Product naming vs. Corporate naming

There is an urban legend… If you name your pet or baby, you are qualified to name your brand. We have busted that myth already. Now, it is time to bust another one:

Is naming one robust, standard process that you use for all sorts of assignments?

Actually, naming assignments come at two different levels: Corporate naming and product (or service) naming. While the general approach to naming projects is similar, changing a corporation’s name requires a different methodology than developing a name for a product. Why?

First, you must take into account all the views of your management and your key stakeholders during a corporate naming project. Product naming focuses on your customers whereas corporate naming (primarily) focuses on your internal audience. The more complex and diversified your company is, the harder it gets to build consensus. Therefore, you need remarkable facilitation skills.

Second, unlike in product naming projects, you should pay extra effort to selling the name internally. Your employees should feel involved, consulted and informed about the process and the resultant name. Even though they don’t have the final say in this, they would play along as long as they feel they are engaged during the naming process. Transparency at key milestones is important. Don’t hide facts. They would think you have a hidden agenda.

Finally, consider the existing brand structure of your company. If you have a monolithic structure, then your name should be powerful and bold (GE, Virgin, Rogers). If you have a house of brands, then your name should more inspiring and motivating. (I.e. Diageo, Altria)

Today’s actionable tip: Corporate naming and product naming are quite different. If you are naming your company, consider your management, shareholders, partners and employees as the bull’s eye of your target audience. In product naming, your customers are your target audience. Rely on market research to find the bull’s eye.

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