Name Selection – Get the Right People on the Bus

Published July 8, 2013
Categories: Basic Naming Questions | Best Names | Competitive Names | name selection checklist | Naming Strategy | Naming Tips

In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, an entire chapter is devoted to describing the importance of getting the right people on the bus (working for the company), the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. One of Jim’s governing principles is, even in the direst of circumstances, to think of the people first and the direction second.bus

This concept plays a vital role in the naming process, as well. There comes a time in the creative process where people have a number of favorite names, but sort-of wonder “What next?” when it comes to choosing a name. We tend to recommend a voting process as the first step in picking the favorites from the pack, but there are a few pitfalls to this process – one of which is having the wrong people on the bus.

1)      The right people include those who know the product or service, have been involved throughout the name evaluation process, and have veto power over the final decision.

2)      If someone (often the CEO or senior executive in charge of the process) is too busy to participate in the name evaluation sessions, then they should forfeit their right to participate in the final name selection. If this sounds unrealistic, please call us and we’ll be happy to tell you why it is so important.

3)      Make sure the brand position and naming objectives guide the selection process – in addition to natural name attributes. For example, distinction from competitors, legal risks, degree of match with branding efforts, and the possibility of misinterpretation are important. Consideration of the target market in addition to name memorability, fit with the core values driving that target market’s purchase intent, and ease of spelling and pronunciation should also be considered. What is NOT IMPORTANT IS WHICH NAMES ARE LIKED THE MOST (favorites ≠ most liked).

4)      And this brings us to one last suggestion: don’t go for the consensus name. Consensus names often tend to be names no one really hates but no one really loves either. It is far better to pick a name that is more polarizing and even borderline negative to some, but strongly resonates and incites passion among others.

However you decide to whittle down your naming choices to true favorites, it is important to have the right people in the room and not open the decision-making up to too many people (from those who have no real understanding of the overall strategy to those who haven’t had the time to participate in the process up until the final selection).  And, of course, this process is all about whittling the list down to a handful of favorites.  A committee should not make the final decision.  For that decision, the “right people on the bus” are customers and prospects.  But that will be a topic for another blog post.

Reader Feedback

No comments yet

Add your thoughts

Site Map

Site Search


THORN Americas

I received your presentation booklet for our new car concept—I looked through it and want to compliment you on an outstanding job. The names you have developed will be terrific starting points for us as we move our project forward. We will not hesitate to use your firm again. Mike Suchstand – Vice President, Strategic … read more

Major Global Tire Company

I want to thank you very much for your team’s effort on this project. You all worked very quickly and gave us excellent direction. I am sure many hours were spent in developing the many name lists you presented us. Your added value enabled us to move forward with a name consumers preferred over the … read more


We have filed six trademarks to date which were created by The NameStormers. As is, six global trademarks in one year is unprecedented for any agency we have contacted. On several projects, you triumphed where other agencies had failed us. The process is simple, fast and yields wonderful results. Tracey K. Higgins – Director, Trademark … read more

Intuitive Edge

I wanted to thank you and the NameStorming team for your great effort in helping me find a name for the company and our first product…starting a new business is quite a sizeable undertaking so knowing a competent team was tending to the name issues was a relief. We love the (company) name. We are … read more

Dow Chemical

The naming industry landscape is littered with agencies that make the process seem onerous and intimidating. They tout their unique proprietary processes, advanced research and ideation tools, etc. And then they tell you it’s going to take months and months. Ugh. With Mike and NameStormers, you get a team focused on results. Their approach is … read more

Design North

I have hired Mike to do naming projects for several of our clients. Naming can be a difficult area for many companies and Mike does a great job walking people through the process and making them feel comfortable. One of his strengths is his ability to ask the right questions to really understand the problem … read more

Centex Home Equity

Mike, Thanks for the quick turn around time. I appreciate all you have done to help us with name, logo and tagline. Some great work! Rob Greenbaum – Senior Vice President – Marketing – Nationstar, formerly Centex Home Equity

Puget Sound

Thank you for your excellent work, great customer service, and fast turnaround. I’d be happy to provide references for you. We decided on Alliant as a good tie to the corporate name: Virginia Mason-Group Health Alliance, Inc. And we’ve got two Alliant Health Plans, Plus which is a point of service plan, and Select for … read more

Stone Trust

We have rarely encountered the level of service and professionalism we received with you. You made us feel that we were important, and you did everything you said you would do when you said you would do it. And frankly, after such a positive experience with you, I can’t help but notice how the service … read more


Thanks so much for all your expert advice and professional project management throughout this endeavor. This has been one of the most satisfying engagements with a vendor that I have experienced over the years, which speaks to the high quality and thoughtful output of your efforts. I especially appreciated your flexibility and patience as the … read more

Download Pricing Guide