In my experience, brand consultants are a contrarian lot. We agree on very little, right down to the best definition of “brand.” The high-level naming process, however, may be a rare point of consensus: create a brief, generate ideas (often hundreds), shortlist, prescreen, and present. If necessary, repeat.
But as any home chef will tell you, access to same recipe doesn’t guarantee the same results. How do some naming experts and agencies consistently produce strategically sound, legally available, and eminently memorable names?
Based on season one of the How Brands Are Built podcast, during which I interviewed some of the world’s best professional namers, I compiled a list of tips for the naming process. Organized by (generally agreed-upon) naming steps, the list was published as an article on Branding Strategy Insider last week. For reference, here’s the list of steps and tips:
- Include actual names and name ideas in the brief.
- Make sure every decision-maker reviews and approves the brief.
- Mix things up: Try naming individually and in a group, online and off.
- When stuck, try distracting yourself, purposely coming up with bad ideas, or naming something else entirely.
- Get some outside perspective.
- Learn how to search the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) more efficiently.
- Invest in a real linguistic and cultural disaster check.
- Show each name in the same context to avoid biasing reactions.
- And please, please don’t present anything you don’t like.
The best namers are the ones who consistently put out great brand names. Their ability to do so is partly raw talent, but it’s also a combination of access to high-quality tools and mastery of easily learned skills. To continue the “home chef” metaphor, think sharper knives and better chopping technique. If you’re looking to come up with great names, whether for your own brand or as a professional namer, you can easily put these best practices, tools, and techniques into practice. I hope it helps you create a brand name you love—but don’t count on brand consultants being able to agree on whether it’s any good.
Rob Meyerson is a brand consultant, professional namer, and host of the How Brands Are Built podcast. He is also principal and founder of Heirloom, an independent brand strategy and identity firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.