More than just a name: Naming process, best practices and examples

naming issue - banfield

At the peak of your brand is its name. It’s one of the first things audiences will notice. It captures what you want them to know and the feeling you want them to experience. In one short breath, a name can say so much. So, what goes into choosing one and making sure that it’s just right?

At Banfield, we follow a tried-and-tested naming process that helps us decide on a name that captures what your brand stands for and help you deliver on objectives ­— because a name is always more than just a name.

A proven 5-step naming process

1. Planning – In the beginning we orient ourselves and get to know what else is out there by conducting primary or secondary market research. This could be a quick process, or it could take longer depending on how much knowledge we already have. Doing this right makes a big difference in the rest of the process.

2. Strategy – From there, we develop the naming brief, bringing together key information and insights for the name generation and selection phases. This includes things like audiences and their sensitivities, and the tone and style of the brand. After this document is pulled together, the creative team gets to work.

3. Generation and selection – Sitting down to brainstorm names on the fly can be a challenging task. To make it a little easier, we generate a number of themes and traits that relate to the brand and the feeling that we’re striving for such as adaptive, bold, convenient and usable. We develop name possibilities from these anchoring points.

4. Selection – Then we pull together a long list of descriptive (think Microsoft Windows and General Electric), evocative (think Amazon and Pandora), and invented (think Verizon and Cisco) names. And we narrow it down to between five and ten names, which we do preliminary screening on.

5. Finalization ­– After this, we shorten the list even more to a collection of two or three options that will be presented to the client-organization. From there, they choose the name they like best and we proceed with a formal search and registration by a trademark lawyer.

Best practices to put your name to the test

As this process is ongoing, we make sure to keep in mind a set of naming best practices that we’ve assembled over the years. The idea is to have loosely objective guidelines outside of our own personal preferences to fall back on as we venture into the very subjective world of concepts and ideas. Here are a few of them.

Short and sweet – Created a name that is concise, pleasant-sounding and simple to pronounce or spell.

Memorable – Make sure that it will be easy to remember for people in the industry and among target audiences.

Balanced – Strive for it to be as meaningful as possible while also keeping it flexible enough for different applications.

Purposeful – Ensure that it reinforces key business benefits and differentiators.

Storified – Identify or craft a relevant story about where it came from and why it was picked.

And remember, names almost never seem perfect at first. They require support, meaning and familiarity. Most importantly, they are built over time.

Naming inspirations from our portfolio

Here are some names created by our team with a rationale for why they were selected and why they work. They are very specific to each project we did, but hopefully they’ll spark some ideas to apply to your own naming efforts.

Aireon – A sophisticated, memorable and technological sounding name developed to help this new satellite-backed air traffic surveillance company express that the airways are now “on”.

Iridium GO! ­– A short, punchy and easy-to-remember name created to communicate the on-the-go portability of this global satellite communications device and its simplicity for consumers who will be using it.

Hearty Tails – A positive, health-and-care focused name inspired by the story of the gourmet pet treat produced through an equitable employment initiative of the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

We take naming seriously and we know you do too. We hope that hearing how we do it will help your naming ventures today and down the road. Let us know if we can do anything to help!

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