Naming Brands: a Strategic Act

Quite often an entrepreneur will name their business or product even before they complete a business or marketing plan. For them the name does not have strategic implications or consequences.

But there are many factors to consider when you must “come up with a name”, aside from it being “catchy”.
naming is strategic  Before generating name candidates, ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • What is the strategic role for the name?
  • Does the name need to fit into an existing brand name hierarchy?
  • How will this name reflect upon the company, its reputation, its very culture?

These questions are integral the brand.

As a product, service or company begins to take shape, it should be looked at as a brand. Or at least it should be considered in the perspective of existing brands within the corporate portfolio. Perhaps it is in itself an extension or an enhancement of an existing brand.

  • Is the name meant to work for both the company and the product/service it produces?
  • Will the product you are naming spawn additional products?
  • Will the service be tailored to various market segments?
  • Will there be various levels of product sophistication that will require differentiation even within the product name?
  • Will this brand line always be application-specific?
  • Will this be a repositioning of an old product in an established category, a “new and improved” product in a growing category, or a new product in a newly created category?
  • Are you naming a “first-in-category” product or service?
  • Will there be many styles or models launched under the product name?
  • Do you anticipate brand extending the basic product, either at introduction or later?
  • Is the product or service a “child” of an existing product?
  • Is it a “family” of products?

The point is, consider the strategic implications of the offering before naming it. There may be several additional questions you’ll want to ask depending upon your specific situation. Include those answers in your naming documentation, aka a naming brief.

Remember this: successful naming is a strategic activity first. The creative process follows.

Now you may contract with an outside naming consultant to provide hundreds of name candidates. But to spawn names that truly do justice to your project, be sure you have created a naming brief to guide them.

The brief is just as important for an internal naming task force. It should be based on the strategic underpinnings of the product, provide a description of the functions you wish to have the name fulfill, describe the brand concept, and address the obvious – including market segments served, competitive profiles and activities, and corporate cultural inclinations and taboos.

And a naming brief should answer the questions posed in this post. Most naming consultants will ask you the important strategic questions and help you develop the naming brief. (If they don’t, I’d try another naming service). You might even try Signature Strategies, a resource that helps smaller companies “profit from the power of branding”. (Signature Strategies is my company.)

There’s more to selecting or creating a name than just “naming”. First, there are a series of strategic questions you should ask. Remember that naming should begin with a strategic naming brief.

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