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Naming Strategy

Name Selection: Get the Right People On the Bus

By June 7, 2017March 31st, 2023No Comments

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.

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