What’s in a name?

A friend told me about a ferocious debate within his company over renaming the company. Everyone seemed to agree that the old name no longer seemed to connect with the market quote the way it did 30 years ago, and the entire management team was solidly behind the idea of changing or modifying it, if only to add that to the long list of initiatives underway to give the company a bit more marketing oomph.

But that’s where agreement ended. Most of the management team couldn’t understand why the marketing director opposed the idea of launching a contest among employees to find a new magic-bullet name.

After all, who better understands our customers, our competitors and our industry? Why should we spend a substantial chunk of money to hire somebody to do what we can do ourselves?

Maybe it’s because you’re not as expert in naming as you think. There is an art and science to naming. It’s developed over time, for some very good reasons.

First and foremost, being great at your business doesn’t necessarily mean you will be good at naming. Do you really want to risk one of your most valuable organizational assets – your name, your basic identity, your brand – to what amounts to a contest that generates what people like, not what the organization needs? Think about the problems you had with your family selecting that first baby’s name. Now multiply that by hundreds, or thousands.

Companies and other organizations turn to naming specialists to take as much subjectivity out of the process as possible. It focuses on a structured process that defines the criteria through which name candidates will be generated and a finalist selected… that aligns those criteria with strategic goals and operation activities… that adds a special creative perspective most often lacking within the typical company or organization… that keeps your best people focused using their real expertise on what’s most important – performance of their jobs.

Sometimes an internally driven naming process might be an acceptable approach – maybe even the right approach. But good brand managers always ask if the company or organization can really pull it off, or if it might be better to call is a specialist to carry out such an important brand-management task. Naming specialists live this process, know the pitfalls and dangers in the process, understand all the legal needs, know how to carry out the right kind of testing and evaluation – and a lot more about how to get the job done and done right.

Contact me at gw@garlandwest.com to talk about the naming process, and its important role in managing your identity and brand the right way.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 5:38 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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