infringes on Dick's famous novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," which inspired the 1982 film, "Blade Runner." The book features an android described as a "Nexus 6" model.
Google said that the phone's name had nothing to do with Dick's novel, Wired.com reported.
In some industries, names matter more than in others. Carmakers, for example, invest a lot into names because they face intense competition and don't have many opportunities to win over new customers, who are unlikely to trade in their six-month-old vehicle if a better one comes into the market; unlike, say, with a cell phone.
Mark Clawson, a marketing manager at Chevrolet, says Americans like to think of cars as another member of the family and get very attached to certain models.
The Chevy Impala, for example, which has been around for decades, has one of the highest rates of recognition among U.S. cars. When it first came out in 1958, it was so popular -- in part because of the name, Clawson says -- that it helped bump Ford as America's leading automaker.
Good naming is particularly vital in the drug industry because patients are at risk when pharmacists incorrectly fill prescriptions that look or sound very similar.
The problem is caused in large part by doctors' poor handwriting, which can make two different medications look similar. The Food and Drug Administration often publishes notices to warn about such mix-ups, and closely vets naming.
For the most part, however, names are simply a way to enhance a brand and help consumers understand what they're getting into.
Technology companies have been using recently names to humanize their products and make users forget that they're dealing with inanimate tools made of metal and plastic.
BlackBerry, Twitter and Kindle all take their names from real words that describe nature. Kindle, in particular, which shares the same root as "candle" and means "causing something to glow," manages to transport consumers back to the days before books were read on screens.
"It's an interesting choice," Addison Whitney's Tolley says. "It's warm, inviting and old-fashioned."