Name Selection – Get the Right People on the Bus

busIn Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, an entire chapter is devoted to describing the importance of getting the right people on the bus (working for the company), the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. One of Jim’s governing principles is, even in the direst of circumstances, to think of the people first and the direction second.

This concept plays a vital role in the naming process, as well. There comes a time in the creative process where people have a number of favorite names, but sort-of wonder “What next?” when it comes to choosing a name. We tend to recommend a voting process as the first step in picking the favorites from the pack, but there are a few pitfalls to this process – one of which is having the wrong people on the bus.

1)      The right people include those who know the product or service, have been involved throughout the name evaluation process, and have veto power over the final decision.

2)      If someone (often the CEO or senior executive in charge of the process) is too busy to participate in the name evaluation sessions, then they should forfeit their right to participate in the final name selection. If this sounds unrealistic, please call us and we’ll be happy to tell you why it is so important.

3)      Make sure the brand position and naming objectives guide the selection process – in addition to natural name attributes. For example, distinction from competitors, legal risks, degree of match with branding efforts, and the possibility of misinterpretation are important. Consideration of the target market in addition to name memorability, fit with the core values driving that target market’s purchase intent, and ease of spelling and pronunciation should also be considered. What is NOT IMPORTANT IS WHICH NAMES ARE LIKED THE MOST (favorites ≠ most liked).

4)      And this brings us to one last suggestion: don’t go for the consensus name. Consensus names often tend to be names no one really hates but no one really loves either. It is far better to pick a name that is more polarizing and even borderline negative to some, but strongly resonates and incites passion among others.

However you decide to whittle down your naming choices to true favorites, it is important to have the right people in the room and not open the decision-making up to too many people (from those who have no real understanding of the overall strategy to those who haven’t had the time to participate in the process up until the final selection).  And, of course, this process is all about whittling the list down to a handful of favorites.  A committee should not make the final decision.  For that decision, the “right people on the bus” are customers and prospects.  But that will be a topic for another blog post.

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  • Empowered Imaging Partners, LLC struggled with its own internal marketing group for 10+ weeks to coin the brand name that would launch our national Preventive Health Screening brand. When we eventually gave up and turned to Mike Carr and NameStormers, we were impressed with their professionalism and process orientation. was the final brand chosen out of at least 3 viable alternatives provided by NameStormers. Without reservation, we recommend NameStormers as 'the company to turn to' for naming.
    Craig Lindley and Dale Wood - Co-Founders of Empowered Imaging Partners, LLC - now
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  • We have rarely encountered the level of service and professionalism we received with you. You made us feel that we were important, and you did everything you said you would do when you said you would do it. And frankly, after such a positive experience with you, I can't help but notice how the service we receive from others pales in comparison. We felt like you put your heart into this project, and we will forever appreciate the attention you gave us. Whenever we encounter anyone in the future who needs your services, you will be the first and only name we recommend. Thank you. We have sincerely enjoyed working with you.
    Tim Dietrich - CEO, formerly Amicus Mutual Insurance Company, now Stonetrust Commercial Insurance Company
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  • Thank you for your excellent work, great customer service, and fast turnaround. I'd be happy to provide references for you. We decided on Alliant as a good tie to the corporate name: Virginia Mason-Group Health Alliance, Inc. And we've got two Alliant Health Plans, Plus which is a point of service plan, and Select for the HMO.
    Paula Heath - Director of Advertising & Sales Promotion - Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound
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  • I want to thank you very much for your team's effort on this project. You all worked very quickly and gave us excellent direction. I am sure many hours were spent in developing the many name lists you presented us. Your added value enabled us to move forward with a name consumers preferred over the prior internal name. I look forward to working with your company in the future!
    Brand Category Manager - A Major Global Tire Company
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  • Mike, Thanks for the quick turn around time. I appreciate all you have done to help us with name, logo and tagline. Some great work!
    Rob Greenbaum - Senior Vice President - Marketing - Nationstar, formerly Centex Home Equity
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  • Our success with our name change and branding has been phenomenal. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. I am ecstatic over it. Our experience in working with NameStormers has been so good let's just call them again and let them handle this next project for us.
    Bill Macey - CEO of Valtera, formerly Personnel Research Associates
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  • The naming industry landscape is littered with agencies that make the process seem onerous and intimidating. They tout their unique proprietary processes, advanced research and ideation tools, etc. And then they tell you it's going to take months and months. Ugh. With Mike and NameStormers, you get a team focused on results. Their approach is practical, thorough and creative. And they can be flexible and lightning fast. If you want results without the headaches, then I highly recommend NameStormers.
    David Cameron, Business Public Affairs, Dow Chemical