The Ten Commandments for naming your company

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Don't blink or you'll miss another naming trend -- or perhaps then you should blink. If there's one thing the naming pros agree on, it's that a trend isn't a good thing.

"If your solution sounds similar to the last three solutions in your space, it's probably a bad solution," said Landor's Mark Speece. Naming doesn't have hard and fast rules but some tips are worth keeping in mind. So herewith, we present the 10 Commandments of Naming.

1. Money talks. "A basic principle: A good name without the power to do something with it is still a good name. With the power to do something about it, it's a valuable name."

John Diefenbach,Wolff Olins

2. Put a little elasticity behind it. "Make sure the name is stretchable. Too many businesses adopt names that pigeonhole them into a particular product or service offering. They adopt self-limiting names. That's why names like Amazon or Virgin are strategically smart names -- they can be applied to more than just books or music."

Mark Skoultchi, Interbrand Group

3. A new name plus the same old (bad) product equals a bad idea. A new name won't fix what's broken. "If your customer service was bad before, a new name isn't going to fix it."

Allen Adamson, Landor & Associates

4. Know thy self. "It's critical to get a good focus from top management on what they want the company to be and express."

Jeff Walker, VSA Partners

5. Be ahead of the curve. "Don't be afraid to be a `nomenclature trendsetter.' That is, consider adopting a name truly unique and pioneering in the field. One of the easiest ways to say you're an innovative company is to adopt innovative nomenclature -- it says something about your corporate mentality."

Mr. Skoultchi

6. Do the work. "It's a problem/solution situation. There's not an off-the-shelf way to solve it. Because it's so much more difficult [than it used to be] you have to come up with more and deeper solutions -- and use more horsepower."

Mr. Adamson

7. Uncover hidden meaning. "Make sure the name is free of any inappropriate associations or connotations -- the cost of linguistic/cultural research is a small investment and a very wise one. You don't want to put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a brand, promoting it and advertising it, only to have to change the name of it."

Mr. Skoultchi

8. Draw a pretty picture. "Consider names with strong imagery associations -- they provide a memory hook for consumers. Many people think better visually than textually, and a name, like Monster for instance, may be easier for consumers to visualize and subsequently recall."

Mr. Skoultchi

9. The dot-com doesn't have to come first. "Don't dictate yourself to getting the pure dot-com, it's not always necessary."

Mr. Walker

10. Think long-term. If you have time, "live with the names for a little bit. If you named a child and looked back six months later when the child has become what you named it, you wouldn't say `I should have called him Paul.' You breathe soul and fire and spirit and color into the name."

Mr. Walker

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