Baptizing Your Brand: It's More than Throwing Darts
March 17, 2009 ‐ 1 comment
Is naming a science or an art? We’d like to think it entails a multitude of intelligences: an aptitude for poetry, a hefty internal word bank, and a knowledge of cultural and business connotations. Choosing a name is fun, but it can be a tough and nuanced challenge. Every two-bit flack with a bottle of tequila and a white board thinks, “How hard could this be”? In reality, coining the perfect name is really, really hard. It must be memorable without being obnoxious; evocative, but not to the point of distraction; and emblematic of the company’s brand promise without reaching too far. Oh, and most importantly, available for use. As much as we prize the human ingenuity that goes into disseminating winning names, we’re enamored of this name generator we stumbled across recently. We just hope that little apps like this aren’t a sign of branding professionals’ imminent obsolescence. Whether the following names were chosen by man or machine, we’ve identified them as naming gems: pandora1 Her storied curiosity proved calamitous, but her name captures a sense of mischief and novelty when applied to the internet radio provider; as one song ends you can’t help but wonder what Pandora’s box will unleash next. ribbit It’s delightfully onomatopoetic, and its amphibious connotations perfectly capture the communications platform’s dual voice/web browser capabilities. Water, land, web, phone – Ribbit covers it all. planb Regardless of your where you stand on the product itself, you can't deny that Plan B is aptly named. Unlike other pharmaceutical names, which increasingly sound like fake Latin words, its name is colloquial, accessible, and really sums up its essence: it's an available alternative for when the unexpected occurs. And a few that don’t make the cut: tmz It sounds OK, but why would anyone know the paparazzi-fueled entertainment conglomerate’s acronym stands for LA’s Thirty Mile Zone, from whence it derives its scandalous fodder? godaddyThe world’s largest domain name registrar” evokes zoot suits, not websites, with its cringe-worthy name. aciphex Apparently no one said this name aloud before greenlighting it. Of course, as these three examples show us, a bad name doesn’t preclude success, but it certainly doesn’t help a brand. What do you think? Drop us a comment and tell us brand name hits and misses. We’d love to hear from you.
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March 18, 2009 12:20 pm
Hey guys, curious whether you came across that name generator in my recent (sarcastic) post "How to Build a Brand for Free." - If not, check it out for some fun. I've seen a few of these lists of "good" and "bad" names, including this one at Pollywog: There's an interesting consistency in these lists that I'd like your opinion on. With a few exceptions, the "best" names are real words, and the "worst" names are coined, compound, or acronyms. I tend to prefer real word names, and it seems like most professional namers do, but are we sure clients do? Or, more importantly, consumers? Just a question. Last point: happy to see TMZ and GoDaddy on the latter half of your list. Those are two brands that could be considered successful in many ways, and I often get the sneaking suspicion that these types of lists are just post-rationalized. "Google's a huge success? Their name is great! Enron was a disaster? What an awful name they had!" Not that TMZ or GoDaddy are iconic brands by any stretch of the imagination, but glad to see you're not afraid to call a spade a spade. For some more naming ideas/opinions, check here:

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