There are firms that charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this. Namelab is one, Interbrand is another. The Next Wave isn’t one, but maybe we should.
Naming your company is probably the biggest opportunity you have to either come out on top, or go out in flames.
Recent discussions with a potential client about a branding effort made it very clear that people need some help and guidance- or some things shouldn’t be left to amateurs.
Some rules for the do’s and don’ts of naming:
Don’t name it after yourself, your location, your technology, or a cute play on a famous name.
Why: Unless your name is unique (and pronounceable and spell able- Esrati fails both of these- although it is unique) it’s a bad idea. Your name probably doesn’t connect with your product or service, and, it also let’s people know how big you are instantly. Dealing with Dan Sharp from Sharp Consulting- you typically know whom the owner, president, chief cook and bottle washer is. However, if you call it Kata- and have a whole Kaizen story to tell, they might not sense instantly that you are a solo practitioner. Also, when it comes time to sell, or add partners, there isn’t a renaming to worry about. Adolph (Adi) Dassler decided to go into the shoe business and became Adidas, but it took a lot to make that name connote a certain quality, whereas Nike was already equated to the messenger god with winged feet.
Location is a problem because you may not stay there: 23 Second Street hair salon has moved twice since they started- and aren’t anywhere near that address anymore. All three Dorothy Lane Markets are not on Dorothy Lane, and if you call yourself Dayton Such and Such, it makes it hard to go national.
Your tech, or your service can box you in too. Right now, Laser hair removal is the thing. Ten years ago it was Electrolysis, next it might be gamma rays, so, don’t call yourself by your tech. Midas built such a name in mufflers, they had to work doubly hard to create the idea that they did brakes- and now complete car care.
It might sound funny, but calling your product “Harvey’s Crystal Cream” is asking for a lawsuit from “Harvey’s Bristol Crème” in about 2 seconds. Crystal Synergy doesn’t make any wild health claims, and allowed a back-story to flourish.
There are more things to consider in a name, and then in a mark, but, generally, companies like Xerox, Kodak, and Acura are smart moves for a name. With Xerox and Kodak, they are totally constructed to be unique which is critical in the day of search engines, and with Acura, it also connotes “Accurate” which helped establish the persona of the Honda luxury brand.
If you can connect the name to the benefit of your product or service, or make it sound as if it symbolizes something bigger- even better. Some names we’ve created work really well for a number of reasons. I’ll just give some examples and explanations:
Fearless Readers. If you ever read Marvel Comics- you recognize this phrase as a welcome to our story intro- as in Welcome fearless reader as we take you into a story…. The perfect name for a comic shop. Do a search- see what comes up. Google is the best thing to happen to naming ever.
TechnoConnecto. Our answer to the “Geek Squad” that Best Buy bought just for the name. The tagline “we make technology friendly” speaks to the consumer who is baffled- and the name suggests that they will connect your technology for you.
Culture Lunch. It could have remained a “Brown Bag lecture series on the arts” but no one would have come, and it would have died. But, by suggesting lunch will have added benefits of culture, ooh la la, yatzee!
Zen Windows. Every window guy talks about buy direct from the factory, and low prices, and window technology. Face it. They all get the windows from the same place. Our client was Deal Direct Home Improvements- something that brought 1.6 million search hits- whereas zen windows brings only them. And, they differentiate to stand apart.
Singing Joes Electric. An electrician that sings is a little different from Acme to AAA to Advance, to Premier- etc… no originality, no memorability. Unfortunately, the client’s wife thought “Electrical Quality Services” sounded better, and no one can remember the electrician that sings on the job.
So, you get some ideas on naming. There is more to this than this entry tells, but, before you want to spend several hundred thousand dollars to come up with the next “Viagra” give us a call.
Interbrand has these top 10 mistakes in naming:
1) Treating naming as an afterthought.
2) Ignoring complex trademark and URL issues.
3) Keeping a brand name that is no longer relevant.
4) Ignoring that naming is not only creative, but strategic.
5) Falling into the subjectivity trap.
6) Overlooking the global implications of names.
7) Failing to effectively communicate the name internally.
8) Ending verbal communication of a brand with its name.
9) Naming when it’s not very neccessary.
10) Believing that naming is an easy process.
From Advertising Age, May 9, 2005, page 20.
what do you think?