Finding the right name, right from the start

Coming up with a name for a new brand, company or product is easy, right? Experts know differently.

“‘Tis not sufficient to combine

Well-chosen words in a well-ordered line.”

– Horace, Satires, Book I

Well said, Horace. Couldn’t agree more. As an agency born and bred to dream up and produce content, we know there’s more to a message than arranging words on a website or composing a snappy headline for an email campaign. (Such as understanding how platforms intersect with customer journeys.)

Names are another example. Names for products, names for services, that sort of thing.

As your company grows and changes with your customers, you’ll need to think about names. Maybe an existing product needs a refresh. Maybe you’re launching a services suite. You ask an agency to make some proposals – something different, something exciting. You whittle your list, pick a name and communicate it internally. How hard can it be?

‘Tis not sufficient. And ‘tis not that easy. We’ve helped various healthcare and technology customers name an interoperability platform, a suite of advanced features for a PET/CT scanner, a service line of refurbishment solutions, and a portfolio of customer service contracts. What has this experience taught us? Naming touches on the creative, the audience and the process. This post focuses on the process. While it’s often overlooked, the actual naming process sets up the rest of your efforts for success. (Of course you’ll get a peek of the first two aspects.)

 

The creative

 

A few things to ponder:

  • Does the name tell your brand’s story? How?
  • How will the name be represented visually? How easy it is to include this visual representation on all the different media you’ll use?
  • How does the name (and structure behind it) fit in with the naming conventions across your portfolio? Is it consistent or does it deviate?

If you’re struggling to define the brands or products in your portfolio and how they relate to one another, a brand architecture diagram is a helpful visual aide (from our friends at New Kind Branding Agency).

The audience

 

Keep in mind:

  • How proficient is your audience in the language your name will be in? Will these potential customers need to reach for a dictionary?
  • Can your audience easily read your name? Write it? Say it? This applies to your salespeople, too.
  • Does the name create the right associations for your audience? Can you use it to build loyalty?

You can also put the audience first by exploring what your product does and doesn’t do for customers. Read more on the approach Intercom used when the messaging platform company named its Operator bot.

On to the final aspect of naming: the process. (Note: The above lists aren’t exhaustive. We haven’t even touched on differentiation or localization, for example.) Why even talk about this? It’s a straightforward marketing activity, no?

As you know, decisions quickly turn complicated when multiple people are involved. Below are three tips on how you can navigate your naming process to an outcome that’s on time and on brand.

 

 

Choose your team carefully. Internal buy-in is always challenging. No matter how well you prepare, how well you brief your agency, not everyone will love the ideas presented. That’s normal. Just make sure every decision maker at the table has a reason and the qualifications to be there. Devil’s advocates have a role to play, but the people who ultimately select the name should be able to put customer experience, needs and perception first – not your internal differences and prejudices.

 

Define your objectives. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are names. Manage expectations of how the naming process should unfold by spelling out objectives – at the start of the whole process and for every individual progress meeting. This keeps everyone focused on the task at hand. Are we here to listen to initial proposals? To eliminate candidates down to two? To explore what stories could be built off each suggested name?

 

Know your brand. When you understand what your brand does and doesn’t stand for, evaluation criteria will emerge naturally. You’ll feel much more confident in seeing how different name proposals (don’t) support your overall brand. Long-term, this is a much better strategy than simply relying on subjective statements like, “I don’t like it.”

 

We’ll leave you with one final thought (and literary reference, because we couldn’t resist.) “The secret of being a bore,” Voltaire wrote, “is to tell everything.” Whatever name you choose, it will tell a story. It doesn’t need to tell every story. Need help uncovering that story? Get in touch today.

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