Diving Deeper into the Company Naming Process

 

Of course, the little exercise mentioned in the prior blog past is just a preliminary, superficial examination… a prelude to an authentic company naming process. A comprehensive brand assessment designed to ensure optimal positioning and maximum marketing effectiveness will take a deeper look. It takes a more serious and analytical gaze at your business, its revenue drivers, its values, its offerings and the competitive landscape. All of this work is undertaken in order to get a more accurate picture of the role and power your name, tag, logo and key collateral are playing in your strategic brand development. But at the level of “pop and sizzle,” that top ten percent which can render the other 90% of your marketing expenditures either totally ineffective or wildly successful, we’ll at least know whether we’re commanding target attention. Analyzing the deficits within the existing name and/or the opportunities in the current marketplace are where every successful company naming process begins.

 

When performing 360-degree brand assessments (on the road to a clearly articulated brand strategy), we measure the name against those criteria established by the organization as being, at the very least, of some relevance to it’s a) history, b) vision and near-term future possibilities, c) external audiences, and d) internal audiences. An analysis of prior marketing collateral and an in-depth review of the competitive forces helps to highlight areas of challenge and opportunity. All of this informs fundamental positioning and messaging, and therefore serves to put some strategic criteria in place for the company name and tagline. NOTE: A company naming brief that indicates only name type and style preferences misses the point entirely. A brief that examines communications strategy is better, depending, of course, on the strategic teeth of your company naming provider, but in an ideal world we would dig even deeper into the business plan and business development fundamentals.

 

A brand blueprint that spells out the entire brand messaging platform, and how the company name and company tagline will fit into the whole serves the organization well beyond its naming and tagging near-term needs. This way, even if company re-naming isn’t in the cards, one still has the opportunity to find “compensating” elements throughout the marketing & messaging plans. But either way, all of this strategic work needs to precede the creative part of the company naming process. As potential name candidates are identified, they are vetted internally for strategic adherence and for any additional insights that may direct future name generations.

 

By the time the client is presented options, the naming firm should have one, two or three solid recommendations – and if they don’t, get nervous! You don’t need wishy-washy. Your business doesn’t need obsequiousness. You want a company naming agency or naming copywriter who has “gone off on a valiant quest to capture the name the strategy described.” Having returned from this somewhat perilous adventure, there’s no need to mince words. He/she/they simply needs to explain how they got there. If a second round proves needed, it is to tighten the criteria only. In my experience, most times they aren’t required. When clients exercise them, it is because a) they lack full faith in the exploration that just occurred, and b) they feel like it’s how they get their “money’s worth.” My take on this part of the company naming process is this: anybody who goes into something, anything, thinking there’s going to be a do-over, probably isn’t going to swing for their fences. That’s human nature. Of course, it’s pretty easy to read dissatisfaction (as opposed to fear) in the eyes of a client. If one is truly unhappy (rare), I will, of course, offer an additional round. But it seldom creates any new value for the undertaking or the relationship. Tight briefs from the get-go, that’s my mantra. Or, from another discipline…

<h4>”Measure twice, cut once.”</h4>

Naming: Have You Been Named For Greatness?

This blog post is a brief peek at an article/whitepaper on company naming that now lives in the archive section of this website — you may download the complete paper for free at any time:  www.articulatedbrands.com/marketing-resources/whitepapers-articles/

Skype®. Lean Cuisine®. Sympo™. Google®. Manifest Equity™. The North Face®. Amazon®. Harvest Waste™. TiVo®.

Company names matter. Remarkable ones can turbo-charge growth, forever setting your business apart in the marketplace and ensuring all of your company communications have a strong strategic center. A hastily chosen company name can sabotage your business development efforts and handicap your launch plans even before your vision gets out of the gate.

But I’m not just talking about start-up ventures here. I’m also talking about anybody who has plans for the next stage of business growth. Most times such plans call for the introduction of new products, services and the entry into new markets. Not only does each represent an opportunity to go in with both barrels blazing, but the company name to which you attach to all of this…will it serve as a seal of credibility? Will you create a virtuous circle wherein the brand equity in one serves to reinforce the brand equity in the other? Or will you be like the too many companies who approach their growth plans from the inside-out instead of from the outside-in, determining who you need to be and what you need to be saying from your prospects’ perspectives?

When companies try to carve out a brave and bold new future but refuse to slough off any skins from their past, it reeks of inauthenticity… the kind buyers and prospects can smell… which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that this is the complete opposite of what good branding and good company naming are all about: striking people (buyers) at the core of why you exist and how you are uniquely engineered to answer to their needs, now.

But legacy/owner names, acronyms and names which no longer connect to why the company exits today may be the easiest ones to spot…and gaining buy-in, though still difficult, is possible, especially with the support of a business-minded brand strategist behind you. But the most dangerous company name or product name could very well be the simply mediocre one; its presence may be so seemingly innocuous you may have never even stopped to consider the negative force it’s exerting on your business or the potential goldmine it could be obscuring. In short, most company names are so harmless they’re harmful. Most company names are so quiet and timid they’re entirely forgettable. And that’s a problem. A big one.

So, how do you know if you have a great name, one that’s working dynamically and proactively in support of all your other marketing, sales and business development efforts? Do you need to be a brand agency owner or copywriter to know if your name stinks?

Here’s a brilliant opportunity for the small to midsized business to skip the research expense. Bypass the focus groups and the agency’s fancy charts and graphs. All it takes is a simple test. Next time you meet a new prospect and tell them the name of your company or trade cards, do they comment on the name specifically? Yes or no, it’s just that simple. If even one out of every five people take the time to comment, you’re probably in good shape. Less than that, get concerned. More than that, throw a party. (And by all means, invite me! ‘Nothing I like better than celebrating the chutzpah it took for you to defy the common, the everyday and the literal, to flabbergast the naysayers by signing off on a memorable moniker.) A great name is one of which your ideal customers take note. End of research.

All trademarks are used for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of their respective owners. Sympo, HarvestWaste and Manifest Equity are examples of small business company naming projects by Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands.

Download your complimentary company naming whitepaper.