naming featured Searching for inspiration

Naming is undoubtedly one of the hardest things in branding.

Although the process has been developed, re-developed, practiced and refined by many creative and brand strategists, everyone knows the challenge starts with knowing where to find inspiration to help induce those crucial magic moment before the deadline.

If you’ve been involved in the process, you’ll agree that it’s entirely possible to spend endless days looking through the thesaurus, scrutinising poems, gazing at clouds, listening to music, fiddling with inanimate objects and lying in the middle of the room without so much as a sign of inspiration.

And then, once you’ve started generating ideas, sifting through the crumpled pieces of paper and stray post it notes, you end up with a shortlist of sort-of-almost-names. Some of which are based on your gut feeling some that match a list of criteria (because I guess we have to be practical and realistic too).

The big sell

The next hurdle is selling your idea to people, explaining the multi-layers of meaning which you’ve constructed and deconstructed. This wouldn’t be so difficult were it not for the preconceived bag of ideas that everyone carries with them, shaped by their views and experiences.

As our Creative Director, Reuben Turner, describes it, ‘it’s like letting someone else name your child’. An analogy that accurately captures the discomfort an organisation must feel when handing the name reins over to someone else.

“What’s in a name? That which we a call a rose…”

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare makes it clear that regardless of what name you give a rose, its scent will remain the same. Powerful, but nonetheless a disheartening reminder after having gone through a creative maelstrom to land on a name which meets the brief and everyone agrees on.

It makes a lot of sense though; Shakespeare made a pretty valid point. Your name is only the tip of your reputation-iceberg and it’s important to remember that it’s very rarely seen in isolation. What shapes people’s opinion of your brand is much more complex than that. It comes down to the bonds you create, the relationships you form, the personality you project, the appearance you take and the experience you offer.

What’s not in a name?

Start-ups and new organisations have it relatively easy, with no customer, supporter or staff perceptions to change. Organisations are faced with a much graver battle when they’re changing their name.

A new name signals a shift. People expect change. A change in identity – your appearance and your values. A change in your internal culture which affects their experience of your brand. A change in your views – what you bravely stand for. A change in your tone – how you tell your story and speak to people. And finally a change in their relationship with your brand; they expect to be at the centre of your story, to play a significant role.

The point I’m making is, a name is redundant if your brand doesn’t live up to its values, doesn’t tell a unique and compelling story, and doesn’t offer you the most engaging and rewarding experience.

The time, money and energy you invest in creating the right name is only well spent if you invest the same level of commitment to walking the walk as you do to talking the talk. The name alone isn’t the legacy of a great brand. Once you’ve settled on the right name, be sure to live up to it.