Why do brand names fail? Part 1

Today, we will be talking about naming as a process. It is relatively easy to come up with a great brand name. It is much more difficult to secure that name legally. (According to Landor Associates, 90% of names created will have to be rejected due to copyright considerations.) Believe it or not, it is even more difficult to get the consensus of your clients. This post, and the next two, should help you to avoid some of the naming pitfalls.

First, start with the right brand committee (also called as steering committee). Your naming project might fail if you don’t get the senior stakeholders and decision makers involved especially at the early stages. If you bring them at later stages, you would risk facing surprises that can derail the process. If some senior decision makers can’t participate, arrange to have periodic meetings with them.  Update them on your shortlists, names you plan to screen, and final candidates. Never email a list of names. Always present them in person. In the absence of a presenter, a name is just some letters written on a white page. White page always wins.

Second, if you hire an outside agency, make sure that it has background in both business and linguistic. Naming requires a very different skill set. Expertise in visual identity and verbal identity are not the same. Actually, very few agencies employ verbal strategists. Look for those agencies only. When you find one, ask which clients they named. Call those clients. Ask how it worked out.

Third, don’t rely too much on big brainstorming sessions. Probably, only a common denominator would satisfy a big group of people. Common denominators are expected and mostly boring. I have yet to see a brand name that was created during such a session.  Instead, use brainstorming sessions to originate brand names. Identify naming themes. Then take these themes and work on them separately.

What do you think? Have you ever fallen into these traps before?

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