What’s In a Name? 5 Things to Consider Before You Decide

April 11, 2012


Whether you're naming a committee, a product, a company or a child, it's essential to capture both personality and imagination. After all, our names are our identity. And, like it or not, names are almost inextricably linked with our reputations. The right name – and successful protection of it – can make or break a company or a career. (Moon Unit Zappa notwithstanding.)

That's why companies pursue copyright infringement – or perceived infringement – so vigorously. It might also explain why star music couple Beyonce and Jay-Z filed to trademark daughter Blue Ivy's name within weeks of her birth.

Here are a few tips to consider as you mull over your next internal program or campaign naming project.

  • Keep it simple. You want a catchy name, but avoid convoluted spelling or fads that will look silly down the line. Leave that to the imitators. Names should be easy to remember and equally easy to say. Keep it short and to the point.
  • Get input. Not only will this generate more and potentially better choices, it's a great collaborative exercise. But don't let your list get too lengthy – ask a small brainstorming group to develop a short list. You can always ask a larger team or even an entire company to vote on your favorites.
  • Tell what it is. Consider tying your name choice to what you are naming or its significance. If, for example, you are a printing business offering high-quality prints at low prices with a quick turn-around¦ Joe's Printing doesn't quite express that. Quality Quick-Print, with a tagline “Where you get more for your money, faster” might be closer.
  • Beware the acronym. Face it: We are a society of abbreviators. In our 140-character max Twitteresque world, we have become expert at whittling down a name, any name, to its lowest common denominator. Someone will inevitably give the selected name the “alphabet soup” treatment, reducing it to an acronym. That's not always a bad thing. Many acronyms work just fine. But, if you have named your new workplace committee the Safety Hazard Information Team, you might want to rethink that. (I did warn you.)
  • Don't get lost in translation. If you're part of a global team or you're naming a product with a worldwide market, put your name through a foreign language filter. Even the most innocent of names in English may have a less than desirable translation in another language. And if it's a product or company name, make sure someone else hasn't beaten you to it.

Have you ever found yourself playing the name game? Leave a comment and tell us what happened or share your advice on creating a name.