We do naming at ThreeDefined. We’ve talked about NOT doing it because it’s… messy. It’s hard to price a project that, by nature, gets locked and spun into our DNA for 1-2 weeks. We think about our clients potential name in the shower, during our daily commutes, in the actual meetings where we’ve set aside time to work on the name, and even in our dreams (true story). It’s the crazy truth about the creative process that people who don’t live the creative process don’t understand and have a hard time paying for.
So when I ran across Booz & Company’s new name, now that they are merged with PwC, I tried to temper the negativity. The name is Strategy&. It’s not a typo. I ran across the name change in an Economist article that called this the “clumsy new name for…” Yes, The Economist folks, as usual, well said. Clumsy. Yes.
Didn’t anyone learn anything from Prince’s foray into naming with a symbol? Well, at least there is a known word for & – the name of the company, “strategy and,” but it is “clumsy” at best. I’ll admit, the name LOOKS better in their logo than it does in print, but I would say print is a big one not to have tested. So, in the spirit of this, and in the spirit of keeping it positive, we’re focusing on the Top 5 Things to consider when you are naming your company.
1. Do you want/need your company to say exactly what you do?
There is a definite trend of using abstract names – it’s creative and fun. If you choose one, then we HIGHLY recommend pairing your abstract name with a straight forward tagline. At least in the beginning, your name and tagline should tell people exactly what you do. Apple, now a household brand, started out in 1976 as Apple Computer Inc. Their first logo had an inscription of ‘Apple Computer Company’. It was not until 2007 that they changed their name to Apple Inc. They were able to drop what they did once everyone knew what they did. When your business becomes a huge brand and everyone knows you, THEN you can get creative with both. And while your name may have special meaning for you, be sure it doesn’t require a 30 minute speech to explain it.
2. Can you pronounce it?
Seems obvious, but often a name looks cool on paper, but when you say it out loud, you always get an awkward smile and a, “what?” We’ve seen companies change their names over this one.
3. Is the URL available?
Again, seems obvious, but we’ve seen clients get their heart set on a name only to find out that it and every possible iteration of it is taken. This is how you end up with really long or strangely abbreviated URLs that are hard to remember or seem unrelated to the actual company name. Ideally, you don’t want it to be your first task to get people to figure out what your website IS. And having your name in the URL will help immensely for SEO purposes.
4. The phone test
Depending on the frequency with which your name will be used over the phone, make sure people understand it over the phone. This is different from saying it in front of someone. Unless you want to spend every conversation spelling your name, test it first.
5. Does it make sense to your target customer?
While we like people to be inspired by their own company names, it also has to make sense to their target market. If you are targeting baby boomers and you use “Phat” Phones as your name, the most important people aren’t going to understand.
So, what’s in a name? A lot. And if yours does come to you in a dream, we recommend running it past a professional before you go for it – we’re here and happy to help.