Creating a name for a product is both incredibly simple and infernally difficult. A team can spend days, even weeks, researching, collating and sifting through material to invent the new name. They can go through a shortlist, develop concepts and tinker with spellings in a search for the right name for their product.
At Modern Copy we have a checklist of techniques to try out for naming projects. Different jobs need specific efforts, depending on whether it’s a new brand, a sub-range, or a renaming overhaul.
Professional naming agencies now employ computers to develop names, and can easily come up with a list of 800-1000 potentials. These often have nothing to do with what the client had mind, as Iran Bachrach of Namelab once revealed in an interview: “We’re not really interested in what the client wants,” he says. “What we do reflects what the client needs. We have our own analytic system for looking at what the structure of a name should be, and actually, tend to ignore the client’s wishes.”
It’s a pretty sharp way of doing business. Finding what makes the client happy – even if they’re a bit surprised – is a far safer way, especially if your budget doesn’t run to the $75,000 that dedicated naming companies often require.
As David Ogilvy admits in Ogilvy on Advertising, “I have suggested names for dozens of new products, but have not yet had one accepted. Good luck to you.” You can certainly even up your chances of luck by deploying just a few key ideas as you cook up a new household word.
In other words, a true name. Like Jehovah, Jupiter or Jimmy Savile. They stick in the mind and humanise your product (whether you’d want to buy a Jimmy Savile is another question). Be careful if you’re inventing a character to stick the name on though – such tricks are easily seen through, especially if they end up in the realms of irony, and rapidly turn your product inauthentic and unattractive.
You can always try nonsense, as long as it somehow ‘feels’ right. This is more about linking sounds, alliteration and connotations to create a desired sense in the mind of the reader. ‘Pid’ means nothing to anyone – but an ‘iPid’ instantly suggests something. Or PidLid, for that matter. Just be prepared to promote, hard, to connect your function to the name.
MAKE IT BIG AND SHORT
In a crisis, get shouting. Words that blare out, staccato and fierce will capture the eye and work wonderfully on your layouts. You can be big and short at the same time. It’s the genius in Anglo-Saxon that delivers rampaging axe-blows to our cognitive functions: crack, smack, yell, akimbo, lust – all old English words that demand your attention.
Names don’t come from thin air, they come from people. People love naming things, so let them help: give a friend your shortlist without telling them what the product is and see what kind of a picture it paints for them. Talking about it makes the name real, not a flat 2D item on your screen. You learn if it’s hard to pronounce or just sounds embarrassing – remember who’s going to be asking for it in a shop or bar and see if you can visualise it happening.
CHECK UNDER THE SOFA
Not literally, of course. But you have to be thorough about checking whether your name is truly available. That means checking with Companies House, the Intellectual Property Office and European Trade Mark Office. You’ll also need to check that the name isn’t being used by someone who’s not officially registered – they still have rights over it and can cause you pain. What’s getting harder now is the purchase of a relevant URL, too: dotcom addresses are depressingly thin on the ground, and spybots on search engines can even steal your name, register the URL and hike the price up without you even realising. Make sure you use a safe WHOIS search like the one at geektools.com. Or just contact us at Modern Copy and we’ll do it all for you.