1 Treating naming as an afterthought No serious product manager would approach a new product launch without a systematic and clearly defined critical path for product and concept development, package design, advertising, PR and distribution. However, many take a very haphazard approach to naming, which is one of the most important elements of the brand proposition. This fails to recognize that the name is actually the first act of public branding and establishes an aspirational tone for the product/service or company.2 Starting the naming process too late and ignoring complex trademark and URL issues Finding an available trademark today can be very difficult, since almost every word in the English dictionary is taken. And if you want a global name, the task can be even more challenging. Most companies underestimate the necessary time needed and then face a mad scramble when the product/service or company is about to launch. This often results in higher legal fees and sometimes settling for a second choice name. Our naming consultants understand the pitfalls of the registration process and have extensive experience in developing names that are more available from a trademark perspective. Working with our legal partners to pre-screen names prior to presenting them, we can ensure that valuable time is not wasted pursuing clearly unavailable marks. Very often, potential names are abandoned when corresponding URLs seem taken. What at first appears unattainable is very often available for purchase. It is possible to negotiate for domain names by asking legal counsel to make initial inquiries; and of course, they often help to close the deal.
3 Keeping a brand name that is no longer relevant because you are afraid to alienate its current user base This is often a very shortsighted approach. Companies should research the fit and stretch of current brand names against longer-term objectives. If there is a logical reason to change the name, they should consider migration strategies to smooth the transition from old to new.4 Ignoring that naming is not only creative, but also strategic; falling into the “descriptive” trap by focusing on functional attributes, which can be limiting as the brand promise evolves Often, companies don’t spend enough time defining and agreeing on the strategic role of the name. Our unique Destination Branding™ approach can help you analyze the market, identify opportunities for differentiation and set the appropriate strategic naming objectives. In today’s highly competitive environment, the strongest brands are the ones that transcend the physical attributes of a product/service, or organization to form an emotional connection with the consumer. Destination Branding™ considers the real customer benefits of an offering and envisions the brand stretch. This enables you to create names that can help take brands further, set an aspirational target and remain flexible for the future. As a result, these “Destination” brand names have the advantage of being more readily available from a trademark perspective since they go beyond the common category descriptors into fresher territory. Also, since “Destination” brand names strive to define and own the category inspirational benefits, they help de- position the competition.
5 Falling into the subjectivity trap and failing to get key target audience feedback as part of the naming decision-making process Naming can be very subjective. Think about choosing a first name for your kids. Have you ever turned down a suggestion of a perfectly good name because it reminded you of someone you personally knew? Perhaps, that bully from second grade? Our Nometrics® research methodology helps you get impartial feedback from the people who are ultimately going to determine the success of the product or service…the target audience. Nometrics® provides directional insight in the name decision-making process by identifying which names are appealing and appropriate and by weeding out any unanticipated negative reactions.6 Overlooking the global implications of names We all have heard of the infamous example of an American car manufacturer that launched its “Nova” model in Latin America. The name had an unfortunate reception, since “Nova” means “doesn’t go/doesn’t work” in Spanish. In today’s global economy, a thorough global linguistic evaluation is a must. Even if the product or service is not intended for international sale, the Internet has changed the notion of global commerce. A product sold on the Internet in New Jersey can pop up in an on-line search done by a potential consumer in Japan. Even when marketing to the U.S. only, it is important to keep in mind the rich cultural diversity of the American people. Our Lang- Gauge™ linguistic evaluation reviews names in almost any language for negative associations and pronunciation difficulties, helping to prevent potential future disasters.
7 Poor internal communication to create critical support of a new brand name Very often, great names fail because of low understanding and acceptance among its key stakeholders. What makes a name successful are the employees who actively and enthusiastically engage in delivering the unique brand promise that the name communicates. Through our NameRally process, we enable you to better manage the launch of a new name. The goal is to effectively use internal communications to raise employee morale and excitement about the name, by building awareness, generating acceptance and sustaining commitment. In this way, you enable employees to better understand the brand promise and create a “rallying call” for success.8 Ending verbal communication of a brand with its name The fact is that verbal brand identity goes beyond naming. An average brand becomes a great brand by consistently communicating its essence; this is the key ingredient for world-class performance. The world’s most famous brands, such as Apple and Nike, clearly demonstrate this every day. It is not a coincidence that a brand has decided to “think different” or to “just do it.” Verbal identity is the way a brand communicates through the words and sounds. When creating a new name, we are also able to develop the appropriate words to express the brand, creating a distinctive language to speak for it. This encompasses a whole range of verbal expressions, from taglines to words used on signs, packaging, trade stories, corporate mission statements or websites. Through guidelines and workshops we can help you choose words that truly represent your brand’s values.
9 Not every new product, service, or corporate division needs a new name Often, companies overlook the benefits of one strong umbrella brand name and descriptive names for products and services. Managers often face the complex decisions of brand architecture: should you create a new brand? If not, which of your existing brands is appropriate to house the new offering? What is the ideal relationship between the main brand and the new sub-brand? What is the most impactful naming strategy for line extensions and flankers? Through a well-thought-out strategy, our goal is to help you organize the breadth and depth of your offerings. A strong brand architecture enables customers and consumers to identify and define the relationship between brands. This leads to increased efficiency and a clearer idea of the offerings from your target audience’s perspective. In addition to organizing the brands through naming architecture and systems, we also develop naming guidelines and decision- making trees. These can be codified into a user- friendly online tool through our NamingWizard technology to help in the creation and ongoing management of trademarks – valuable brand assets.10 Naming can appear deceptively easy But in fact, it is a very challenging discipline that is most effectively performed by a specialist. Many managers come to naming consultants after having tried unsuccessfully to name the product/service, or company in-house – often after considerable expenditure of time, effort and money, and with no agreed upon or available names to show for it. Getting a specialist involved from the outset is critical for the successful completion of a naming project. The expertise of a naming consultant, along with a well- represented project team made up of experienced marketing and key executive decision makers, will lead to the creation of a powerful brand name.
A name you’d rememberFor clients such as Heinz, IBM and Aramark, Interbrand Naminghas created some of the most revered product, service, andcorporate names in the industry. Here are just a few examplesof some of our world-class names: Slice (Pepsi), Expedia.com, Ten (Tanqueray) Xterra (Nissan), Mach3 (Gillette), Aramark My Generation (AARP), Prozac (Eli Lilly), EZ Squirt (Heinz) Providian, Imation (3M), Aptiva (IBM) Snackwell’s (Nabisco), beComing Products (Avon), Finesse (Helene Curtis) Orbitz, Delphi, Presario (Compaq)