One of the most important elements of starting a company or releasing a new product is choosing a name that is consistent with your brand, suits your product/service, and appeals to your target market. Naming is a challenging task that the Living Blueprint team is always excited to take on. It’s an opportunity to test our creative mettle while operating under close guidelines. Naming requires a careful mix of inspiration, creativity, research, and an intimate knowledge of the client’s brand. Living Blueprint has an informal “perfect name” checklist that we follow whenever we’re given the opportunity to tackle a naming job. These are the main guidelines that we keep in mind (in no particular order):
1. Brand appropriate – Is the name consistent with the desired brand experience? Razor might not be the best name for a company that makes toys for infants.
2. Meaningful – There’s lots of room to be creative here. Incorporating the names of symbolic figures? Translating words from Latin or Greek? Inventing your own compound words? The only limit is your imagination (and good taste).
3. Sounds good – This one is highly subjective, but people will know a clunky or ugly name when they hear it. Most companies will want to avoid awkward names – unless it’s on purpose.
4. Exclusivity – Is someone already using the name? You don’t want your client receiving any future surprises of the “cease & desist” variety.
5. Domain availability – When the perfect name is found, trademarking it is one of the first essential tasks, followed very closely by owning the .com. There’s a measure of luck involved here because many domains were purchased years ago. Want to name your company after Greek, Roman, or Egyptian mythology? Good luck.
6. Translates well to a logo – We live in a visual world where logos are often more recognized than names. Making a client a logo with a bunch of words and letters jammed in like alphabet soup is generally a bad thing.
7. Easy to pronounce – Whether it’s making a sales call, doing a trade show presentation, or giving their email address over the phone, your clients will be using the name on a daily basis. If you can make their life easier, so much the better.
8. No unforeseen complications – Here’s where you do your research to find out what you didn’t know you needed to know. Is your newly invented compound Latin/Greek name phonetically identical to a nasty word in Mandarin? Did you just name a human resources agency after a third-world dictator who was overthrown in 1957? Don’t find out the hard way.
Living Blueprint has put our company and product naming skills to work in a number of projects over the years. Here are a few examples.
Max Pacific Power were a renewable energy company who were preparing to submit to BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call request for proposals. They came to Living Blueprint needing to create a brand that was representative of an international-grade corporation and part of this rebranding process was the creation of a new name. Our research, brainstorming sessions, and staff meetings led us to a combination of “synthesis” (a substance created by combining multiple other substances) and “taris” (inspired by “terra”, Latin for “Earth”).
Syntaris Power = Working with earth to make power.
Frank Power’s recruitment company specializes in IT staffing solutions and have been highly successful in helping both companies and job candidates find their perfect match on local, national, and international markets. For this naming project we started with some research and brainstorming sessions, then moved into third-party input. We filled a room with impartial participants who were invited via Facebook, Craigslist, and word of mouth, began throwing ideas around, gave away an iPod, and gathered input. At the end of the day, the winner was Altitude Recruiting.
Pacific Coastal Airlines
When Pacific Coastal Airlines decided to restructure their fare system by grouping the fares into three price categories, those categories needed names. The extensive process involved executive meetings, focus groups, customer surveys, and an internal communication strategy designed to engage all Pacific Coastal staff in the decision. The result:
Encore – full price, full flexibility
Classic – discounted price, limited flexibility
Bravo – lowest price, least flexibility
Executive Counsellor – Marie-Helene Pelletier
Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier’s background is unique. Academically, she has a B.A. and M.A. in clinical psychology and a Ph.D. in counselling psychology. In the business world, she has an MBA and managed a network of 3,000+ professionals as Chief Professional Services Officer for Homewood Human Solutions. When Marie-Helene decided to start her own counselling and consulting business aimed at providing support services for CEOs, executives, and other professionals in leadership positions, she wanted to highlight her extensive psychology background while avoiding the social stigmas attached to words like “therapist”, “psychologist”, “analyst”, etc. After much discussion and debate, Executive Counsellor stood above the rest.
Get it Right – Explore, Create, Scrutinize, Test, Repeat
The naming process can be very rewarding and is a chance for an agency to do some linguistic exploring and flex their creative muscle, but it should never taken lightly. Every prospective name needs to be carefully scrutinized, discussed, debated, and tested. There can’t be any doubt that the name suits the client because once a name is trademarked, a domain is purchased, a website is launched, and the orders for printed collateral are being sent out, going back is no easy task.