To help me prepare for a naming course I’m creating for Domestika, the online learning platform was kind enough to provide free access to a handful of their existing courses, including one titled “Naming: The Art of Name Creation.” This naming course is about two hours long, broken up over 11 lessons (each video-based lesson is about 5–15 minutes). It’s taught by Xavier Grau Castelló, an identity strategist and namer in Barcelona who runs his own naming firm, Nom-Nam. As I’m writing this, The Art of Name Creation has 606 reviews and a 98% positive rating (impressive!). Here’s my review, including a summary of what you’ll learn in the course.
Review of The Art of Name Creation
Overall, this is a great course for anyone interested in naming, with one important caveat: it’s in Spanish. English subtitles are provided (as are Portuguese, German, French, and Italian), but they’re not perfect, and a lot of the written words—on screen and in the downloadable materials—are in Spanish. Still, it’s relatively easy to follow along and learn from Xavier’s considerable experience in the naming profession. He’s clearly good at what he does, loves doing it, and has plenty of stories and useful tips to share.
Unit 1: Introduction
The first video lesson is an introduction, in which Xavier talks about his background and experience. He explains how he ended up working in naming (like many namers, he sort of “fell into it”) and describes some of his earliest naming projects. He highly recommends becoming a professional namer, and makes this promise to his students: “I am convinced that once you have completed this course you will be in condition of competing fully with me.”
The second video gets into the process of naming. Xavier’s recommended process has 5 steps:
As Xavier shares an overview of his process, he sprinkles in plenty of good advice. He wisely advises students to avoid getting “too close” to the project—to hold it at arm’s length. He shows how to create a “map” of names in the market and suggests multiple approaches to generating and “hunting for” names.
Unit 2: Methodology of naming
In Unit 2, Xavier shares his tips for generating a long list of name ideas. He suggests avoiding self-censorship, looking at the etymology of interesting words, and finding short words to combine (e.g., “fin” for financial services)—all good ideas. He shares his own long list for a hypothetical naming assignment, explaining how he came up with each idea. It’s interesting to hear a non-native English speaker explain how and why he uses English words for some of his name ideas.
In the second video of Unit 2, Xavier talks through how to shortlist names. His experience shines here—the stories he tells and advice he gives track well with those of the global community of professional namers. He explains his short list of 12 names and suggests namers visualize each name on an imaginary door—what’s behind that door when you open it?
The third video, titled “The battle of the registry,” explains NICE classification and how to check WIPO for potential trademark conflicts. In addition to WIPO, Xavier recommends checking the domain, Google, Facebook, and Instagram. I’m not sure it’s a good use of time to check Instagram while screening names, but I suppose it can’t hurt to look.
The last video in Unit 2 is about presenting names. Xavier wisely advises students to avoid sending names by email—presenting in person is critical. He insists namers “must” show their work by sharing their long list, a practice I don’t recommend. But Xavier’s considerable experience shows again when he walks through two naming presentations, showing names in black and white on A5 cards and “arguing” for each name.
Units 3 and 4
In the remaining videos, Xavier shares a host of naming case studies, then wraps up the course by giving some advice on how to become a professional namer.
Pros and cons
To summarize, here are some pros and cons of the course:
|Highly experienced instructor (Xavier Grau Castelló of Nom-Nam)
|Course is in Spanish (with imperfect subtitles in English and other languages)
|A good, rigorous process for creating brand names
|Some of instructor's recommendations may not always be necessary (e.g., checking Instagram for similar names) or even advisable (e.g., sharing your long list with clients)
|Instructor does a good job demonstrating how to make the case for name recommendations
|Course does not cover how to manage different client reactions or help clients make a final decision
|Good advice and tips on generating names, presenting, and avoiding naming pitfalls
|Course also omits advice on how to structure a naming team or work collaboratively to generate ideas
|Instructor's passion for the profession and advice on how to become a professional namer
Overall, I highly recommend Xavier Grau Castelló’s course on Domestika, Naming: The Art of Name Creation. For Spanish speakers especially, it’s a great way to learn about brand naming and becoming a professional namer. Speakers of English or other languages will also learn a lot, but may want to supplement this course with learning materials in their native tongues.
Rob Meyerson is a brand consultant, namer, and author of the upcoming book, Brand Naming: The Complete Guide to Creating a Name for Your Company, Product, or Service. He also runs Heirloom, an independent brand strategy and identity firm, and hosts the podcast How Brands Are Built.