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Unlocking the Power of Opinions in Naming: Strategies for Inclusive Decision-Making

Key Takeaways:

  1. Recognize Anchoring Bias Foster an environment where all opinions are valued without biasing the conversation from the start. 

  2. Optimal Group Size: Aim for six to eight participants in discussions to allow for meaningful exchanges while ensuring that all voices are heard.

  3. Harness the Power of Polling: Use anonymous polling to encourage honest feedback, especially from individuals who may feel intimidated by higher-ranking colleagues.  

  4. Prioritize Inclusive Decision-Making: Ensure that your team reflects or at least considers the diversity of your target audience.

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Today, we’re diving into the complex world of opinions and how they shape the naming process. Whether you’re in a client call or a presentation, managing opinions effectively can make or break the outcome of a project. Let’s explore some strategies for navigating this delicate balance.

Understanding Anchoring Bias

Ever heard of anchoring bias? It’s a cognitive bias where initial information heavily influences subsequent judgments. For instance, in negotiations, throwing out a number sets the tone for the rest of the discussion. The same principle applies to naming – suggesting a name upfront can anchor the conversation around it. To combat this, it’s crucial to foster an environment where all opinions are welcome without biasing the conversation towards a particular direction from the start.

The Ideal Number for Effective Discussions

Finding the right balance of voices in a discussion can be tricky. While having all decision-makers present is ideal, it’s often challenging, especially in large organizations. However, involving key stakeholders from the outset prevents misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Aim for six to eight participants in a call to allow for meaningful discussions without overwhelming the group.

The Power of Polling

Intimidation can hinder honest feedback, particularly when high-ranking individuals are present. To counteract this, consider implementing anonymous polling before discussions begin. This allows participants to express their preferences freely without fear of judgment. Sharing the poll results upfront provides valuable insights and sets the stage for an open dialogue.

Balancing Perspectives

Inclusive decision-making is essential, especially when targeting diverse consumer demographics. If your team doesn’t reflect your target market, you risk overlooking crucial insights. To bridge this gap, consider conducting quantitative research or testing names with your target audience. This ensures that your naming decisions resonate with the people who matter most – your customers.


Ashley Elliott (00:04): 

Hello and welcome back to naming in an AI Age. Today we are here on location and we are going to talk about opinions. Everybody seems to have an opinion, but some people share more than others. So on client calls and on presentations, how do you get people’s opinions without them influencing the entire project or the room or how things go? 

Mike Carr (00:25): 

Yeah, and this is one of the hardest things to do, but I think one of the most important things to do, so there’s something called anchoring bias, and there’s a lot of research around this. If someone, for instance, in a negotiation, let’s say you’re trying to buy a house and they throw out a number right off the bat, well then the conversation from that point forward is anchored in the number that was thrown out. So if you’re the seller, you throw out a high number and then that whole conversation’s around negotiating around that high number, which is maybe ridiculously high. So you end up getting more money for the house. If you’re the buyer, you throw out a loan number. Same thing is true. So when it comes to naming, if someone throws out a name right off the bat or a style of name right off the bat, then the conversation tends to evolve around that name. So one of the things that we try to do in conversations is make sure that everyone understands that all opinions are welcome and not try to bias the conversation with advocating strongly for a particular style of name right out of the shoot. 

Ashley Elliott (01:33): 

I think that’s also, you do lean into a variety of styles too, not to just have all one style to where you’re anchored in that set of names as well. I know that it depends on how large of a group you’re working with. What’s an ideal amount of people on the call to be able to get everyone’s opinion, or do you always need every single person’s opinion on the call? What’s your perspective on that? 

Mike Carr (01:52): 

That’s a hard nut to crack because we want on the call all the decision makers. It’s hard though, especially in large companies, large clients, to get the most senior person on the call. The reason that’s important though is they’ll educate one another during the process. So someone will throw out a name and then there’ll be a debate around that name. If the most senior person says something like, just bring me your top three names at the end of the process. Well, they haven’t had the value of understanding all the other options that have been considered listening to the debate around why certain names were thrown out and why other names were considered in influencing that conversation. So if they’re not involved, what typically happens at the end is you’ll present the top three names and they might say something like, well, these are okay, but what about this? Well, what about this was something that we talked about in that first round? 

Ashley Elliott (02:45): 

It’s like, oh my 

Mike Carr (02:46): 

Gosh, and they just been there. Or they might suggest something like, I don’t like any of these ideas, and they’ll come up with something totally different that nobody even knew about had they just been involved that first round. But going back to your question, what’s the ideal number? I would say six to eight folks in a call that’s an hour long is a perfect number for everyone to have an opportunity to discuss. We can certainly do it, and we’ve done it with just three or four. And certainly if it’s the founder and the founder just wants to be the only person involved and they’re going to influence the rest of the conversation, it’s just the founder. If we have 12, 15 or more, it’s usually better to break it into two calls. Even though they don’t get the benefit of hearing everyone else’s opinion, at least they have more opportunity to voice their own opinion. We might have a different kind of discussion to share with them some of the thinking of the other groups and some of their point, but I would say six to eight is probably the perfect 

Ashley Elliott (03:40): 

Size. We’ve started doing more recently is having a poll. Can you explain a little bit about that, because that’s before the conversation starts and why we do that specifically? There are quite a few people. 

Mike Carr (03:51): 

What we’ve also found is if you have the decision maker on the call, and let’s say that decision maker is somebody’s boss’s boss’s boss, but they’re in the trenches, they’re the ones in the marcom area or the insights area, whatever, they’re the ones that are charged with making the name come alive. So they’ve got to be on the call too. Well, they may feel a bit intimidated and not share their opinions quite as freely. They don’t look dumb in front of the CEO o the company or their boss’s boss. So what we do, we do a couple things. First of all, we say we want everyone’s opinion. We’re not looking for consensus. We really want everyone to share a viewpoint that may be different regardless of who they’re, that doesn’t always work. So what we also do is we say at the end of the presentation, before there’s any conversation around which names you like and you don’t like, we’re going to take you a little poll. 


It’s done anonymously. We’ll give ’em a QR code, and they take their smartphones out and they do it on camera. And the whole idea is you can vote for your top, let’s say five names, totally anonymously. And then we show the results of the poll before there’s any conversation. And so now you actually can see the group’s opinion as this is the name that maybe is the strongest, and we’re not, again, looking for consensus, but at least you have some idea. Well, these are the top five. So if there was somebody that might’ve started the conversation really dissing a name or being nervous about sharing their opinion about a name, they feel very safe because they’ve been able to vote for a name, give it that first place vote, and then they can have a conversation and see, oh, I just sort of like that name too. So that really, really helps. Then we open up the conversation afterwards. 

Ashley Elliott (05:31): 

I think it’s a great way to do that. It manages expectations a little bit. It also provides that wiggle room for people that may not have the freedom to express their opinion, and it kind of stabilizes the room, I think, a little bit to be able to openly discuss opinions based on, okay, what are the results? It doesn’t matter if it’s consensus or not. And it’s also not necessarily one person’s decision. There are a lot of different generations sometimes in the room, sometimes the people making decision aren’t necessarily the target market. So kind of balances that a little 

Mike Carr (05:58): 

Bit, and that’s a great point for a lot of our B2C clients that we’re going to be targeting Gen Z or a millennial consumer, and there’s not a single Gen Z on their side in the call. There may be some millennials, but maybe they’re targeting a female millennial that has kids at home. There may be a few, but the majority of the team might not be in that segment. So you’re asking the team to draw conclusions about a name when their targets underrepresented in the room are not represented at all, and that’s a bit ridiculous. We used to part of Nielsen, the market research firm, and Nielsen of course does quantitative research, so we love testing names. Even if you don’t want to use us, we recommend that you test the name with your target and make sure that what you think is going to work is actually going to work. And that’s usually a nice final check just to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. 

Ashley Elliott (06:51): 

Oh, we could do a whole nother podcast on name testing and how you’ve learned to do it over the years. Well, thank you for joining us today as we talked about opinions and managing expectations and allowing for voices to be heard on client calls. We’ll see you next time. See 

Mike Carr (07:06): 


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