Who are we talking to?
What do they want?
What do we offer?
What can we deliver?
How are we different
from the competition?
Who are we *not* for?
What will we never do?
What needs don’t we
A name can only do one or two things.
Names rarely live out of context.
Names shouldn’t change – but sales pitches and copy can.
The product should ALWAYS be cooler than the name on it.
How descriptive is the
How will the master brand
What kind of conversation
are we having with the
What part of the story does
the name need to tell?
Who are we like?
Who are we different from?
How will we invest to tell the
Naming, even with expensive experts, is the cheapest part of a new name.
How much money, time and effort will it take it build that mental
Type of name Descriptive Suggestive Abstract
Bed Bath & Beyond
What it does Describes what it is or does
Suggests a benefit or
Words it uses Real words Real words or slight tweaks
Unconnected real words or
Connection to brand
Relies on the master brand for
Creates some distinctiveness –
and distance from what the
master brand stands for
Demands ongoing, heavy
investment – and disconnects
from the master brand
Requires little to no
Requires long term investment in
Legal issues Easy to use, hard to protect
Harder to use, some
Difficult to clear, can be more
Investment in strengthening
the master brand
Investment in stretching the
Investment in the term above all
“Consumers are enthusiastic about adopting new
product innovations but somewhat apprehensive
about embracing new brands. In order for
consumers to adopt new brands, marketers need
to launch very strong awareness and trial-building
campaigns, supported by a positive product
60%Of global consumers with Internet access
prefer to buy new products from a
rather than switch to a new brand
Nielsen Global Survey of New Product Purchase Sentiment –
Style determines perceived distance
Purely descriptive name
Totally unexpected name
How unique your product name is
Suggestive of the category space
When should we develop a new brand?
• You’ve got a new, clear, specific
promise to a well-defined target
audience for your brand
• That isn’t easily described
• With enough products to give
that promise meaning
• With design, features,
distribution, pricing, availability,
marketing and usability to live
up to that promise
• The target audience is critical
to the business – and is not
• The marketing budget is
established and large enough
to make a dent
• You are going to be able to
stay in the market long enough
to build up recognition
• …Long enough to build
meaning with the customers
(long after internal folks and
investors get “bored”)
The devil has more advocate than angels…
…until you succeed.
Establishing criteria is critical
The least important criteria in naming is whether you like it
• Does it help with navigation and understanding?
• Does it tell your story?
• Does it speak to your target audience?
• Is it memorable?
• Does it do something your master brand doesn’t?
• Are you sure it doesn’t mean something awful in a language where you might
• Is it legally available?
A non-scientific chart
Clarity and availability
A descriptive name
A “cool” name that
clearly evokes the
So cool everyone else
already registered it.
A name so
vague that no
one wants it.
Naming strategy is trademark strategy is brand strategy is business strategy.
You’re only as clever as your lawyer is good.
Naming and trademark are one team
It’s a risky world. If you’re going to name an omelet, an egg might get
cracked and sue you.
Legal advises. You make the final decision.
• Who else is using it? And how much do they sue people?
• How similar to us are they?
• Are they in the same international class of goods? The same category? Would a customer
• What impact would it have on our business, our reputation, our stock, our
marketing, our PR if we had to cease & desist?
• What impact would it have if there was a lawsuit?
• How rich does your company look to trademark trolls?
No name will make everyone happy.
There is no such thing as a perfect name.
And even the perfect name is the wrong name if it makes you late to take
advantage of the opportunity.
At some point, you have to hold your breath and jump into the void.
May the trademarks be forever in your favor.
“Leap and a net will find you.” – Sally Hogshead