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After almost 25 years of being a product naming agency, helping with brand name development, and over 1,500 client engagements, we’ve learned that even the best new brand name ideas still have to be sold to the client.  Why?  Because most clients, through no fault of their own, don’t know how to evaluate a new name.

Here are the biggest mistakes we’ve seen some companies make when evaluating new names. :

  1. They focus on the past (what the name reminds them of) rather than on the future (what they can turn the name into).
  2. They worry too much about possible negative associations with the name.  Almost every name has possible baggage that few of us ever even think of.  For example, have you every thought about what profane word is embedded inside of the Shell Oil brand name?  Or what about the last two letters of IBM?  Certainly, these letters have an off-color meaning for many new parents. But very few customers ever think about names this way because they always see the name in some context.  And it’s this context that helps the name sing. Unfortunately, this context is almost always missing when first evaluating new name ideas.
  3. They gravitate towards familiar, safe sounding product names.  Typically this means names more like what is already out there versus something that truly differentiates and is distinctive and attention-grabbing.
  4. They want names that are more descriptive of a product benefit or the positioning than something that connects with a deep, compelling emotion or fundamental human motivator.
  5. They don’t want something too way-out.  Even though it may grab their customers attention instantly, they are not comfortable risking ridicule from colleagues or their boss for a name that may seem silly or edgy or just weird.

Courage is a virtue and something to be exercised, with prudence, in selecting a new name.  Just imagine the courage it took to launch a name like Apple for a computer, Starbucks for a coffee, Nike for a shoe, Diehard for a battery or Google for a search engine. In selling new name ideas to our clients, we have remind them and ourselves that risky names are usually better than safe names, distinctive names are usually better than familiar names, and controversy is usually better than status quo when it comes to selecting that new brand name. Good luck in selling your next brilliant name idea!

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