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Naming

Brand Naming Analysis

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Naming may be one of the most difficult tasks in branding. From my perspective, it is about as difficult as successfully positioning a brand in an overcrowded market or developing the brand architecture for a brand that has grown through multiple mergers and acquisitions over the years.

Why is naming so difficult? Read on.

• Everyone seems to have an opinion on the name and many people are likely to be strongly attached to their opinions on this
• It has become very difficult to find an available .com or .org URL for any given name
• Names need to work with taglines, which adds another layer of complexity
• Related to this, it generally seems redundant if the name and the tagline include one or more of the same words
• Parent brand names should be developed with sub-brand, endorsed brand and product/service names in mind
• Different words mean different things to different people
• If the brand is global, one must consider the meaning of the name in every language and culture in which it will be used (For instance, Nova (no va) means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish)
• Sometimes a name’s acronym spells out something undesirable (For instance, Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs = AMBLE)
• Sometimes the words in a name result in an unintended phrase when strung together in a URL (For instance, AIDS Care becomes www.aidscare.com)
• In many industries, the most meaningful or powerful words and phrases are already used in competitors’ names (such as “senior” or “living” for eldercare communities)
• This is an area for which “less is more,” however it is very difficult to communicate complex or nuanced concepts in a compelling way in an economy of words
• Sometimes a name that is highly appealing to the primary target audience may be unappealing to secondary and tertiary target audiences (For instance, Jewish Recreation Center may have high appeal to Jewish people, but is likely to be far less appealing to people of other religious traditions)
• Names have to pass trademark searches

Often, we will generate well over 200 names in several rounds of iteration until we arrive at a name that could actually work.

So what helps an organization develop an effective name?

• Agree and stick to the process that will be used to generate and choose the name
• Achieve decision maker consensus on the naming evaluation criteria at the beginning of the naming project
• Develop the brand positioning and at least the first draft of the brand architecture before you commence the naming project
• Involve both client and marketing agency people in the naming ideation sessions
• Buy URLs on the spot as strong naming options are generated
• To minimize legal expenses and wasted time, conduct simple trademark searches on the naming finalists before a full search is conducted for the chosen name
• Choose the most brand identity savvy and persuasive person to present recommendations to the key decision makers
• Have the key decision makers evaluate each name against appropriate evaluation criteria – we do this through an online survey of top naming options
• Remind people of and align naming decision making to the brand strategy throughout the process

I wish you great success with your naming project.

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1 Comment

Akash Sharma on October 31st, 2009 said

Thanks Brad for sharing, the post clearly explains that every brand has to understand how they want people to recognize them and naming is the most important part of it.
I am also working on a start up which I am planning to launch next year and it has been really difficult for me to carve a good name out but keeping in mind all the points mentioned above I am sure that something good can be worked out.

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