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Navigating Naming in an AI Age: The Power of Positivity and Advocacy 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Champion Names: Instead of fixating on flaws, advocate for the potential of each name. By fostering a culture of positivity, we unlock creativity and innovation. 

  2. Set Expectations: Clear communication is vital, especially in remote collaborations. Establishing ground rules that prioritize advocacy sets the stage for productive discussions. 

  3. Embrace Feedback: While understanding what doesn’t work is important, focus on the elements that resonate. Leverage feedback to refine ideas and tailor suggestions to client preferences. 

  4. Context is Key: Wrap names in a compelling narrative to mitigate potential objections. Embrace the power of context to transform perceived weaknesses into strengths. 

YouTube video

Unveiling the Art of Naming: Navigating Positivity in an AI Age 

In a world where brands strive to make an impact, naming stands at the forefront of brand identity. But what’s the secret sauce behind a successful name? Mike, with almost four decades of experience in name pitches, emphasizes the pivotal role of positivity over negativity in the naming process. In this blog post, we delve into the essence of advocating for names and uncover the transformative power it holds. 

The Pitfalls of Criticism 

Mike aptly points out that it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of criticism when brainstorming names. The natural inclination is to dissect and highlight flaws, but this approach is counterproductive. Once negativity seeps into the discussion, it becomes a slippery slope, leading to a cascade of pessimism that extinguishes the creative flame. In essence, focusing solely on what’s wrong with a name inhibits the exploration of its potential. 

Advocacy: A Game-Changing Mindset 

To counteract the allure of criticism, Mike advocates for donning the hat of an advocate from the get-go. By reframing the discussion to focus on the merits and possibilities of each name, participants are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue. This shift in mindset fosters a collaborative environment where names are nurtured rather than torn apart. Through advocacy, even initially lukewarm names can gain traction and evolve into viable contenders. 

Setting the Stage for Success

In remote collaborations, setting clear expectations is paramount. By stipulating that only advocacy is permitted during initial discussions, the stage is set for a productive brainstorming session. This preemptive measure may challenge participants accustomed to voicing critiques but ultimately paves the way for a more fruitful exchange of ideas. 

Leveraging Feedback for Growth

Navigating feedback is a delicate dance in the realm of naming. While knowing what doesn’t resonate is valuable, it’s the insights into preferred directions that propel progress. Understanding the elements that strike a chord—be it thematic consistency, stylistic preferences, or linguistic nuances—empowers namers to refine their approach and tailor suggestions to align with client preferences.

Parting Words of Naming Wisdom

As our discussion draws to a close, Mike leaves us with a crucial nugget of wisdom: resist the temptation to dwell on the negatives. Instead, embrace the potential inherent in every name, allowing them the opportunity to flourish within the context of their narrative. By reframing our approach to naming and adopting a mindset of advocacy, we unlock a world of boundless creativity and possibility. 


Ashley Elliott (00:10): 

All right. Welcome to naming in an AI Age. Today we’re on site, on location, in person for the first of our podcast, and we’re super excited about it. But today we’re really going to talk about the importance of being an advocate for names versus being a critic. So Mike, why don’t you tell me your journey with the last almost 40 years of name pitches, positivity versus negativity, and what you’ve learned through 

Mike Carr (00:36): 

That? Great question. And so the most natural way to think about names is to talk about what’s wrong with the name, and that’s the least productive, but it’s easy to be the critic, right? And it’s easy to say, I want to talk first about what I don’t like about all these names here. The problem with that is as soon as you open the lid of Pandora’s box to thinking negatively and critically, the ball gets rolling down the wrong side of the hill. And so what happens is someone will say a negative thing or a concern about one name, and then someone else will play the game of one upsmanship and say something bad about another name. And now everyone’s thinking about why won’t this name work? Why won’t that name work? And before you know it, all the names are gone. So that is not the way for a successful naming outcome in our experience. 

Ashley Elliott (01:25): 

So how do you navigate that on a call? I mean, we are remote in a lot of our calls, so how do you set up the call and the expectations of that? What have you done to work? 

Mike Carr (01:35): 

Right, so the thing that we try to do right off the bat is ask everyone to wear their advocate hat as opposed to their critic hat. So we take the negative off the table, which drives people crazy. They want to talk about what they don’t like. We don’t want to do that. So we say you can’t say anything bad about any name we give you. Instead, we want you to think about maybe the 1, 2, 3 names. Just have some possibilities, talk about what might work, talk about how this name does have some potential. And what happens is you’ll end up talking one another end into names that not everybody was excited about right off the bat. So the conversation starts with everyone being the advocate, not the critic. That’s the mindset. People talk one another into names that maybe not everybody liked that much. So at the end, when we do open the meeting up the criticism and we’re critical thinking that’s the best time to do it, because these names, which are like these infant babies, right? They’re very fragile. They’ve had a chance to gain some traction, and people started thinking about the names the right way, which is really helpful. 

Ashley Elliott (02:42): 

So I’m curious from a nrss perspective, what actually helps the most? Is it knowing what they like about certain parts of names, or is it knowing what they don’t like about certain parts of names we ideate based on their feedback? So how does that, which one do you feel like is most beneficial? 

Mike Carr (02:55): 

It’s always more helpful to know the direction to head in than direction not to head in. So if we know, hey, we’re hitting stride with this theme, we’re hitting stride with this style of name, we’re hitting stride with a particular length or sound or cadence or whatever it might be, that helps us a lot. We’ll talk about all the things you don’t want, but we can’t really ideate. We really can’t create new ideas around all the things you don’t want. What helps us a whole lot more are the things that might work for 

Ashley Elliott (03:25): 

You. That’s a good way to, I think about it. I think sometimes we say, avoid this and avoid this, but really what are we leaning into? Because we’re creating new names that need to be from ideas that do want us to go down and navigate, 

Mike Carr (03:37): 

Right? And the last thing I wanted to leave everyone with on this particular episode is when you start thinking negatively about any name you come up with things that you would not normally ever think of when the names presented in context. So let’s take some of the most famous brands, some of the most well-known names in the world like Coca-Cola. So Coca-Cola is the number one soft drink in the world. If you had never seen that name before and someone were to ask you what’s wrong with this name, you might say, well, where’s the chocolate? Right? Coca-Cola, it begins with Coca, the root for cocoa. But no one ever says that because the names presented in the right context. The same is true of McDonald’s. Old McDonald’s had a farm, EIO. Why would you name a hamburger joint after a children’s nursery rhyme? Well, no one again ever brings that up. So the context, the story you wrap around the name really helps eliminate this idea of, well, what could be wrong with this name? Because the best names often have the most glaring weaknesses. And again, if you start thinking about what could be wrong with the name, you’ll throw out your best name candidates before they have any chance at all to gain any track. 

Ashley Elliott (04:58): 

Well, thank you for your insights and your naming wisdom, these naming nuggets of wisdom. We appreciate it and thanks for joining us this week, and we’ll see you next time. See you guys. Bye bye. 

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