New Yorker’s Naming and Our Review

brand naming article from october 2011 editionIt’s always exciting to see a thoughtful article about brand naming in a mainstream, American staple like the New Yorker. The article, “Famous Names: does it matter what a product is called?” written by John Colapinto in the October 3rd, 2011 edition was certainly a fascinating read from beginning to end. Tools like Mind Maps and a diverse naming team are concepts that resonate with us. And although we agree that effective brand names can do a lot of the legwork for a new product or service, there were aspects of the prose that did not sit so easy with us.

For example, a marketing professor from Columbia’s Business School (Bernd Schmitt, Ph.D.) commented that “when a product is launched its name is only part of a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that also involves advertising, research, and social media” (Colapinto, 2011, 41). And while this is certainly true, he goes on to argue that “the name is just a starting point for a brand. The most important branding decision is more about brand strategy, distribution channels – where are the customers you want to reach” (Colapinto). However, Dr. Schmitt is not emphasizing a key part of the brand naming process. If brand name creation is done correctly, the company and the team explicitly address brand strategy and target customers during the creation of the brand name. This makes it is possible to save a large amount of money down the road because the company didn’t complete each stage of the marketing process in a silo. The more companies collaborate and horizontally structure their teams, ideas, and organization during the brand naming process, the more integrated the overall strategy and the less work that has to be done later. These issues would already be addressed during the brand strategizing that took place when the name was created. (Read more about the silo problem in management)

And, although Mr. Colapinto does defend this perspective with examples like F. Scott Fitzgerald who originally wanted to call his iconic “The Great Gatsby” the “Trimalchio in West Egg,” it’s important to realize that the strengths of a well thought out name go far beyond simple consonance and alliteration (although these can be important components). A branding strategy really should be derived and agreed upon during brand name construction. A name essentially embodies aspects of the strategy – while many people might not think much more beyond the brand name, names tend to appeal or repel them on a subconscious level.

Finally, we would argue that brand naming is a dangerous dance between creativity and efficiency. We are big believers in “out there” ideas and some of the great brainstorms that can stem from them. But trademark screening and brand name architecture design tend to be the more challenging and no less important parts of the process, especially when talking about global brands. Our team is more well-rounded because of the requirement to factor in the practical realities of IP protection and the need for global, cultural, and linguistic acceptability. While team members are creative, artsy, and right-brained, they also are grounded in the necessity of developing brand names that are legally available and resonate with different targets around the world. If managed properly, recognizing these constraints can actually sharpen rather than dampen our creative focus, reinvigorating us all and resulting in some truly amazing new name ideas that work in concert with a cohesive brand strategy and pass all legal and linguistic hurdles.

Post a Comment

  • HealthYes!

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Snapio

    Video Testimonial - Part 1 | 2

  • Raving Fans

  • 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. HealthYES.com 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 HealthYES.com
  • ________________

  • I must underscore what an absolute pleasure it was to work with you during this entire project. Your methodical, timely, and resourceful approach to educating me on how a new name affects a company, and the steps you so painstaking address to make the transition a seamless one, were outstanding. Each time I needed to contact you to get direction or clarification, you responded with immediate and informative action. You are the consummate professional and a real pleasure to work with.
    Dorian Stern - Director of Marketing, Logicare
  • ________________

  • I can't say enough about how well you handled what would have been a very difficult if not impossible branding exercise for us to do in-house. The NameStormers brought an excellent level of creativity, objectivity and a fresh look at what we live with everyday, and that is just what we needed. At the beginning of this project, I had my doubts about our ability to come up with a brand name in just 3 weeks and clearly without your help, we wouldn't have been able to do it. You really made my job easy.
    Kate Strong - Manager, Marketing Communications - Lightbridge
  • ________________

  • 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
  • ________________

  • 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
  • ________________

  • We have filed six trademarks to date which were created by The NameStormers. As is, six global trademarks in one year is unprecedented for any agency we have contacted. On several projects, you triumphed where other agencies had failed us. The process is simple, fast and yields wonderful results.
    Tracey K. Higgins - Director, Trademark Development - Worldwide Human Health Marketing, MERCK & Co., Inc.
  • ________________

  • 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