Behind the scenes of naming: the golden rules

The name being the base of all your communication, so it requires special attention. 🎯 He is asked to reconcile more and more contradictory constraints: associate culture digital and trademark law, to be consensual, internationalizable, transversalizable, depositable, unique. It also has to make it emerge on increasingly crowded markets. How to manage all these objectives? The creation of a brand name is becoming more and more high-flying, even with a brief perfect. 🤯 After inventing several hundred brands, Jacques Seidman naming expert and founder of the agency Malt, shares his experience with the team We Are COM.

Naming: the 13 golden rules

1 – Good preparation is essential 🧘‍♂️

Most name searches fail due to insufficient up-front thinking about the final brand identity and the differentiation criteria to put forward. Building communication on a weak name is like wanting to build a five-star hotel on sand.

2 – Avoid clichés in the brief 📸

They die hard, like “two syllables maximum”, “linked to the product” and “designed to immediately appeal to everyone”… These are factors of conformity from which one must know how to emancipate oneself.

3 – Accept being obsessive: brainstorming is not enough as a creative technique 👊

Le brainstorming, it's just the "warm up", it rarely gives usable results. It can lead to the emergence of the first tracks that will then have to be deepened by associations of ideas and successive readjustments. When I am in the creation phase, the immersion is such that during the three weeks of the project, the names arise at all times, including during sleep. This is called impregnation, the first step in the creative process. If we want to explore all registers of expression from the most explicit to the most unexpected, 6 to 7 phases of this re-work will guarantee good results. There is mental gymnastics to acquire, existing lexicons to explore if you want to unearth nuggets.

It is often the quantity that makes the quality. A name chosen from several hundred is better than a name chosen from the first ten proposals that come to mind.

4 – The name is the most enduring of all elements of identity 💳

The name therefore requires an investment of time and budget, substantive support to fulfill its strategic objectives.

Not worrying about it is like designing a car without thinking about the CX, which reduces fuel consumption. All testimonials confirm that a well-found brand name reduces subsequent communication expenses. A weak brand name will require much more budget to establish itself on the market.

5 – The name can not say everything 🔕

It is a mistake to overdetermine the name so that it says everything and its opposite. We end up with an overly rational result with cerebral names that will not be able to create a link with the market. It is easy to guess the intentions of names such as “Ma French Bank” or “Happyvore” but neither the euphony nor the imagination are there. We too often forget that the success of a name is primarily linked to its musicality. “Dior j'adore” is a phonetic killer, as are “Bla Bla Car” and “Voodoo”.

6 – The name is not the message 💬

You have to think that the communication will “work on the name”, complete it, underline its good connotations and not activate the less relevant ones.

"Egoist" is a vice in the dictionary, it becomes the must of male independence under the Chanel banner. Similarly, the “Invincible” lipstick worn by Milla Jovovich quickly made people forget the Spartan universe of this word!

"1083, made less than 1083 km from you" has understood everything that a coherent brand block should be and avoids any cliché in its name.

7 – The name is not the brand ⚠️

He becomes! The context loads the word with a new signified, The Punishment (“Sablés” signed Poilâne) is not so painful, “Cayenne” becomes more desirable under the signature of Porsche.

8 – The most delicate phase, the selection 📌

How many excellent names end up in the scrap heap, victims of an overly subjective evaluation process.

As always in communication, the arbitrary selection “I like – I don't like” is to be banned absolutely. It does not sufficiently qualify the weak points / strong points ratio common to all the names. Better a name with a strong point and two weak points than a name without weak point because without relief, without asperity. The name must meet a whole series of constraints: phonetics, richness of evocations, ability to arouse a storytelling uniqueness, distinctiveness, interpellation, durability and depositability. It is on this grid that the final shortlist should be compared.

 9 – Favorites are optional 😍

Some names, which appear neutral on paper, will then tick all the boxes and prove to be extremely effective in use. Knowing how to spot this potential cannot be improvised, it is deduced from an in-depth analysis which supports the final recommendation.

10 – Approval is not a reliable criterion of choice 💨

Consensus on a name can mask a lack of originality and long-term vision. Choosing a name is a management decision.

11 – Not to be judge and party ⚖️

Most of the time when you made your own name, we end up persuading ourselves of its value, when it is often the "least worst" name that has been kept.

12 – Opinions pass, names remain 🗓

"Engie" was announced by management decision with the success that we know. In one year, the name "Inoui SNCF" has established itself despite the first mixed reviews.

13 – Risk taking is inevitable: 0 risk = 0 brand 💪

Marketing and legal are mutually exclusive. The more evocative the name, the more likely it is to be anteriorized. The more it will be devoid of any representation, the more it will appeal to lawyers, but the less it will appeal to marketers. There is therefore no possible zero risk. Creative audacity in general results in brands that are much more economical in legal terms. On one side or the other, risk taking is essential when you want to create a new brand.

???? To conclude: think of the name as a primary source of differentiation

It is neither automatic generators, nor artificial intelligence, nor summary brainstorming that will be able to respond to the increasingly strong constraints weighing on the creation of brand names. I have the conviction that creativity, so necessary for communication, must begin with the care that will be taken in creating the brand name and the difference it will produce.

Jacques Seidman,

Founder of the agency MàLT – Long Marks Spas, great naming specialist

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