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What’s in a name? Lately, I’ve rebranded my business including changing my businesses’ name. For a client, I’ve been working on naming a medical device geared toward physicians and healing kidney stones. All of this name research has me thinking how names affect our perception and reality of a business and a brand.

I’ve decided to call in the expert here: Rick Bragdon is the Principal of Idiom Naming. Rick has named many products that are well-known and industry known – Working with Kraft Foods, Pepsico, Rick, and his team love naming.

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?Why is your business?name important?

For most companies, their names are the very first experience that target customers will have with it. ?Obviously, this first impression must be a good one. ?A company’s name plays an essential, long-lasting role in everything that it is, does and believes. ?It succinctly codifies what the company means to its employees and what it’s products contribute to their customers, now and in the future. ?It signals why the company and its products matter, and why people should care.

For us, a name and its identity isn’t a mask; it is an invitation to see into the life of a company. ?We insist, therefore on communicating what is real, essential and valuable, avoiding what is pretentious, inflated or false.

Why is it important to receive feedback on a name?

Reliable feedback from qualified name research, trademark search and international language analysis helps management to allay the risks of creating and adopting a name. ?Name risks includes…

  1. Communication Risk

Though impossible to quantify, the risk of choosing the wrong name for a company is substantial.? A “communication-efficient” name is understood by the target audience quickly.? A “communication-effective” name resonates with target customers, influences their purchase of the company’s product and may even enhance brand loyalty.? In comparison to a less efficient and effective name, a superior name builds awareness, comprehension, value and equity more quickly, therefore saving time and money.

  1. Legal Risk

The use of a name by one company must not infringe on the use of the same or confusingly similar name previously used by another company market the same products or services.? This is true whether the preceding use has been registered as a trademark or not.? Because obtaining a Federal trademark takes nearly a year, most companies begin using a new name before its trademark is actually registered.? Adopting a name which is not unique can be very costly if failure to obtain registration requires changing that name after it has been adopted and used.

  1. Cultural Risk

As many companies now do business in multiple countries, the risk of a narrowly conceived English name communicating something inappropriate – or being impossible to pronounce! – in other languages and dialects has greatly risen.? For every well-known debacle such as the Chevy “Nova” (roughly translated in Romance languages as “no go”), there are dozens of unreported stories affecting smaller companies or products and their names each year, causing untold embarrassment, customer ill-will, negative equity and, of course, wasted time and money.

Beyond minimizing risk, insightful feedback can help management maximize a name’s opportunity and value.

What are some best practices to consider when preparing for a new business?name?

The following “best practices,” borne from over 30 years of experience and hundreds and hundreds of naming projects, will help guide any name development activity …

?Prepare name objectives that specify the desired meaning of the name being created.

?Analyze the meanings, types and styles of names used to identify competitive companies or products. ?How should your name be similar? ?How must it be different?

?Specify the name type that best supports your name’s desired meaning and increases its likelihood of being registered as a trademark.

?Determine your willingness to adopt and embrace a coined or compound name?they will probably be easier to trademark!

?After agreeing to your name’s desired meaning, type and style, create dozens, even hundred, of names. ?10% of the names created by Idiom’s experts are good, and 10% of those are brilliant. ?More names means more great ones.

?Facilitate name creation by building a list of words, catchphrases and idioms that express the name’s desired meaning.

?Avoid the creativity-crippling effects of “negativity bias” when evaluating name candidates.

?If you desire testing names, do so properly! ?Avoid focus groups or choicing names based on opinions of friends and family.

?Do not “fall in love” with a name before your attorney has conducted a preliminary trademark search.

When should you consider hiring an expert for a name?

It is almost always worthwhile engaging an expert to name a company, as the money-, time- and opportunity-costs incurred by do-it-yourselfers usually exceed the expense of an expert’s naming fee. ?The concept of “name?development” is easily understood; but, in reality, creating, evaluating, selecting and registering an effective brand name is far more complex and difficult. ?Consider the following …

?A brand name’s meaning must be carefully determined and agreed upon.

?It must inform the target audience and distinguish the company being named from its competitors.

?Names must convey their intended meaning while appealing to the target audience’s wants and needs, hopes and dreams.

?Names under consideration must be properly evaluated, and decision-makers and influencers ? who often have opposing agendas, opinions and tastes ? must agree to a final name.

?This name has to be unique enough to be successfully trademarked, usually the most difficult step of all!

Many managers underestimate the difficulty of successfully creating brand names.? Perhaps they try to create names themselves, assign the task to a “creative” person in the company or undertake an employee naming contest. ?Here are just a few companies who named themselves, only to come later to my company, Idiom Brand Identity, to ask for a new name:

?Purple Yogi, a company that organizes unstructured?data, renamed Stratify

?Gazooba, an online, word-of-mouth marketing technology renamed Qbiquity

?Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization, ?renamed LifeGift

?NetStart, an Internet career-advancement site, renamed CareerBuilder?

Self-naming almost never produces a successful result because those doing the naming lack the skills, tools, experience and time required.? Moreover, the names yielded are often so common they fail to pass difficult trademark challenges and cannot be registered or protected.? If subsequent rounds of naming are undertaken, they come after significant expense incurred from lost time, legal costs, missed deadlines and delayed product introductions. A well-conceived brand-naming process can save time, money and frustration.


Naming is an essential and critical part?of your business. Consider your current name, new name and many variables to ensurenaing success.

Need help naming or renaming your business?

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