Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How NOT to name a product or company

Alison Greenberg, a naming strategist at Siegel + Gale, has some advice on how to not go about coming up with snappy names for things.

(I used to name for Landor, a biggie in NY--so I am interested in this.)

DO NOT buy some people a case of beer and a few pizzas to see what happens. This form of brainstorming is not how the pros do it--names, trademark screenings, language analyses, naming architectures, and systems--these are serious deliverables produced by naming companies. I won't give away how I approached naming, either.

DO NOT TAKE a name based on initial associations. Yes, names can "remind" you of another name...but make sure it's a meaningful association. A fresh brand name does not have to be new to the world. Because it's already in use, say as a noun, does not mean it's stale. Take tumbler--sure, it's a glass, but it lost an "e" and became iconic. Personally, I never liked Accenture--sounded like "censure," not a good thing.

DO NOT CONSTANTLY REFER TO THE CLIENT'S BRIEF. A brief is a paper on what the client wants to convey...Memorability? A one-word description of the corporate culture? Respectabilty? Fun? Where does the name have to "work"--on the product, in headlines, in legal documents? Maybe you as the namer will come up with something better...don't be a slave to the brief.

DON'T COMPLETELY STAY AWAY from competitors' names. Look at competitors first. Then maybe tweak their name to make it new. There used to be a company called Data General--I created one called Data Specific.

DON'T BE LIMITED TO American English. We speak a lot of languages here--UBER is German for upper. Google is a twist on an impossible huge number--a googul. You have to be sure the name works in other languages, though--for instance, in the classic example, the Chevy Nova had issues in South America and Mexico--where no va means does not go.

See? Easy peasy...Hey--Peasy...that might work for something. Or how about EZ-PZ.

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