Heart & Mind: The beauty of Naming is in the balance

Language is a balance of the emotional and functional—from a poignant poem that lyrically links ideas to a curt, one-word directive that literally stops you in your tracks. Purely creative or purely communicative, the beauty of language is its inherent balance of both.

When using language to name a brand or product, that balance remains essential. Creating a great name taps both heart and mind. It must tell a compelling story, but it also must connect to your brand and business strategy.

It starts with the strategy

Before things get crazy creative, the naming process needs a smart start. You have to answer some very simple, functional questions:

  • What is this thing?
  • Who cares about it?
  • Where will the name be in market?
  • How will people see and interact with the name?
  • What do you want this name to say?
  • How will it fit with other names in our portfolio?

By asking the right questions in the beginning, you’ll get a better understanding of what you’re naming and why (or even whether or not you need to name), and set the stage for a strong strategy.

The heart leads exploration

Once the strategy is set, then it’s time to tap into the creative side—naming exploration is all about the romance of discovery. It’s a namer’s task to uncover how the story of a yet-to-be brand could take shape with a name. And, for business leaders, it’s about acknowledging the need for creative freedom before you can narrow down the right naming path.

Say the brand or product to be named is all about “connection” (from tech to hospitality, financial services to consumer products—this is a theme that’s top of mind). To ensure a brand name goes beyond the basics anyone could come up with simply by browsing a copy of Roget’s, inspiration is essential. It takes a lot of heart to unearth the many metaphors that may get you somewhere great. Maybe we’ll go the musical route—investigating terms that suggest musical elements coming together. What about exploring the physical ways things connect—bridges, adhesives, knots and circuits? Or, to really spark emotions, we might imagine ways of communicating the feeling of being connected.

With any naming project, the possibilities are endless. And both creative leaders and business decision makers should open their hearts (and minds) to new lines of language that could communicate your strategy.

Strategy leads shortlisting

After names are created, there’s ultimately a moment in time when leaders are looking at a list. That list should reflect a sparkling selection of names that showcase different angles of your brand story. When it comes to streamlining that list, there’s some serious critiquing (and cutting) to do. The question is, how do you do it?

Shortlisting should be a serious strategy (and reality) check. In naming, symbols can be poetic, but syllables need to be pronounceable. A name like Dialog could work great in conveying the message of  “connection,” but DualLinx? Too many “L”s in a row (and the “x” feels a little dated…)

In addition to a hefty dose of common sense, a checklist capturing the most important creative and strategic parameters can be helpful to ensure there’s a strong rationale behind the names that ultimately make the cut. You can go even further to pinpoint the last name standing—naming research can provide an audience perspective, and solid numbers to support the viability of a name. By enlisting a robust research methodology, decision-makers can make that call with confidence.

Launch both sides of your story 

At the end of the day, your name launch should convey the heart of your brand and connect to your business goals. Tell your name story in the market and design a logo to build an even stronger connection with your customers. Above all, take every step to ensure the promise of your name continues to be delivered upon through your product and experience strategy. Harness the inspiration at the heart, and the strategy you’ve built from the start, to guide your long-term growth story.



Director, Verbal Identity
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