- 18 years of naming products - clients include: Kraft, General Mills, Tropicana, Nestlé, Quaker Oats, Fujitsu, GE, HP, Intel, AT&T, Electronic Arts, Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer
- President, Addison Design Consultants
- Advertising Manager - Pepsi-Cola Company - for Pepsi Challenge; marketing Manager for Pepsi Free and Slice
- All 9 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
Brand & Product Name Development
- Strategically wrong or irrelevant names are created due to lack of meaningful name objectives.
It is critically important to determine what a name must communicate or suggest and commit those objectives to paper. Otherwise, the name development process surely will wander aimlessly, with names reflecting the whims of a namer rather than the strategic needs of a company or product and its brand.
Name objectives typically reflect a brand's most essential reasons for being. This is thought of as the intersection between a company's or product's most important function, benefit or personality characteristic and the target audience's wants and needs.
For example, naming Dreyer's super-premium ice cream (a late entry into the market where two well-known competitors were well-entrenched) required communicating quickly in a distinctive manner. Neither the "Häagen-Daz" nor "Ben & Jerry's" names communicate the creamy-rich sensory qualities of ice cream or the delightful moment that eating it creates. Because of that, Idiom believed the best names for Dreyer's new product would need to capture these specific qualities. Thus "Dreamery," Idiom's recommendation and the name adopted, lusciously communicates the creamy authenticity of creamery-made ice cream and the dreamlike experience of eating it.
In addition to specifying a name's meaning, it is important to identify the type and style of name being created:
- The most appropriate name type (descriptive, suggestive, fanciful, abstract) will depend on factors such as naming conventions of the industry, the category in which a company or product competes, and the marketing investment made to build a name's awareness.
- A name's style (real word, compound word or coined word) is often determined by the tastes of the name decision-maker. For example, some marketers prefer real words to coined words. Real words, however, are the most difficult style of name to register successfully as trademarks and URLs. Dreamery is a coined name, though one with relatively conspicuous meaning that was easily trademarked.
- Flawed techniques and an insufficient number of namers result in the lack of a sufficient number, type and style of names from which to choose.
Companies that create their own names using individuals without required skills or experience usually produce only a small number of name candidates. This is largely because few people actually create names for consideration and those that do hit creative "blocks" soon after they begin.
Unfortunately, the resulting list of names is only likely to demonstrate the lack of good ideas generated and almost surely will not give decision-makers and influencers a sufficient number of good choices.
From my experience, I estimate that only 10 percent of names created by the best namers will be "good" ideas – and that just 10 percent of those will be "great." Thus, one outstanding name results from each 100 names generated!
- A lack of meaningful name objectives results in an inability to evaluate, build consensus and choose a name.
The lack of accurate, well-written and motivating name objectives makes it very difficult for most companies to evaluate a name's merit. Without a "name target," defined as the intersection of a name's desired meaning, type and style, it is virtually impossible to build consensus among decision-makers and influencers (who inevitably have differing, often unstated or inarticulate naming goals, objectives and tastes).
In fact, getting two or more people to agree to the same name is the most difficult part of a project. Well-defined communication objectives – ones that clearly and passionately reflect not just the wants and needs of a target audience, but the opinions of decision-makers and influencers as well – help to make consensus-building much more effective and efficient.
- The need to go back to the drawing board after initial naming efforts fail, sometimes repeatedly, is costly in expense and lost time.
Many companies choose to create brand names internally in hopes of saving money. Ironically, this decision usually ends up costing considerably more money.
Take, for example, a company that holds a company contest to name its new product. Twenty employees earning $80,000 who spend five hours each participating in the contest will cost approximately $4,000. Five executives making $150,000 who spend four hours in meetings to evaluate the contest names will cost $2,000. Choosing two names for trademark search in the United States is a $6,000 expense. If neither of these names can be successfully registered (which is usually the case when a company creates its own name), repeating the process or something like it would cost another $12,000.
Many companies do this three or four times before giving up in frustration, resulting in an expense of $50,000 or more for nothing! Much worse, the cost of adopting a poor name that communicates inefficiently or inappropriately is incalculable.
- Discovering that a selected name cannot be registered as a trademark results in more lost time and expense.
The primary reason for this failure is that the names do-it-yourselfers create are usually very common words, the "low-hanging fruit" that comes to mind quickly when first generating names. Think "Harmony" for a name that needs to communicate "integration." Unfortunately, these words have already been thought of and registered for many different kinds of products. Registering trademarks is hard enough, but registering names as .com URLs for companies selling products or services via the Internet - names that must be very short, memorable and easy to spell without modifiers - is even more difficult.
- Companies experience frustration and disillusionment and make a last minute choice of an ineffective name without projectible target customer feedback.
Some companies test their name candidates using expensive research, yet still end up choosing a poor name. This is usually because the "research" they conduct is qualitative in nature (such as focus group research) and better suited to developing ideas than arbitrating between them.
There are two serious problems with using focus groups to study and choose names:
- The well-documented "opinion leader" phenomenon means that one strong-willed person almost always responds to a name in such an emphatic way that other participants are unlikely to disagree for fear of sounding stupid. This results in just one response for each focus group - hardly a representative sample.
- It has been scientifically proven that focus group observers listen selectively to and interpret what they hear in a manner that "proves" the theories they had before the group began.
Much better is quantitative name research, measuring key communication objectives and free associations gathered from a sufficiently large sample to project a target population's point-of-view with statistical significance and certainty. When such research is unaffordable, decision-makers should choose names based on their own good judgment.