So, you’ve brainstormed a list of business names, vetted them with your legal, and now have a handful of potential business names to choose from- congratulations! The hard work is done and it’s all smooth sailing from here on, right? Not so fast.
We’ve been naming for over 35 years and one of the top reasons why people come to us isn’t because they can’t brainstorm creative names or even legally viable names, but because they can’t decide or get their team to agree on one final name. What are the reasons a team can’t agree upon a business or product name? There could be a variety of reasons but the most common ones we see are:
- The team is divided on what the naming objectives are and what they need the new name to do
- The team can’t agree on a name style or personality
- The team isn’t sure or can’t agree on what name will resonate with their target audience
- Some key decision makers weren’t properly involved in the full duration of the naming process
- There are too many feelings involved or fear of hurting other team member’s feelings
- Waiting on that eureka moment that never seems to come
In addition to diving into these common decision-making challenges, we’ve come up with 4 ways to help get your team aligned and on board when picking a final business or product name:
- Make sure that all key decision makers are involved at the outset of the naming process
- Collectively agree on and understand your naming objectives and target market from the get-go.
- Consider conducting naming research to see what resonates with your target market
- Use a 3rd party naming agency to provide an unbiased and fresh perspective
Let’s explore each one further.
Get Key Decision-Makers on Board From the Start
We’ve heard it a hundred times when we kick off a naming project with a new client: “We’re going to get started and go through a couple of rounds of name ideation and then we’ll share our top favorites with the CEO and other executives”. It’s an innocent, well-meaning thought to “save” the executive team’s time by doing a lot of the naming work for them before including them in the decision-making or even to avoid their unwanted opinions initially, but it’s bound to prove detrimental in the end. Why?
It turns out that most of the value in a naming process comes from the, well, process. When we engage a client on a naming project, the process includes a deep dive into the business values, mission, goals, and brand personality. We explore the value proposition, opportunities, competitor strategies, and the target market. We discuss prefixes, suffixes, root words, and different creative paths when brainstorming, and then we share the enormous amount of trademark and domain prescreening data we conduct and collect on every name so that you can see how saturated your industry is, what challenges you’re up against and what opportunities are open to you.
This process is so much more than writing a few ideas down on a pad of paper and passing them your way, which is why it’s imperative that whoever is making the final decision about the name is benefitting from the insights and experience of the entire naming process. If not, you’ll end up with a lot of work done on the front-end and unhappy and opinionated executives that have no context or background knowledge of the names suggested to them.
Now on the flip side, don’t invite Aunt Penelope and Neighbor Rocco to the naming meetings if they’re not key team members or stakeholders. They might bring brownies, but they’ll also bring a lot of potentially unhelpful and ungrounded opinions that will distract the process and only add to the confusion.
Agree on the Naming Objectives
This one might be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many teams aren’t on the same page on what the naming objectives and goals are. The CEO is hesitant to change the name, The CMO wanted a new name yesterday, the CFO doesn’t want to pay for it, and the COO is struggling to keep everyone on track. Sometimes the greatest hurdle in naming is finding collective clarity, vision, and direction for a naming project, but it’s imperative to get it right before you start the creative brainstorming and trademark screening process to ensure you’re not wasting time or money and that it’s a successful initiative. Questions that should get answered before engaging in a naming initiative include:
1. Do we have a clear value proposition and mission? Do we know what sets us apart from the competition?
2. Do we have a well-developed and well-researched product or service?
3. Do we know who our target market is and what problem we are solving for them?
4. If rebranding, are we clear on the specific issues/problems and what’s needed with the new name?
5. Do we have the appropriate budget to invest in a new name?
Typically, a combination of market and target research paired with a solid branding foundation is the key to ensuring the executive team agrees on the naming objectives, but sometimes having help from an outside naming expert can bring the clarity and grounding needed to get everyone aligned.
One last note- while we do believe in team consensus on the naming project objectives and needs, we do not believe that team consensus on a favorite and final name is important. In fact, we think that the opposite is true! A little bit of controversy or disagreement in a name generates interest and intrigue, while total consensus yields lukewarm results and reactions!
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Research
It’s not hard to convince our clients how important it is to name for their target audience. Most companies understand that success lies in how well you are speaking your customer’s language and solving their unique problems. But how do you know if the name you’re choosing for your new brand or product will resonate? Is it a guessing game? It doesn’t have to be.
When trying to come to a consensus with your team about which name will work best for that new product, ditch the opinions, stop waiting for that eureka moment, and opt for hard data. With roots in Nielsen, we understand and appreciate the value that market research can provide in the brand naming space. It isn’t enough to hope or think a name will resonate with your target audience, you have to know that it will. What do we recommend? When you get to those 6-10 favorite names, it’s time to put them to the test with hundreds of ideal consumers, asking them which name is their favorite, least favorite, and why. Even better- invest your marketing dollars in behavioral System 1/System 2 research which goes beyond naming opinions and studies the actual behavior and the instant reactions people have to names.
Lastly, memorability is everything. It’s not enough to know if people like or dislike a name, you must know if a name is memorable or not and if it will stick to the roof of your target’s brain. Therefore, at NameStormers, we have ways of testing names that go beyond opinions and assess whether names are memorable or not. There are many ways to test your top names and glean key insights from your target audience, so no matter what method you use, research is imperative in making that final name decision.
Partner with a Naming Expert
Naming is very personal, and not just for new moms and dads naming their newborns. Naming is personal for huge corporations, start-ups, non-profits, and mom and pop shops alike. There can be a lot of feelings, personal investment, and opinions involved in a naming exercise, so one of the main reasons why people hire a naming expert is the value of an unbiased third-party partner coming into a very fragile and vulnerable process (or group of people) to provide a fresh perspective, renewed energy, and expert advice. At NameStormers, we like to consider ourselves an extended part of your team. We take into account the dynamic and unique issues surrounding your naming needs and we approach them with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, but we don’t stop there. We provide insight, perspective, and solutions to help your team get unstuck and on the path toward success.Naming success also involves finding legally viable names. The easiest part of a naming engagement is coming up with great names. The hardest part and the number one reason a naming partner can be so valuable is for the trademark prescreening, dot-com screening, and global linguistic screening necessary for finding viable names. At NameStormers, we do just that: all of the monotonous legal prescreening in addition to bottomless brainstorming creativity, and we do it all until you’re happy for one flat fee. If you’re ready to work with professionals with proven experience in helping teams find and pick that final winning name, let’s get NameStorming.