The best brand names can seem preordained. We imagine that “aha” moment when the perfect brand name pops up in a dream or appears like an apparition in the steam over our morning cup of joe.
Sure, some names are born that way. But the majority—including many of the best—come into existence through a more systematic process. That process can go smoothly, or it can be a winding, ups-and-downs rollercoaster ride. At Noise 13, we’re often called in to pick up the pieces when a naming project goes off the rails. We’ve identified the following, six common mistakes made in naming, as well as pointers for avoiding them.
- No brief: It’s hard to resist the urge to dive in, start brainstorming, and move right to checking domain-name availability. But without a good naming brief, you’ll be spinning your wheels.
- Poorly defined goals: “Fun” brand names are not so much fun if they don’t serve your goals. Descriptive names clearly convey meaning, while more suggestive names can grab attention and stand out. Choose wisely.
- Trying to say too much: A brand name—usually just one or two words—can only say so much. The best names tell the beginning of a brand’s story and let design, copy, and the product or service tell the rest.
- Holding out for “perfect”: People tend to prefer things that are familiar. But genuinely new ideas may feel uncomfortable or off-putting at first. Differentiation requires new thinking, and taking creative risks now can pay big dividends down the road.
- Narrowing it down too much before talking to legal: Just when you think you have the name, you send it off to the lawyers for vetting, and they shoot it down. We’ve learned to avoid this particular agony by ranking 7 to 10 names we can live with so we have backups if our top choice doesn’t clear the legal hurdles.
- Mismanaging stakeholders: Naming can be an emotionally charged activity. Never underestimate people’s desires to contribute or “have an opinion” (including the boss, who doesn’t usually weigh in on everyday marketing decisions). Make sure you know who needs to be heard and who has veto power.
A messy naming process that lacks focus can lead to disaster—or at least a lot of unnecessary stress. Avoid these six mistakes and increase the odds of arriving at a final name that works—maybe even a name that becomes one of the all-time greats.
For more on what to include in a naming brief, check out the post “What to include in a naming brief” by Rob Meyerson.