Millennials are the largest generation in the American workforce. This week on our podcast, we dove headfirst into highlighting the unique perspectives millennials bring to the table. Growing up in the digital age, millennials often bring strong tech skills, adaptability to new technologies, and a penchant for innovation to their jobs.
2 outdated 4U 2day
Some initial insights from our recent podcast included the cringe-inducing and outdated use of letters and numbers to replace complete words.
Using “C” for “See” and “4” for “for” was a trend born out of the necessity for brevity in the early days of digital communication—think text messages, early social media, or character-limited platforms like X (formerly Twitter). However, it’s considered outdated by millennials in modern branding for a few reasons:
- Maturity and Professionalism: As digital communication evolved, the need for such shorthand reduced. Brands aim for a more mature and professional image now, and using numbers and letters in place of words can come off as informal or unprofessional. Some of us millennials also relate it to our texting, teenage years – Nostalgia anyone?
- Clarity and Accessibility: Clarity in communication is crucial for brands to reach a wider audience. Using these substitutions can sometimes create confusion, especially for older demographics or non-native English speakers who might not immediately understand the reference.
- Brand Image and Perception: Brands want to be taken seriously and be seen as credible. Employing such shorthand can make a brand appear outdated or trying too hard to fit into a specific trend that has passed. The kids these days like to call it “cringy” or “cheugy.” Yes, we too had to look that last one up.
Pain Points and Pensive Positivity
We also investigated the perspectives of what millennial namers find to be the biggest pain points in the naming process.
Some common challenges that can produce proverbial hiccups include
- The more is more mentality: some clients are convinced that they just need more names until they have that aha or eureka moment. It becomes a delicate balancing act of keeping the client happy while also helping guide them to selecting their top names. Sometimes a 13-page menu of options can lead to analysis paralysis, and clients could benefit from a smaller menu, tailored to their alphabet (or naming) “Soup of the day.” We feel the initial name set of a broader range of options helps the client see the direction they want to go, then we can really cultivate a better experience, refining names to their taste.
- Feedback Static: This conundrum is perhaps the hardest thing to navigate, as it feels impossible to know which direction to home in on, revisit, or revise when clients don’t engage in providing feedback. Good naming means good revising. We love knowing your favorite roots, thematic directions, and even the names you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
But, it’s not all Soup or Static… we love naming. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. Literally- we’re NameStormers, aka life-long learners. We live for the thrill of the naming chase, the creative rush, the tango between creativity and strategy.
The Balancing Act of AI
Millennials are no stranger to innovation. We lived in an era (the Great Innovation if you will) that went from dial-up internet to phones that are hand-held computer systems. And just like any new era, there’s a balancing between the old and new.
We haven’t met a fellow millennial that didn’t love efficiency. In essence, millennials’ attitudes toward AI are a mix of excitement for its potential, concerns about its societal impact, and a desire for responsible development that prioritizes human values and well-being. Overall, many millennials are optimistic about the potential of AI to improve society, streamline processes, and enhance decision-making. AI is not a replacement for human creativity, but rather a catalyst for creativity, a springboard for shaping thought, and a leverageable learning tool.
With AI, clearer prompts are the result of a sharper focus on what’s important. If you’re getting results and responses that are vague or not useful, maybe it’s a user error. Harnessing AI effectively is the difference between a wild mustang and a cutting horse: one takes a lot of energy to wrangle and the other makes life much easier.
Mike Carr (00:05):
Hello everyone for another session, engaging and exciting about n=Naming in the AI Age. This one’s going to be a little different. I get to ask the questions this time of two of our millennial namrs, and they’re going to give you some off the cuff or hopefully interesting answers. So we’ll get started. And this is going to be a little bit rawer than our normal podcast, which I actually think is a good thing. And since this is sort of the week before Christmas, we’re hoping to leave you with a few gifts in the form of advice about naming or things that we’ve learned about naming that may be of interest to you or may help you in your naming journey. My first question for Megan and Ashley is why is it important to have you gals and people your age involved in the process as key decision makers, right? As someone that’s actually coming up with the creative as opposed to just a staff or someone that’s not necessarily in a significant role Who would like to answer that question?
Megan Dzialo (01:15):
I’ll kick us off, I guess. Yeah, I mean, I think we have perspective as millennials. I mean only for the millennial generation, and we’re just one millennial, right? We don’t necessarily represent all millennials, but we get a pulse on our culture and what people are engaged in and how they engage on social media and just life in general. And so I can’t speak for Gen Zers. I think it’s also why it’s super important that we pulse, check our name ideas, if the target market on that specific project is for Gen Zers, that we also bring in all the different generations that are going to be involved. But I’m thinking about to a couple of the things that I feel like I’ve had to educate you, boomers on the team about. And one thing that came to mind for me is how much you guys love to put numbers to exchange letters for numbers because it’s got that edgy, trendy, hip, to use your word, Mike, vibe to it. But in my millennial opinion, instead of see you later, you would have the eight instead of in the word later. In my opinion, that’s an outdated naming trend. And so I feel like there’s been some education on that side. But yeah. What about
Mike Carr (02:23):
You? Come on now. A name like all four you where you’ve got a four, so all the number four, and then you is such a cool name. You don’t think that’s a cool name?
Megan Dzialo (02:33):
It was really cool in middle school when I was in middle school when texting was big, when texting first came out, and I my, I don’t even know what I had Blackberry. I had a bunch of different ones. I
Ashley Elliott (02:44):
Still have mine. Brought it out the other day. Yeah,
Megan Dzialo (02:48):
Did you have a razor? My sister was
Ashley Elliott (02:49):
Like, what is this? I didn’t, but my friends did. Yeah.
Megan Dzialo (02:52):
Anyway, when texting first came out, Mike, yes, that was the trend. It is a little outdated now. Middle school was a while ago, but
Ashley Elliott (03:02):
Anyway, mine was high school, but had I thought you had to pay per letter, so that made a lot more sense to me to put the four and the C, and we didn’t know what we were paying for. I didn’t know what texting was back in the day for me, the English teacher and me cringes a little bit, the linguist aspect of it, of the numbers as replacement for words, but also adding a Z instead of an S at the end of a word, a plural word, those type of things. But I think maybe that’s just a teacher, millennial, not necessarily just millennial. But yeah, those are some of the ones that I feel like, Ooh, I just kind of a little bit, and I’m sure the Gen Zs are probably looking at us. Y’all like that? What are you doing? So who knows?
Megan Dzialo (03:47):
Mike Carr (03:50):
Okay. So it is important to have millennials on our team because they think about things very differently than other age groups do, like my age group. So another question. So when you think about naming, what is an insight or two that you’ve learned and that you think might be interesting to the folks that are listening right now? And it can be a funny thing, it can be just something that you thought was very surprising to you, but boy, that sure was important on that project or just for naming in general? Ashley, you want to start with that one?
Ashley Elliott (04:25):
Yeah. So I think for me, I just thought it was all creative and is very creative, but not seeing all of the due diligence that you have to do on behind the scenes. I guess it’s almost the people that create the stage and then you have the actors and it’s like the names are like these actors, but creating the stage. There’s a lot of work that’s done behind the scenes. And so realizing that trademark as a whole is a whole beast that I didn’t even know was a thing. I mean, I guess from my naive perspectives, you just go out and register it and then it’s good. And if you tweak a letter, I didn’t know it was phonetically based. I didn’t know all of that. Also didn’t realize the likelihood of confusion. If you’re in a grocery store and you have two products that are not even the same product, but they’re next to each other and they can be confused. So I’m learning a lot about that and the nuances behind that still, I feel like you’ll never fully know, but I think I’m learning bits and pieces as I go, and the more I learn, the more I’m like, I really don’t know anything about this, but this is the beast.
Megan Dzialo (05:31):
I agree with that. I think something that I’ve really learned, and I’ve always known this, but I understand the importance of it more and more as time goes on, is context is everything when it comes to names. So tagline, adding a tagline to a name, thinking about copy opportunities that you can use with that name. Thinking about brand mascot potential, how can you potentially use your name as a verb? Play around with colors and fonts with the name really telling the brand story is imperative. Names by themselves are like newborn babies just with a name tag on ’em. They’re blobs, they’re fragile, they haven’t grown into their name, and there’s no history or personality yet. And so I guess my insight or advice would be don’t rule out names until you’ve really considered them with some context around them. Dropping the names on a fake building or a business card as we have learned has been so helpful for us and our clients. Basically take your name ideas on a date, say it out loud, pretend you’re talking about this name on the phone with a potential customer. And just wrapping that context around it can really help Take a name that just kind of seems like me, blah into like, okay, actually there’s more to this than meets the eye. So
Ashley Elliott (06:44):
Make the name like Facebook official. Is that even the thing? Still? Do we do that anymore? TikTok official, what are the Gen Zs? I know
Megan Dzialo (06:50):
What you’re talking about. I’m a millennial, but ERs would roll their eyes. Yeah, make a name Facebook official. I don’t know what the alternative,
Ashley Elliott (06:59):
The equivalent of that would be now. Yeah, the equivalent.
Megan Dzialo (07:01):
Mike Carr (07:03):
I think these are great comments, and this is going to be very politically incorrect, so I hope folks that are listening don’t grimace, but to me it’s like the difference between a gal putting on her makeup and not putting on her makeup. Right? So we’ve had calls, huh?
Megan Dzialo (07:19):
Mike Carr (07:20):
I mean really we’ve had calls where it’s early in the morning and folks really aren’t really to get on, and that’s fine, right? That’s just sort of the real you. But then we have a client presentation when the guys don’t do this. I mean, at least the guys don’t do this, you guys do, the
Ashley Elliott (07:37):
Mike Carr (07:38):
And it’s like, whoa, do we look good or what? And it’s the window dressing, it’s the makeup, right? And the name needs that same thing, right? That name without any of that sparkle and polish and face cream and the hair done, it falls a little flat initially, but boy, once you see it the right way, big difference. So that’s certainly something that I think everyone can benefit from, especially when you’re presenting names to the rest of your team. Don’t just give ’em the name or don’t, certainly don’t send them just a list of names with the dumb question, what do you think? You’re not going to get the kind of answer that’s going to be helpful. What’s a lot more helpful is put some polish and some sparkle and some window dressing. So moving on to the next question.
Ashley Elliott (08:21):
Go ahead. Well, before you finish, I think with that, trying to give an analogy of our world is now Zoom since Covid, and to me it’s the difference between someone not sharing their video and I just see their name on the little screen versus seeing the person’s face and all the visuals, the facial expressions, all that. It just makes it wrapped so much easier. So I just want to throw that out there.
Mike Carr (08:47):
Good point. Okay, so I don’t care if you’ve got a hard naming project or a favorite naming project, but I’m just, what’s one of the hardest naming projects maybe that you worked on and why was it hard and what did you learn from it or how did you overcome the difficulty? Or maybe what’s one of your favorite naming projects, right? And why was it so much fun? So those can be two separate questions that you guys can deal with them together. Who would like to answer that one?
Megan Dzialo (09:15):
Yeah, I have thoughts on both of those. So I actually think I shared this either a podcast to go or a couple of podcasts to go. I mean, I would say the more technical scientific industries are more difficult for me to name for. But I would say the thing that’s hardest for me, and this is not really even specific to one naming project that I remember or one industry, it’s really when clients are convinced that they just need more names until they have that aha or eureka moment that hits those in general are the hardest projects for us because it’s more about learning how to guide them or lead them to those top one, two, or three names. And that’s where that context and rationale that we just talked about really comes into play because some people are just like, ah, I don’t have that feeling yet about this name.
And it’s like, well, you’re not going to have the feeling until this thing actually comes to life. Well, until after you’ve probably decided on the name. And it’s a delicate balance of trying to still keep them happy, but lead them to a direction as the naming experts. So I would say those are the hardest projects for me. A favorite naming project that comes to mind. A couple of years ago we had the honor of partnering with the vitamin shop, and if you’re not familiar, vitamin Shop carries this huge assortment of high quality vitamins and supplements and other things. And they were releasing this new line for women, which they said it’s women from post-grad to post menopause to help women of all ages. And their tagline, they had already chosen a tagline was Love Your Brilliant Self. And they wanted the brand to really convey warmth, generosity, radiance, and kind of reflect our more passionate lifestyle with that special focus on self-love and self-care, which is such a millennial thing.
The terms self-love and self-care is such a big deal for our generation rather than in the past, a lot of vitamins and supplements had this more functional clinical benefit lead to it with the names. And so I personally love this project. It was going away from a lot of these clinical terms and names to something more aspirational. And of course, being the target of a naming project is always fun. It’s always easier and fun to name for something that’s targeted at yourself, and the name that we gave them was true. You really short, really simple, but it embodied exactly what they were going for and it’s been a huge success. And my mom even loves them and takes her true you vitamins every day. So that was a fun one.
Ashley Elliott (11:39):
Oh, nice. Yeah, I need to take more vitamins. The older we get, the more I realize I should have done this 10 years ago back in the Flintstone vitamins. I wish they made those flavors for millennials. That would be great.
Megan Dzialo (11:50):
I can taste those right now. I remember
Ashley Elliott (11:52):
The know. Yeah. Yeah. For me it would be, I guess the most challenging part would be when I love feedback. I am sign language interpreter feedback on wrong signs, right signs, where do we want to go? Even feedback at the teacher on how to get better. And so for me, feedback is crucial. I don’t know how to get where I’m supposed to go if I don’t know how you’re feeling about it. And sometimes it’s hard to gauge clients on that. And so when I hear crickets, not in my house necessarily, but when I hear crickets and I don’t know where they want to go or how they feel that it just makes me a little anxious. And so that’s probably the hardest part for me is when we don’t have direction on where exactly to go or what you liked or what you liked about a name or what you didn’t like about a name. That’s so hard for me personally on the feedback aspect.
Mike Carr (12:43):
What about something that you’ve enjoyed? I’m sorry, Megan, go ahead.
Megan Dzialo (12:47):
Oh, I was going to say, what about a favorite? Do you have a favorite yet?
Ashley Elliott (12:51):
I’m still newer and I haven’t been on a ton of projects, but for me, I love the wordplay aspect of things. We’ve talked about Angry Orchard before, and I wasn’t on that project, but just knowing angry, being representative of alcohol, being representative of the way the apples looked, and just taking orchard as in the whole bulk of it all, and it could be any kind of fruit. I just love the word play of those too. And I think that really, I mean that’s the kind of stuff like the sweet spot of naming that I think I would love to be more of a part of for sure moving forward.
Mike Carr (13:26):
Yeah, I think in response to some of the things you guys have said, I think it’s always a balancing act in terms of the number of names. So what we’ve found over the years and decades is giving someone 30, 40, 50 names at a crack is too many. Giving someone three names is too few, especially initially that giving a full menu of choices is really helpful because it’s hard for any client to really articulate exactly what they want in a name. But once they see a name, boy, they can tell you. And so we can talk abstractly about strategy and brand values and brand archetypes, which we do, and we think we understand, okay, here’s a name that sort of delivers on all the messaging and the style and everything else that the client’s after, and it misses the mark in their opinion. But until they see the name, they can’t articulate why.
And so that full menu of choices initially helps sort of provide the gauge with a calibration than for refinement. So we really like this idea of not endless names, but a lot of names initially tell us what you like. There may be a winner or two or three in there. Let us do a little bit more refinement and make sure, sure we’ve nailed it. And I think that has proven to be a very good solution. And then I think the feedback and managing expectations is also something that’s just super important. So one of the things that we do, and we talked about this before, but it’s worth reminding everybody, you got to take the negative off the table. You’ve got to prevent people from thinking about a name as a critic because every name’s got problems. You want them to be the advocate. So by forcing folks to only think about what do you not, what don’t you like, that gets everyone thinking the right way.
And you can still allow for that criticism towards the end of a call or presentation or meeting. But you always want initially to sort of put the names in that positive light if you had to advocate for one why. And what we found is something almost magical that our clients will talk one another into the name if there are four or five people on their team. And before you know it, they’re all pretty excited about names that two or three of them had some reservations about, and it would’ve killed the presentation had we allowed those reservations out on the table too quickly. So that’s one thing I think that we’ve also learned too, a different question. The whole title of this podcast is ai, and we are a technology driven naming firm, and that has set us apart from the eighties, is that we’ve used technology to supplement human creativity, probably more so than any other naming agency in the business.
And we continue to do so. And I know a lot of agencies have publicly talked about how AI is no substitute for human creativity and really dismissed largely the benefits with perhaps leaving the door open for what’s coming up in the future. And we don’t necessarily disagree with that. I don’t think you’re ever going to see AI truly being a replacement or a great creative type, a great namer that understands branding, that understands market strategy, all the nuances and subtleties and language and roots in sound symbolism, especially when you factor in cultural differences around the globe. We’re seem to be doing all the time, but there’s a place perhaps for AI right now. So I’d be interested in your guys’ thoughts there. Right. Have you used AI successfully or unsuccessfully, and what is your take on where we are today and maybe where we’re going? Ashley, do you want to start with that one?
Ashley Elliott (17:15):
Yeah, sure. I was always the old school teacher and me, I never wanted to use a smart board, always wanted to use the chalkboard or the wipe off board. I’m just a little old school in that aspect. But then it’s great if technology doesn’t work, then the kids aren’t phased. But I have been more keen on AI and embracing that recently, and I really have found that it’s a great springboard for ideas. I don’t think it necessarily replaces the creativity aspect of it, but it can definitely, especially if your creative juices aren’t really flowing, it can be a good catalyst for that. I think also for me, it’s been really cool in seeing how I need to narrow down my focus on naming and on maybe even write-ups for presentations and stuff because what am I trying? The prompt is really important, and if the prompt is unclear, maybe I’m not clear on what I’m trying to convey.
And if it spits out something and I’m like, I don’t know, that didn’t really answer what I’m looking for, then maybe I’m not clear on what I need to do and I need to go back and tailor that a little bit. So it’s been a good calibrating tool for me, I guess. I think also just the way that it spits out stuff, I’m like, man, I didn’t even think about that. But it allows for the creative aspect of I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that point, but I could put two of these similar points together and then make it work. So I think that’s been super helpful in my naming journey for sure.
Megan Dzialo (18:38):
Yeah, I would agree with that. And I think that AI is really only as, and to your point Ashley, it’s really only as good as the engineer prompt. It is only going to be as good as I can put the time and the effort into writing a prompt to get out the information that I want. And so there’s a whole level of learning, how do I even just put in good prompts? And it’s not like you just stick in a Google search and then it spits out exactly what you’re for. So there is a little bit of a learning curve. It’s definitely been helpful, as you said, as a springboard for ideation. As far as other naming competitors, maybe dismissing ai, my thought to that is you don’t want to be a naming agency or a creative agency or really in any industry where you’re just putting your fingers in your ears and singing and saying, ah, AI is not going to impact us. It’s not a big deal. We’re just going to keep doing things the way that we’ve done it. You definitely don’t want to be a late adopter with ai. You want to see it as an opportunity, not as a threat. I love how our team has embraced AI as an opportunity. How can we make our human creativity even better with this? Because I do agree it doesn’t replace human creativity, but it’s a supplement for it.
Mike Carr (19:49):
So as a firm, we are going to continue to lean into technology. I think that the pace of change, and not just in ai, I mean there’s some other things that are happening in the way of new tools and the availability of tools and the ease of use that we would be crazy not to offer that value to our clients, right? So when it comes to name testing, we’re using some pretty novel ways to assess reactions to names, which really has provided value to a lot of our CPG clients or consumer product goods clients. When it comes to trademark screening, it’s sort of like peeling layers of an onion, which gets back Megan and Ashley to the prompt quality and the iteration through prompts with AI is what really makes the difference. You can’t just stop with that first prompt, right? It’s like you prompt it, you see what it says, then you say, well, that’s not really what I wanted.
Here’s what I want you to do. And you sort of go through that iterative and maybe down that fourth or fifth or sixth layer of the onion, you finally start getting some pretty good stuff and trademarks just like that, right? Trademark screening is so important these days, and it’s something that a lot of our competitors sort of gloss over that, well, we’ll do a certain level of that and then we’ll pass it off to your legal. Or they may say, we’ll do an exact match and that’s it. Well, that’s largely worthless. I mean, an exact match creates this false sense of security and then you pass it off to the client’s legal and a week or two later, no, you can’t use that name. So we don’t do that. We spend a lot of time with some of the newest technology to really try to understand what’s out there that’s phonetically equivalent, that sounds similar, and could still create that confusion regardless of how it’s spelled and not just in the category the client’s most interested in, but in ancillary or adjacent categories.
So it’s a really heavy lift and it’s not much fun. We know it’s not much fun, but it’s so important because what’ll happen if you don’t do that is it’s usually at the 11th hour. And we got a lot of business listeners from folks that have done it this way that in the 11th hour they’ve been waiting for their legal and they’re up against a deadline. And sure enough, the name they thought they wanted or they could get, they can’t get. And so now they call us up and say, well, we got a week left or two weeks left. What can you do for us? And we can do a lot in a week or two, and we do a lot of those projects. That’s not ideal. We’d much rather have a little more time. The last question though, before we end is just about the fun part of naming. What gives you the most joy? What do you find, Hey, I really look forward to doing this or that aspect? Megan, any thoughts on that one? Yeah,
Megan Dzialo (22:36):
I think in general, naming is so organic and for me it provides this creative rush. You can’t force creativity. I’ve tried to force creativity. Sometimes you can eke out a few things, but it has to be this kind of perfect merriment in my mind. You have to find that sweet spot and you can’t create it. It can just kind of happen. It can happen anywhere. We’ve talked about happening in your sleep. It can happen when I’m on my run or my walk or when I’m driving in the car, but when my mind has finally found that right creative pathway to go down or that just right root word or prefix, and that creativity is flowing for me, it provides this high that’s kind of addicting, truly. So I love that there are no boundaries and naming. I also love coming up with taglines that going back to that context and building out the name, I love coming up with fun taglines, but I would say the most fun thing is when clients love our names. That’s an easy thing to say, but after you’ve done all this hard work you’ve presented and they’re like, oh my gosh, this was so great. We loved this, we loved this idea. And you get that kind of affirmation that we’ve done a good job and we were on the right pathway. There’s nothing better than that.
Ashley Elliott (23:40):
Oh, yeah. Especially when people haven’t used an agency before and they’re like, this is why we needed an agency this whole time. For me, I would say I was a sign language interpreter. I’m still an interpreter, but I was for college. So I would get to go to all these college classes, and you have to know what things mean when you’re interpreting these things. And so I would get to learn all of these different college courses that I would never take on my own. And so for me, I think it’s a nice little parallel to naming because I get to learn about a lot of things that I would never research on my own, but I get to go and learn almost like a jack of all trades kind of thing. I get to learn a little bit about a lot, and I have a little bit more repertoire about being able to have conversations and network with people or just being able to relate with people about an industry that I may have never known otherwise. That’s my favorite.
Mike Carr (24:30):
Yeah, I think the fact that we as an agency do work across industries, all kinds of products, all kinds of services, all kinds of companies, domestic, regional, global, some companies that are global or in six countries, some companies that are global or in 130 countries, really adds for the richness and the enjoyment of each project because different, and you do sort of have to learn a lot about what’s going on and the fact that we do an awful lot of B2B work, we have sort of the technology backgrounds and the engineering chops and the software and computer chops to understand that language and that lingo and where the industry is going. And then we compliment that on the consumer side, understanding all the things that resonate in a more traditional retail environment that brings some value to both sides. I think there’s some learnings there that help the other side of the fence too. So great comments today guys, and for all our listeners, we wish you a wonderful Christmas, wonderful Hanukkah great holiday season. We will be back just after the first of the year with some more new cool, fun stuff. But thanks so much for listening.
Ashley Elliott (25:42):