One of the struggles every new company faces when building a brand from scratch is deciding on a name. It's a lot harder than anyone ever expects it to be!
Naming companies is often Worn's first step in our branding process, so we see first hand the highs and lows that teams go through when deciding on a name. From our experience, there are six major mistakes most founders and teams make when deciding on a name.
These tips below are most relevant when you've got a list of 4-8 names that you've got to narrow down to one final name. Avoid these, and you're much better positioned to pick the right name, and move on!
1. Choosing a name via committee. (This is the worst thing you can do.)
We say naming is an emotional process, because it really is. Don’t fall into guilt trap of feeling like you’re going to alienate some of your closest supporters if you don’t pick the name they want. Name your company what YOU want to name it, not what friends want. Also, like most things, when a decision is made by a consensus you oftentimes go with the “safest” or most vanilla option of the bunch.
Remember: No bold creative work was ever made by group consensus.
2. Trying to rework a name by adding something to the beginning or end of an existing name option.
Oftentimes it’s tempting to want a name to encompass all aspects of your brand and you may think adding a word or a suffix to the names on your list of finalists will make that happen. This usually takes the magic out of a name, and weakens its effectiveness.
3. Thinking of the name out of the context of your target audience.
Kids won’t get the name? Your grandma doesn’t get the name?
So what? They’re not your target audience.
4. Relying on only your personal opinion of the name out of the context of the problem/solution.
A great name solves a problem and communicates specific feelings. Making a creative brief and following it very closely to select a list of name finalists is the most objective way to select a name that will solve the problem (problem = how do we communicate x,y,z about us) and help to position the company for success. Be as objective as possible when reviewing the a list of potential names, looking back at the creative brief as often as needed.
Ask Yourself: Will this name solve the most important 3-4 points on the creative brief? The right name achieves this solution.
5. Trying to decide on a name via a survey, focus group or e-blast.
This is almost guaranteed to derail the process, make you way more confused, and be a disaster. This also puts the decision completely on others who don’t know or understand your company. This decision should be yours and yours alone. Steve Jobs did not send out a survey to ask if he should name the company “Apple” or “Orange.” If he did, the company probably would have ended up being named “Orapple” or something worse.
6. Believing your company will succeed or fail based on a name. (This is not true. You’ll succeed or fail based on execution :)
A name is only one element of your company’s brand identity and marketing. It’s an important decision, but there will be many more important decisions to make in the future. Remember that in order to succeed you must start “doing” so getting past the naming stage, and making a DECISION, is crucial to move onto the success part.
Remember: Always keep the longer term and bigger picture in mind. Don’t get stuck in the granular. The faster you decide on a name, the closer you are to actually building your empire.