Name development guidelines
How does one come up with a good name? It is a skill that comes with
Here are Prizm's guidelines for choosing a new brand name.
- The ideal name is one that cuts through clutter and is remembered.
- A usable name is one that is short, easy to pronounce and has
- A good name will consciously or subconsciously create positive
images or perceptions in the mind of the user.
- Having a descriptive name is helpful in a NEW industry without
competition. If you are in a mature industry, facing a lot of competition,
descriptiveness is not that helpful. It's better to have a memorable
- Names with three or more words will NOT be
used and will typically be turned into acronyms in common everyday
usage, as people will not repeat three words and will find a
way to truncate the name into either two words or initials (IBM,
FBI, CIA, et al). Also, anticipate what may emerge (all real
world examples); National Medical Enterprises begets NME, pronounced "enemy." Physicians & Surgeons
Hospital begets P&S Hospital pronounced "penis hospital."
- Descriptive names (e.g. Orthopedic Associates) are impossible
to protect or secure with a trademark and are almost always headed
for name conflicts and legal costs down the road with others who
may already own the name via first usage or others who pick up
the name after you.
- Geographic limiters (Denver Physician Group)
help make a name easier to protect, but it makes geographic expansion
impossible. Better—have a brand name with a geographic
limiter as subtext or a line extension. This also enables you
to personalize a clinic to every local market or franchise out
of state; for example: Center for Spine~Atlanta; Center for Spine~Savannah;
Center for Spine~Macon.
- Exit strategy: Naming a company after a principal is disastrous
for future exit strategy after the company becomes successful.
Who wants to buy Suarez Associates when Suarez wants to retire?
Never invest in a brand name chained to an individual's name. They
could get hit by a beer truck and crater the business.
- The ideal name for protection and quick trademarking is to create
a NEW word not found in the dictionary, usually involving letters
not commonly used like x, q, or z. (e.g. Xerox, Fina, Exxon, Oryx,
Zima, etc.) or a word derivative (e.g. Integra, Promina). Other
techniques that also work include taking two words and eliminating
the space between them (e.g. SpineKnoxville, RehabCare).
- Exclude rather than include people in the name development process.
To develop a name that works, you need to EXCLUDE participants, rather
than INCLUDE participants in the process.
- The tendency is to include everybody, which is absolutely the
wrong approach. Involving everybody in the process only serves
to dilute and water down solid, creative ideas into a vanilla-sounding
name that pleases everyone and ultimately says nothing. In name
development, less people is more. Remember, name committees produce
some of the worst ideas for names.
- The same idea should be applied to test-flying a name on family
members, employees and customers for their creative input and rubber
stamp of approval. If they were experts in name development, they'd
be earning a living doing it. Remember that their core training
as plumbers, lawyers and CPAs does not include brand name development.
- Still want to wrap yourself with mass opinion
and research? Consider this fact: "New Coke" was the most market-tested product
in marketing history, based on customer taste tests comparing it
favorably to Pepsi ... along with name studies and market research
on the promotional brand name campaign. Everyone involved in the
name and concept affirmed that is was a winner. Yet, "New
Coke" goes down in marketing history as the most expensive
new product bomb of all time.
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